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IW 03

Brazil

Brazil: the bribe-mongers reorganize the cabinet

With the Comisión Parlamentaria de Investigación (CPI - Parliamentary Investigations Commission) of the mails, the scandal of the "monthly payments", the fail of the chief minister of the Casa Civil, and the catastrophic fall of the leadership of the PT, the Brazilian political crisis has entered an unprecedented phase, obliging Lula da Silva to carry out a ministerial reform which, at the same time that it inclines to the right, has placed in evidence the fading of the center-left political project. According to the editorial of O Estado de Sao Paulo (26 Jun), “the president showed signs of understanding that the conquest of a new mandate can no longer be his prime project" : what is at stake is simply the survival of the government itself.

The Bolsa (Stock Exchange) celebrated with a notable recovery the announcement of the resignation of the cabinet chief, Lula's right-hand man. The next day, the Economy minister, Antonio Palocci, announced an ambitious plan of tax exemptions which imply subsidies in the amount of 625 million dollars for export companies and real estate agencies. Palocci himself was considered as the replacement for the fallen José Dirceu; which did not materialize in order not to cast doubt on the continuity of the economic policy. Palocci was one of the ministers denounced by the deputy Roberto Jefferson in the festival of corruption: it is the corrupt officials themselves who are to decide the changes in Lula's governing team.

The deputies purchasing regime and business deals have as their basis finance capital, which has reached historic levels of profits with the government of the party called "of the workers." Midway through June, "a meeting of the most important bankers in the country and the opposition" (PSDB) came to an agreement that the denunciations of corruption should be controlled in order not to "affect the economy." "The investors do not see clearly the road ahead opened up by the events," said the Financial Times, spokesman for big international finance capital.

Within the PT bureaucracy, the situation is one of implosion. One part of the parliamentary caucus disobeyed the order to block the formation of the CPI in Congress. There arises a perspective of a Lula government more and more distant from its own party. The manager of the pension funds, Luiz Gushiken, had suggested within the Dirección Nacional (national board) of the PT that Lula leave the PT and govern as a "nonpartisan," in order to widen his margin for maneuver. The decomposition of the PT and its pro-IMF government imposes itself upon all the those involved in the crisis.

Dirceu was close to the big bourgeoisie and the monopolies demanding a greater devaluation of the real. Palocci, "armored", is an agent of big international finance capital. According to the analyst Tarcísio Holanda, there exists the possibility of impeachment of the president and "the PSDB hopes that Lula arrives at the end bleeding so badly that he will desist in his intention of running for reelection." The alternative "would be to build a candidacy capable of guaranteeing the continuity of the PT program: the name being contemplated is that of Antonio Palocci, whose good sense and equilibrium are recognized even by the opposition” (13 Jul). The continuity of neo-liberalism would be, then, total and explicit.

In order to avoid it, what is left of Lula's government (now with the more and more important presence of the PMDB) is attempting to lay out from now on a similar road, managing to seal alliances with the Fiesp and going so far as to hold high the banner of the Delfim Neto plan, of "nominally zero deficit," which would elevate beyond all limits the primary surplus, transforming the Brazilian State into the direct hostage of international finance capital, and of interest rates fixed by the FED (Central Bank) of the United States.

In Latin America, Lula's government (through Petrobras) has been the main "fireman" in relation to mass insurgency against the multinationals in Bolivia, as well as the anti-imperialist resistance in Venezuela, without mentioning his failed role as substitute for yanqui colonial troops in Haiti. In retribution, the Paraguayan Parliament has just voted permission for the placing of US troops in the region of the Triple Frontier: Brazil would be surrounded by US troops, from the South (Paraguay) and from the North (Plan Colombia).

Due to the crisis, there has been a deepening also in the policy of co-optation and class collaboration. In accordance with this objective corresponds the nomination of the CUT (trade union confederation) leader Luiz Marinho as Labor minister, confirming the complete integration of the CUT to the State.

With the crisis, the policy of wearing down the popular militancy has reached its peak, leading a meeting of the social movements, held on the same night as the denunciations effectuated by Deputy Jefferson, to emit a "Letter to the Brazilian People," which pronounces itself "against the political destabilization of the government and against corruption: for changes in the economic policy, for priority to be given to social rights." The "Letter" carries the signatures of the CUT, the MST, the UNE and the CMP, in addition to that of tens of NGO's and other social movements.

Now, in the midst of the crisis, the government of Lula has started to "stabilize itself", opening up more to the right, and making the economic policy "bullet-proof" through the strengthening ("armoring") of its principal representative. That is the road the government is taking: the defense of the government leads to the "social movements" becoming accomplices to the neo-liberal and right-wing orientation, which interacts with the corruption it says it wishes to combat.

Really, the corruption itself is a product of that orientation, since it is the only possible method with which to govern the representatives of big international and national capital, under the recipes of the IMF. At the afore-mentioned meeting, only the delegation of the Andes-SN explicitly fought against the approval of such a "Letter," which the national trade union did not sign, choosing an independent road for combative trade unionism. To defend the government from a supposed "right-wing conspiracy" in course, in the name of a "project for change," signifies forgetting that Lula's government heads, not a progressive project for change, but rather one of social and historic regression for Brazil.

We must denounce all the attempt to "push the crisis," transforming it into a gigantic pizza through CPI's controlled by the "monthly payment" legislators. The fate of Brazil depends more than ever on the independent action of the masses. It is necessary to open an independent political perspective for the movement of urban and rural workers and for the youth. Driving forward our specific struggle, we should convene all the social movements to break with the government of Lula and with the State and contribute towards the opening of a debate on society as a whole attending the base of those movements, independently of the political orientation of their leadership. The "defense of ethics," a restricted framework in which the idea is to close off the popular reaction against the unrelenting spectacle of the monumental political corruption, should be placed in anti-imperialist and anti-capitalist terms of struggle: there will be no ethics in a country in which the corrupters, big finance capital first among them, continue to privately appropriate the social wealth produced by the workers.

By Osvaldo Coggiola