Why the programme of the Brazilian Worker’s Party gets up the noses of the status quo

What has the Brazilian Worker’s Party done or promise to do that gets up so many people’s noses? The answer is both simple and complex. The simple answer is that they wish to change the way things have been done here ever since Brazil was colonised by the Portuguese over 500 years ago.

The Portuguese colonists established a system of royal patronage of appointed positions and revenue earning from such positions that survives more or less intact to this day. Families who have land or assets resulting from such privilege naturally are loath to give up such benefits that derive from their inherited positions.

The Worker’s Party was largely organised by middle-class student and teacher, artists and intellectual activists who were essential in getting the party legalised under the then military dictatorship. Once they got into power with the election of Lula, but especially during the first and the current term of his successor, Dilma Rousseff, these people became in large part disillusioned and the middle-class were neglected or overly suffered the burden of government policy.

When the investigations into the Lava Jato operation meant that Petrobras and several large engineering contractors had their funds for current or future projects blocked, the country stalled economically, hurting bastions of the stability and growth and job generation that had been a continuous part of the national economy since Lula was able to invest in many infra-structure projects both in Brazil and in Africa, for example.

Brazilian law requires that a good percentage of such projects be carried out by Brazilian companies, and it is with an eye to these contracts and markets that the U.S. is now pushing for the removal of this President and her party from government.

With support for their “free market” policies already on hand in Congress, should impeachment go ahead, many of these markets would be opened up to U.S. companies.

Opposition politician José Serra of the PSDB has already promised the Chevron oil company that he will back deregulation of the Brazilian oil fields, should he achieve suitable power. He has already introduced bills to Congress to that effect, but if President Dilma is impeached, forces against the current government see the way clear to opening up markets to U.S. friendly corporate and diplomatic policies. If impeachment is successful, her nominated successor and Vice President Michel Temer, has already alluded that there will be a return to market-friendly corporate policies.

Once the economy faltered with the anti-corruption investigations restricting investment, with the loss of many jobs for engineers, managers, accountants and economists, it was a relatively easy task to turn the climate of opinion against the government by heavy-handed use of selective reporting of scandals, launching opinion as fact in such large and repeated quantities, that many middle-class people now believe such accusations as the truth.

The fact that many of these schemes have been operating since at least the 1990’s are largely ignored by the mass media, when the government of Fernando Henrique Cardoso was in power, privatising many lucrative state industries in the name of good management.

This is the policy that those already manoeuvring for power openly seek, and which the backers of the current government are trying to avoid. The costs of dividing society along lines of material wealth are heavy, although the numbers actually wanting that to happen are turning in favour of the Dilma government. Internet activists and bloggers have rallied behind the pro-democracy cause, counteracting the social media campaign that brought millions of the disaffected middle-classes into the streets to call for her impeachment. However, Brazil will have to mobilise if it is to turn the tide to counteract the negative influence that is currently appearing to be winning.

Even if Dilma is able to hold onto power, the problems she will face of governability and the questions of how to bring the Judiciary, the legislature and media under control remain. If this painful process of truthfulness, looking into the mirror and seeing the reflection as not being a pretty one, this could be the step needed for the country to finally make the reforms necessary a reality, only time will tell.

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