Cup and Culture


Source:Altivo Neto,

The World Cup is underway and Brazilians have painted their neighborhoods in the national colors.  However, as the Folha de Sao Paulo reports, residents have used Argentina’s sky blue and white instead of Brazil’s green and yellow.  Although perhaps partially in jest, the paint job reflects Brazil’s perplexing and difficult moment. Indeed, Brazil played a disappointing 1 x1 tie in its opener against Switzerland and President Temer is officially Brazil’s least popular President with a rejection rating above 80%.  So not much room for optimism.   The electoral campaign for the general elections in October will not officially start until after the end of the Cup but the field of candidates, if one can believe the polls, comes down to right wing former military captain Jair Bolsonaro, leftist former governor Ciro Gomes, environmentalist and former candidate in 2014, Marina Silva and Sao Paulo’s former governor and perennial presidential candidate Geraldo Alckmin of the PSDB.

Former President Lula has watched from jail in Curitiba over the last 2 months but continues to insist he is candidate although his corruption conviction excludes his running.  If he is included in the polling, he leads all candidates by a good margin.  Lula also has an appeal pending and it is being judged on June 26 in Brazil’s Supreme Court.  A favorable ruling could lead to his release but he would still be forbidden from running according to election rules.

While the Cup and Carnaval usually bring out Brazil’s well known creativity and light hearted improvisation, things seem to be different this time around as the blue and white paint job in Teresina seems to show.  The economy has barely pulled out of the two-year recession which started in earnest in 2015 and the current estimates for growth will perhaps, at best, keep up with Brazil’s demographics at 1.7 percent per year.  The Temer administration adopted a slogan that Brazil had come back 20 years in 2”.  The population, of course, understood this to mean that Brazil had gone back 20 years in the 2 years since Temer replaced impeached President Dilma Rousseff.

Brazilians are upset.  They have rejected the entrenched politicians and their support of populists to the right (Bolsonaro) or to the left (Ciro) indicate not so much their love of the candidates but mainly the despair of the old political system and the corruption.  Faith and favor in democracy is at an all-time low as Brazilians perceive that politicians have manipulated the system to their exclusive benefit.  While the vote is mandatory, close to 40% of the electorate are likely to null their ballots showing their revolt and consternation.

The foul mood correlates closely with the economic stagnation.  Those with resources are seeking opportunities in Portugal, other European countries and the US even in the face of Trump’s anti-immigration policy.  Brazilians love traveling abroad but only leave definitively when they feel the doors of opportunity have closed and they need to find hope (a defining characteristic of the Brazilian personality) outside the country.  Veja, one of Brazil’s leading news weeklies, reports that some 62% of Brazil’s young people would abandon the country if they could.

Brazilian essayist and play write Nelson Rodrigues during the World Cup of 1958 identified Brazil’s “stray dog” complex as a result of the monumental Maracanazo loss to Uruguay in the World Cup Final of 1950.  He also noted Brazil’s countervailing extreme in the feeling that with Brazil’s first Cup win in 1958, no other country can match skill and innate creativity of the Selecao as evidenced by its unmatched 5 Cup trophies.  Still, moods swing to extremes.   When the national team performs well, everyone takes part with exuberance and solidarity.  When things go poorly, people lament, complain and cry collectively.

Fernando Lanzer and Jussara P. Souza, in their recent book Para Entender a Cultura Brasileira, use Gerd Hofstede’s cultural dimension methodology to interpret.  Indeed, Brazilians score high on Hofstede’s collectivism measure where individuals define themselves as members of a collective group.  They also score high the “power distance” or acceptance of authority and authoritarian aspects of society which affect the individual.  A third dimension deals with “uncertainty avoidance” and here Brazilians also score relatively high demonstrating a desire for predictable and stable situations.  The combination of these measures might help explain the popularity of Bolsonaro or Ciro Gomes or even Lula’s popularity as a benevolent, yet strong, paternalistic figure.

Of course, culture challenges sociological measures and even using all 5 of Hofstede’s dimension in combination, it is still impossible to accurately predict what factors will lead to mass protests or even lasting celebrations.  Everyone knows that carnival lasts less than a week but Brazil’s skepticism regarding the national team will only be alleviated if Marcelo and his companions can kiss the trophy again and even such a victory is pyrrhic  Certainly more is needed to cure and mature the national psyche.

Brazil’s needs are clear and they go beyond the Cup, futbol and partying.  These are diversions and the real demands are for economic growth with less inequality, better basic education, more individual responsibility and respect for others.  While simple, their achievement requires consistent investments in the basics (education, health, water and sewage).  However as long as there is no consensus and polarization continues, Brazil relegates itself to stray dog status, a country with potential but without success.  On the other hand, as Brazilians leave the country, and get increased exposure to the rest of the world, there is also the possibility of broadening participation, greater access to mobility through individual initiative and a recognition of the good readily available in the Brazilian mind, heart and soul.  Mexico’s great educator, Jose Vasconcellos, called Brazil’s mixture the great universal race and It is still possible that this great mestizo country may yet find a way out its quandary.



Institute of the Americas: XXVII La Jolla Energy Conference – Comments by Steve Scheibe at



Author’s photo of conference panel


In 1991, a barrel of oil sold for an average of US$36.00.  Last year, the average was around $42.00 as the following chart shows.  Today, oil is in the mid $60s.

Screen Shot 2018-05-28 at 16.35.42

There was a lot of talk in the 1990s about peak oil and running out of it one day.  It is amazing how the world changes but still things stay the same.  Oil is now relatively abundant, more complicated to extract, more is known and feared about environmental impact and consequently alternative and more sustainable sources of energy are increasingly important.  Thus climate change, sustainability and the future of energy production have become increasingly important parts of our energy network and its future.

The Institute’s Energy Conference has shown great value and staying power.  Its organization and execution is a formidable task and the Institute of the Americas and Jeremy Martin and staff deserve kudos for another year of success.  A cursory overview of the program ( attests to the Conference reputation and prestige.

This year’s Conference drew speakers from Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, the USA and numerous organizations such as Brazil’s ANP, Mexico’s energy regulator and the CFE as well as Argentina’s producers and control sectors.  The oil giants were also present with high-ranking executives from Exxon Mobil, BP, other majors as well as companies in consulting, construction and distribution.  Non-Government Organizations (NGO’s), representing civil society and environmental interest participated on equal footing with market driven business organization.  Finally, the Conference always attracts academics and journalists who specialize in energy and related policies.

Oil, gas and other energies intertwine with politics and this is certainly the case in Latin America.  Of course, Maduro’s reelection in Venezuela, the race in Colombia and the upcoming races in Mexico and Brazil were frequently discussed both on and off the record.  The main concern for the industry and investors has been to divine the future.  Investments run in the billions of dollars and while time lines and linkages can be established, the future prices of oil and the future national policies cannot be predicted with much accuracy.  The ongoing business challenge for the industry is to find predictability in unstable and weak institutional structures and rapidly changing markets.

Here is a brief summary of the main points by the major energy producing countries highlighted at the conference in alphabetical order:

Argentina:  President Macri replaced the populist Peronists Nestor and Christina Kirchner.  The Kircheners governed between 2003 and 2015 with a mixed record of growth and stability and a pronounced animosity to too much foreign participation in the energy sector.  Their price control policies hampered investments and nearly broke the power generation and distribution sector.  President Macri’s challenge has been to try to revive the sector while at the same time controlling inflation and soften the hit on people’s pocket books with the rise of energy prices.  With Cristina Kirchner, electricity and other energies were subsidized at around 50% of production costs.  This led to unreliability and frequent outages.  Under Macri, the government has installed a new regulatory authority and is attempting to make the sector attractive to both foreign and domestic investors.  Natural gas plays an important role and has brought Chile and Argentina closer in a symbiotic with the former at times supplying natural gas or being a market as Argentina opens up offshore and onshore resources.

Brazil: The international oil sector perked up on Brazil with the 2016 impeachment and Brazil’s ongoing offshore auctions have been widely seen as successful.  Exxon Mobil, a major investor, has returned, as have other foreign oil companies (???).  The black cloud on the horizon is the lack and increasing loss of legitimacy of the Temer government.  Normally, Decio Oddone, the head of the ANP (Brazil’s oil/gas regulator), has attended the La Jolla Conference.  But Decio did not come this year and I suspect that was due to the current truck-drivers’ strike over the cost of diesel fuel. This strike started on the eve of the conference and caught the government by surprise although informed parties such as Mr. Oddone knew that the crisis was brewing.  The consequence of the strike, which still has not been settled after 10 days, has led to wide productive paralysis and a half point loss in 2018’s estimated GDP, plus the further weakening of the government.  So again, the lack of stability and weak institutions has come to the fore.  Overall, presenters on Brazil such as Raphael Moura of the ANP, Nelson Narciso, of NNF Consulting a former ANP director and Thiago Aragao of Arko Consulting were all optimistic about potential and excellence at Petrobras after the Lava Jato clean up. But they were sober about the current political moment and the October elections.  Aragao tweeted: “The positioning of candidates endorsing political interventions at Petrobras is not a positive sign for 2019.”

Mexico: Like Brazil and Colombia, the our next-door neighbor is also in the final months of a presidential campaign with the results likely impacting the energy sector.  Under the current unpopular administration of the PRI’s Pena Nieto, energy reform in Mexico advanced in an unprecedented fashion with important openings, especially in the natural gas market.  US and other foreign companies have already invested billions in Mexico’s pipeline logistics and gas distribution.  The likely victory of Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (AMLO) is sometimes perceived as threatening this change due to AMLO’s leftist and populist programs as a presidential candidate in two previous elections.  However, the speakers and panelists were uniform in emphasizing that these changes had been written not only into law but also into the Mexican Constitution.  So it is unlikely that these changes can be reversed.  Although AMLO leads in all polls, it is unlikely that he will have a 2/3rds majority in Congress to reverse the changes that reduced PEMEX’s monopoly position in production and distribution.

Venezuela: Before the conference, the Institute retweeted a prediction of Maduro’s fall before the end of the year.  However, the Chavistas have been notoriously resillient and the consensus among Congress participants was that the regime would likely remain in power through 2018.  Still all speakers agreed that the Maduro administration has been a disaster for the oil based economy and Venezuelan society.  Hyperinflation runs at 11000% per year, thievery riddles the national oil company PDVSA, there is an accelerating decline in oil production on a month to month basis at above 4% and oil revenues will fall to less than $10 billion in 2108 or about half the revenue generated in 2017.  Venezuela’s government has stopped paying bills, is bankrupt and only survives due to grudging support from Russia and China, which still see the country as an anecdote to US presence and power in Latin America.   Although President Trump and his administration have mentioned military intervention and have imposed further sanctions, it is unlikely that the US actions will have any positive impact.  So from an energy perspective, Venezuela continues its dive to irrelevancy.

Renewable and sustainable energy have a growing presence at the La Jolla Conference and, in this context, Chile, Argentina and Bolivia gain further relevance as major sources of the raw material for lithium batteries for electric vehicles.  Personally, I found it interesting that speakers at the Conference included natural gas in the discussion of renewables alongside wind and solar.  Gas has a role in the cleantech revolution. The variability inherent in wind and solar energy plus the storage issues continue to present challenges.  It was noted that fossil fuel energy has a history dating back more than 120 years and, by comparison, the alternative clean energy sector is still in its infancy.

Once again the La Jolla Conference provided insider insights and a great opportunity for meeting and greeting in a professional but very cordial atmosphere.  Everyone is looking forward to the next conference.

Dilma na California, Lula na Cadeia


Photo by author April 18, 2018

Outro dia escrevi sobre Lula na cadeia e agora, ironicamente, assisto Dilma na Califórnia. Ela está fazendo um giro que inclui UC-Berkeley, Stanford e San Diego State University. Com certeza são bons centros acadêmicos e agregam núcleos de pesquisa que tratam do Brasil e da America Latina. Vale observar que Dilma, como militante, apresenta em locais acadêmicos. Na viagem não há noticias de encontros diplomáticos ou empresariais. É claro que no meio acadêmico e principalmente entre os estudantes, há uma simpatia pelo Lula e também pela Dilma, que se apresentam como vitimas de um golpe contra a democracia. Em Berkeley ela praticamente repetiu o discurso de Lula em São Bernardo. Pode-se prender o homen, mas não uma idéia. São vitimas do coup d’etat ainda em curso. E segundo a ex-Presidenta, sua queda virou um exercício de antropofagia onde o feitiço voltou contra o feiticeiro.  Temer, caracterizado durante o carnaval como Drácula sugando o sangue do povo, é um presidente sem popularidade.  Entretanto, Dilma omite o fato de que ele é presidente hoje pela a coligação PT-PMDB. Além disto, aparentemente ela é ambivalente com relação ao Aécio. O fato de que o Supremo o tornou réu esvaziou seu discurso de que a justiça só indicia um lado.  Ela soberbamente, está se mostrando confiante de que vencerá Aécio num eventual embate em Minas a um cargo no Senado.

Na sua palestra em San Diego, a ex-presidente enfatizou os seguintes pontos:

  1. orgulho de ser mulher, feminista e a primeira “Presidenta” do Brasil
  2. que ela foi vitima de um golpe parlamentar e que as “pedaladas fiscais” não eram diferentes de atos semelhantes do FHC e administrações anteriores e portanto não caracterizam motivo de impeachment
  3. o governo dela foi um governo popular voltado para diminuição da desigualdade e a promoção de mulheres e minorias
  4. o novo governo visa retirar os benefícios e fortalece uma direita violenta e corrupta
  5. Lula é inocente e popular, e que mesmo estando na  “solitária”,  irá vencer
  6. a polarização política agrava no Brasil. Não existe mais centro, apenas extremos. O assassinato da Marielle Franco é resultado do aumento de poder da extrema direita pelo governo atual.
  7. o PT venceu 4 eleições presidências e venceria novamente com Lula porque o seu governo e o governo do Lula foram bem sucedidos ao diminuir a desigualdade e ao promover melhoria e expansão na educação
  8. Ela e Lula representam o oposto do ódio da direita.  O golpe abriu uma “caixa de Pandora” onde as forcas do mal estão soltas.

No final da palestra não teve debate. Apenas foram apresentadas duas perguntas, a primeira lembrando como a Dilma foi um exemplo de uma mulher  que sobreviveu a tortura e a violência. A segunda pergunta tratou da necessidade de democracia.

Os “talking points” da Dilma tem fundamento mas também são sujeitos a contestação. No final, me sentimento foi de melancolia. Embora a Dilma pareça bem fisicamente, ela não cativa pela palavra. Ela não se abriu e nem ofereceu uma autocrítica. Ela não apresenta um programa além do reparo daquilo que ela percebe como injustiça.   Dilma não reconhece o esgotamento do programa do PT e nem a condenação de seus partidários por corrupção. Ela não menciona nenhum erro com relação a Petrobras e nem na promoção de grandes obras tipo Belo Monte que ameaçam o meio ambiente. Para a “ex-Presidenta”, basta o PT voltar ao poder para poder resolver os problemas do Brasil. Ela não quer tocar na perda de densidade eleitoral do partido e na falta atual de quadros. Ela não pautou a unificação da esquerda e só falou de raspão do PSOL quando mencionou a invasão do apartamento de Guarujá por militantes do MTST.

A platéia aplaudiu, teve alguns gritos de “Lula livre” e ai acabou. Enfim, viajou longe para pouca gloria e nada de novo.

Na minha opinião, o Brasil precisa de renovação.  A candidatura para o Senado em Minas é conveniente para Dilma, ja que sua eleição não representará nenhum avanço positivo, sendo apenas um ganho de foro privelegiado para si e nao para o Aecio. É certo que estamos ainda há seis meses da eleição, mas seria melhor se Dilma se empenhasse mais pelo Brasil.  Como, por exemplo, batalhar e pressionar o governo do Rio para desvendar a morte da Marielle, ou talvez simplesmente aquietar e escrever suas memórias para melhor explicar sua atuação e muitas contradições durante sua administração. Ai está minha melancolia.


Photo by author: Membro da plateia 18/04/2018 San Diego State University




Lula in Jail: Hope, Despair and Elections

LulaPresoELPaisPhoto from El Pais: Lula Arriving at Federal Police Prison in Curitiba

Former President Lula, Brazil’s best loved and most hated personality is sitting in jail, hoping for and probably expecting an early release. But it is too soon to tell when this might happen.  While the PT insists that he is their candidate, it is also obvious that he will not be allowed to run for another term as president.  The polls place Jair Bolsonaro in first place in a race without Lula. But Bolsonaro has no party and his support will likely shrink.  Marina Silva has entered the race again and will attract the green vote and some on the left.  She has to compete against the Cearense Ciro Gomes.  So in the center or center right, we have the Governor of Sao Paulo, Geraldo Alckmin.  Former Supreme Court President, Joaquim Barbosa, has also joined the race and currently ranks higher than Alckmin with 8 percent in voter intent.  Obviously, it is still early and much has yet to happen before the first round of voting on October 7.  Barbosa’s entry is fascinating as it will test Brazil’s mythical racial equality and pits him neatly against the racist/sexist epitaph spewing Bolsonaro.

Because the PT has won the last four presidential elections, there is an illusion on the left about support for the ideology of the worker’s party.  The problem is that the left did not win; Lula WON, as a populist willing to offer something for all.  While Lula’s popularity is his major strength, it has also turned into a millstone.  He is no longer acceptable to the elite and the media. This has hastened his conviction although the malfeasance of his governments is unquestionable.  His “expedited” removal from the election reflects establishment fear of his return and the rejection of PT’s statist economic policy (New Economic Matrix) as dysfunctional for Brazil.  Of course, the PT’s burden of corruption also played a role even while “morality” is only relative in contemporary politics. Trump, for example, refuses to show his tax returns and comingles business and government.  While Macron, in France, is seeking to reduce the role of the state, his administration has also been questioned for its honesty in negotiating the rail strike and his handling of his cabinet.

While the upcoming presidential election is the marquee event, it also is only a part of the puzzle.  The make up of Congress after the vote will have equal or perhaps greater weight.  Brazil’s political parties have never been about ideologies but instead personalities.  Such is the case even of the supposedly ideal driven PT, which has little support without Lula. The same applies to all other parties.  The many parties represent regional and local alignments of those wielding economic power.  Because these competing forces control Congress, funds from the central government have been essential for assuring governability.  President Temer, for example, comes from the “Centrao” or a coalition of specific economic and local interests.  He has lost his political capital trading benefits for support in escaping trial by Congress on inevitable and obvious cases of corruption.  These same politicians – in order to preserve their office and benefits – have protectively ensconced themselves.  They may voice support for reform but fail to act or promote change in party structure, the electoral process and campaign finance.  As things currently stand, the status quo will prevail in the next Congress and the new president will again be faced with having to “buy off” a venal and fractious set of legislators.

Given the popularity of the anti-corruption movement, the Lava Jato, and the demands for reform, one could speculate that there might be an opening for a new set of less tainted political actors.  However, this is not exactly the case.  Rio de Janeiro is probably the most obvious example of the systemic shortcomings, which inhibit reform.  A little over a month ago, the popular Councilwoman Marielle Franco was brutally executed by professional hit men.  Police, under army supervision, have made little headway in solving the case. In the meantime, another community leader with whom councilwoman had contact was also shot down.  These deaths come about because powerful economic forces tied to organized crime dominate significant areas of Rio. They have their hands in many activities both legal and illegal.  The weakness of public authority has allowed organized criminal gangs and interests to effectively replace it and control large swaths of voters.  In addition, lack of literacy and the inability to see through false promises makes the electorate prey for opportunists of all types including criminals.  Marielle was perceived as a threat to these interests and paid dearly.  Her example makes others fearful to enter the fray.  Overall, the homicide rate continues unabated.

Brazil needs and deserves change. It is important to note that politics as reported in the news fails to show the whole picture.  Brazil’s economy is improving after the long recession.  Civil society is alive and active in spite of the backward obtuseness of the educational system and the quasi-monopoly Globo TV holds on the mass media.  But, Brazil is bigger than its government and officialdom. The productive possibilities in the country contradict and outstrip the fiscal and employment limitations of the state.  Clearly politics and the economy interlink but anyone on the ground also knows there are degrees of freedom and multiple opportunities.  Progress is slow and halting, but it still happens.  The mood is not good but there is still life on the beach and hope for the Selecao.


Life and Death in Rio: Marielle Franco

IMG_0887Source: author’s photo of Veja magazine cover

I arrived in Rio on Mar. 14, 2018 the same day that Marielle Franco was assassinated. Unless you reside in Rio, Marielle was not well known. Certainly she was not the national figure that she has become since her execution. Elected to the Rio City Council with 40 thousand plus votes, she was the 5th leading vote getter and seen as a woman of great political potential. She was different from traditional politicians. Ms. Franco was born in the slums, was mixed race, and open and comfortable in her homosexuality. She received her BA from Rio Catholic University had master’s degree and had published on race, gender and human rights. On the left of the political spectrum, she courageously spoke against political and economic inequality, crimes perpetuated against the poor and black and to a significant extent against police brutality in the slums. On the night of her execution, she was returning from a meeting of black women about discrimination, struggles and the means to empowerment. In sum, she was a rising voice seeking to be heard in the cacophony of Rio’s decadent and corrupt political environment.

Political assassinations have gradually become more common in Brazil but most are related to local disputes often among feuding and traditionally powerful dominant families. Marielle’s assassination reminds us more of the killings of Chico Mendes or Dorothy Stang in the more remote regions of Brazil with the almost total lack of institutionalized systems of law and order. While Rio is certainly a crime center and notoriously dangerous, almost all of the weekly double-digit death toll is that of young black men somehow caught up in territorial disputes over drugs, arms and the control of other criminal activities. The situation in Rio reached what many considered its limits in February of this year after an even greater crime surge during “Carnaval”. President Temer, looking to gain some political advantage, declared a military intervention and the Army assumed control of public security in Rio. Given the timing, Marielle’s shooting must be viewed as a serious challenge to the Army and, indeed, the President declared that the attack was aimed at Brazil’s democracy.

Brazil is formally a political democracy with regular elections and an active and fairly open press.  Brazilians regularly reject control although many long for an imagined but totally unreal security of the authoritarian rule by the Generals (1964-1985). On the other hand, all types of inequalities undermine Brazil’s formal political system and almost all institutions are tainted and function as might be expected in a poor underdeveloped country. The elite corporations depend upon extractive industries and a highly protected internal market that barely requires increased productivity or an informed and competent workforce.

As in the United States where mass killings fail to mobilize the electorate or create a critical mass for change, it is unfortunate that this most recent stain on Brazil will have much effect. True, there have been some important public manifestations and protests here and even abroad, but still Brazil is typically more passive than aggressive. Public rage can set a tone and the streets can grab the attention of the political class but thus far the beaches are more crowded than the squares. People are upset but outside of the social media channels, there are few suggestions that this tragic death will change anything. Thus those who planned and hired this hit have sent their message. They have intimidated, they have stated their case for the status quo of uncontrolled crime, violence and malfeasance which strain, stain and sustain Brazil’s political status quo.

Some suggest that Brazil’s violence has metastasized and will eventually lead to the death and collapse of the system. The problem with this view is that fails to account for the resilience of accommodation. People continue to accept criminality, inequality, stupidity and corruption as the norm. Live with it or leave.

Brasil: Marcha Ré para o Futuro

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Sempre que chego de volta ao Brasil, tenho que acostumar com o fuso horário, mas não só. A distância física, a diferença de clima, o ambiente, a comida, as pessoas e o astral são diferentes. A impressão, sob a perspectiva norte-americana, mesmo em um mundo tomado de assalto por Trumpistas, Trumbetas e Trambiques, é que o Brasil continua sendo o Brasil e nunca perde uma boa oportunidade para se estrepar. O país que tem tudo para dar certo só tropeça.

Entretanto, a impressão de longe não é completa. Entre as duzentos e tanto de milhões de pessoas, há quem procura viver com boas expectativas e com esperança. Há ceticismo, mas também há a idéia de que as coisas podem e devem melhorar. Um dos problemas, no entanto, vem da tradição ibérica de fechar o foco apenas naquilo que se tem à mão: a família dentro da proteção das paredes. Aceita-se como imutável aquilo que parece impossível mudar ou que nunca mudou. Fecha-se entre paredes, liga-se a TV e se protege ou se aliena como pode.

Como se pode esperar, surgem as reclamações: Não há emprego, a escola está ruim e/ou chata, os serviços de saúde não prestam e o perigo mora do lado de fora, no mero malandro ou no assassino cruel ou simplesmente estúpido. A TV alardeia e os jornais vendem o sensacional, a realidade sanguenta.

E apesar de tudo, o futuro chega. E fica a questão: o que futuro? O país sai lentamente da recessão e a economia é cíclica. Mas quais são as possibilidades de trabalho para quem hoje está com 10 anos e estará com 20 logo depois da Copa em Qatar? Quais são as chances de quem egressa da escola pública? Quem pode subir se ainda tropeça no esgoto e lama das chuvas por falta de interesse no saneamento básico?

Reclama-se, mas quem faz algo para melhorar? O Presidente manda o exército para intervir no Rio e ainda faz paralelo com a participação através da ONU no Haiti. O Haiti é aqui, mas o exército não é a solução do problema de violência no Rio.

Com certeza, temos que reconhecer os movimentos sociais e as tentativas individuais e coletivas para atenuar a situação. Infelizmente, contudo, os movimentos ainda não alcançam o “tipping point” para virar a direção e alterar profundamente o quadro. A vontade que existe não basta, não atinge a massa critica.

Com o discurso direita x esquerda e apenas a identificação da corrupção como problema fundamental, as pessoas bem informadas acabam com um enfoque limitado. Intelectuais de esquerda como Vladimir Safatle, desencantado com qualquer progresso político institucional, advoga uma democracia direta que parece ser uma “solução” Cubana ou Chavista, o que, por sua vez, não vai resolver nem o problema de corrupção e muito menos o problema econômico de gerir produção. A direita, por sua vez, na forma populista de um capitão, clama por uma solução voltando para a intervenção militar mais ampla do que o atual experimento no Rio. E quem conhece ou viveu nos anos de chumbo, sabe que o governo pela armas não oferece nada de positivo e duradouro. É nada mais que falsa solução enraizada no desespero e desencanto.

A construção da democracia no Brasil, embora árdua, não é impossível ou não menos improvável do que o voluntarismo de esquerda ou de uma investida militar. Na realidade, tudo é possível. Mas espero que o caminho atual no sentido de realização de eleições abertas e da participação das pessoas na política e no mercado ainda represente a direção mais acertada. Talvez o mundo tenha implodido ou explodido antes da chegada de uma solução melhor no Brasil, mas as duas opções vislumbradas até agora são ainda menos atraentes.

Paciência e vamos para o futuro, sem um regresso indevido ao passado ditatorial. Sem retrocesso, por favor.