10 Pontos – De Volta ao Futuro

É sempre interessante quando retornamos ao pais depois de algum tempo.  A imagem do Brasil no exterior não é boa e ao nível superficial as noticias não são animadoras.  Desde o inicio do ano, assistimos basicamente coisas negativas do tipo das chacinas prisionais, números pouco animadores na economia como vendas no varejo e desemprego e ainda manobras políticas que podem atrapalhar as tentativas de tolher a corrupção ainda sem freio.

Com isso, fiz uma lista de 10 pontos que vem a cabeça e oferecem algo para debate ou reflexão.

  • Lava Jato tem sido muito salutar e a Republica de Curitiba talvez consegue institucionalizar alguns avanços. Entretanto no quadro geral representa uma exceção e talvez esteja chegando a um ponto de “diminishing returns”.
  • Como exceção, Lava Jato só sobrevive com respaldo popular e o interesse principal da população no momento é a economia. Na medida que a economia melhore (estamos talvez no final do ciclo recessivo depois de mais de 2 anos) a retomada de crescimento e a necessidade de criar trabalho tendem a tomar o espaço das investigações.
  • O Presidente Temer apresenta uma estratégia que está funcionando no Congresso no sentido de trocar reformas importantes como controle fiscal, previdência, e impostos em troca de proteção para os políticos corruptos.
  • As reformas têm um cunho antipopular, mas não há mobilização e consciência popular de densidade suficiente para fazer frente ao governo que oferece uma perspectiva de melhoria econômica. No quadro de acomodação, que é típica no Brasil, talvez basta apenas a promessa.
  • Traçando uma linha por Brasília no sentido Leste-Oeste divide-se o pais norte-sul. A composição do Congresso e especialmente do Senado favorece os setores mais tradicionais e conservadores.  Assim o Presidente cerca-se de coronéis, conseguindo o apoio político dos elementos mais retrógados do norte e nordeste, praticamente todos eles citados nas delações premiadas.
  • Temer não e só hábil nas suas relações com os políticos tradicionais mas acaba ganhando também respaldo do PT que o apóia em troca da diminuição da eficiência da Lava Jato.
  • A equipe econômica do Meirelles vem ganhando a confiança do setor financeiro e dos grandes grupos econômicos. Os empresários tendem a reconhecer a necessidade das reformas, especialmente a redução da carga tributaria e presença do Estado. As chamadas “forcas produtivas” tem um peso.
  • A pinguela é estreita mas não há alternativa a não ser atravessar com o sem Temer. E a alternativa de tirar o atual presidente não é de fácil digestão já que as alternativas são talvez piores.
  • É obvio que o governo não tem popularidade e enfrenta crises constantes mas isto é nada mais do que a situação típico e tradicional do Brasil, principalmente em época de vacas magras.
  • Ha uma colisão em curso entre a necessidade de modernizar e a resistência do tradicional e retrogrado. O comentarista Vinicius Torres Freire escreveu na Folha de São Paulo em 10 de fevereiro: “Enquanto houver ‘reformas’, os donos do dinheiro grosso e seus porta-vozes aprovam tácita ou explicitamente o acórdão.” Se “eles” aprovam, as camadas da sociedade com menos poder político/econômico, de apenas relativo poder de mobilização e sem visão de alternativas, acaba acomodando.  Então paciência, pelo menos ate as eleições de 2018.  E aí quem sabe que o Brasil consegue escapar do populismo a lá Trump ou dos evangélicos tipos IURD ou não.  Nota-se de passagem e levando em consideração populismo, Lula e o candidato mais popular e esta prometendo “to make Brazil great again.”maxresdefault

Vou deixar para os outros dizer: “Estamos perdidos

Foreign Direct Investment in Brazil

Below is a short article published today (Jan 25, 2017)in the international edition of Valor. Some of the questions that come to mind are:

What sectors are receiving the largest inflows?  I would think most likely petroleum exploration with the loosening of restrictions.  The primary sector also is important with the growth of soybeans and large investments in eucaliptus for the pulp industry.

Where are these flows coming from?  China promised 10 billion but the Chinese are notoriously slow in fulfilling their promises.  What companies and countries are the source?  The US has the largest stock of accumulated FDI

Finally, as noted in the article, FDI in Brazil, in spite of uncertainty, recession, political crisis, disease, accidents, death and decline, keeps growing.  Someone must be thinking long term.

FDI reaches record 4.4% of GDP despite recession and political crisis

Recession, impeachment, political crisis, and corruption scandals have not affected the flow of foreign direct investment into the country, which ended 2016 at $78.9 billion, or the record level of 4.37% of GDP. The investment inflow, spread across various sectors of the economy, financed easily the current account deficit, which stood at $23.5 billion, or 1.3 percent of GDP. “This shows that direct investments have specific characteristics, linked to long-term decision and could be maintained even in years of weak economic activity,” said Fernando Rocha, head of Central Bank’s Economic Department. For 2017, the forecast is of $75 billion in FDI, or 3.82% of GDP. 

Article from Valor International Edition, Jan. 25, 2017

Reader Comments and Temer x Trump

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A Facebook friend and reader, Innocent A. Nweze, wrote to alert that my 2017 prediction blog (https://allabroadconsulting.wordpress.com/2017/01/04/2017-predictions-for-brazil-happy-new-year/) was more a rehash of 2016 then a forecast for the New Year. I answered Innocent with something to the effect that 2016 has not yet ended in Brazil and it is, as we say in futbol, only the prorogacao or added time. (As many acknowledge, nothing happens until the end of summer and Carnaval so still waiting for 2017 to begin around March 1.)

Still, here are his points in italics.

(1) Some sort of self-reexamination. A kind of “cleansing” if you like. Cleansing of the old, but are not certain what to replace the old. So what could be the impact of this sort of transition for Brazilians in 2017. Maybe the general impact on Latin America.

(2) Will there be a transformation of the Political System in 2017? Will there be a convergence of the political parties or will they remain splintered as is currently? Will the transformation be gradual or sudden and quick in 2017? What should we expect?

(3) Brazilian infrastructure and institutions. Good and bad, what is to be expected in 2017? Post 2017 too. Advanced Agriculture, deep expertise in deep sea drilling technologies, manufacturing, poverty alleviation for which Brazilian recently gained recognition, no matter how perfunctory. What should we expect in 2017, even in the near term?

(4) Politics and corruption and impact on the economy in 2017.

Point by point:

  • Certainly Brazil is going through self-examination, but how deep this goes is a question. If people are not educated and informed and capable of critical reflection, it is hard to go beyond the surface. Brazil has made tremendous quantitative strides since 1960 in expanding education and reducing illiteracy. However, the quality of education is not there. Information is also a major problem. Although Rede Globo is not as dominant as it used to be, it is still the most important media vehicle and, overall, does not make people think as much as making them think in one direction. And Globo is just the prominent tip of this iceberg. It is nice to suppose that access to social networking is breaking down this monopoly, but usage needs to further expand and important economic and media groups control the most popular sites.
  • Transformation of Brazil’s political situation is halting and slow. Temer’s major challenge, an area where he has made some important initiatives, is the economy. As I mentioned in the 2017 predictions, the PMDB and allies threaten the corruption investigations and seek the status quo where they receive a lion’s share of benefits. I don’t see party reform on the 2017/2018 agenda, as it is not in the personal interest of the politicians in Congress.
  • Brazil’s infrastructure is notoriously deficient. Some improvements are made through privatizing. But each privatization diminishes power politicians have to appoint and control so again they are not readily favorable. In addition, the country has been in recession and the government is bloated and fails to provide social and economic benefits. The recent administrations have overtaxed and spent poorly creating a black hole so there is little or no money for investments. Yes, there are areas of excellence such as the deep-sea extraction technology. But this technology is part of a larger system of worldwide petroleum production and political/economic management at Petrobras. Brazil needs to define where its national interest lie in the oil fields and how to best exploit them either in conjunction with multinationals or by itself. Alone, at the moment, Petrobras does not have the resources or even access to the funds necessary to take advantage of what it knows. So in the end, expect increases in poverty with rises in unemployment and only moderate or no gains at all in manufacturing. Even if Bolsa Familia (a good program) remains, it is not a solution to the basic problem of employment and production. Agriculture is increasingly important but hampered by lack of infrastructure and affected by fluctuations in demand and the weather.
  • Politics and corruption provides an interesting bridge to connect Temer and Trump and the international milieu. Temer and his cohorts threaten the progress of corruption investigations in Brazil. Trump, in his lack of transparency and given his past business dealing does not appear to be a paragon of moral rectitude. He has asked for the resignation of all ambassadors by his inauguration on Jan. 20. It will be a bit ironic if Liliana Ayalde, who the left views as a coup monger is replaced by someone more overtly favorable to US corporations and with a blind eye toward malfeasance whether it be by the oil companies, the NSA, or the CIA. So Ms. Ayalde may actually be missed. Apart from that Trump appears to have little interest in Brazil as a nation. He may praise Doria or Bolsonaro or even the developers of Trump Rio, but in the end he will do what is good for his own interests and those of his allies such as the presumptive Secretary of State Mr. Tillerson (formerly Exxon). Brazil and Temer may put up a stiff upper lip and smile but they should be disabused of the idea that Trump will do them any favors.

In the end, we can hope for gradual improvements just because people in Brazil are generally positive and are gradually coming to recognize that their dependence on a paternal state is not productive and no longer tenable. Young people are unleashing a tremendous amount of entrepreneurial talent and given Brazil’s size and the wealth that already exists will eventually find a way to more equality and prosperity. It may take a hundred years and there are no guarantees but we need to have faith and hope.

Grading my Brazil Predictions for 2016

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Optimistic Dilma in 2016 – Photo by Roberto Stuckert Filho

 

Some readers have followed, not necessarily religiously, this blog since it went public in January of 2013. Comments have generally been gracious and insightful.

As long-time readers know, I do a New Year’s prediction for how Brazil will fare over the coming 12 months. As part of this, it’s only fair to go back and assess what I got right and wrong. I’m giving my 2016 predictions a gentlemanly B-. Here, for verification, is the link to those year-old predictions: https://allabroadconsulting.wordpress.com/2016/01/01/brazil-predictions-for-2016/

My biggest 2016 prediction mistake was stating outright that President Dilma would not be impeached. I sincerely believed that she could and would marshal the political forces necessary for her survival. Instead, she went down with hardly a whimper and with little or no political or economic support. . A worsening recession, growing unemployment and above all, her indecisiveness in the economic sphere and her disconnect from Congress ultimately doomed her. Her incompetence and distance even from her own party showed her lack of political skill and desire to save her presidency.

While I missed on Dilma, I predicted correctly Cunha’s (former President of House and the main force in Congress behind the impeachment) ouster and Renan Calheiro’s survival (as the President of the Senate). Mr. Calheiros has indeed prevailed but notably weakened and will soon lose the presidency of the Senate. The new President, Michel Temer, has kept his distance from Calheiros preferring other cronies instead. In my predictions, I did not mention Temer (as I did not think he would actually take over) and I should have looked at his ambitions more closely.

On the economy, like most everyone, I correctly anticipated the continued recession but also expected the cycle to reach bottom by the end of the year and naturally perk up from there. It now appears that the upswing may not begin until the second or third quarter of 2017. The recession, the major increase in unemployment and the consequent lack of demand has kept inflation relatively low. I had expected inflation (again with Dilma) to hit or top 10% due to her maneuvering to please supporters. President Temer has pushed a cap on spending through Congress and this along with lack of demand has held inflation to around 6.5% in 2017 with a current tendency to fall. Brazil’s Central Bank is predicting inflation of less than 5% in 2017. While the official numbers appear reasonable, the impact of price increases certainly feels higher and more worrisome on the street.

Speaking of worrisome, Brazil is mastering the art of year-end crises. It used to be mudslides with summer rains creating havoc. These were largely man made catastrophes because of unregulated and uncontrolled development of unsafe areas. Because the deadly slides were associated with the seasonal downpours, they could be blamed on nature. Similarly, Zika was the New Year concern from 2015 to 16 when thousands of cases appeared and hundreds of babies were born with microcephaly. In this case, nature again was blamed but Brazilians also know that mosquitoes breed and propagate due to a lack of basic infrastructure and sanitation. By August and the Olympics, the pandemic was no longer an international threat and Brazil, as I predicted, successfully held the Games. Of course, the major beneficiaries were not the people of Rio but instead NBC and the Olympic Committee. Rio is now bankrupt and many of the so-called Olympics improvements are rapidly falling into disrepair. This 2017 New Year disaster cannot be blamed on nature but must be laid at the heart of the contradictions inherent in Brazil’s barbaric inequality and violent past. Prison riots in the first days of the year have caused well over 100 deaths and the government seems paralyzed in how to address the gangs that control the prisons, their historically abhorrent (mis)management, and the Justice system itself that operates willy-nilly and condemns the poor, black and powerless. The rebellions and deaths show the bankruptcy of the government and paradoxically the strength for those who have nothing to lose and know that life is cheap. The gangs rule in the absence of any other intervening power.

Last year, I also mentioned the continuity of the corruption investigations and, especially the Lava Jato (Car Wash) with its revelations of unprecedented bribery and the chummy network of exchanges between construction companies, politicians and political nominees positioned to take bribes and distribute contracts favoring the “empreiteiras” (construction companies) and their political allies.   Again, thinking that Dilma would hold on to power, I imagined the extension of the investigations to other areas such as the National Development Bank (BNDES) and more specific projects like the transposition of the San Francisco River. Indeed, there has been mention in this direction but no action. Instead, the Temer government sought to quietly dismantle the main investigations and it has only been through strong public pressure within Brazil and from abroad including the US Department of Justice that the prosecutions actually survive.

Interestingly as predicted, Brazil continues to receive massive amounts of FDI (Foreign Direct Investment) some 69 billion in 2016. Some of this money is going into the primary sector for land purchases, soybean and pulp plantations. Other sectors are less clear, with industry in decline, the money is likely going to opportunistic acquisitions in manufacturing or processing (i.e. the Petrobras sale of the notorious costly refinery in Pernambuco negotiated recently for 10 cents to the dollar. Other investments are going into education, services, distribution and logistics. Still these have not sufficed to revive the economy. More money is starting to come from China but the Chinese still lack confidence in how to deal with Brazil.

Unfortunately, Dilma’s ouster is still yielding negative returns for Brazil’s institutions. While she was bad, her replacement has not improved the economic situation, slowed the firings, enhanced productive investments or inspired confidence. Dilma, though apparently personally honest, could or would not govern.   President Temer’s rectitude is perhaps less certain. His government is corrupt and weak but more politically adept in dealing with the venal politicians in Congress. Hopefully, the electoral court will not have time to disqualify the Dilma/Temer slate, which would force Temer out and the indirect election of a new interim president who would have filler role to the elections of 2018. If this happens, it will further confuse the public and inhibit the possible emergence of candidates not tied to corrupt schemes or past malfeasance.

Pulling off the Olympics and winning the missing gold medal for the first time in futbol* were the high points, and now Brazil continues to flounder but such is the world in 2017.

*The Olympic gold medal was only major soccer title that Brazil had never won.

2017 Predictions for Brazil – Happy New Year ???

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For the last several years, I have started the year with a guessing exercise and have attempted to predict certain political, economic and other events in Brazil. Often I have erred but have occasionally been correct. For example, I did not predict Germany winning the Cup in 2014 and much less the 7 x 1 thrashing. However, last year I did correctly state that Brazil would pull off the Olympics as an event made for TV and the country did so in spite of all the negatives that preceded and now follows. I have been right about the direction of the economy but off on the quantitative predictions say for the exchange or inflation rate. Educated guesses both hit and miss.

Thinking about 2017 and those that might read this, it might be more interesting to look at topics not directly related to Brazil’s political economy, and instead, examine other vagaries of the New Year. On New Year’s Eve, those that celebrated did so wearing all white clothes, new undergarments and overtly or covertly thought about blessing that Iemanjá might bring. Brazilian desires are fairly universal. Almost all seek health, prosperity, spiritual blessings and love for themselves and their families. Some also wish for the passing of the current government, the end to the many tiresome ongoing scandals and occasionally some Brazilians were even pleading for respect for the environment reflecting perhaps a larger global awareness in the collective conscience.

Of course, Brazil’s New Year was marred not only by scandals and crimes, but also the mass murders that took a dozen lives in Campinas and then the one allowed by Brazil’s perpetually abhorrent prison system which led to some 50 to 60 plus deaths and many convicts on the loose in the state of Amazonas.

While wishing for God’s blessings, love, peace and prosperity, the question that confronts the population is: Has God renounced his Brazilian citizenship causing the country to lose its way? Many fear this to be true. With the economy collapsing, unemployment growing, street crime, and total cynicism about the politicians, Brazilians are indeed pessimistic and lacking in hope. Brazil’s “new middle class” is rapidly sinking with debt and unemployment, while those that have a bit more are being constantly assaulted by taxes and new tariffs. The latest creative gem is the tax on Netflix and other streaming services.  There is a general feeling of impotence in spite of the desire to want and seek betterment with the passage of the old year. The current president has rejection ratings as high impeached Rousseff but at least he still has a majority in Congress and in that represents an improvement over his predecessor. President Temer, at times, seems to be taking the message of fiscal control seriously and has succeeded in pushing through an amendment to cap government spending. But, at the same time, he has failed to control current expenditures and has appeared to be at the mercy of the vested interests in the bureaucracy and in Congress that effectively circumvent stated intentions and weaken the already precarious legitimacy through special favors and privilege. Without his own votes and by sending a mixed message, Temer appears weak and may not be able to finish out his term if street demonstrations and the Lava Jato investigation turn against him. Recently, Veja magazine, a prominent opponent of the previous administration, put the President’s much younger and attractive wife on its cover in what appears to be an attempt to deflect criticism and attention from the President himself.

Newly elected mayors took office on January first. Interestingly, most new mayors of Brazil’s major cities are not from the President’s party or the PT party of the previous administration. The new mayors may represent new faces and the disenchantment but still their populist actions (street sweeping in Sao Paulo and giving blood in Rio) while voting or approving increased salaries for councilmen and bureaucrats portray the ongoing realities of Brazilian politics. It is still pay to play and negotiate benefits and deals once in power.

Politics tends to depress people and not only in Brazil, but it is important not to lose sight of multiple currents and events that have been emerging. The connectivity and activism on Brazil’s social media is of major importance. People have used social media to mobilize support of say anti corruption and individual expression in a fairly effective manner. However, the tendency in Brazil, as elsewhere, is to only listen to those who are similar and reject or not associate with those of different views. Many Brazilians condemned the wanton killers of a street vendor who had defended an LBGT person but Brazil’s machismo and homophobia still are deeply embedded nevertheless. Feminist movements, artists, actors, intellectuals, students and minorities of all types are finding ways to organize. Still racism, sexism and the traditional power structure reinforce all of the traditional differentiations. While Brazilians are favorable to democracy, their ardor has waned and increasingly the authoritarian temptations once again reemerge. Thus it is again common to hear calls for military intervention, for jailing all the “bad” actors and for killings by death squads or militias to supposedly rid society of its bad elements. For many there is still a disassociation between means and ends.   Perhaps a majority still fails to recognize the rule of the law must be accompanied by respect for the individual and that the individual actions need to be rewarded and/or punished based not on class, gender, race or wealth but on the merits and consequences of the actions as judged by the law. The arrest, conviction and actual jail time for elite businessmen and politicians in the recent years show progress in the direction. However, the hundreds of cases associated with the Petrobras and other related scandals are still different and distinct from the millions of cases, indignities and crimes, which most directly touch Brazil’s poor. If you are white, college educated, dressed appropriately and a man, you will still be treated with much greater deference at all levels than someone who is poor, dark skinned and female.

Last year was difficult in Brazil. The house seemed to be slowly crumbling as the economy continued its slide and fiscal crisis wore down the already inefficient public services. Brazil’s institutions have been damaged by the impeachment but have also shown resiliency in the ongoing investigations and the arrest and jailing of notorious figures such as Eduardo Cunha, the former Speaker of the House of Representative. Brazil is seesawing back and forth on its path to economic development and democratic construction. It has a long way to go but perhaps in 10 years we will look back and see that the country had to go through a deep crisis to find its path. On the other hand, though, it is also possible that Brazil and the rest of the world may succumb to demagoguery, apocalyptical visions, authoritarianism and involution. This new year of 2017 will only be another stepping stone on the path to something better or perhaps something not as great as we might desire. To a certain extent, the direction will depend on how and if people participate, act and actually feel empowered to make a difference.

 

Vergonha: Falta de

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Fonte: Mapa da Cachaça

Lembro-me quando adolescente no interior de Minas chamar alguém de “sem vergonha” era bem pesado. Tinha umas meninas mais recatadas e outras talvez menos e muitas vezes a distinção aparente tinha a ver com classe social. As vezes, as mocinhas mais oferecidas eram vistas como as com menos vantagens de classe social e renda. Como menino, levei um bom tempo para sacar as diferenças. Na época, as velas vigiavam o namoro e quem não tinha vela podia ser de repente classificada como ‘sem vergonha” ou as vezes, até perdida.

Hoje o que mais vejo nas redes sociais são declarações como: “Que vergonha!”, “Que sem vergonha”, “Ai que vergonha de ser brasileiro/a” ou “O Brasileiro perdeu ou não tem vergonha.” Enfim ao longo de umas duas gerações, a natureza, o sentido e o peso da vergonha mudou. O que para mim, menino de 15 anos, era uma pista de comportamento sexual existe hoje num contexto completamente diferente.

Vergonha e as expressões acima citadas tem a ver hoje com os escândalos cada vez mais amplos e freqüentes que minam a legitimidade do governo. A Wikipédia (https://pt.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lista_de_esc%C3%A2ndalos_pol%C3%ADticos_no_Brasil) oferece uma listagem de casos começando na década de 60 ate o presente momento. É interessante notar a evolução no numero de casos de um na década de 60 para mais 50 entre 2000 e 2016. Claro que a operação Lava Jato representa a mais divulgada e talvez a mais ampla em termos de escala e impacto mas resta a imagem que no Brasil não existe um setor que não seja comprometida. Embora a listagem de Wikipédia mostra o crescimento, não se pode afirmar com toda certeza que o Brasil esta ficando mais corrupto. O fato é que a corrupção sempre existiu e talvez hoje a imprensa, a policia e a justiça está mais atuante.

Sem querer colocar o Brasil como primus inter pares, devemos reconhecer a existência do ilícito em toda parte. Aqui nos EUA, por exemplo, os caso são corriqueiros. Eis alguns exemplos: Ex-Presidente Bill Clinton foi condenado na Câmara e sofreu “impeachment” só que o Senado (diferente do caso da Dilma) não concordou e permaneceu no cargo. Outro exemplo corriqueiro, uma senhora, antiga funcionaria da Cargill (empresa multinacional de porte grande muito atuante no Brasil), roubou 3.5 milhões de dólares e ainda causou prejuízo de mais de 25 milhões. Ela fez um acordo com a justiça e esta sujeita a 20 anos de prisão, restituição, a perda da casa e de seus fundos de investimento. (Milling and Baking News, 6/dez/2016). Mais um caso relevante:Deputado Federal Randy “Duke” Cunningham, herói de guerra no Vietnam e ídolo dos conservadores. Em 2006, perdeu o cargo e foi condenado a 8 anos de cadeia por um juiz federal por trafego de influencia e condução com grandes vantagens de negócios ilícitos para empresas contratados pelo Departamento de Defesa. Alguma semelhança com Brasil não é mera coincidência.

É correto então ter vergonha? O que acontece hoje é que as pessoas enxerguem o roubo, o crime, a falta de punição, a falta de justiça e o enriquecimento ilícito como praticas ou fatos normais de tão corriqueiros que são. No Brasil, a lei do Gerson, ainda vigora ou talvez esteja cada vez mais presente. Assim você não deve ter vergonha de levar vantagem. A maestria do Gerson em campo na precisa distribuição da bola e na visão de jogo era realmente impar. Por outro lado, Gerson como garoto de propaganda de cigarros reflete tanto a malandragem quanto a natureza de Macunaíma identificado por Mario de Andrade ha quase cem anos. Numa sociedade onde as elites (grandes proprietários, grandes industriais, grandes banqueiros e grandes políticos) constituem uma minoria bem fechada e onde as instituições não são transparentes e funcionam de forma diferente para a elite e para o povo, o jeitinho como forma de ganhar alguma vantagem acaba sendo aceito como norma.   O herói não tem caráter.

Mas, o que vemos hoje na sociedade, quase totalmente urbanizada e massificada, é a perda de eficiência do jeitinho.   Hoje, a justiça e o executivo tendem a rechaçar soluções arrumadas como o caso do Renan recentemente mas nem sempre conseguem escapar. O Legislativo por sua vez prevalece como o recinto dos resultados não transparentes. Se a lei não permite, faz pressão sobre a judiciário e/ou executivo ou muda a lei conforme a necessidade. A triste tentativa de distorcer e depenar as 10 medidas contra corrupção no meio da noite quando a população estava chorando queda do avião do time de Chapecó é o exemplo recente mais gritante.

Contudo a idéia da democracia como meta e ideal ainda sobrevive. Ha muita retórica mas a rotina das eleições e a existência de um Congresso e um executivo eleito diretamente, ainda que corrupto e retrogrado, constituem avanços básicos. Individualmente, pode-se ter vergonha dos representantes e de seus desvios, mas ainda ha espaço para uma luta digna no sentido de construir partidos e identificar lideranças diferentes dos existentes e do status quo. A eleição do Lula foi um passo neste sentido mas o avanço foi tragado pelo sistema e pela falta de uma liderança menos comprometida com um projeto de poder em vez de um projeto de construção política, econômica e social duradouro e sustentável.

Assim, os suspiros desesperados de “falta de vergonha” e semelhante não estão equivocados mas são incompletos que esquecem que a vergonha não precisa ser sempre um substantivo e característica permanente. A vergonha pode ser transformada em poder de decisão e autonomia. Como a moca que perdeu a virgindade e a “vergonha” antes de casar na década de 60, hoje é uma profissional, uma mãe, uma pessoa orgulhosa dentro do novo contexto que foi construído socialmente. O Brasil aos trancos e barrancos encontrara seu caminho e o encontro será “sem vergonha.” Assim esperamos

In the Long Run – Brazil

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O Coracao Sofre – Buzz Feed Brazil

 

Keynes famously said: “In the long run, we are all dead”. Some say he did not really mean that but he is indeed dead. So does it make sense to look at Brazil in the long run? Given the casuistry, manipulations and world events of unknown impact, looking at the long term has to be more heartening than trying to keep up with the day-to-day scandals, breakdowns and institutional crises afflicting the country.

It is clear that Brazil is in crisis. The problems have international, political, economic, social and moral impact. The decline in growth and outright recession are heading into year 7. Since a peak in growth in 2010, all indicators have been negative. So far just in economic terms, Brazil has regressed to 2005. There are some 12 to 15 million unemployed and another 20 to 30 million underemployed. The GNP has dropped below the US$2 trillion and Brazil risks falling out of the 10 largest economies on this measure. Interest rates are among the highest in the world and even at double digits, investors do not have confidence to invest or park their funds in Brazil. Inflation while declining due to lack of demand is still almost twice the target annual rate of 4.5%.

Levels of frustration are rising and become manifest in street demonstrations against corruption, crime and poor governance. The Olympics and related malfeasance contributed to bankrupting both the city and state governments in Rio. Rio Grande do Sul and Minas Gerais states have also formally declared “calamity”. Public servants are getting paid late if at all.

President Dilma, while totally incompetent as a manager and politician, in spite of the image “Gerentona” (super-manager) was impeached on a fiscal technicality. Having said that, it has to be clear that her mismanagement of the government spending plus a blind eye to corruption still justified her ouster. The cost, nevertheless, has been institutional degradation. Her defenestration has created in Congress the type of solidarity one finds in a gang of thieves. Each politician seeks position behind someone who can be pushed off the cliff or fed to the lions as a sacrifice before he or she goes down the same path. Thus the once all-powerful (such as former House of Representatives President Eduardo Cunha) now sit behind bars.

Arresting politicians is happening essentially for the first time in Brazil, but the business elite took the first fall. Marcelo Odebrecht of the eponymous company has been in jail for a year and half, as have other formally untouchable business people. The arrests have also had their dampening effect on the economy and although there are plea bargains and leniency agreements in the works, Brazil economy has been driven backwards as a partial result of the ongoing investigations into Petrobras and virtually every major public works endeavor. While corruption has long been endemic in Brazil, it gained unprecedented dimensions just in the last 10 to 15 years. The whole state apparatus and those businesses tied to the state (something like 40% of the economy) have been corrupted. The toll of this on business confidence and the increase of cynicism in society have led to almost total despair and frustration. Those who can leave the country are trying to leave and those that have to stay can only attempt to look inward to family and friends trying to survive within a more or less predictable yet convoluted context.

The middle class has been excited with Sergio Moro, a somewhat heroic figure. But his actions are increasingly becoming tarnished by the perception of his one sided judgments and especially his failure to distance himself from the Tucanos. His latest photo op laughing and jesting with the PSDB president is a credibility killer in the Brazilian context. Sad. It is not to say that battling corruption is unimportant but it has to be done in an even handed and fair manner. In Brazil, like most other places, the story is more important than the truth.

In the short run, Brazil continues to dig a hole and President Temer can’t seem to find a way. There is now speculation that he will be gone in 2017 and so the political crisis will deepen even as the economy begins to slow and eventually reverse its decline as part of a natural cycle. The trouble is that not even 85-year-old former President Fernando Henrique Cardoso will be able to turn things around politically and socially if he is returned to the Presidency. Given the extent of Brazil’s fall and disorganization many protesters are clamoring for a military intervention, with no knowledge or recollection of the darkness of the dictatorship.

The US election, Putin’s popularity, the rise of “strong men/women” all over Europe and other places (Duterte in the Philippines) all show that we are tempted by facile solutions proffered in simplistic, jingoistic, nationalistic or chauvinistic appeals.

Many on the left still blame capitalism and are mourning Fidel’s passing while those on the right appeal to market based solutions, which today frustrate across the board. President-elect Trump exploited this vein but now faces the nearly impossible challenge of delivering to the white working middle class in mid America. His appointees are inward looking, anti-intellectual, if not anti science, and promise to shake the administration but will achieve probably very little of Trump’s populist promises in the face of active and passive resistance of the bureaucracy and the entrenched elite economic structure.

Dysfunctionality is ascendant worldwide. The Euro may collapse; the Chinese will falter in developing a more overtly capitalist economy unless they can achieve change in the rigid political structure. The Middle East continues to tear itself apart and cannot find a religious reform commensurate with its material needs. Aleppo becomes last year’s tragedy as Assad; with the help of the Russians, mindlessly sacrifices more Syrian people in the name of what?

Things don’t look that great in Brazil but compared with the rest of the world; maybe it is not far from the mean. My generation that came of age in 60’s and fought for the return of democracy in Brazil is beginning to die off. What have we left for our children and grandchildren? Time will tell. In the long run, Brazil is Brazil with its continental dimensions and a vibrant population. It has vast abundance of the resources of the future in people, land and water. The challenge will be to develop its poorly utilized human capital and gain some self awareness to rise above its Calheiros and Cunhas and Cabrals and to go beyond its Lulopetistas and isolated “heroes” such as Sergio Moro to develop a model that can bring some degree of social justice commensurate with its latent human, political and economic potential. The long run starts now and already a new generation is ready to leave the 20th century and its outdated ideas to perhaps develop individually and collectively something to delimit both the state and the market so to permit both self-actualization and more collective good.

brasilfuturo Foto publicado em Exame