Descaso, Acomodação e Fatalismo: A Morte Anunciada em Brumadinho

mortevidaseverinaGravura do livro: Morte e Vida Severina

 

Joao Cabral de Melo Neto escreveu sua obra Morte e Vida Severina na década de 50 retratando a epopeia de sofrimento, morte e a esperança da vida sertaneja.  Na década, milhares de nordestinos migraram em direção aos centros do sudeste do Brasil, inclusive a Região Metropolitana de Belo Horizonte.  Ainda na década de 50, a estatal CVRD estava começando a ganhar corpo como um gigante futuro na mineração.  Minas está no nome.  Lá reside o nascedouro do rio que era uma vez doce.

Aprendemos criança que Minas Gerais é prodígio em riquezas naturais, principalmente, do subsolo.  O estado, nos ensinaram, tem um coração de ouro dentro de um peito de ferro.  O ouro e depois os diamantes e pedras financiaram as igrejas coloniais e as riquezas de Ouro Preto, Diamantina e muitas outras cidades.  Sua transferência para a matriz (Portugal) e de lá para Inglaterra ajudou a financiar a revolução industrial dos séculos XVIII e XIX.  De minas e Minas Gerais vem a riqueza que não fica mas transforma.

Ouro e diamantes poderiam ser extraídos de uma forma artesanal e seu transporte era feito por tropeiros com suas mulas.  O alto valor do produto permitia.  Hoje, a escala é outra e a produção já não se mede em gramas, quilates ou onças, mas em toneladas.  A principal riqueza hoje é o minério de ferro que vai em imensos comboios de vagões e navios gigantes.  A escala industrial tomou corpo no Sec. XX e sua transformação continua no Sec. XXI.  O que era uma agressão ambiental localizada virou grande problema para as cidades e o pais.

Apesar dos pesares e da relutância do Ministro de Relações Exteriores, o Brasil inseriu-se cada vez mais no capitalismo globalizante.  As industrias e a mineração cresceram com o capital estrangeiro e com as varias associações e parcerias com capital do Estado e capital nacional.  O processo nem sempre desenvolveu sem percalços, mas sem duvida tornou-se algo cumulativo e irreversível.  O Brasil é cada vez menos uma autarquia, fechado em si.  Vale é uma empresa mundial e segue até hoje como “campeão nacional. “ Se a Vale cair, será por seus próprios erros e não o anti-globalismo do Min. Ernesto Araújo.

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Marca da Vale

O processo de crescimento do capitalismo periférico e desigual trouxe certamente a expansão econômica e a produção de mais riqueza, mas sem atenuar as desigualdades e sempre afastado e alheio às vontades mal definidas da população.  A transformação politica é sempre mais lenta.

O Estado representando predominantemente as elites e seus interesses não podia ignorar totalmente a população, e sempre seguiu uma politica de antecipar necessidades e de prover para o “povão” de uma forma paternalista.  Aí temos “avanços” começando com a Proclamação da Republica e o sufrágio ampliado para ter depois a implantação da legislação trabalhista do Estado Novo de Getúlio em “prol” do trabalhador. As medidas de saúde, de um decimo-terceiro salario, de criação de um sistema de previdência sempre foram dadas em avanço às demandas.  Foram basicamente outorgas do Estado para os clientes com o efeito de sempre controlar ou enfraquecer movimentos partidários e sociais.  Assim os grandes partidos “populares” como o PTB do Getúlio ou o PT do Lula se aliaram as elites retrogradas ganhando acomodação, mas perdendo coerência programática.

Há mais de um século, fala-se da incorporação através do desenvolvimento econômico liderado pelo estado e seus aliados.  Mas apesar da evolução, o analfabetismo real e funcional permanece e até expande.  Da mesma forma, ate hoje 50% da população não tem conexão a rede de esgoto e acaba sofrendo as consequências, antigamente na forma de disenterias intestinais e febres, e agora agravados pelo aparecimento de dengue, zica, chikungunya e a volta da malária e febre amarela que haviam sido extirpadas.

Todas as desgraças ecológicas e sociológicas resultam em parte da manutenção da população na ignorância e na pobreza.  As estruturas de mudanças existentes apenas reforçam a passividade, fatalismo e acomodação.  O Brasileiro está acostumado a tragédia.  Tem todo ano mais de 60 mil mortes criminosas, mais de 40 mil mortes no transito, deslizamentos de terra todo ano com as chuvas resultando em desabrigados feridos e mortos.  Com o desenvolvimento as elites aceitam o descaso e desleixo e aí encaixa Brumadinho, uma tragédia que repete de forma humana mais nefasta do que o caso de Mariana onde a mesma Vale do Rio Doce e seu parceiro Samarco foram responsáveis.  Já são mais de 100 mortos em Brumadinho e ainda mais de 200 desaparecidos.  Chocante, mas como dizem os sobreviventes que esperam que não repete o “azar”.  Enfim o povo acomodado com a morte, com a desgraça, com o desleixo do Estado, e ainda bestializados sem saber como reagir.

Temo que não permaneça a repugnância e raiva.  Penso que não dura a revolta e estou preparado para que Brumadinho, depois do Carnaval e depois de uns tempos, acaba no esquecimento como já foi esquecido as tragédias da Gameleira e de Mariana. Pode ser e espero que esteja enganado.  Afinal das contas, cada vez mais estão morrendo não só pobres, mas também os instruídos.  Será que a classe media e setores da elite podem desvincular da ganancia, da necessidade de manter o apartheid social e de sua complacência?  Será que o brasileiro poderá conseguir transformar sua tristeza, sua angustia e seu desespero em algo diferente.  Na ultima eleição os eleitores deram uma vitória a um ex-militar para supostamente acabar com a corrupção.  Será que vai ficar aparente que a corrupção é sintoma e não causa e que as causas precisam ser combatidas?  Será que o Presidente e sua administração poderão reconhecer os problemas reais que impedem um desenvolvimento verdadeiro e possível?

Brumadinho sem duvida é uma grande tragédia e um crime contra as pessoas e a natureza mas se o Brasil seguir o mesmo percurso de sempre, as mortes e danos simplesmente passarão como parte da rotina normal de descaso, acomodação e fatalismo que caracterizam a cultura brasileira.

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Foto tirado Internet apos o rompimento da barragem em 25/01/2019

Uma nota pessoal: Prof. Marcio Mascarenhas e sua familia foram vitimas.  Marcio foi meu colega no ICBEU na década de 60 e 70 em Belo Horizonte.  Lamento muito sua morte e transmito minha solidariedade para a família e amigos.

 

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Tragic Events and Business as Usually Unusual in Brazil

Passividade e acomodacao diante da repeticao da tragedia!

allabroadconsulting

November finds continued confusion in Brazil. In spite of ample evidence of undeclared monies from corrupt activities, Eduardo Cunha carries on as President of the House of Representatives and Congress is stalled and unproductive. Meanwhile, Judge Sergio Moro continues to hold a large group of Brazil’s business elite in jail on related charges including the Petrobras scandal. President Dilma appears perturbed, yet aloof.

On November 5, the Samarco disaster in Mariana, literally muddied everything from my home state of Minas Gerais east to the Atlantic Ocean. On Friday the 13th, the jihadists killed and injured hundreds in Paris in another act of wanton, but purposeful, violence.

Mariana and Paris serve as symbols of public victimization and impotence.

In Brazil, the President paid little attention to the mounting death toll and environmental catastrophe in Mariana and Minas Gerais. She only visited the locale a week after the tailing dam ruptured. Meanwhile…

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Brazil Predictions – 2019

Handwritten text showing word 2019 Predictions. Business concept writing Forecast Predictive Written on sticky note paper, wooden background with space office view with folded yellow paper

After reviewing and grading my predictions for last year (https://allabroadconsulting.wordpress.com/2019/01/10/2018-e-as-previsoes-passadas/), I want to put forth a new set for 2019 before the month of January comes to an end.

This year, to me at least, seems particularly convoluted and difficult.  President Bolsonaro is trying to get a grip as are the members of his cabinet.  Thus far, things have been following a zig zag course with the Bolsonaro sons suspected of corruption and nepotism or perhaps just doing business as usual in spite of the moralistic tones that helped the president get elected.  Because people have bought into the Bolsonaro presidency with their emotions, they will accept and rationalize pretty much anything for the time being.  However, it seems likely that the exposure of corrupt actions by Bolsonaro family members and associates will show that honesty and uprightness were only a campaign façade and that the clan is part of the cheating that has long been considered normal among politicians, especially in Rio.

People will also have some forbearance with cabinet members such as Ernesto Araujo in the Foreign Ministry and Judge Sergio Moro in Justice.  In the long run, Moro, in particular, must show that he can deal with official corruption and organized crime.  This is a big order as he no longer occupies a judgeship but instead has become a political appointee subject to whims and pressures.  By trading up, he has lost authority.

Araujo too, has declared that he wants to help rid Brazil of globalism, socialism and cultural Marxism through an affirmation of Christian values.  This is another immense challenge. He has set up straw men to destroy but his work most likely will be futile.

So let’s start our predictions here, beginning with the political:

  1. While Araujo may survive one year as Foreign Minister, his crusade against the “plot” of globalized economic growth will enter into shock with the Finance Ministry policies and either he will change his tune or he will not last at the top of Itamaraty. Furthermore, it is less and less likely that Brazil will actually move its Embassy to Jerusalem, in spite the President’s declarations and Nethanyahu’s presence at his inauguration.  Also, Araujo’s admiration of Trump will look less and less favorable legal difficulties increase and the threat of impeachment hovers.
  2. Justice Minister Sergio Moro will step down to preserve his standing as a possible presidential candidate and because he will not be able to escape the corrupt actions of the Bolsonaro clan and his government. He will not be able to tolerate such cognitive dissonance if he is honest with himself.
  3. Finance Minister Guedes will continue preeminent and will push through some social security reform still in 2019. However, if this reform does not go through or seems too little, Guedes will be fired or will resign.
  4. The Social Security reform itself will be approved but only in a weakened form that preserves the perks and benefits of the military, judges, politicians and other high level public servants. Congress continues subject to the pressure of these entrenched castes.
  5. Some analysts on the left have suggested that Bolsonaro will not finish his term. I disagree and predict that he will not be removed from office before the end of his term.
  6. Vice-President, retired General Mourao, will not be the President of Brazil except as permitted by the Constitution. Although he has been a loose cannon, his objective is not to be President, nor do his military colleagues seek this.  They prefer the current situation with a President favorable to their interests without having all the burdens of power, which have heavily strained the military during the dictatorship (1964-1985).

The Economy

  1. With some pension reform and the natural upswing of the economic cycle, Brazil will grow at 2.2% (plus or minus 0.2).  This rate is not spectacular but an improvement over last year and should set the stage for higher growth in 2020 and 2021.  It most likely will not be higher because the government will not discretionary funds to invest.
  2. Last year, I expected inflation to rise to 8% and according to official data, I was wrong. The Central Bank’s Focus prediction for 2019 is slightly above 4%.  My guess is something above 6% as the economy improves.  New Central Bank President, Roberto Campos Neto will be under pressure not to inhibit growth.
  3. The Selic interest rate is currently at 6.5% and should rise to 8% by the end of the year. This will be needed to help keep inflation in check.  It remains to be seen how much independence the Central Bank will maintain.
  4. Foreign direct investment will continue above 60 billion dollars per year with new investments from China in spite of Bolsonaro’s stated objection that the Chinese are buying everything. New US investors will remain wary and have other options.
  5. Under Bolsonaro and Guedes, inequality will increase as measured by the Gini index.

Social Policies:

  1. Bolsonaro’s policy of loosening firearm regulations will not reduce violence in Brazil and again there will be over 60 thousand homicides and over 5000 killings by police forces. Violence will not diminish.
  2. President Bolsonaro has started his term by putting at risk the preservation of Indian and Quilombola lands but will be forced to backtrack by pressure from civil society and international organizations. This prediction will be difficult to measure but it may be ironic that Bolsonaro’s policies actually help indigenous and minority communities better define their resistance, goals and means.
  3. Brazil will not withdraw from the Paris Agreement as has been threatened.
  4. Social mobilization and opposition with civil society will grow as Bolsonaro’s flaws and lack of political skills become apparent and this will lead to the decline of his popularity. His latest approval ratings are above 75% and will fall to less than 50%.
  5. The pendulum has swung from left to right in Brazil and it will swing back again and eventually become more centered as Brazil slowly develops its institutions and democratic process. This will be shown in the 2020 mayoral elections.
  6. Brazil’s infrastructure, especially basic provision of water and sewage, will improve, if for no other reason that it makes economic sense. Currently, almost 50% of Brazil’s population is not connected to sewer system. This has to get better.
  7. Brazil’s evangelicals will continue to increase their numbers in the so called Bancada da Biblia (Bible caucus) but aside from espousing anti-corruption, anti-abortion, anti-secular and critical of homosexual behavior, there will be an increase in violence with the rejection of identity politics. This increase will be noted in the press and evangelical leader Damares Alves, the Minister of Women, the Family and Human Rights will be replaced.

Steven Pinker, the forward thinking optimist and Harvard profesors states that “knowledge, prosperity, connectivity will not go into reverse” and that a “richer world can better afford to protect the environment, police its gangs, strengthen it social safety-nets and teach and heal its citizens.”  Brazil’s leadership and its most selfish elites will try to prove him wrong by bucking world trends.  They will not be successful in the long term.

My friend Benicio Schmitt, a political scientist from the University of Brasilia recently quoted Francis Fukuyama, who wrote, “Our present world is simultaneously moving toward the opposing dystopias of hypercentralization and endless fragmentation…”  Indeed, Bolsonaro would like a strong central government but given Brazil’s size, its democracy and the federal system, the institutional framework is not there to support this desire.

Social fragmentation is present and an ever increasing individuation exists as people engage in the freedom and restraints of the modern world.  But in spite alienation and anomie, Brazilian society will not break down like Venezuela nor will it revert to a right wing military dictatorship.

So maybe outside of Brazil, the perception of dystopia will prevail but Brazilians themselves still have their elected change of leadership, the tropical land of sun, beaches, beer and beauty, and they can say “carnaval” is coming and we have “futebol” so screw the rest and let us muddle through.

 

 

 

2018 e As Previsões Passadas

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Todo ano, gosto de fazer um blog com previsões.  E depois gosto de voltar e avaliar o que acertamos e o que erramos.  O ano passado quando escrevi o blog, achei que as previsões de anos anteriores eram frouxas e então tentei fazer previsões passiveis de conferir.  No blog de 10 de janeiro de 2018,(https://allabroadconsulting.wordpress.com/2018/01/10/predictions-and-evaluations-2017-and-2018/), fiz 10 “profecias” (será que a palavra ficará na moda no novo governo?).  Aqui são:

  1. Lula will not win the presidency either because he will be condemned in his appeal or he will lose outright to a more centrist politician.
  2. Barring a health issue, Temer will finish his term and seek to define his successor and his party and the PMDB will continue to have weighty and oligarchic influence.
  3. The economy will grow in 2018 between 1 and 2 percent. This is less than the consensus prediction by Brazil’s central bank.  Poor but an improvement.
  4. There will be little renewal in Congress. While Brazilians claim to hate their politicians, they are re-elected and the campaign finance/electoral reform passed in 2017 favors those currently in elected positions.  Furthermore, pension reform will be kicked down the road to 2019.
  5. Inflation will pick up with money being spent to influence the election as well as kitchen gas, gasoline, electricity and health costs all running ahead of official inflation numbers.
  6. The Selic interest rate will once again go to 8% or more from the current record lows.
  7. Brazil will continue to be a country at war with itself. There will be over 60 thousand homicides and another similar number of traffic deaths.
  8. The World Cup in Russia will be a great distraction and Brazil will finish in the top 4 but will fall short of winning the Cup for the sixth time.
  9. The military will not intervene and Bolsonaro’s presidential candidacy will fail. Alternative candidates such as Joaquim Barbosa, Marina Silva, Henique Meirelles, Ciro Gomes, Luciano Hulk or Joao Doria will also fizzle.
  10. Geraldo Alckmin of Sao Paulo will win the presidency much to everyone’s consternation.

Item um: Acertei. Lula, embora tenha sido o grande favorito nas pesquisas, não ganhou a presidência já que estava preso e foi impedido de candidatar-se.

Item dois: Acertei que Temer terminaria seu mandato, mas errei quanto a influencia do seu partido o MDB (antigo PMDB).  Na Câmara o numero de deputados caiu praticamente pela metade (66 em 2014 para 34 eleitos em 2018).  No Senado, o partido do Temer caiu de 14 para 7 Senadores, mas mesmo assim ainda tem a maior bancada entre os 21 partidos representados.

Item quatro: A terceira previsão também estava corretíssima entre 1 e 2%.  Enquanto o Relatório Focus do Banco Central, esperava um crescimento de 2 a 3 por cento, o resultado real foi de apenas 1.3% do produto interno bruto.  Enfim, apesar do fim da recessão o Brasil continua empobrecendo já que a população tem crescimento maior do que a expansão econômica.

Item quatro: Um erro e um acerto.  O acerto é que a reforma da previdência não saiu em 2018.  O erro é que houve uma surpreendente renovação no Congresso: Cerca de metade dos políticos com mandato não foram reeleitos.  Um fenômeno de renovação.  Entretanto, é preciso analisar melhor quem são os novatos e como foram eleitos.  O partido do PSL do Presidente Bolsonaro ficou com o segundo numero maior de deputados e representa um terço de toda a renovação.  Com certeza, o efeito Bolsonaro foi amplo.

Item cinco:  A inflação oficial de 2017 foi de 2.95% enquanto a inflação (IPCA) de 2018 foi de 3.69%, conforme eu havia previsto, exceto que achava que seria ainda maior.  Acredito que a população sentiu ainda mais nos aumentos dos preços do botijão de gás, gasolina, saúde e educação.

Item seis: Minha previsão foi de mais de 8% na taxa SELIC e na realidade o Banco Central manteve a taxa de 6.5% que foi ainda mais baixa do que a taxa anual de 7.1% em 2017. Então minha estimativa estava equivocada.  Ainda assim, os bancos ganharam um bom dinheiro mantendo o spread.

Item sete: Outro acerto fácil.  O Brasil matou mais de 65 mil estabelecendo um novo recorde.  E as mortes de transito em 2017 foi em torno de 47 mil pessoas sendo que os dados para 2018 ainda não foram confirmadas.  Um alento e que parece que as mortes de transito estão diminuindo ao longo da ultima década.

Item oito: A previsão do resultado da Copa foi triste já que os Belgas eliminaram o Brasil nas quartas de finais, ficando o Brasil em sexto lugar na Copa 2018.  O resultado não foi ruim, mas refletiu a qualidade do futebol europeu que vive um momento bem superior ao futebol sul Americano.

Item nove:    . Enquanto os militares não promoveram nenhum golpe, Bolsonaro derrotou Haddad por quase 10 ponto percentuais.  Nenhum outro candidato chegou perto embora Ciro Gomes especula ate hoje, que ele teria vencido Bolsonaro.

E finalmente item dez: O meu maior erro foi a falta de clareza na minha bola de cristal.  Previ que o Alckmin seria eleito. Alas! Ele nem chegou a repetir a façanha de 2006 quando no segundo turno ganhou menos votos do que no primeiro.  Desta vez, não chegou nem perto do segundo turno, dando fim a sua carreira politica e levando junto seu partido, o PSDB.  Afinal, o Brasil optou por uma saída de messias, ou seja, Jair Messias Bolsonaro.  Previ que a população ficaria consternada com o ex-governador de São Paulo, mas por enquanto, o novo presidente está em lua de mel com altos níveis de popularidade.  É provável que o desapontamento e constrangimento aparecerão no futuro, mas por enquanto cerca de dois terços da população acha que a economia vai melhorar e a aprovação do Presidente esta acima de 70% atingindo então níveis Lulistas.  Vamos ver ate quando.

Ao final de contas, me daria uma nota de 7.  Não é perfeição e vamos tentar aprimorar junto com o Brasil em 2019.  Será?

 

Mexico and Brazil: AMLO x JB

Latinoamerica

On New Year’s Day, former Army Captain Jair Messias Bolsonaro (JB) will be sworn in as Brazil’s new president. At the same time, Andres Manoel Lopez Obrador (AMLO) will also complete his first month as Mexico’s chief executive.  Brazil, in spite of its downturn, is still Latin America’s largest economy and Mexico while having grown a bit more steadily is the second largest, and by far US’s largest trading partner in Latin America.

The political changes in both countries are significant.  With AMLO, Mexico has elected its first leftist leader since the 1930’s.  Brazil, on the other hand, has turned to the right with Bolsonaro after twenty plus years of socialist and social-democrat leaning governments.

Interestingly, both Lopez Obrador and Bolsonaro used similar rhetoric in achieving their substantial victories at polls.  In Brazil, the right achieved nearly 56% of the popular vote in the second round against the PT’s (Workers Party). Fernando Haddad as former President Lula could not run due to his conviction on charges of corruption.  In Mexico, AMLO claimed about 53% of the vote in a field of 4 major candidates.

Both JB and AMLO are populists and appeal to the “people” shouting nationalist and my country first slogans, much like Trump with his MAGA sloganeering.  All three politicians want to appeal to the ideal of national greatness rooted in the character of people and their struggles against the traditional elites that have openly and surreptitiously been exploiting and extorting for years but now can be saved by integrity, intelligence, honesty, hard work and forthright action of the new leadership in concert with the backbone of the nation.

Bolsonaro has been in Brazil’s Congress for nearly 30 years but only achieved notoriety for his ardent support of the military governments of 1964 to 1985, his defense of torture, his attacks on women, gays and minorities, and his tough verbal stance on corruption and crime.  Although Bolsonaro is a traditional politician, he positioned himself as an outsider and indeed he was not a member of any of the three political parties that have dominated over the past 20 to 25 years.

Likewise, AMLO presented his case directly to the people railing against corruption and impunity of the traditionally dominant PRI political party and against the PAN the traditionally “safe” foil to the PRI.  This was AMLO’s third attempt at Mexico’s presidency and he undoubtedly showed a defter touch to become the favorite of the Mexican electorate.  He promises to reduce violence by talking of amnesty in the war on drug cartels, he plays to the teachers by promising to reverse reforms demanding exams and competence in education, and by providing more resources to students and higher pensions for the elderly.  All this he promises can be done by eliminating waste through the reduction of the top salaries of public servants including his own.  He plans to sell the luxurious presidential plane. He also has scrapped the multi-billion-dollar development of the new airport for Mexico City.  Distinct from Bolsonaro, AMLO has vouched for minorities and the indigenous population of Mexico.

Bolsonaro presented himself as a crusader for family values dear to the emergent evangelical population and Brazilian traditionalists.  He argues that he as a military man wields moral and material authority and can eliminate the corruption that stains Brazil.  He calls on the people to support his crusade for Brazil’s Christian majority and their desire not to be trampled by the so called “politically correct” minority demands for rights as blacks, women or homosexuals.  Instead JB states he will end the culture of “pampering” minorities.  And, most Brazilians apparently have faith in the election slogan that reads: “Brazil above everything and God above all.”

On economics and production, Bolsonaro has confessed his lack of knowledge and made Paulo Guedes, a Chicago School economist his “super minister”.  After years of socialist leaning central planners in charge of the economy, Brazil’s private sector shows a strong liking for Guedes proposals to reduce the presence of the state and free up market forces through reduction of red tape and the selloff of state controlled enterprises, even in the energy sector, which has always been a national treasure.

AMLO’s economic team, in turn, is made up of relatively unknown technocrats and the President has pointedly stated that the people are in charge, not the markets.  AMLO’s victory   unsettled financial elite but things have more or less stabilized since his inauguration and the initial signing of the new trade agreement with Canada and the United States, sometimes called NAFTA II.  After only a month in power, business and markets are still in a wait and see mode.

However, AMLO likes to use popular referendums and so called super delegates.  In the case of the new airport, for example, AMLO essentially used limited polling to justify quashing the 13-billion-dollar project.  Super delegates are his Morena party appointees that will be in charge of the execution of federally funded projects and obviously will compete with local authorities.  Both of these “innovative” means of governance create concerns for investors.

In Brazil and Mexico, there are numerous risks with the election of populist candidates.  Bolsonaro, in particular, has no prior experience in economics, management or public administration.  His rise has been as meteoric as it has been unexpected.  It is true that the market, industry leaders and agriculture have put faith in Guedes, the Finance Minister and in crusading judge, Sergio Moro, the new Justice Minister.  Still Guedes background is mainly in finance and not production and neither he nor Moro have run large organizations.  Politically, JB’s limited political negotiation skills will be severely tested as he needs to get major reforms through a fractious Congress, the most pressing of which is the Social Security system’s reorganization.

In Mexico, AMLO’s biggest challenge will be keeping the faith of the Mexican elite.  He has super majorities in Congress, but his announced three-year moratorium on new foreign investment in the oil sectors is viewed as a return to the 1970’s when PEMEX and oil production were the major source of income for the country.  With oil prices in the 40 to 60 dollar per barrel range, there will not be enough income for the many populist and pet projects.  Mexico’s Central Bank is autonomous and its major concern is controlling inflation.  If foreign investment shrinks, that challenge will be more difficult.

Immigration is another crisis that can have a major negative impact.  Northwestern Mexico is currently carrying the burden of thousands of Central American immigrants seeking entry into the US.  Brazil, in turn, shares a border with Venezuela and Venezuela’s economic crisis has led to a federal intervention in the state of Roraima.  Bolsonaro has declared his enmity with Venezuela’s President Maduro. Maduro could create a situation similar to that of the Marielitos fleeing Castro’s Cuba in the 1980’s leading to an even larger rush of immigrants into Brazil.  Roraima’s public services have already been overwhelmed by tens of thousands of Venezuelan refugees which are only a small portion of those that have fled the country thus far.

Thus while there is hope in Mexico and Brazil for the new administrations, the deep lying structural problems and the limitations of personality based leadership will certainly emerge.  Both Mexico and Brazil are strong and resilient, but institutions need building and it remains to be seen if the projects of the right in the case of Bolsonaro or of the left in the case of Lopez Obrador can find firm footing in a rapidly changing globalized economy.

Post-Election Brazil: Careful with the TP

It was great to be in Brazil for the second round of the presidential election and get a grip on the changes taking place.  I confess that I was surprised by the Captain’s election and from now on I will start referring to him as President Bolsonaro as a sign of my respect for the electoral process and the vote both of those who supported the number 17 and those who did not.

The reasons for President Bolsonaro’s striking victory have and continue to be discussed and explained extensively.  Suffice it to say that in spite of Mr. Bolsonaro’s personal drawbacks and defects, a substantial plurality of electors could no longer support the stench of corruption attributed to Lula and his PT.  Having said this, we still must remember that had Lula not been jailed, it is likely that he would have easily won the election.  Still, Lula was condemned with due process and Jair Messias Bolsonaro has been elected in an open and fair voting process.  He has the legitimacy of almost 58 million votes.

Today is the 15th of November and a holiday in Brazil commemorating the establishment of the Republic (by military putsch) in 1889.  The Republic sent the Emperor Pedro II into exile while promising modernity for Brazil.  Today, with President Bolsonaro and his personal penchant for the simple and traditional, Brazil once again illustrates its struggle to establish a coherent and acceptable identity.

Paulo Guedes, the chosen super Finance Minister represents contemporary liberal market acceptable trends countering the statist direction inherited not only from the previous PT governments but also much further back.  Sergio Moro, the national hero of the moralistic anti-corruption crusade, is the super Minister of Justice and promises to clean up the public and private sectors while attacking organized crime.  This too is an acceptable contemporary ideal.  Most curious, though, and perhaps the clearest example of the fight between the traditional and modern, is Ernesto Araujo, an almost totally unknown figure until last week.  Apparently, Araujo was chosen as Chancellor for his early support of Mr. Bolsonaro on the blog Metapolitica 17 Contra o Globalismo, as he was only recently elevated to the rank of Ambassador and has never headed an Embassy.  On his blog, a cursory and perhaps simplified reading shows Araujo as a Trump supporter, a nationalist, a Christian, and an ardent anti-PT ideologue.   One of the more radical quotations of Araujo’s writing currently making the rounds on Twitter reads: “I want to help Brazil and the world liberate themselves from globalist ideology.  Globalism is economic globalization that has come to be piloted by cultural Marxism.  Essentially it is an anti-human and anti-Christian system.”

It is not clear how Brazil’s Foreign Minister sees his role, say at the UN or in other multilateral agreements.  Given his praise of Trump, it may be that he will advocate for only bilateral agreements.  However, the larger question in the Brazilian context is what will be the face of Brazil?

Will there be a single conservative creed for the economy and for society?  What will this look like?  In spite of Brazil’s conservative mores, it is well down the road of globalized entertainment, social media and economic integration.  It seems that Guedes would open Brazil’s economy and Araujo might advocate the opposite.  Moro might combat corruption but also advocate for the protection of individual rights such as those of minorities.  Araujo might repeat Bolsonaro’s more radical rhetoric that minorities must fall in line and that there will be no more coddling of so called victims of racism or sexual discrimination.

These are just a few examples of not only the tensions in Brazilian society but also their manifestation within Bolsonaro’s own team.  I am pretty certain that there will be no “final solution” and I am encouraged by the memories of the resistance and opposition to the military dictatorship that could neither thrive nor survive.

After three weeks in Brazil with a week in Bahia, I trust that Brazil’s institutions will survive. But I would also like to see some basic improvements, which mysteriously have never taken place in my nearly 60 years there.  The picture at the beginning of this text tells us not to throw toilet paper down the toilet.  With all of its wealth, with all of its growth, with all of its worldly or global sophistication, the basic areas of sanitation, education and public health remain precarious.  Before being right wing or left wing, it would be nice to flush the toilet knowing that the sewage is not flowing directly into the street or the ocean.

Is the new administration up for this challenge?

 

Sintomas, Causas e Falso Dilema

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Fonte Foto: Bem Paraná

Há hoje uma mistura estranha de euforia e desespero.  Os que apoiam o capitão reformado, Jair Bolsonaro estão felizes e esperançosos apos os resultados do primeiro turno.  Por outro lado, os Petista estão magoados por vários motivos, mas o principal é que o ex-Presidente Lula continua preso em Curitiba.  Mas a maior tristeza e por parte da grande maioria dos brasileiros que rejeitam os dois candidatos que vão para o segundo turno.

Forcados a optar entre um e outro na votação final, tudo indica que o capitão prevalecera com ampla vantagem.  A escolha de um candidato sobre outro, baseia-se na construção de uma narrativa que deve ter um certo fundamento racional, mas que é na realidade, sobretudo emocional.  As emoções viscerais que o brasileiro sente são:

Corrupção e roubalheira

Crime e violência

Desemprego e falta de oportunidade

Cada item da lista toca as pessoas no seu interior, no seu coração mais do que na cabeça.  E nitidamente todo mundo condena o roubo, a violência e as dificuldades de se arrumar na vida.  E a condenação vem de um sentimento de revolta com um sistema que aparentemente falhou.  As pessoas percebem que embora querendo trabalhar honestamente, não veem chance de progredir sem fazer ou sem aceitar aquilo que percebem como equivocado, errado ou errôneo.  Acabam por concluir que quem está mais errada e mais injusta e a classe politica que administra o pais.   Racionalmente, as pessoas reconhecem a necessidade de um poder publico ou de um gestor do bem-estar, mas na emoção rejeitam toda a classe politica e por extensão todos aqueles que talvez poderiam resgatar o pais desta situação.

Bolsonaro lidera, porque ele capturou e transmitiu bem o desespero e rejeição do povo, prometendo uma solução para os males que assolam o pais.  O candidato Haddad, por outro lado, também tenta apelar para a emoção invocando as lembranças já distantes dos bons dias da administração do Presidente Lula quando o Brasil “estava feliz” e o presidente operário gozava de seu 80% de aprovação.

Entretanto, os problemas de corrupção, crime e desemprego não são causas, mas apenas sintomas.  A corrupção e causada pela falta de transparência. As ações e infrações são feitas secretamente, sem o conhecimento e a revelia do povo.  E quando por ventura vem à tona, as instituições existentes ou são fracas e sem poder para inibir e punir.  Vale lembrar que crime não ocorre porque as pessoas são naturalmente más ou bandidas, mas porque aproveitam as oportunidades, sabendo que o policiamento é precário e a justiça não funciona. A questão do desemprego ocorre de forma similar.  O governo inibe investimentos com uma burocracia e um sistema de tributação excessivo. Os recursos arrecadados desaparecem antes de serem reinvestidos em benefícios prioritários como educação, saúde e segurança.

O que preocupa no Brasil de hoje são as emoções exacerbadas, a busca de soluções simplistas, e a falta de engajamento das pessoas na sociedade civil fora do período eleitoral.  A aceitação e passividade diante da agressividade da campanha, principalmente da direita, são notórias.

Por outro lado, o Brasil tem uma economia relativamente complexa, com uma população grande e em evolução, e com uma estrutura democrática. Possui eleições, liberdade de imprensa, direitos individuais, acesso (embora parcial) a propriedade e a ideia de prosperidade individual. Essas características e a possibilidade de novos partidos e participação politica com a ideia emergente de que mudanças são possíveis, constituem, em seu conjunto, fatores de alento.  Ao poucos os indivíduos vão melhorando sua educação.  Os próprios bandidos almejam uma vida diferente para seus filhos, e a corrupção e roubo não correspondem aos anseios reais e razoáveis das pessoas.  O sentimento de revolta e rejeição eventualmente levam ao reconhecimento de que as causas precisam ser endereçadas.  O sistema autoritário sempre tem um problema de sucessão.  As pessoas no Brasil hoje não acreditam piamente na democracia, mas quando chega a vez de substituir o novo mandatário, o pais ainda recorre as eleições.  As ditaduras podem durar anos, a economia pode empacar e perder décadas e as pessoas podem continuar analfabetas e ignorantes, mas este não é automaticamente o destino do Brasil.

Embora a escolha entre Haddad e Bolsonaro apareça como um dilema, mas não é.  Na realidade, são opções que retratam o estado da politica do momento. O que precisa ser feito depende das ações responsáveis de atores dentro dos parâmetros da sociedade civil em sua interação com as instituições. Neste processo, os eleitores vão escolher e de certa forma legitimar o eleito.   Mas o dilema real é descobrir como se educar e proporcionar saúde e segurança.  O dilema é prover saneamento básico.  O dilema real será achar a formula para deixar o mercado e a economia funcionarem num quadro de interesses encastelados dentro da maquina publica.

Infelizmente, nem Haddad e nem Bolsonaro tem propostas claras que lidam com os dilemas reais. Dai, a escolha entre um ou outro não é nada mais do que um falso dilema.

Entretanto, anular voto ou votar em branco não é boa solução.  Ao contrario, as pessoas devem escolher, nem que seja candidato “menos ruim” a seu ver.  E aí, depois das eleições, o vencedor terá que algo de legitimidade a manter e a sociedade civil tem que resolver assumir o mando sobre os políticos.