Brazil: The Country of the Future

With Lula ‘highly commended’ in the world, my last series of posts may have created the impression that I’m negative about Brazil and everything the government Lula does or fails to do. That certainly is not my intention. I am well disposed towards Brazil, where I live, and so it is with a bleeding heart when I see the (often unnecessary) injustice that goes around. What Lula is concerned, I can say that I am indeed very disappointed in what he has implemented during his six years of governing the country.

Almost everything that is achieved is not due to the Lula government, but despite the Lula government. It is the result of an independent continuation of the Plano Real, proposed by the then President Itamar Franco and implemented by his successor and former President Fernando Henrique Cardoso (FHC), and his social politics thereafter. Lula has not fulfilled his socialistic election promises. The economic policy is a continuation of the FHC policy. Social programmes, such as the Bolsa Familia, are based on the policy put in motion by FHC. The growing prosperity of the Brazilian is not due to Lula, but due to the explosive expansion of the private initiative, the discovery of large oil reserves and the (silently admitted) illegal logging of the Amazônia, allowing both livestock and soy and sugar cane production to explosively spread.

Health, Education, Public Safety, Infrastructure, Public Transport are treated like neglected children. Police and Justice fail by all means and the Judiciary is shamelessly ‘powerless’. Corruption remains polluting the country unpunished. The with great pomp announced Aceleração do Programa de Crescimento (PAC = Program to Accelerate Growth) is still mainly on the drawing board. The North and Northeast of the country remain backward areas and it looks unlikely that any additional investments will be gained. Senate and Congress are still dominated by a large number of criminals, ah yes, elected by the people. But it can’t be otherwise, as long as the people are accustomed to nothing else than corrupt politicians.

Years ago, the ABN/AMRO bank described Brazil as “the country of the future, and so it will always remain.” And it is still so, despite all the progress. The big turning point came during the administration of FHC and Lula has not used his socialistic streak to expand this during his administration. Without a great own vision, he has continued indolently, what was transferred to him by the previous government.
And that disappoints me. I had expected more. The Brazilian people, after so many years of suffering earned to expect more. Take a look at Lula’s election promises:

In his inaugural speech in 2002, the word “mudança” (reform, change) took centre stage. “Reform is the key word. This is the main message the Brazilians sent with the elections in October. Because of this, the Brazilian people have elected me as President of the Republic.”

And he claimed that all the attention will be given to social action, literally saying: “We should not lose sight that the ultimate goal should be human well-being.” After 6 years of government we have unfortunately to observe that safety in the street (robbery and assaults) has reached rock bottom, that education, housing, health care apparently are activities without the necessary glamour, that Brazil can not meet its economic prospects for growth due to a lack of public investments in infra-structure in all corners of the country.

I wish to remain optimistic, and sincerely do not hope that Lula continues to just let Brazil run its course which consequently requires a fierce price to be paid afterwards.