The Brazilian scene – XIV

Richard Hamilton (1922–2011), The Solomon R. Guggenheim, Silkscreen on paper, 559 × 559 mm, 1965. (Tate collection)


Comments on recent events.

The Covid CPI continues its work by interviewing people who are supposedly part of the “parallel office”, the sector responsible for the main determinations of the Ministry of Health during the last administrations. The government supporters want the facts to be those of yesterday. The opponents, who are the majority in the CPI, want the facts to be those of yesterday, today and tomorrow. At the moment, the commission seeks to clarify the functioning of two structures – the Ministry of Health and the parallel office – and also the facts related to the unofficial recommendation of drugs indicated as early treatment, proven inefficient and ineffective remedies.

These testimonies will probably not lead to the indictment of those questioned, but only to clarifications that are gradually impacting public opinion, as attested by the polls that measured the Senate CPI hearing. This sets up a very difficult situation for the government, which is not managing to challenge the work of a commission that has proved to be serious, tenacious and relevant on a daily basis.

The Secretary of the General Staff of the Armed Forces (EMFA), the commander of the Army, was entrusted with the task of resolving the case of General Eduardo Pazuello. This one, being active, could not have participated in the demonstration along with President Bolsonaro in Rio de Janeiro a few days ago. The General Chief of the Army sent a preliminary written warning to General Pazuello and is awaiting his answer.

We will only have the outcome of this imbroglio in a few weeks. Punishments range from suspension to possible imprisonment, which is not believed to happen. In any case, there are already dampening mechanisms in place, which could result in an admonition to the general whose terms are known only to members of the High Command of the Armed Forces. Even so, the relationship between the President of the Republic, the head of the Army and the general command of the Armed Forces remains tense.

The Attorney General's Office asked the STF to indict the Minister of the Environment Ricardo Salles on account of actions that became public in recent days. The main ones were the general release of wood export licenses, altering the old, conventional and well-established path by Ibama to release this material, and an alleged connection between Salles’ law firm and his mother and the trafficking of contraband wood. . The minister's resignation or resignation is expected if the government bows to pressure to resume the control mechanisms of the Ministry of the Environment, again the target of very great discredit, especially in international terms.

The May 29 protests showed that the opposition had finally decided to take to the streets. Very pertinent demonstrations were held against the government and in favor of mass vaccination, in 213 cities, including all capitals in Brazil. The government's wear and tear – which contributed to bolster the demonstrations with hundreds of thousands of people – tends to stabilize. The massive presence of young people, mainly in the capitals, drew attention to the acts, indicating that the current situation stirs the pride, the will and the hope of a large part of Brazilian youth. This is one more element to certify the correctness of the manifestations.

The government set up a task group with members of the Ministry of Mines and Energy and the Ministry of Defense to monitor and propose actions in view of indications that point to a probable water crisis in the coming months. The forecast that the country will face the worst drought in recent decades sparks a general alert, in a context marked by the government's initiative to privatize Eletrobrás. The referral of this process, through a Provisional Measure, has even been contested by defenders of neoliberal thinking, such as Elena Landau, an economist known for her positions in favor of the total privatization of Brazilian state-owned companies. There is disagreement with Eletrobrás' capitalization model without State mediation.

One detail that draws attention in the current situation is the large dropout of scientists from the areas of mathematics and medical sciences. This coincides with the period in which the budget of the CNPq, the highest body for promoting research in Brazil, is the lowest in twenty years. They are moving to the United States and Europe just when they are most needed by the country. Another indication of a cultural and educational return.

The President of the Republic authorized the holding of the Men's Soccer America Cup in Brazil, adopting a decision that will probably be judicialized. The CBF indicated that the tournament will be hosted by the states of Goiás, Mato Grosso, Rio de Janeiro and the Federal District.

*Benicio Viero Schmidt is a retired professor of sociology at UnB. Author, among other books, of The State and urban policy in Brazil (LP&M).


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