The Brazilian Scene – XXVIII

Blanca Alaníz, Quadrados series, digital photography and photomontage based on the work Untitled by Alfredo Volpi, Brasilia, 2016
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By BENÍCIO VIERO SCHMIDT*

Commentary on recent events

The PEC of Precatório undergoes new amendments, changing the basis for calculating the “expenses ceiling”, by about R$ 30 billion, to meet extraordinary expenses until December 2022 with “Auxílio Brasil”. Amount that should increase by R$ 3 billion, announced as a special aid to 750 thousand truck drivers, through a monthly subsidy of R$ 400,00 for diesel consumed.

Expected maneuver, given the strict and also fictitious character of the ceiling established during Michel Temer's government. The Minister of Economy appears in public, flanked by the President of the Republic, stating trivialities such as "embracing the social" in this heavy climate of contradictions between the political-party spheres (Centrão) and the technobureaucratic stratum installed in the economic apparatus of the presidency.

Even with the resignation of four secretaries, Paulo Guedes does not give up and makes a scene to justify the president's invocations, in the face of the hardships of 20 million destitute people who will receive the aid. Bolsonaro's strategic vision, seeking to ease the pressures of hunger, unemployment and inflation that affect the poorest; taking into account the 2022 elections and Lula's favoritism, as the inventor of the Bolsa Família program.

The financial market, as always, reacts promptly and negatively to appeals for subsidized favoring the poorest. Indicators fall, the real depreciates against the dollar and the IBOVESPA collapses. However, its agents apparently support Paulo Guedes' juggling and do not stop waving creatively in the direction of an electoral “third way”. For this, the offer of the political market appears with the adhesion of Rodrigo Pacheco, president of the Federal Senate, to the PSD of Kassab; also with the announcement of Sergio Moro's affiliation to Poder, still in November. Both clearly aim for the 2022 race for the presidency.

Neither of the two pre-candidates alludes to any structural problem in the country, except through abstract invocations about corruption and governance. Pacheco, at least as president of the Senate, has manifested himself a little more sharply in the face of legal initiatives by the Executive; the suspension of the decision on the income tax reformulation project being the best example. An oblique way of establishing a field for the dispute with Bolsonaro and Lula, both with clear definitions of socioeconomic priorities.

These are the apparent novelties for the electoral situation, to which should be added the decision of the internal dispute in the PSDB (Virgílio, Doria and Leite); with the favorite governor of Rio Grande do Sul already manifesting himself as a possible dropout in the face of a stronger name in the so-called third way. In other words, the toucan candidacy is born weakened in the face of the circumstances.

Understood Bolsonarism as a movement, rather than a form of government, as predicted by Leonardo Avritzer in a recent debate at ANPOCS, the democratic regression in the country continues. After sanctioning the cut of R$ 600 million in science and technology, greatly affecting the survival of the CNPq, the government falsifies the participation of preservationist entities and agents in the elaboration of the Brazilian document to the Conference and Glasgow (COP-26). The entities, cited by the Brazilian government as collaborators of the message, allege that they did not participate in any way in its elaboration. A scandal!

The cultural war involving the environment and science and technology is the same one that affects Brazilian indigenous people in their struggle to preserve their original lands in the face of the advance of mining and land grabbing. The same is already happening in public health with the withholding of funds destined for it and with the demobilization of the national immunization plan.

These are examples of changes for the worse in the public sphere that will obviously be exploited by Bolsonaristas in 2022, as an advance in generalized privatization and in the regression of democratizing public policies.

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

 

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