The Brazilian Scene – XXX

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By BENÍCIO VIERO SCHMIDT*

Commentary on recent events

Brazilian postgraduate studies are, once again, in danger. In addition to the record divestment (CAPES, CNPq and FNDCT), CAPES' management openly acts in favor of distance learning, at postgraduate level; as well as pressing for the recognition of new courses, without due and careful evaluation. This led to the resignation of three area coordinators, followed by the consultants they called in for the assessment. Currently there are more than 40 areas between exact, life and human sciences.

It should be noted, for illustration, that private higher education – with a strong presence of virtual activity through distance learning centers – already covers around 80% of existing enrollments. On the other hand, as attested by renowned researchers, some areas (such as experimental physics) require face-to-face teaching, given their laboratory characteristics. Also note the high number of scholarships cut by the current administration.

Judiciary interference now manifests itself again by “releasing” the course evaluation process, but maintaining the suspension of publication of results. That is, as long as the results are kept secret. The principle of publicity and equal access to evaluation criteria and their consequences is directly violated. Yet another institutional disaster, pointing to the federal authorities' contempt for higher education. It is fundamental that the scientific area take to the Judiciary the way to carry out a scientific evaluation among peers: if the macro normative parameters are made from the beginning of the evaluation, the evaluation process is dynamic and requires incorporation of improvement proposed and agreed upon in large intermediate seminars of each area with all postgraduate course coordinators. Assessment is part of the entire national graduate policy.

The PEC of precatories was approved by the Senate. Return to Chamber for operation details. In addition to the default, Auxilio Brasil is guaranteed until the end of 2022, extending resources to the government by around R$ 106 billion. Auxílio Brasil was disciplined to prevent growth in the number of beneficiaries, starting in 2022. As it was created by a Provisional Measure, it needs approval from both Houses of Congress by December 7 to be valid. The Senate, in practice, solidifies the existence of a waiting list (today 1,4 million) for the coming years, given the foreseeable lack of resources to the already suggested (R$ 80 billion). The Aid will start to be paid later this month to 17,4 million beneficiaries.

The rapporteur's budget amendments and their secret destination open up a new area of ​​confrontation between parliamentarians thirsty for politically maneuverable resources due to the next elections and the STF; whose plenary ratified (8 x 2) Minister Rosa Weber's injunction due to the full disclosure of the origin and destination of the amendments (R$ 16 billion) under the rapporteur's control. That is, ultimately, under the control of Arthur Lira and Rodrigo Pacheco, presidents of the Chamber and Senate. The two leaders are manipulating opinions, based on the alleged impossibility of identifying the holders of these real bearer checks. They promise, moreover, further clarification from now on for the future. About BRL 8 billion in the rapporteur's amendments have not yet been committed, awaiting a position from the STF on release in 2021.

The Senate approved the conduction of André Mendonça to the STF. Before the Senate he defended the secularity of the State. In a later interview, he publicly defended his rise as a "leap of evangelism". His positions will be tacitly aligned with the Presidency of the Republic and certainly not a good thing for defenders of secularism and the democratic rule of law.

Technically, with two quarters of negative economic growth, we are in a recession. In addition to the difficulties faced by the industry (exchange rate, lack of inputs, logistical problems, etc.), the decrease in the agricultural sector is noteworthy (-8,0% in the quarter). Environmental issues are allegedly largely responsible for the economic downturn. The environment takes its toll, while pressures on Brazilian commodities abroad increase due to the origins of products obtained from the devastation of forests.

Lula, with a good media performance, is gathering support in the opinion of several segments. The dialogue with Alckmin, whose party destiny is still uncertain, is feeding projections of victory with the possible composition, still in the first round. Data, incidentally, confirmed by some of the research in circulation.

*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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