Brazil in two times

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By RODRIGO DE FARIA*

The urgent and intransigent defense of democracy in Brazil necessarily involves the reoccupation of Praça dos Três Poderes, now no longer inside the cabinets, but, above all, through popular organization

The year 2011 represented for Brazil the beginning of a third inflection in political and social history since the post-military regime re-democratization of 1964. Squid. This third inflection happened with the election in 1994 of the first woman, Dilma Rousseff, for the position of President of Brazil and, with that, the expectations generated about the first movements of her government in early 2010. This historical arc started in 2010 is considered here as a period in which Brazil indicated a structural change in its economic, social and political development. A change built with all possible proximities and distances between these governments.

This brief analysis is not linked to an interpretation referenced in their political parties, in this case, PT and PSDB, so as not to run the risk of limiting the reading to the historical time of each government. The interest is to look at Brazil between 1994 and 2016 as a historical path that indicated a possible change in relation to our past, something under construction, with all the problems, contradictions and successes of the FHC, Lula and Dilma governments. A movement that makes it possible for us to oppose a look at its opposite, which is the deconstruction that began in 2016 with the parliamentary-media-business coup that disrupted the country and brought us to the point where we are in June 2020: a completely ungoverned country and its reflections in the most diverse areas, especially health, in the face of the serious health problem caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

The assumption of this analysis involves understanding the period as a great conjuncture, a process that is neither determined nor deterministic, which is not a mirror or reflection of the other, but which, in its contradictions and historical specificities, jointly represented the construction and development of a new Brazil. An unfinished construction (which should remain under construction), which went through the establishment, first, of monetary and political stability and, secondly, the consolidation of the national economy by starting the redistribution of income and the restructuring of the internal market in all regions of the country.

Through this lens of analysis, Brazil in development is not restricted to the actions of one or another political party, but fundamentally a product of Brazilian society in all its approximations and distances, whether in terms of the economy, politics, culture, health, education, among other categories. Obviously, fully excluding the political-party category from the analysis is known to be restrictive. However, breaking with the deterministic analyzes that can be based on party premises and its actions as a Government to think about Brazil, makes it possible to escape the polarized views about (and for) national development since the beginning of the 1990s. to deny the difference of different government agendas, as they existed and characterized these governments. What is intended is a more macroscopic look at the country and not at the governments.

It is in this sense that the personal and professional trajectories of FHC, Lula and Dilma, offer raw material for the analysis of Brazil as (and in this case yes) a mirror and reflection of itself, of its people. Their choices, democratically implemented by the results of the polls, explain the movements of Brazilian society, how, in each historical process, the desires of the population (albeit contradictory) enunciated the political maturation to accept the decisions deliberated by the majority, without this representing the silence of those who, also democratically, should and could maintain their (o)positions and demands.

From FHC, passing through Lula, and then Dilma, there was no random process, the desire of the gods or something equivalent to a “natural evolution”. There were social processes, political processes, cultural processes, educational processes in continuous construction, with their conflicts and because of what democracy presents at its richest, which is the right to expression, the right to opposition, even if the permanent national injustices are in force, because An important part of the population would continue without the right to a minimum dignified existence in terms of housing, work, health and education, etc.

Without abandoning the necessarily critical look at these structural and perverse inequalities and, at the same time, without letting yourself be carried away by disbelief with Brazil in the face of its historical and perennial condition of Coloniality, certainly this temporal arc of construction between 1994 and 2016 was fundamental for us to believe that the construction process and the development of the country would expand constitutional rights to the entire population. We cannot neglect the fact that it was only in 1988 that the theme of urban policy was incorporated into the Constitution and that the City Statute was enacted during the FHC Government. Already in the Lula Government, with the creation of the Ministry of Cities, Brazil returned to (re)formulate an urban agenda, maintained in the Dilma Government, even with the correct criticisms that may be made.

The first, Fernando Henrique Cardoso, intellectual and academic, participated in the consolidation of the diffuse and contradictory post-transition democracy of the 1980s and in the consolidation of institutions in Brazil. It is inappropriate to disregard its role in monetary stabilization, whether we agree with it or not, and in containing the historic and degrading inflation of the national economy, even at the social cost of recession and inhibition of the internal economy, the internal market, since it is fundamentally based on internationalist articulation and exporter of national production on neoliberal bases that marked his government.

The second, Luís Inácio Lula da Silva, from the Northeast and a migrant, followed in his retreat the path of spatial concentration of productive capital in the southeastern region of Brazil, particularly the Metropolitan Region of São Paulo, the central locational base of the industrialization of the post-1930 economy, since the 1939 National Plan for Public Works and National Defense Equipment, or more specifically, the Target Program under the 1956 Economic Development Plan. urban areas undergoing industrialization, it was precisely in the secondary productive activity, as a worker, building his initially union political career there, until he occupied the chair of the Presidency of the Republic. This was the second inflection of historic national politics, characterized by a transition process that made clear the maturation of Brazilian democracy.

Finally, a woman, Dilma Rousseff, whose personal life was linked to social and political movements opposed to the military regime, represented an important indication that political and governance processes no longer fit the masculine uniqueness of colonels, but which still characterizes life Public and political in Brazil. In the initial months of her government in 2011, we experienced an important budget cut and the approval of a minimum wage that, in the end, only contributed to the inequality between capital income and labor income. After the 2014 electoral process and the formation-continuity of his second government in 2015, perhaps the main mark was the choice, much criticized, of a financial market agent to lead the Ministry of Economy, Joaquim Levy. An option that many certainly marked the beginning of the disarticulation between his government and his voters, especially in relation to the conduct of his economic policy.

In 2016, the previous temporal arc – the one in which one can see something that indicates the construction of Brazil in different terms in relation to our colonized, slave-owning and oppressive past – was broken by a political process that they tried to call impeachment by supposedly having respected the so-called “legal rites”, but, in essence, what happened was a coup in new terms, of a parliamentary-media-business nature backed by a judicial activism symbolized in Lava Jato. At the end of this process, we found ourselves facing a vice president who articulated in the shadows for the overthrow of those who had been elected to govern. A vice-president who opened the movement of deconstruction of the development that was being followed in the previous temporal arc. An unimpressive vice-president, whose “bridge to the future” took Brazilian workers and the country straight to the past, when we were governed only by colonels; perhaps no longer the colonels of the land, but the coroneis of the parties that are still the representation of the traditional land-political-party oligarchies.

The next step in this movement of deconstruction occurred, in fact, from a double movement: on the one hand, the criminalization of Luís Inácio Lula da Silva, prevented from running as a candidate; on the other, the business-media articulation in support of Jair Bolsonaro's candidacy. Evidently, several other movements took place in the political game of 2018, but these two were central to the victory of a candidate whose parliamentary life was limited, in general terms, to defending torturers and assaulting women.

His inauguration and the sequence of his government until now are taking Brazil to the precipice. Jair Bolsonaro's Brazil is the definitive rupture of the arc of construction and, at the same time, the consolidation of the arc of destruction. His government is characterized by the idea of ​​negativity as a prerequisite for destruction, as it denies everything, denies science, denies culture, oppresses the oppressed, annihilates social rights, denies education, imposes its religious faith as the only truth. Not to say that his government has no proposal, it is possible to recognize it in the explicit desire to arm the population, as was said in the fateful and “historic” ministerial meeting.

On the other hand, this government of deconstruction has something that seems opportune to observe and that involves a reading about the relationship between politics and urbanism, between palaces and public spaces, between the Planalto Palace and the Praça dos Três Poderes, this which is the symbolic representation of the public space of Brazilian society. Unlike previous governments, especially those of the first temporal arc, this government of deconstruction decided to approach, physically and symbolically, the Praça dos Três Poderes. An approximation that, especially due to its symbolic nature, brings something of concern, since from this Square emerged banners and voices that defend military intervention, indicating that this was the desire of the government itself.

Even so, it is necessary to recognize that the rapprochement took place and it has a strong symbolic character, opposed to previous governments, especially the governments of Lula and Dilma, who were always closed in their palatial offices and from them the working population expected a different posture. It is true that in the first Lula administration, the approximation, symbolic and physical, also occurred in the initial moments, due, I believe, to what the inauguration, as President of the Republic, of a worker represented. The inauguration of Luís Inácio Lula da Silva was, therefore, the inauguration of the Brazilian people, as it broke the hegemony of oligarchies and bachelors in command of the country. Unfortunately, over the years, the PT governments, and those of the left in general, became bureaucratized in the air-conditioned offices of Brasília and Brazil.

The PT governments did not realize that the Office of the Presidency of the Republic in the Planalto Palace is located on the opposite side of Praça dos Três Poderes, that is, that from its modernist windows one cannot look and feel the pulse that this square brings like representation of the manifestations of society, but above all of the poor population of this unequal and miserable country. The landscape that can be glimpsed from the Presidential Office is of the nature resulting from the modernist dream of Lucio Costa's urban plan, an idyllic nature devoid of the profound social and economic contradictions that still persist in Brazil today.

Error in the Urban Plan? No, the problem is in Brazilian society and its history based on large estates, slavery, prejudice and oppression. In the movie "Brasilia: contradictions of a new city”, the dichotomous depths of Brazilian society are made explicit, therefore, Brasília is just a representation of what we are as a society. Brasilia is, at the same time, the future we never reached and the past we never broke with towards a more just, egalitarian and effectively democratic society, because Brasilia is the essence of Brazilian society.

Already the ultraconservative and ultraliberal misgovernment of Jair Bolsonaro does what we should have done during that first temporal arc, especially in the Lula and Dilma governments. His government realized that it needed to leave the Cabinet and go down the ramp, even if, going down, it will meet groups that want military intervention and AI-5, that is, yet another denial, that of democracy. On the other hand, the rulers of the first temporal arc limited themselves to going up the ramp, and once installed in the Presidential Office of the Palácio do Planalto, they turned their backs on the Praça dos Três Poderes, began to not see or hear the signals that came from the society. With the first temporal arc broken, we are now on the edge of the precipice that could annihilate the little we had built.

That is why the urgent and intransigent defense of democracy in Brazil necessarily involves the reoccupation of Praça dos Três Poderes, now no longer from inside the cabinets, but, above all, through the popular organization, which has been assuming this role, as the fans at the event have already demonstrated. Paulista Avenue. It is necessary to reoccupy the Praça dos Três Poderes so that fireworks against the STF are not, very soon, replaced by bombs and shots. Democracy in Brazil demands a profound (re)articulation between Politics and Urbanism, between Palaces and Public Spaces across the country. Only in this way will we be able to confront this mismanagement of destruction and resume that constructive trajectory that was abruptly broken in 2016.

*Rodrigo Faria is a professor at the Faculty of Architecture and Urbanism at the University of Brasília (FAU-UnB).

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