Letter to the Good Citizen

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By JOSÉ DE PAULA RAMOS JR.*

Reflection for discerning the choice between civilization and barbarism

I do not believe that human beings are intrinsically bad or good. I don't think he can be wholly bad or wholly good. These trends blend into people's behavior. Sometimes one side emerges, sometimes the other appears. However, it is possible to observe in individuals a greater propensity for one of these poles. Throughout their lives, people's character is shaped according to the environment in which they develop. Family, school, friends, social class, religion, environment and other factors influence and favor the predominant tendency regarding ideas and actions.

With scoundrels, ethically perverted and fanatics there is no conversation possible. There are no facts or arguments that convince or demote them from their deleterious, disastrous and hardened positions. Unfortunately the idiots, as Nelson Rodrigues said, are many and can excite power, by quantity and not by quality.

This is a risk and a real danger, as the result of the first round of the 2022 elections demonstrates. About 50 million votes in favor of Jair Bolsonaro is something monstrous. How can so many people place their hopes for a near and promising future in the one who in his almost four years of (mis)government brought so many evils to Brazil?

There have never been so many fires and criminal fires that devastate the Amazon and the Cerrado; illegal mining thrives, polluting mercury rivers, with the indifferent gaze of the (mis)government; clandestine logging companies act with impunity, with the approval of a minister; almost 700 Brazilians died in the pandemic, while the President of the Republic campaigned against the vaccine and in favor of a proven ineffective medicine; inflation scales levels that drive high prices; unemployment punishes millions, generating hopelessness in the population; hunger afflicts millions of miserable people, who even look for food in the garbage; in education, the cut in MEC funds threatens federal universities, which find themselves without resources even to pay electricity and water bills; science has never known a period like this, of such disrepute and abandonment. Religious intolerance advances, especially with the violent attack on Afro-Brazilian sanctuaries. Organized crime thrives. The militias terrorize the population. What good can there be in the face of such a disaster?

Meanwhile, Jair Bolsonaro rides a jet-ski and participates in motorcycles, without wearing a helmet, which is prohibited, but without any punishment for disrespecting the law. In complete defiance, he mocks Covid patients with difficulty breathing; spreads distrust in electronic voting machines, a system recognized internationally as a model, attacks journalists, mainly women, in an evident misogynistic attitude; shames the country, denigrating it in a meeting with ambassadors from many countries, who felt perplexed by the unfounded attack on the Brazilian electoral system. Systematically, Jair Bolsonaro attacks the STJ and the TSE, even pronouncing in bad language, in an evident disrespect for the institutions, configuring, ultimately, attacks on the Democratic State of Law and the Constitution.

On the other hand, Jair Bolsonaro surrenders to Centrão by approving the so-called Secret Budget, which legalizes, but does not legitimize, perhaps the biggest corruption scheme in the history of the Republic. With this he preserves himself in office, without fearing actions of impeachment, systematically blocked by their allies, the presidents of the House and Senate. To get support, Jair Bolsonaro also strokes the rotten band of the military, that is, those nostalgic for the dictatorship. There are thousands sucking super wages from the government teats of Brasilia. There are many who yearn for the return of the AI-5, according to the public defense of this proposal made by a parliamentarian, son of Jair Bolsonaro. Let us remember that Bolsonaro even praised Colonel Brilhante Ustra as a hero, a notorious torturer and murderer during the military dictatorship.

Well then. It is not surprising that there are so many convinced voters for Jair Bolsonaro. They deserve each other. What surprises and dismays is that among the voters of this pustule, the worst president in the history of the Republic, there are intelligent, sensitive, good-hearted people, inclined to fraternity and solidarity, who cast their vote in this execrable figure. To these I address the word. Check the facts, consider the arguments, ponder. Open your eyes, hearts and minds. Compare.

Lula may not be the candidate of our dreams. In fact, in her government and in that of her successor, Dilma Rousseff, many things may have dismayed good citizens and taxpayers. During the period in which the PT was in power, corruption scandals came to light: monthly allowance and petrolão, in a spurious pact between the executive and the legislature to ensure governance. However, at no time was the democratic regime threatened, as with Jair Bolsonaro.

Despite its deformations and fallibilities, it is necessary to take into account the actions and positive results of the Lula government, for comparison purposes with the (mis)government of Bolsonaro.

Before the Lula government, Brazil was a debtor to the IMF. In the Lula administration, the debt was not only paid, but Brazil became a creditor. Between 2003 and 2014, 18 federal universities were created, doubling the number of students enrolled in higher education. The unemployment rate in the Bolsonaro government reached more than 11%; in the Lula administration, it was 4%, which, in economic theory, means full employment. Millions of citizens were rescued from extreme poverty and able to feed themselves. In view of this, the UN removed Brazil from the hunger map. In the Bolsonaro government, there was a significant regression of this situation.

Although timidly, science and technology were stimulated in the Lula government; but Jair Bolsonaro reduced his budget allocations to indigence. With Lula, the Minha Casa Minha Vida program sheltered thousands of beneficiary families, who began to live in their own homes. What did Jair Bolsonaro add to this? Lula raised the budget of the Ministry of Culture in 2014 to R$3,27 billion. Under Jair Bolsonaro, the Ministry of Culture was extinguished and replaced by a Secretariat, headed by Roberto Alvim, until he was exonerated due to the indignant repercussion of public opinion to a speech given by him, of a frankly Nazi character, on a national television network. television. In 2022, Jair Bolsonaro reduced Culture's budget allocation to R$1,67 billion.

In the field of international relations, Jair Bolsonaro's minions accuse Lula of maintaining privileged relations with Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela, but the facts demonstrate that the then president honored the Itamaraty tradition, recognized internationally as admirable, maintaining a balanced dialogue with foreign powers. , in favor of national interests and peace. It is no wonder that Barack Obama, then president of the United States, praised Lula as “the man”. Today, Itamaraty is subject to the preferences of Bolsonaro, who has shown himself to be subservient to Donald Trump.

The mainstream press records numerous cases of crimes of responsibility imputed to Jair Bolsonaro, but he remains unharmed due to the omission of the presidents of the Chamber and the Senate. processes of impeachment accumulate, but are relegated to the Kalends, because the opposition to the government in Congress does not have the strength to impose its agenda.

Many other comparisons could be made, showing the great distance between the statesman Lula and the abject and pitiful Jair Bolsonaro. But I will stop here, in the hope that this text will contribute to the reflection and discernment of the good citizen. The choice between civilization and barbarism is clear.

*José de Paula Ramos Jr. is a professor at the Department of Journalism and Publishing at ECA-USP. author of Readings of Macunaíma: First Wave (1928-1936) (edusp).

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