Lula government – ​​an erratic administration

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By JEAN MARC VON DER WEID*

The future of government is in the balance, threatI love forçthose of agribusinessócio, from tráthe financial sector, the interests of congressmen and the actionthe deleteélaugh at the thousandíultra right virtual company

Lula did not win the elections alone, but without him Bolsonaro would not have been defeated. The president's uncontested charismatic leadership was absolutely critical to the victory. Lula took millions of Brazilian men and women to the streets in the first and second rounds and was a galvanizer of militancy, broader than that of the leftist parties, which assumed a key role in turning votes. He was able to partially but significantly overcome resistance to himself and even PT.

However, Lula's candidacy carried some stigmas of the PT's passage through the governments, in particular that of Dilma Rousseff. Lula's (and the PT's) weakness, visible to the naked eye during debates and television interviews, was the issue of corruption. The narrative adopted by the candidate and the party is fragile and unconvincing and this was not overcome in the campaign. A portion of the vote for Jair Bolsonaro was driven by the feeling on the part of voters that they had been deceived when, in 2002, they voted for Lula for ethics in politics. Like Jair Bolsonaro, his family and his government had a huge tail tied to this issue, who didn't dive into the right-wing bubble (which built a completely fake of an anti-corruption Bolsonaro) ended up voting for Lula for other reasons, above all the defense of democracy, despite the indelible stain that the candidate carried.

Just as Lula was the superhero in the defeat of Jair Bolsonaro, he is the key to the success, or failure, of his government. More than ever, the president is the alpha and omega of current politics and every word, decision and gesture is vital to face the trap I described in the series posted on the website the earth is round.

Lula is a highly skilled and realistic politician in his assessments of the political situation. He knows that the correlation of forces in Congress is very negative and has adopted a tactic of attracting the most disparate forces, including those from the right, to support his government. However, the weight of the parties that came to form the support base in Congress, theoretically capable of guaranteeing a large majority, is not sustainable. The broad physiological vote of the so-called lower clergy is not guaranteed by the adherence of the leaders of the parties to which they belong.

On the other hand, part of the opposition base, even in the most Bolsonarist party, the Liberal Party (PL), is open to membership. This unfaithful vote, on both sides, is only won in exchange for specific benefits via, above all, parliamentary amendments of any format. This implies negotiation on a case-by-case basis, proposal by proposal. It implies an agreement with the supreme voter of the Chamber, Artur Lira and, to a lesser extent, with Rodrigo Pacheco in the Senate.

In this context, Lula needs to define a program with very concrete and very sensitive priorities for the electorate, especially the poorest. He cannot go shooting in all directions, expending forces that should be concentrated on central objectives to bring these very risky next four years to a good result. The international agenda is not a priority for this internal public to win over and/or retain. And Lula is deeply involved in this international plan, regardless of the successes and failures of the positions he has been taking.

The democratic agenda is today in the hands of justice and if it fulfills its role, the right wing Bolsonarist and coup leader will be hard hit, including the energetic, relieving the pressures of extremism against the institutions of the Republic.

What Lula will have to do in the executive is to clean up the administration of the countless employees identified with the Bolsonarist coup, in particular the more than seven thousand military personnel who have been busy over the last four years. Here it will be necessary to act without seeking agreements or being frightened by the grins of the Military Party, which will not stop protesting against a supposed “witch hunt”. And this should be a rule in relations with the military. One cannot govern under military threats, implicit or explicit.

It is up to the president to demand professional behavior from the Armed Forces (FFAA) and this became clear with the problems experienced at the beginning of the government, with the GSI taken over by commanders of General Augusto Heleno collaborating with the coup, with the connivance of the general commanders of the Planalto, from the army command garrison where the coup plotters of the 8th slept well protected and by the general commander of the army himself, who faced the Minister of Justice with threats of the use of force.

Permission given to the Navy to sink the “poisoned” aircraft carrier was explained by Lula's desire not to pick another fight with the military. It's not the best way to make yourself respected by the general crowd. And the Minister of Defense, despite his disastrous role on the 8th and his total complicity with the officialdom he was supposed to command, was retained by Lula, also on the grounds of his good relations with the military. Trying to charm or neutralize the officialdom, heavily contaminated by Bolsonarism, on the basis of concessions will not work. Professionalism and rigor to prevent political demonstrations should be the rule.

Winning the economic agenda in Congress, starting with Tax Reform, will require enormous social pressure, the widest possible. And, for that, the government needs to define the essential program to be fulfilled to justify the necessary increase in revenue in the Reform. Where will the extra money you intend to raise be used? This is a key issue to mobilize society and impose a necessary project on a congress that, left to its own devices, will either vote against the government or charge endless benefits for each of the most physiological deputies and senators.

In tax reform, the basic principles of (1) removing most of the $600 billion in annual subsidies must be applied; (2) simplify the system by unifying fees; (3) reduce indirect taxes; (4) lower income tax for the poorest; (5) significantly increase income tax for the richest, including taxation of large fortunes; (6) improve the collection system to inhibit tax evasion. One can imagine the number of conflicts that this type of reform will provoke.

Without a broad tax justice clarification campaign that must be implemented; without a demonstration of the injustice caused by the privileges for the beneficiaries of tax exemptions; without a very clear definition of the destination of the new money to be collected, it will be impossible to galvanize society to launch the reform in a Congress with hegemony of physiologists and ultra-rightists. Unfortunately, until now, Lula and the government have not been able to produce this lean program (or any other) and the measures taken so far are limited to resuming programs that Bolsonaro extinguished. It is important, but far from the minimum vital program for the country, for the government and for Lula.

In an attempt to please everyone, the government ends up pleasing no one. It is necessary to be clear where the irreducible enemies are, either by economic interests or by ideology. Agribusiness is the greatest of these enemies and Geraldo Alckmin's attempts, on Lula's behalf, to please the sector's leaders are pathetic. Absurdities are promised, such as the exploitation of potassium in indigenous areas of the Amazon, the even easier release of new pesticides and transgenics, and even more advantageous financing for funding and investment.

None of this has economic or commercial justification. And how will the government position itself in the case of huge subsidies for agribusiness? How will Brazilian diplomacy behave in relation to the European Union's restrictions on imports of agricultural products from deforested areas? Believing that gestures of sympathy and concessions will bring agribusiness to an understanding with the government and with Lula is to cultivate a dangerous illusion. And the industry's response came swift and brutal. Between honoring former president Bolsonaro or receiving a visit from the Minister of Agriculture, the organizers of the Agrishow did not hesitate and did not invite the latter. Jair Bolsonaro received an apotheotic tribute at Agrishow, after having been ostracized for weeks. It slaps the government in the face and should serve as a lesson.

The environmental agenda also seems to be threatened by initiatives from several sides: Petrobras wants to explore oil at the mouth of the Amazon, Lula makes waves for financing to Argentines for the exploration of shale gas and the construction of a gas pipeline to import it, the price policy of gasoline and diesel is aimed at containing them as much as possible, although this means expanding their consumption, which is highly harmful to controlling global warming.

But the greatest threat lies in the continued lack of control in mining areas, illegal logging, predatory fishing in Amazonian rivers and the illegal occupation of public lands. The case of the Yanomami reserve should alert Lula to the problems he will have to face. The operation to remove garimpeiros, employees of trafficking factions, from the lands of the indigenous reserve had a high media impact, but a low impact on the control of illicit activities. As in the past, in other operations of this type, the miners leave without any hindrance to their activities and wait for the wave to pass before returning.

Not even all the invaders were removed and the armed confrontation has been intensifying, without the police being able or willing to control it. In the operation to rescue the ethnic group, plagued by serious health problems, the government was unable to set up the field hospital announced in the media, due to the Air Force's laxity in recovering airports in the region to take equipment. Now it is announced that another operation will be launched, in an indigenous area in Pará.

The problem is that the thousands of garimpeiros have no alternative for survival, they have the explicit or discreet support of local authorities, including governors, mayors, delegates, military police and judges. Without the mobilization of the FFAA and the federal police on a large scale, these operations will be like drying ice. Along with the repression and withdrawal of gold miners, the government needs to set up a social program that generates jobs for this mass or it will be the “army of trafficking” fighting public authority.

And this large group is well armed and well equipped (with the help of Jair Bolsonaro's weapons policy) and has the support of economic operators from drug trafficking gangs to sell their gold on the national and international market. As these operations to regain control of the territory by the State will collide with the interests of agribusiness, doubts remain regarding the political will of Lula and the government to confront this powerful lobby. The slowness in the recovery of the operational capacity of IBAMA and ICMBio indicates that decisive action against garimpeiros, loggers and land grabbers is not a priority. The other explanation would be a lack of focus on government actions and the option to act where there is least resistance.

The government's future hangs in the balance, threatened by the forces of agribusiness, drug trafficking, the financial sector, the petty interests of congressmen and the deleterious action of the ultra-right virtual militia.

Meanwhile, government parties struggle to occupy more and more spaces of power, in a war of positions in the executive. So far, however skillful and charismatic Lula is, his administration has been acting erratically and without clear axes of a programmatic proposal capable of galvanizing society.

This will not work, but let's wait for the adjustments that Lula can make, resuming the reins of the government and the party.

*Jean Marc von der Weid is a former president of the UNE (1969-71). Founder of the non-governmental organization Family Agriculture and Agroecology (ASTA).


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