As the Lula da Silva administration enters its second year, warning signs abound of major changes that we had pointed out from the beginning. Government policy is ever more leftist. The former state infrastructure is being dismantled and a hypertrophied socialist and totalitarian state is emerging. Even worse, there are clear signs that the Workers Party (PT) is laying the groundwork to stay in power for the long run.
Brazil moves toward a totalitarian state
In a speech on the floor of the Chamber of Deputies on July 30, 2003, Deputy Yeda Crusius (PSDB) accurately described where the Lula da Silva government was headed. At the time Lula was elected, few politicians understood either his plans or those of the Workers Party. Some excerpts of Dep. Crusius’ speech now demonstrate these plans very well.
She said: “There is growing concern over a democratic and peaceful future for this country.
“People are also perplexed at the grand show of incompetence in directing national policy from the simplest social program to the government’s relationships with other republican institutions and the social movements of which the PT is the party arm, like the unions and the Landless Rural Workers Movement (MST).
“Unfortunately for democracy and democrats, the policies presented thus far demolish the state, as shown by the social security reform and the government’s alliances [with leftist movements] . . . that encourage lawlessness and the dismantling of the state. They do not say what they want to replace it with.
“In addition to perplexity and disappointment, there is growing anxiety about the future of our country.”
“The perception is that there is a method behind this apparent madness in governing.”
“This method is a permanent quest to demoralize and discredit democratic institutions.”
“A democratic state under the rule of law is not what they respect and desire.”
“What kind of state do they want? Judging from their acting through conflict and waging a permanent struggle with the Judiciary branch and civil servants; from defending the executions in Cuba; from supporting the MST and similar organizations, it is patent they want a state like the one they had in the State of Rio Grande do Sul [which the PT once governed].
“Their policy was to drive away productive investment, promote ideology through obligatory textbooks in schools, persecute journalists, demonize science and technology (as in the case of genetically modified foods), encourage and support land invasions, secure financing for party and government’s actions through, the least we could say, dubious sources, and implement policies to destroy law enforcement.
“It became clear in Rio Grande do Sul what kind of state they wanted: a totalitarian state. The PT is organized in the Marxist-Leninist mold of democratic centralism, which serves to silence and purge dissidents inside the party. Outside the party, that is, in the overall political process, this is the way to dictatorship and totalitarianism.
“This government, which disappoints and causes anxiety, is being seen as a mistake.
“For example, the Stalinist method of removing former comrades from pictures when they no longer served Stalin’s interests has its counterpart in the PT government in Brazil. They began by ‘erasing’ social programs (from previous administrations), which were cancelled. Will they come back? And if so, how? To serve the new PT state?
“To win the October 2002 elections, the then PT presidential candidate issued a ‘Letter to the Brazilian People’ in June. In that letter, in the best Stalinist style, he trampled on the truth, rewrote both history and his party’s platform, and forgot speeches and texts of his campaign and decisions made in national conventions. Above all, he forgot his party’s votes in the Chamber and Senate, and tried to pretend that no one remembered anything from the past.
“Unemployment is growing and breaking records. The government’s social programs are paralyzed. Violence grows in rural areas and the cities as the federal government looks on complacently. The MST seeks to inflame not only farm areas but also is making inroads in cities with methods that will impose socialism. Instead of distributing riches, they will socialize and democratize misery, given the lack of direction and the vertiginous fall in investments.
“To use the Chamber of Deputies as a shortcut to power, as its President states, is to accept a shortcut to end democracy which is organized with three branches, the executive, legislative, and judiciary branches, which are autonomous and independent.
“In 2003 the president of the Chamber of Deputies, João Paulo (PT), gave an exact explanation of this ploy: ‘The PT was the opposition because it was fighting to conquer power.’ No holds barred.
“On October 11, 2002, O Estado de S. Paulo published an interview of Deputy Walter Pinheiro, then PT whip in the Chamber of Deputies. He called on the directors of Aneel, ANP, Anatel, ANA and other regulatory agencies to resign: ‘The suggestion is that this whole troop resign.’ And he threatened: ‘We will tighten the siege.’ This is the PT’s view of the world: they had barely won the election and bang! The pie’s all mine now! What about the law? The law? Who cares!
“The authoritarian and Stalinist bent of Lulists became clear at the launching of the Zero Hunger program, when they tried to couple the distribution of money with the presentation of receipts for grocery purchases.
“This led Professor Francisco Oliveira to tell O Estado de S. Paulo (6/15/03) that the Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva government was moving toward ‘a totalitarianism disguised as democracy.’
“However, this rancid totalitarianism became clear in the speech President Lula delivered at the National Confederation of Industry on June 25, when he textually stated: ‘You can be certain that no rain or frost or smirk or national Congress or Judiciary Branch but God alone can prevent us from making this country occupy the outstanding place she should never have ceased occupying.’ President Lula had never been so daring.
“This led historian Marly Silva da Motta, of the Getúlio Vargas Foundation’s Center for Research and Documentation on Brazil’s Contemporary History, to comment: ‘It is alright when he sticks to the weather or the forces of nature. However, when he identifies Congress and the Judiciary branch as obstacles to attain his goal, then he’s delving into another matter. This is a dangerous speech that identifies the nation’s political-institutional infrastructure as a hindrance to attain his goals’ (O Globo, 6/2503).
“Recently, the PT move to take over the whole state machinery has become clearer. In a speech at Itamaraty, the Minister of Foreign Relations, Celso Amorim, defended the “commitment” of Brazilian diplomats to the Lula government’s political orientation. According to rules valid until now, a diplomat was a civil servant who stood above the ideological orientations of the government, the PT, and the party politics.
“Recently, Brazil’s ambassador to Cuba defended the firing-squad execution of some dissidents of Fidel Castro’s regime. According to him, Cuba faced destabilization, which justified the executions. According to O Estado de S. Paulo (7/11/03), the ambassador added: ‘Likewise, if they try to destabilize Lula, we will also have to take measures here.’
“The country is really perplexed, disappointed and restless at the grand show of incompetence that the Lula government has given while leading a democratic nation.”
To read the full Portuguese text of the deputy’s 54-page statement, download from the link below:
Yeda afirma que Governo Lula gera inquietações
Grande Expediente em 30.07.2003
Scandal hits Lula’s most important cabinet minister
Over the last few weeks, a scandal involving Presidential Chief of Staff José Dirceu has dominated the headlines. New developments are still being revealed. The affair is known as Waldogate or Waldomirogate, and is centered on Waldomiro Diniz, a principal aide to Mr. Dirceu.
The scandal started with the disclosure of a videotape showing Waldomiro asking bicheiros (operaters involved in illegal gambling) for campaign contributions (particularly for the PT), in exchange for government contracts.
Here are some news items on the case:
1. “The Lula government faces its first ethical crisis. On Thursday the 12th of February, Waldomiro Diniz, the president’s deputy chief of staff for parliamentary affairs was fired on the president’s orders. Linked to Chief of Staff José Dirceu, he was accused of receiving gambling money for PT election campaigns.
“The affair exploded in Congress like a bomb. The PSDB leader at the Chamber, Jutahy Jr., called for Dirceu’s resignation, saying that Waldomiro acted on orders from the party” (Leonel Rocha, “Faxina Geral,” Isto É, 2/18/2004).
2. “The charges of corruption against him are overwhelming. It was recorded and filmed. In his function in government, Waldomiro answered directly to Chief of Staff José Dirceu. It was incumbent upon him to keep in touch with deputies and senators, negotiate with allied parties on the most important votes, and follow up on all kinds of requests that politicians make in exchange for their support. The aide would spend his whole day at the national Congress. Waldomiro was a reference of power.
“‘The accusations are [only] the tip of the iceberg of rottenness that has taken over the PT,’ says Deputy Luciana Genro, now without a party as she was expelled from PT” (“No coração do Planalto”, Veja magazine, 2/18/2004).
3. “Congressmen forming the [government] alliance in the corridors of Congress used to call Waldomiro Diniz the ‘minister.’ He operated so much in tune with José Dirceu that seldom would the chief of staff reverse one of his deals” (“Ministro Waldomiro,” Folha de São Paulo, 2/14/2004)
4. In its main editorial, the Folha de São Paulo commented: “The story involving as main protagonist the deputy chief of staff for parliamentary affairs of the presidency is extremely grave. Waldomiro Diniz was a man of confidence of the government.
“There is a political dimension to this episode that is not small. What is being called into question is the credibility of the ‘team’s captain’ himself, as the president recently referred to Minister Dirceu. Diniz was his direct aide, a kind of right hand man in negotiations on the political arena” (“Vaso Trincado,” Folha de São Paulo, 2/14/2004).
5. “Up until January of this year, Waldomiro was one of the principal aides to José Dirceu, with whom he has been close for many years.
“As Dirceu’s man of confidence, the aide had a meteoric career up the PT power ladder. He gained space and respect as that the now presidential chief of staff became the strongest man in the PT.
“Waldomiro was fired, but by then he was already a minor personage in the affair” (“A crise mora ao lado. No Palácio,” Carta Capital, 2/18/2004)
6. “From the first day of the Lula government, Waldomiro was the closest aide to Minister José Dirceu. He personally participated in almost all the meetings and negotiations led by the presidential chief of staff which resulted in putting together the Lula administration in 2002” (Fernando Rodrigues, “Encanto quebrado,” Folha de São Paulo, 2/14/2004).
7. “For Babá, [a former PT deputy], the affair affects Minister José Dirceu: ‘he was Dirceu’s liaison with Congress, he was Dirceu’s voice on the floor of the Chamber.'” (“Esquerda petista diz que alertou sob lado ‘obscuro’ de assessor,” Folha de São Paulo, 02/14/2004)
8. On PT’s attempt to deny any relationship between the Waldomiro Diniz affair and the Lula government, lawyer Miguel Reale Júnior, a former justice minister in the Fernando Henrique Cardoso administration, stated:
“To say this has nothing to do with the present government is a sophism. The type of financing being sought shows the type of behavior that is created even by someone called a ‘minister.’ A wide-ranging probe is needed” (Painel, Folha de São Paulo 2/18/2004).
9. “For at least 12 years Chief of Staff José Dirceu has been a friend, mentor and chief of Waldomiro Diniz da Silva, who headed, from the beginning, the list of his staff at Planalto Palace.
“When PT won the 2002 presidential election, he was the only aide who followed all of Dirceu’s negotiations to put together the ministry. His mission was to negotiate votes with members of Congress” (Folha de São Paulo, 2/14/2004).
10. “I imagine how restless some may be as they look for ways out of the Waldomiro affair, which is gradually becoming the Dirceu affair” (Carlos Heitor Cony, “A primeira pedra,” Folha de São Paulo, 2/25/2004).
When the scandal grew, the government took several measures, two of which received scathing criticism from the press because they were seen as deceitful. The government closed bingo games parlors and slot-machine arcades and sought to enact some political reforms.
The closure of bingo games
At the height of the crisis, President Lula da Silva issued an order forbidding bingo games and slot machines in Brazil.
“The Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva government is betting on a provisional measure forbidding bingo games and on the amnesic effects of Carnival to try to lessen the damage caused by this crisis.
“Erratic and disconcerted in its first reaction, the government now tries to show that it is not immobilized. However, no matter how hard the Planalto [government palace] believes it can keep minister Dirceu, there is no doubt that both the formerly almighty chief of staff and the government’s political credibility have already suffered irreparable damage” (“Lixo Político,” Folha de São Paulo, 2/26/2004).
The day following the closures, the government proposed nationalizing gambling altogether.
“The closure of bingo game parlors and slot machine arcades was followed by a qualification – uttered in a roundabout way – that the decision is valid only ‘until we find a definitive solution to this matter.’
“What is immediately obvious is that the closure of bingo game parlors and slot machines arcades was neither a social nor moral measure. Dictated by circumstantial conveniences, it was a political ploy” (Janio de Freitas, “O jogo do governo,” Folha de São Paulo).
A Jornal da Tarde editorial thus commented on the possibility of a state takeover of gambling: “With the scandal surrounding one of the closest aides to Minister José Dirceu, involving extortion of gambling entrepreneurs and manipulation of gambling regulations, President Lula had no other way out but to forbid bingo games and slot machines all over the country.
“As it happened, only one day after watching the President sign the provisional order closing bingo game parlors, the highest federal authority responsible for this area – Justice Minister Márcio Thomaz Bastos – came up with a novelty that totally contradicts the moralizing measure issued by his boss. In an interview with Estado, he raised the possibility of nationalizing bingo. In this hypothesis, gambling would go on, but only with an official placet.
“Lula took an attitude which, while not sparing José Dirceu from political attrition, at least preserves his own authority as president.
“However, taking over gambling would mean opening the government up to a contagious focus of corruption. Therefore, this option should not exist. To close yes, right away. To take over, never.” (“Bingos: proibir, sim; estatizar, nunca!” Jornal da Tarde, 02/25/2004)
The political reform
The other, much criticized measure was a political reform that would supposedly end corruption in sources of financing for political campaigns.
Here is how the Folha de São Paulo comments on the supposed justification for political reform caused by this scandal: “The PT’s commissars dream of a new agenda for the national debate. They seek to fool the country with political reform.
“The plan has two main parts. The first is to establish a public financing system for election campaigns. This proposal seeks to draw money from the sitting ducks (taxpayers) to pay for election campaigns of politicians without touching in the least the existing schemes of fraud and corruption. Today candidates receive (or take) legal and illegal donations. They pay for their expenses with a two-tiered accounting system. In the second tier is found the bulk of expenses of marketing and TV ad production.
“If a public financing system for electoral campaigns is established, everything will continue the same, with the difference that they will take some hundreds of millions in taxpayer money to stage the little morality show.
“The second point of the political reform is the proposed establishment of voting lists. In good Portuguese, it is intended to take away the right of the gullible masses [naive voters] to vote for a candidate and oblige them to vote only for a party instead. Henceforth, the order on which the candidates’ names were put on the list would prevail.
“In any case, with the protection of Commissar José Dirceu and the prestige he has acquired in his negotiations in Congress, Waldomiro Diniz would gain a deputy chair on a list system. With the current method he would hardly get ten thousand votes. But with the reform he would have sufficient protection to be placed on the top list of some party of the federal PT coalition.
“The commissars want the gullible masses to believe that the system of popular representation will improve if they swallow these two tricks. First trick, their tax money will be taken to fatten candidates. Second, their right to vote in whoever they want will be confiscated” (Elio Gaspari, “O Boi voador da reforma política,” Folha de São Paulo, 2/25/2004).
Signs of the “Mexicanization” in Brazil
The extremely important consequences of Waldogate for the Lula government are summarized thus: “There are two problems involving the presidential chief of staff, José Dirceu. The first is that his right-hand man was involved in the bingo scandal. The second is that, if Dirceu resigns, the government will be paralyzed. Dirceu has shown himself to be the sole pole of effective decision-making in the government.” (Luiz Nassif, “Os dois problemas de Dirceu,” Folha de São Paulo, (2/26/2004)
Some days before Waldogate broke out, the press was already reporting on how politicians were concerned about developments in Brazil. A telltale article calls to mind the nation’s climate at that moment:
“The Waldomiro Diniz scandal reflects [negatively] upon Minister José Dirceu and the government as a whole. How the affair will unfold is still uncertain, but the least one can say at this point is that one of the two strongmen in the government erred clamorously in picking one of his principal aides.
“Let us call to mind a bit the pre-Waldomiro scenario.
“There was concern in several political circles over signs that PT’s project for a long stay in power was strengthening. Part of this strategy, for example, included political alliances cobbled together largely by Minister José Dirceu, the occupation of the state machinery by PT cadres, the possibility of an increasing influence of the Lula government on the leadership of the Judiciary branch, and fears that media companies, in fragile financial condition, may be coming under increasing government control when it comes to their rescue.
“The most alarmed [citizens] were already talking about a ‘Mexicanization’ of Brazilian politics, an allusion to the Institutional Revolutionary Party’s long domination of that country” (Paulo Nogueira Batista Jr., “Com amigos como esse…”, Folha de São Paulo, 02/26/2004).