Beyond the News
Disclaimer: as I mention on the session “Blogger”, I am Brazilian but currently living in Europe. My opinion hereafter reflects the conversations that I have had with other journalists, friends and family in Brazil. I have also been following the situation in my home country via Internet and social media.
June 2013 is already a historical month for Brazil. It will be forever remembered as the month when “Brazilians went to the streets” in order to claim for better health care, public transportation, education and security, as well as, the use of tax payers’ money wisely and less corruption. They also protested against PEC 37 (Proposta de Emenda Constitucional) a new bill that was under discussion in the National Congress and which would limit attorneys’ power to investigate crimes in the country. With over 1 million people on the streets, PEC 37 was refused by 430 of 439 Congressmen and the government came up with several new proposals to attend society’s wide agenda of requests.
The first idea was to create a plebiscite where people would have the opportunity to vote for a political reform. Basically, the Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff offered: to cease private financing of elections; the end of colligations between different parties, which nowadays make it easier to a candidate with low number of votes being elected; obligate candidates elected to stick with their promises with the possibility of being expelled from his/her position; the possibility of voters to also choose a political party’s candidate at municipal, state and national elections; waive the position “alternate politician”, which enables a person to get a mandate in the Congress without being elected by the people, but instead by replacing the one who was chosen during the elections.
With all that, the country became anxious! People on the streets claimed that the president move was lousy. They want a real and concrete short, medium and long term plan to attend their needs. On the other hand, politicians took refugees in their “caves”, skipped from the public eyes and started their lobbies to stop the political reform. For now, seems that they won the arm war and managed to suspend the plebiscite, which at this stage is unlikely to happen, at least, not in time to cover 2014 elections.
But the question is: what is next?
Well, what political journalists write nowadays is that the government is lost, trying to implement projects after projects as quicker as possible, so the society could have the feeling that things are moving; however, on the streets the situation is quite opposite. The country does not have the same “grip” from last 4 years and started to run slower.
Financial indicators are not as positive as before. Inflation, for instance, is again a major concern, while IMF has already reviewed the country’s growth in 2013 by 0.5% lower. Nevertheless, to say that these manifestations are the reason of this deceleration is a bit “over the line” claim. In fact, Brazil had a really strong and fast growth in the last 5 to 10 years; and to keep it on the same pace is practically impossible.
There is also a concern regards on what Brazilians will take away from major sports’ events scheduled for 2014 (Football World Cup) and 2016 (Olympic Games) in the country: topics that were also raised during last month’s protests. Would Brazil manage to capitalize on these events? Or is it going to be just like in Greece?
Well, Brazil has a strong commodity market and it is able to survive from that for long years. New petroleum sites were identified in the country and are still to be explored. Gold, silver and iron are also largely available, while energy does not seem to be a problem, although infra-structure to explore that must be expanded.
In other words, I do not think that Brazil will become a new Greece, which after the 2004 Olympic Games dove into a huge recession without any perspective to get out of this deep hole. Nevertheless, the true is that finally Brazilian people from low, medium and high classes have realized that the problem of South America’s major country is not resources, but the way how these resources are used. And to change that, it is necessary time! A time without deadline, without a “ready to cook recipe” to follow!
It is important to say that the protests in Brazil have different connotations to what we saw recently in the Arab zone and even in the US. While in one the focus was on freedom, in America the fight was for economy recover, more jobs and better opportunities. To be honest, Brazil also has several problems related to freedom and unemployment, especially in the country’s poorest regions; but in general, the nation is doing well and the president came up quickly to say that the acts on the streets are democratic and must be supported by all – perhaps the smartest attitude of Dilma Rousseff in this incident.
However, there is a long road ahead! And it is quite spooky! Part of the society lost its faith on politicians and political parties. The government is trying to keep it cool, push people back home and find a “one size fits all” solution. Nevertheless, it is clear that the problem is now cultural. Corruption cannot end over the night and it continues to be very popular in all levels of the society! Hence, the future of Brazil is not only on the politician’s hands or in the financial market indicators, but the way how society and government will pull it together towards a better country.