Monday, October 25, 2010

Dilma: Securing progress and consolidating gains

Leonardo Boff's weekly columns are available in Spanish from Servicios Koinonia. Some of his older columns are available in English at

by Leonardo Boff (English translation by Rebel Girl)

Brazil has now stopped "lying in a splendid cradle." In recent years, particularly under President Lula's administration, it has undergone changes unprecedented in our history. They are the result of a political project that has decided to put the nation ahead of the market, which gives a central position to the social-populist issues, managing to integrate millions and millions of people who used to be condemned to exclusion and early death. Despite the obligations imposed by neoliberal macroeconomics that it had to take on, it has not submitted to the dictates from the IMF, the World Bank and other bodies that direct the course of economic globalization. It opened its own way, so sustainable that it successfully faced the deep economic and financial crisis that decimated the central economies and that, due to the increasing scarcity of natural goods and services and global warming, is putting the reproduction of the capital system itself at risk.

Lula's government carried out the Brazilian revolution in the sense of Caio Prado Jr. in his classic A Revolução Brasileira (1966): "Transformations able to restructure the life of a country in a way that fits its broadest and deepest needs, and the aspirations of the great mass of its population ... something that takes the life of the country in a new direction." These changes have occurred; the most basic needs to eat, live, work, study and have light and health have been largely met. Our country has taken a new direction, a direction that confers the dignity that had always been denied to the majority. Lula never betrayed his promise to eradicate hunger and to stress social issues. His performance has been so impressive that he has been considered one of the great world leaders.

This invaluable legacy can not be put at risk. Despite the errors and deviations that occurred during his rule, which we should acknowledge, correct and punish, the changes should be consolidated and completed. This is the main significance of the victory of candidate Dilma, who has the qualities necessary to "rebuild" the new Brazil continuously.

For this it is important to defeat the opposition candidate José Serra. He represents a different plan for Brazil, one that comes from the past, he is endowed with beautiful words and illusory proposals but basically he is neoliberal and non-populist, and plans to privatize and weaken the state to allow free action of domestic private capital, in conjunction with international capital.

PSDB ideologues who support Serra believe that the process of globalization via the market is irreversible, despite being in crisis. They say: we should join it, albeit in a subordinate way. Otherwise, we condemn ourselves to historical irrelevance. This is clearly apparent when Serra discusses foreign policy. He explicitly aligns with the central, imperialist and militarist powers that persist in using violence to solve global problems, ridiculing President Lula's attempt to found a new diplomacy based on dialogue and sincere negotiation on a win-win basis.

The fate of Brazil within that option, is more dependent on the mega-forces that control the world market than on Brazilian policy decisions. The autonomy of Brazil with its own national project that could help find a new direction that would save humankind, afflicted by so many dangers, is totally absent from his discourse.

This neoliberal project, that triumphed during the eight years of Fernando Henrique Cardoso's administration, made significant developments, especially in economic stabilization. But it made poor policies for the poor and rich ones for the rich. Social policies were no more than crumbs. Those who carry the neoliberal project are linked to the agribusiness export sectors, the economic and financial elites, modern in lifestyle but conservative in mindset, the representatives of multinational companies based in our country and the political forces of technological modernization without social transformation.

To vote for Dilma is to secure the gains that have been made in favor of the majority and consolidate a state, whose president will know how to take care of the people, since the essence of the feminine is to care for and protect life in all its forms.

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