Opinion, by Michael Royster
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – One of the few things President (for the time being) Temer has done right recently is promulgate a Decree providing that the Brazilian Air Force (FAB) must maintain, at all times, at least one plane which is specially equipped for organ transplants, including transplant patients and their families.
During the three year period 2013-2015, over 150 Brazilians have not received organ transplants because the life-saving organ could not be sent to the hospital where the transplant would take place, and have died as a result.
It’s not because of bureaucracy. There’s a National Transplant Center (CNT), part of the National Transplant System (SNT) under the Ministry of Health. CNT sends requisitions to FAB and FAB replies either “okay” or, far too often, “sorry, no planes available.”
The reason they have no planes available is that there is a Decree dating from 2002 that requires FAB to transport elected politicians anywhere they want to go, for free, any time, any place, no questions asked. In other words, there’s more than Air Force One, there’s Air Force 1, 2, 3 … all the way up to Air Force 51, Lula’s favorite way (or so they say) to get high above Brazil.
President (NOT for the time being) Dilma Rousseff complains bitterly that FAB won’t allow her to gallivant to far-flung places where she can cry “GOLPE!” in a voice loud enough to be heard by her red-shirted, hammer-and-sickle-flag-waving true believers, albeit rarely by the traditional news media.
It’s not just Dilma, of course. All of the famous names now in the headlines and (finally!) also in criminal dossiers — Cunha, Sarney, Renan and Aécio, to name but a few — have for years taken advantage of this perquisite awarded to the great and the near-great.
The Curmudgeon begs leave to ask: Why did FAB prefer these scoundrels to those honest citizens whose lives depend upon transplants? The answer, until Temer’s Decree, was, sadly, “the Law”. That is no longer a valid defense. Real human lives ought to preempt politicians’ electioneering, and that’s what “the Law” now says.
The Curmudgeon is overwhelmed by dismal news these days, but the latest decree makes him hopeful.