Opinion, by Michael Royster
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Towards the end of April, May Day approaches. Historically, in northerly climes, this portends the spring of life, the joy of annual rebirth. Here in Brazil, sadly, May Day will be converted into MAYDAY! the universally known synonym for HELP!
Brazil’s soi disant “Presidenta” has had her professional flacks announce that, on the Day of the Workers, for the first time in decades, a sitting President will not give a public speech on May Day, broadcast for all to hear. Why won’t she do this?
Because she’s afraid of loud noises, particularly those loud noises called “panelaços” and “buzinaços”. The first is the clanging of pots and pans; the second is the blaring of car horns.
Ever since her inauguration, Dilma and her Ministers have been greeted by this type of noise, as citizens of all political stripes protest against her actions and her inaction. Last Sunday, two of her more prominent ministers, who were attending Brazil’s largest agricultural fair in Ribeirão Preto, were so incessantly booed and jeered by the crowds that they chickened out, and didn’t give their planned speeches.
The “Presidenta” has been in hiding from the people who elected her, for over 4 months. She has retreated behind her (laudable) weight loss, she has treated it as a barrier from criticism and as a good and sufficient justification for not doing anything presidential, while remaining ensconced behind the walls of the official residence.
So this coming Friday, as directed by her former mentor Lula and other advisors, Dilma will speak, not in public, but through the Internet. Her Minister of Propaganda has tried to forestall accusations of cowardice by phrasing this action as a positive forward step towards the use of alternative, more “social” media.
Who does she think she’s kidding?
It must be said that this cowardly behavior is totally unexpected. After all, Dilma was physically tortured while imprisoned by the military after the “Glorious Revolution” of 1964. The more militant cohorts of PT, her political party, have told her that fear of public opposition is completely at odds with her combative nature, and have urged her, on May Day, to take up the cudgels and rail against the enemies of the working class who want to outsource all employees.
The Curmudgeon permits himself to wonder whether Dilma has come to realize that her puppet master Lula was wrong in 2010 when he chose her to be a stalking-horse interim president. Or, perhaps she has come to realize she herself was wrong in 2014 when she decided to run for re-election instead of letting Lula slide back into power.
Or, perhaps she has come to realize, in 2015, that she simply isn’t capable of presiding over a Brazil that needs to undo all of her disastrous economic policies. If that’s the case, she should take some advice from a former president of the USA, Harry Truman, who said “if you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen”.
The Curmudgeon has been on holiday recently, but now he’s back in the saddle, and promises more waspish columns on his favorite spectator sport.