Opinion, by Michael Royster
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL — Yesterday was Friday the 13th. The Curmudgeon is not superstitious, albeit he married his (first and current) wife on Thursday the 11th rather than Saturday the 13th. But Petrobras had a VERY Friday the 13th. The day before, one of its offshore rigs had explosions and fires with deaths, one day after Petrobras paid for huge newspaper ads bragging about its technical and safety records.
Yesterday, the doyen of all U.S. newspapers deemed an article “fit to print” when it said Petrobras was “Too big to fail”. Duh! Petrobras is government owned and controlled, so “failure is not an option”.
Petrobras has been screwed, blued and tattooed (as they say). It’s been depredated by its officers and directors, and, worse yet, by the crooked politicians who have controlled it since Lula took office and Dilma became Chairperson of the Board of Directors.
The Curmudgeon, who has not retired from his daytime job, went this afternoon to a “Bloco de Carnaval”.
At the “Bloco dos Aposentados” the Curmudgeon found himself surrounded by retirees, most of them elderly. In the midst, among other offerings (a Bloco shirt for R$15 includes free beer!) the Curmudgeon received two cardboard fans from Sindipetro, the labor union representing Petrobras workers.
One side of the fan promoted the numerous Blocos the union supported. The reverse side promoted the one hundred percent ownership of Petrobras by … the federal government! In block letters, it said “We want Petrobrás one hundred percent state and public owned.”
The Curmudgeon wonders what planet these people live on. It is state and public ownership, through corrupt politicos, that has despoiled and (almost) destroyed Petrobras. Its retirees, having spent their lives working for “o Petróleo é Nosso”, deserve better.
Petrobras will indeed fail if Dilma cannot purge it of the crooks and cronies (from her own party) who have turned it into an international synonym for corruption.
Can Dilma do that? Does she want to do that? Will Lula let her do that?
The Curmudgeon purposes publishing more bovine Smidgens, in the fullness of time. Stay tuned. Please.