Opinion, by Michael Royster
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Based on her reactions after the nationwide protests in June, the Curmudgeon has come to the conclusion that Dilma is truly clueless about politics. In her first speech, she proposed three things: importing foreign doctors to work in poor areas; spending all the “pre-salt” oil income on education; and “political reform”.
Facing opposition from Brazilian doctors, she changed her proposal to hiring Brazilian doctors for poor areas, and adding another two years onto the med school curriculum, with med students working in SUS, the governmental health system. Her own Health Minister opposed this, as did doctors, so she gave in. Clueless.
The split of “pre-salt” oil income has been the subject of vitriolic debate in Congress, and it now seems as if there’s going to be a 75/25 split between education and health, but no one knows what funds will be split — all the income from the exploration, or just part of it. Dilma’s own party (PT) is completely divided over the question, as are her Health and Education Ministers. Clueless.
The “political reform” scenario has been even more laughable. Dilma first suggested a Constitutional Assembly, which would be limited to the question of political reform. But her Vice President (a constitutional law scholar) and the leaders of all the coalition parties in Congress agreed that would be unconstitutional. Clueless.
Clutching for straws, Dilma then proposed to carry out this “political reform” by means of a plebiscite, where the “plebs” (Latin for “povão” or commoners) would get to vote on… something or other, she didn’t say what. Plebiscites require voters to make political choices, so issues must be put forth — but she didn’t have any. Clueless.
She also proposed that this political reform be carried out in August, so that new laws could take effect a year before the October 2014 elections. She consulted, belatedly, the Chief Justice of the Electoral Court (one of her appointees) who told her it couldn’t happen. She then consulted the coalition leadership, who told her it shouldn’t happen. Clueless.
Nothing daunted, she proposed five specific issues for the plebiscite: 1) campaign financing; 2) congressional representation; 3) party coalitions for election campaigns; 4) eliminating “suplentes” or substitute Senators; and 5) eliminating secret votes in Congress. She didn’t know there was legislation pending in Congress on all these issues. Congress beat her to the punch and passed laws on issues 4 and 5. Clueless.
The Congressional leadership explained to her that the first three issues are all intimately linked together and that the dozen political parties allied with PT had at least that many different ideas about how the issues ought to be defined and voted on. The leadership also reminded her that legislation in this area had been pending for ten years since Lula was first elected, and that not even Lula had been able to get them to agree. Clueless.
In late July, hearing widespread calls for “Volta, Lula!” (“Lula, Come Back!”) from her own party and several allied parties, Dilma publicly stated: “Lula never left.” Facing criticism that she has been a mere place-holder for Lula, plus evidence that whenever she gets into some sort of political mess she has secret meetings with Lula, she has done the unthinkable. She has actually admitted what the Curmudgeon knew before she was elected — she has been Lula’s puppet. CLUELESS!
Lula is not clueless, and he is running for President, although he denies it. But that’s another column. Stay tuned.
Michael Royster, aka THE CURMUDGEON first saw Rio forty-plus years ago, fetched up on these shores exactly 36 years ago, still loves it, notwithstanding being a charter member of the most persecuted minority in (North) America today, the WASPs (google it!)(get over it!)