Opinion, by Michael Royster
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – “Summertime, and the livin’ is easy. Fish are jumpin’…” George Gershwin knew all about Brazilian politics. On the summery first day of March 2012, President Dilma (“the Big D”) should have been ashamed of herself. Sadly, she wasn’t, according to her doppelganger Ideli (the “Little D”).
One day later, at a ceremony transferring the command of the Ministry of Fishing and Aquiculture, the Big D milked out a tear, but it wasn’t from shame. She was sad she’d summarily sacked, for the second time in less than a year, one of her most faithful PT supporters.
Lula (“the Big Squid”) created this pointless, useless Ministry, just as he invented ten other new ministries, thus swelling the school of bottom-feeders from 26 to 37.
His first appointee was a political scientist; his second was a veterinarian. When the Big D took office she appointed the Little D (a physicist), then demoted a metalworker from a more visible Ministry.
What do the political scientist, veterinarian, physicist and metalworker have in common, other than not knowing anything at all about fish? They’re all PT party faithful, and all singularly unsuccessful in getting elected to any public office at all, even after Lula led PT out of the shallows into richer, more krill-filled thalassic streams.
New appointee Marcelo Crivella, a Civil Engineer, is a seahorse of a different color. Although admittedly a fish out of water in matters piscicultural, he knows how to be elected—before this Poseidon adventure, he was Senator from the State of Rio.
More to the point, he is a standard bearer of one of the “minnow” parties the Big Squid was able to drag into his electoral net—PRB. The Little D’s justification for handing him his trident, calling him Neptune and throwing him into the deep end, was that PRB had not yet had any ministries to paddle around in.
Not coincidentally, PRB is the private preserve of the soi-disant “evangelical wing” of the Brazilian Congress -a group of religious rightists who make Rick Santorum look downright Darwinesque. PRB have been loudly unhappy with the liberal leanings of many of the Big D’s cohorts, and are threatening to run their own candidate for mayor of São Paulo, thus siphoning off votes from the Big Squid’s candidate.
Now that PRB have received their own small bucket of chum, it’s expected that the PRB mayoralty candidate will throw himself on his swordfish and drift discreetly down into the depths.
The Ministry of Fishing and Aquiculture is the bottom of the deep blue seafood chain in terms of patronage. It only turns over some R$150 million per annum; that’s a lot higher than the R$7 million a few years ago, but it’s still pocket change compared to, say, the Ministry of Transports. So, no matter how hard the new Lord High Angler tries, he’s got very few worms to put on his hook.
The Curmudgeon knows that not a single one of the prior ministers has done anything positive for the fishing industry or for individual Brazilian commercial fishermen. What it has done is employ hundreds of PT faithful, and present projects designed to enrich those who will support PT candidates with their rake-offs.
That, in a nutshell, is what is wrong about the Big Squid’s coalition strategy, now endorsed by the Bid D—every party receives a Ministry it can plunder for cash.
Michael Royster, aka THE CURMUDGEON first saw Rio forty-plus years ago, moved here thirty-plus 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!)