Opinion, by Michael Royster
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – As the Curmudgeon mused little more than twelve months ago, “O tempora! O mores!” (“Oh the times! Oh the customs!”) was the tag line for a speech by Cicero in the Roman Senate which began with “How long, o [prominent Senator] will you continue to abuse our patience?” Does that sound familiar here in Brazil?
But of course, this is last year’s news. 2016 has, by now, become bygone days, whose final weeks featured a flurry of deaths of prominent entertainers, thus ensuring politics stayed off the front pages.
So, you ask, what is the news for 2017? Read on, if you dare, for the Curmudgeon will offer a prediction of what “the times!” and “the customs!” will witness.
For starters, 2017 has started early. In the week after Christmas, U.S. President Obama went testosteronic, and took several measures designed to entrap, if not offend, the recently elected 45th President of the United States, Donald Trump. Simultaneously, he managed to deliver slaps to the faces of Trump’s good buddies Netanyahu and Putin.
One measure was the creation of National Parks, Monuments and environmentally protected areas such as Alaska, where Big Business cannot go. Another was refraining from vetoing a UN Security Council vote demanding Israel cease building settlements in occupied Palestine territory. Yet another was the expulsion of 35 Russian “diplomats” for having hacked the U.S. elections.
But we digress. What’s going to happen in Brazil in 2017? The Curmudgeon will hazard a few guesses:
1. President Temer will be removed from office by the TSE for having participated in illegal campaign financing activities in 2014, as part of the Dilma/Temer ticket.
2. In the subsequent indirect election for President, Congress will elect as interim President Fernando Henrique Cardoso, who has been openly campaigning for this position for the past year.
3. The economy will worsen in Rio—essential service workers like police, firefighters, and orange-clad “garis” will all go on strike because they haven’t been paid.
4. Carnaval will happen, as usual, even though police, firefighters, and sanitation workers are on strike, because Carnaval is run by bandidos and nobody wants to commit a crime when they’re having fun.
5. The “jogo do bicho” numbers racket that finances Carnaval will be legalized and (theoretically) taxed, as will gambling casinos; Rio will try to compete with Punta del Este, Mar del Plata and Aruba.
6. Marcelo Crivella will be a good Mayor, as he is one of the few politicians alive in Brazil who does, in fact, care about poor people.
7. Outgoing Mayor Eduardo Paes will become the leading candidate for President of Brazil in the 2018 elections, because in his eight years in office, he transformed the city of Rio de Janeiro.
8. Lula will be indicted for having masterminded criminal schemes (Mensalão, Petrolão) that succeeded in buying the votes of the “300 picaretas” in Congress.
9. Lula will become the candidate most feared by Eduardo Paes, because his illegal schemes resulted in 20 million voters entering the real economy, after centuries of marginalization.
10. The Supreme Court of Brazil (STF) will become enmired in scandals, as it enters the political thicket and attempts to substitute Congress as the ultimate Legislator.
O tempora! O mores!