Opinion, by Michael Royster
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – The Curmudgeon assiduously follows the news about current events. Recently, what has struck him the most is the ability to lie shown by almost everybody connected with the Police/Fire/Penitentiary workers strikes (Bahia and Rio, so far).
First up is Governor Jacques Wagner of the State of Bahia. He kept insisting he was ready to sit down and negotiate. Every single person in Bahia knows he was lying. He was ready to sit down, stare impassively into the middle distance while listening to the complaints of the public servants, and then tell them: “Here’s my offer, take it or leave it.” That is not negotiating, that is stonewalling.
Next, let’s take the case of Governor Sergio Cabral of the State of Rio de Janeiro. In this case, he actually did something: he submitted a plan to the State Legislature that incorporated some of the complaints the fire/police workers had been making, and the Legislature duly passed it. The increase he proposed was, according to him, the most the State could afford. This, of course, is utter rubbish, and he knows it.
Now let’s take the firemen/policemen themselves. They are all claim, with perfectly straight faces upon which no Pinocchian noses are visible, that they are not trying to blackmail the state governments by striking in the pre-Carnival period. Everybody on the planet knows this is a lie, the ONLY reason they chose to strike now was their hope that the governors would cave in for fear of having to cancel Carnival.
Moreover, the strike ringleaders claim they are not trying to force a vote in Congress of a proposed Constitutional Amendment (PEC 300) that would fix a nationwide minimum monthly salary for every fire/police/penitentiary worker in the country. That proposed salary (R$3,500 per month) is at least twice that now paid by every Brazilian State save one. Everyone knows this is a lie; the ringleaders have been seeking desperately to expand the strike to São Paulo, Ceará and other states, so as to pressure Congress.
Let us not forget the mendacious legislators, notably populist Federal Deputy and former Rio Governor Anthony Garotinho, who has been trying to put the strike leaders in various states in contact with each other, because he (Garotinho) supports PEC 300 for his own electoral purposes.
We remember also Rio judges and prosecutors, who have seen to it that many of the arrested fire (and policemen are locked up in Bangu 1) the highest security prison in Rio de Janeiro, where truly dangerous criminals are housed. The judicial branch denies (but it lies) that there is any punitive motive behind these decisions.
And, finally, let us consider the jailed Carioca firefighter, Benevenuto Dacioli. First, he claims his contacts with strikers in Bahia were designed to seek a solution of the conflict there. Oh, right! Second, he’s now (or so his wife claims, perhaps she’s lying?) gone on a hunger strike. But a hunger strike with no intention of starving to death for a principled cause is a lie, it’s just a publicity stunt.
When will everyone stop all this duplicitous posturing and deal with the true problem, which is that firefighters and policemen and prison guards are woefully underpaid? The Curmudgeon, sadly, has no idea.
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!)