01 December, 2006

Banking profits and USA investment security -- communism socialism marxism exploitation? power!

Brazil, a Nation Divided Between North and South, Middle Class and Masses
Written by Raúl Zibechi    Thursday, 30 November 2006

On October 29, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva won the second round of Brazil's
presidential elections with more than 60% of the vote. A large portion of
Brazilians, including several leftwing critics, believe that Lula's second
term (2007-2010) will center more on development than the first term,
model itself less after the demands of the market, and move closer to the
social movements.

The facts are clear: the poor, the black, and those with less education
won Lula the presidency. The middle class, elite, academics, and the white
voted for Geraldo Alckmin, the social democracy candidate who represents
the traditional right. In geographical terms, the division was equally
clear.

The first four years of Lula's administration created a radical change in
the population's voting preference, in large part because social policies
have favored the poorest while several reforms have marginalised the
middle and working classes. But the unknowns surrounding Lula's next
administration will become clear over the next few weeks as he announces
his cabinet. The primary struggle is over the economy, where there are at
least two opposing forces. Brazil's political scene is marked by a strong
rivalry between the elite class and social movements, the results of which
will set the course for South America's largest country.The Renewed Power
of the Elite

Compared with the elections of 2002, the Party of Workers (PT, for the
Portuguese initials) lost 2.1 million votes. This is a 13% decrease, from
16,094,000 votes four years ago to 15,990,000. It obtained only 83 seats
of the 513 that make up the House of Representatives, whereas four years
ago it held 91. The primary losses suffered by the PT occurred in the
south (22% loss) and the southeast (23% loss), where it lost almost one
million votes. In the state of São Paulo - the wealthiest, most powerful,
and most populous in the country - the PT lost a million votes, a 21%
loss. However, it grew in the northeast (up 13%) and the north (up 31%),
the poorest regions of the country.The opposition maintained their
positions: The social democrats (PSDB) held 65 seats and the right (PFL)
another 65. The center right (PMDB) is the largest legislative group with
89 representatives, some of whom will make alliances with the PT. In the
Senate, the outlook is even worse for the left: the PT gained only 11
senate seats, compared with 15 for the PMDB, 16 for the PSDB, and 18 for
the PFL, out of total of 81. Once more, the Lula administration will have
to establish alliances with small parties of the left and the center right
in order to govern.The electoral map reveals a divided country. The north
and northeast voted for the left, the south and southeast (the wealthiest
party of the country) voted for the right. But the PT will not control any
of the country's three largest states (São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, and
Minas Gerais). It also lost in the emblematic Porto Alegre, the capital of
Rio Grande do Sul, but it won in Bahia, a bastion of the traditional
right. The PT will not hold the majority of governorships, though it can
count on support from several governors belonging to the PMDB.In terms of
social sectors, significant changes have taken place. Afro-descendants,
which make up 47% of the 187-million population, voted strongly for Lula.
A poll released by DataFolha just before the second round of voting showed
that 63% of blacks favored Lula for the October 29 elections. Only 29%
indicated they would vote for Alckmin. Mestizos (or "pardos," as they are
called in Brazil) favored Lula over Alckmin by 54% to 40%. Among whites
the proportions were reversed: 51% favored the right while 42% supported
Lula.(1) These numbers are not, however, reflected in the congressional
makeup: according to predictions, afro-descendants will hold only 20 seats
out of a total of 513 representatives and 81 senators. The president of
the NGO Fala Preta (Black Talk), Deise Benedito, a defender of the rights
of the black population, especially women, argues that "the majority of
black parliamentarians are not committed to the cause of racial equality,"
and "black candidates do not, within their parties, make use of the same
financial and other types of support utilised by the whites."The
discrepancy between the parliamentary makeup and the social reality of
Brazil is abysmal and only serves to impede real change from taking place.
"One out of every three representatives elected is a millionaire," reports
the daily publication Folha de S. Paulo.(2) According to a report by the
same publication, 165 representatives report capital worth of over one
million reais (US$ 460 thousand). The average capital worth of those
"millionaires" is one million dollars, but the publication points out "it
is impossible to know if these declarations (of income) are consistent
with reality." During the next four years, the House will have 49 more
millionaires than the previous Congress, which only had 116, a fact that
reveals the growing influence of the elite over public office. In terms of
party makeup, the rightwing party PFL has 38 millionaires (more than half
of its representatives), the PMDB has 37, and the social democrats have
21. The PT has only six millionaires out of its 81 representatives. The
majority of the millionaire parliamentarians come from the southeast (62),
with São Paulo leading the crowd with 29, followed by Minas Gerais with
25.There is also a correlation between parliamentary members and ownership
of media conglomerates. A third of senators and more than 10% of
representatives (80 total) control radio or television stations, according
to a study carried out by the Institute for Communications Research and
Investigation.(3) This fact proves to be crucial, since winning an
election requires large investments in propaganda and publicity - a
formidable task for anyone who does not own or have ties with those who
own communications media. Virtually all members of parliament who own
communication channels belong to the right or center, which explains why
the media waged a massive campaign against Lula, forcing a second round of
elections when the president failed to procure 50% of the votes on October
1st.The social composition of the Brazilian parliament reflects the type
of policies pursued during the neoliberal decade of the '90s, which have
been continued and strengthened by Lula. In spite of social policies that
transferred $13 billion to the poor over the last four years, the banking
sector reaped its highest profits in history over the same period. Soaring
interest rates allowed the rich to continue amassing wealth, and the
concentration of wealth continued unabated in a country already considered
to have the biggest gap between the rich and the poor in the world. It
appears that under Lula, Brazil's elite have consolidated and increased
their power, a fact that is reflected in the congressional
makeup.Nevertheless, the power of the political oligarchy that began with
the military regime following the 1964 coup has visibly deteriorated.
According to Claudio Lembo, conservative PFL governor of the state of São
Paulo, "We are witnessing the biological end of a cycle of oligarchies
born during the military regime. We experienced its political demise with
democratization. Now we are experiencing its biological demise."(4) The
analysis of Lembo is one of the most interesting to come from an
intellectual of the right. He points out, "The military regime was a
centralised power, distributing goods among its friends across the
country. Since there was no rule of law or respect for the law, the
government could do whatever it wanted to help out its friends and local
allies. It was thus that the oligarchies came into existence and gained
power." The result was powerful political dynasties that controlled the
poorest states, such as Bahia, Pernambuco, and Maranhão, but also the
richest, like Santa Catarina, São Paulo, and others.These oligarchies came
to control state apparatuses and distributed favors in exchange for votes,
constructing a powerful system of clientelism that did not address the
problems of their constituents. The oligarchies impeded the
democratization of the country. But in the opinion of Lembo, "the
oligarchies will not disappear entirely," but rather, new ones are forming
through the vote. In any case, because Brazil has established a stronger
system of laws and regulations, "the distribution of favors and kickbacks
is slower. The cycle is being renewed, but it is not the same." These
changes have put these old family dynasties, which have controlled some
states ever since the first true democratic elections in 1989, in retreat.
The victory of PT candidate Jacques Wagner in Bahia, a state controlled by
the conservative Antonio Carlos Magalhães since the military dictatorship,
demonstrates this trend. What is occurring is a slow but steady process of
democratization of society, without which change - political, social,
cultural, and economic - could not take place.The Pressure of Social
Movements

"The Palocci era is over," pronounced Brazil's Minister of Institutional
Relations, Tarso Genro, in reference to the former Finance Minister, who
imposed a neoliberal agenda of strong fiscal surplus and cuts in social
spending. Immediately, Lula himself contradicted his own minister, saying
that Palocci's work has strengthened the economy, in spite of the fact
that the country is registering low levels of growth. In Latin America,
Brazil's low growth rate is trailed only by Haiti.PT leader Márcio Pochman
believes "the Finance Minstry is in the middle of a fierce battle." On the
one hand, there is the current minister Guido Mantega who "is moving
toward sectors and leaders with a more developmentalist attitude, like
Chief of Civic Affairs, Dilma Rousseff. On the other, we have Palocci
doing the same thing but with the opposite goal, to give the ministry the
appearance it had under his leadership."(5) In his opinion, it is Lula who
will set the economic tone of the future government. "Lula is very
pragmatic, and will choose a safe path based on the political backing he
manages to acquire as well as on the result of the correlation of forces."
He predicts the pressure of the market will be strong enough to force a
preliminary reform, which will be the first in a series of reforms during
the second term.The position being adopted by the social movements is
different. The Movement of Landless Workers (MST) presented an analysis of
the electoral results and explained why during the second round it chose
to mobilize in favor of Lula. Together with other movements, like the
Coordination of Social Movements and Via Campesino, it decided that after
the first round, "it was possible at that time to promote a serious debate
of ideas, political projects, and class struggles."(6) Nevertheless, they
point out the necessity for social movements to "maintain their autonomy,
develop theory, and mobilise." The strategy was to create the political
conditions necessary to promote economic development and redistribution of
wealth, which in the opinion of MST, requires "a break from the economic
policy of neoliberalism, and above all, a confrontation with the powerful
interests that hold monopolies on land (rural and urban), channels of
communication, and the financial system."The MST argues that a true
political reform will have to take place to create new avenues for popular
participation, on the path to "building grassroots struggles to construct
unified forces around a new project for the country." Movements agree that
under Lula's second term they will have to make their voices heard from
day one. Many note that during the first term (2003-2006), Lula caught
them by surprise by opting for neoliberalism, a choice that left them
disconcerted for quite some time. Sister Delci, who does social and
pastoral work for the Catholic Church, says, "After four years of
timidity, it has become clear how the government-church-movement
relationship should function. The actions of the executive branch over the
last four years have contributed to relaunching the debate." During the
electoral campaign, the National Conference of Brazilian Bishops - an
unconditional ally of the social movements - released a document
criticizing the government's economic rigidity to the detriment of social
policies. Delci assures, "the discourse of the social bases will be much
stronger over the next four years."(7)One of the more interesting analyses
was done by the sociologist Francisco de Oliveira, who helped found the PT
a quarter century ago. Oliveira left the PT at the start of Lula's
administration and founded the Socialism and Liberty Party (PSOL). The
PSOL ran Heloísa Helena as its candidate for president, receiving support
from a number of intellectuals around the world, among them Noam Chomsky.
The PSOL, created two years ago as a spin-off by PT members expelled from
the party, garnered 6.5% of the vote. In an article published by Folha de
S. Paulo the day after the elections, Oliveira explained why he voted for
Lula in the second round: "for a second chance to reopen spaces where the
left, perhaps or even in large part the portion of the left that chose to
remain with the PT, can in some way influence the direction of the new
administration. "I am skeptical about this. I don't think economic
policies will change; I predict that Luiz Inácio will promise that 'the
sky is the limit,' as is the duty of a demagogue, and that the left and
various other movements will be able to come together to set part of the
agenda."(8)It is difficult to find a clearer position than that
articulated by this intellectual, who has not hesitated to criticise his
old friend Lula head on. "It is necessary to create problems for the new
administration," he said. He argues that the government program Bolsa
Família (that serves 40 million poor families and accounts for Lula's
success in the north and northeast) must be made incompatible with the
primary surplus. He notes that the "30 years of glory" of capitalism were
possible because of Keynesian social policies. "Without the Keynesianism
of the war, the capitalist system would have fractured," he insists. Going
against the commonly held notions of the majority of the left wing, he
argues that the facts are becoming clear across the country: unity at any
cost opens the door to the enemies of change. "At certain times, the
method has been "divide to fight more effectively ": that's what a small
portion of the left did by leaving the PT, myself included, in order to
better grasp the complexity of the new situation in the face of the over
simplification being made by sectarians."His conclusion is similar to that
of MST and the movements: the first Lula government was a total failure,
but "without pressure from the left and popular movements, the second term
could transform into the neopopulism of the globalization era." One of the
most compelling aspects of this argument is based on his analysis of
social policies (the Zero Hunger Program, Bolsa Família, and others). He
argues that the social programs "are a confession of failure, a neoliberal
capitulation, a recognition that the nation no longer exists, since they
are merely last ditch survival programs. They are the programs for those
who are considered expendable. "(9)In the midst of the debates over the
government's new course, one of Lula's prominent inside men, Marco Aurélio
Garcia, international political adviser and coordinator of his electoral
campaign, assures that "we are not just going to maintain our foreign
policy, we are going to deepen it."(10) This is without doubt good news,
as it means a strengthening of regional integration and
multilateralism.And there is more good news. Lula plans to dismiss several
of the directors of the Central Bank who were responsible for the elevated
interest rates that stunted economic growth. Certainly, economic policies
will be one of the major points of contention between the elite class and
social movements.Most observers agree there will be little change, and any
changes will happen slowly and will not affect the current neoliberal
scheme. It is what they call "silent development within the rules," as
Carta Maior magazine titled their November 1st commentary. The Fifth
National Plenary of the Coordination of Social Movements, which met on
November 11, defined a platform of causes to sway the direction of
economic policies. "We have never had an environment so favorable for
advancing the struggle for Brazil to be more just, sovereign, and
supportive of economic and social development," the final document of the
meeting reads.(11) All indications are that as long as there are movements
willing to step up, Brazil's stage is open.Endnotes

1. Mário Osava, "Electores negros cruciales para Lula," online at
www.ipsenespanol.net.
2. Folha de S. Paulo, October 22, 2006.
3. "Entre os eleitos 80 parlamentares controlam radio ou televisão,"
October 24, 2006, online at www.mst.org.br.
4. Interview with Claudio Lembo, ob. cit.
5. Interview with Marcio Pochman, October 31, 2006, www.pagina12.com.ar.
6. MST, "Estimular as lutas sociais e construir um novo projeto para o
país", ob. cit.
7. Valor Econômico, "Movimentos ameaçam romper atrelamento," November 6,
2006.
8. Folha de S. Paulo, "Voto condicional em Luiz Inácio," October 30, 2006,
www.folha.com.br.
9. To explain his position on social programs that barely allow the poor
to survive, Fancisco de Oliveira refers to a book by the Italian
philosopher Giorgio Agamben, Homo Sacer, where he speaks of the "naked
life" forced to the very edge of survival, a condition tested in, for
example, the concentration camps of Nazi Germany or in the States of
Exception.
10. Interview with Marco Aurelio Garcia, November 10, 2006,
www.agenciacartamaior.com.br.
11. Letter from the Coordination of Social Movements, "Com a unidade e a
força dos movimentos sociais o Brasil vai mudar," Guararema, November 11,
2006.

For More Information

Interview with Claudio Lembo, governor of São Paulo, Estado de S. Paulo,
October 30, 2006.

Interview with Marcio Pochman, Página 12, October 31, 2006,
www.pagina12.com.ar.

Francisco de Oliveira, "Voto condicional em Luiz Inácio," Folha de S.
Paulo, www.folha.com.br.

MST (Movimiento de los Trabajadores Rurales Sin Tierra), "Estimular las
luchas sociales y construir un nuevo proyecto para el país", November 3
2006, www.mst.org.br

Translated from "Lula: entre las elites y los movimientos" by Nick Henry,
IRC

Raúl Zibechi, a member of the editorial board of the weekly Brecha de
Montevideo, is a professor and researcher on social movements at the
Multiversidad Franciscana de America Latina and adviser to several
grassroots organizations. He is a monthly contributor to the IRC Americas
Program (www.americaspolicy.org).

from http://www.brazzil.com/content/view/9750/78/

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posted by u2r2h at Friday, December 01, 2006

2 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

good post

you might like the sites

www.husseinandterror.com and
www.regimeofterror.com

Sun Dec 03, 06:12:00 am UTC  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I looked at the two sites sugessted by anonymous above. Unfortunately, most everyone is arguing about who knew whether Hussein had ties to terrorism, whether or what Bush and his cronies knew about Iraq, etc.

All this is irrelevant to a person concerned with where our world is headed. The focus is so off-base as far as who's in control of policy issues. Our so-called "leaders" are merely puppets being told what to do by those really wielding the power: the money men.

Consider:

“The real truth of the matter is, as you and I know, that a financial element in the larger centers has owned the government ever since the days of Andrew Jackson... The country is going through a repetition of Jackson's fight with the Bank of the United States—only on a far bigger and broader basis” - ex-President Franklin Delano Roosevelt

"Banking was conceived in iniquity and was born in sin. The Bankers own the earth. Take it away from them, but leave them the power to create deposits, and with the flick of the pen they will create enough deposits to buy it back again. However, take it away from them, and all the great fortunes like mine will disappear and they ought to disappear, for this would be a happier and better world to live in. But, if you wish to remain the slaves of Bankers and pay the cost of your own slavery, let them continue to create deposits."
- Sir Josiah Stamp, (President of the Bank of England in the 1920's, the second richest man in Britain)

“Since I entered politics, I have chiefly had men’s views confided to me privately. Some of the biggest men in the United States, in the field of commerce and manufacture are afraid of something. They know that there is a power somewhere so organized, so subtle, so watchful, so interlocked, so complete, so pervasive, that they better not speak above their breath when they speak in condemnation of it.” - Woodrow Wilson, former U.S. President (1913)

“...the real menace of our republic is this invisible government which like a giant octopus sprawls its slimy length over city, state and nation. Like the octopus of real life, it operates under cover of self-created screen. At the head of this octopus are the Rockefeller Standard Oil interests and a small group of powerful banking houses generally referred to as international bankers. The little coterie of powerful international bankers virtually run the United States government for their own selfish purposes. They practically control both political parties.” - John F. Hylan, New York City Mayor, 1922

“For a long time I felt that FDR had developed many thoughts and ideas that were his own to benefit this country, the USA. But he didn't. Most of his thoughts, his political 'ammunition,' as it were, was carefully manufactured for him in advance by the Council on Foreign Relations-One World Money Group.” - Curtis Dall, ex-President Franklin Roosevelt’s son-in-law

“The One World Government leaders and their ever close bankers have now acquired full control of the money and credit machinery of the U.S. via the creation of the privately owned Federal Reserve Bank.” - Curtis Dall, ex-President Franklin Roosevelt’s son-in-law

Criminal Characteristics of American Democracy is a good read for more on these issues.

Wed Dec 13, 06:21:00 pm UTC  

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