Southern Exposure

Desde as Entranhas dos Labirintos Latinos.

Monday, November 24, 2003

"The revolution, however, went mainstream."

I came across the Houston Chronicle's lengthy summary of Brazil's current domestic situation via Danny Yee's Pathologically Polymathic weblog. It's a pretty thorough laundry list of the difficulties facing Lula as he nears the one-year point of his presidency.

I thought I'd add that in my own experiences, while people are starting to ask hard questions about how much of the government's programmes are talk vs. action, he does still command a lot of respect for even daring to act in some of the areas he's tackling. He's had a relatively lengthy honeymoon. Without a majority in the congress, he has to build consensus for major policies outside his relatively narrow spending mandates. His comments about the cowardice of his predecessors have a ring of truth about them.

He must personally shake with frustration that the situation that he inherited leaves him relatively little room to manoeuver despite his mandate, but he's still out there horse-trading, practicing the art of the possible. The government is criticised for its inability to spend even the money it has allocated to it, but one might attribute this to cautious first steps. There are a lot of holes to plug, and I suspect the government wants to act prudently rather than follow on without reviewing what they've inherited. Given time, and given a stable economy in which to work (big "givens"), I still think there's a lot of promise in the Lula agenda.

Lula has recently been making more "promises" to the likes of the landless (MST) movement. Patience and loyalty, he asks, and deliveries he promises. He has only seated 30,000 families in his first year of power. He promises to seat another 500,000 by the end of his mandate. It can't be bad politics to ramp up to some big targets toward the end of his first term. It remains to be seen if these back-end-loaded promises can be delivered, but a lot of Brazilians will be a lot better off if he succeeds.

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