Southern Exposure

Desde as Entranhas dos Labirintos Latinos.

Wednesday, December 10, 2003

"o Brasil que exporta, alimentando a ditadura que nуo se importa"

Since taking office, President Lula has spent an extraordinary amount of time outside Brazil, ostensibly attempting to establish a new political and economic alliance of developing countries. While the people broadly support Lula's travels (52% support them, 30% oppose them), local critics are beginning to suggest that he ought to spend more time at home, minding the store; making sure his government is delivering on the promises he's made. Lula has visited 23 countries in his first year in office.

A persistent criticism is that the government cannot even spend the money that has been budgeted. I've noted before that a little caution here might be worthwhile (there's no point in pouring it down the same sinkholes as the predecessors). [aside: Perhaps they're spending it on travel - already R$500m spent on travel and per diems by the government this year.]

Claudio Shikida over at Economia Everywhere tackles this theme, and raises an important question about Lula's objectives in undertaking his most recent visit to the Middle East. He proposes:

Mais vale um frango brasileiro exportado na Sэria do que uma eleiчуo democrсtica no paraэso de Assad: "o Brasil que exporta, alimentando a ditadura que nуo se importa" [English].

The quote is a lovely play on words with export/import and "importa" meaning "to matter". The Brazil that exports, feeding a dictatorship that doesn't matter.

He goes on to challenge the Lula agenda in the Middle East:

Coisas que devem incomodar muita gente:

1. Qual o custo e qual щ o benefэcio de se fazer um discurso na Liga ┴rabe sem pedir mais democracia no Oriente Mщdio?

2. Como a resposta politicamente correta - do ponto de vista do governo - р questуo anterior deve domar a lєgica para se compatibilizar com o discurso comum (e mais comum em 2002, durante a campanha eleitoral) de щtica na polэtica?

Meu palpite: o cсlculo econЇmico dos diplomatas estс correto. Vale mais um frango exportado do que um opositor livre na Lэbia...para o governo brasileiro. Revoltante? Talvez. Mas hс sempre aquele argumento de que dar mercados gera maior retorno do que dar democracia, pelo menos no curto prazo. Serс este dilema algo empiricamente testсvel? [English].

His conclusion: business as usual. The short-term gain of exporting is worth more to Brazil than the political gain of increased democracy in the region. And this may be true, but it's a challenge to the ethical stance that Lula maintained in opposition.

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