Note from BW of Brazil: Sometimes you really have to wonder if people actually think before they speak or if they simply say things that sound good. However, analyzing today’s story provides yet another reminder of the lack of power that Afro-Brazilians have in the political arena. By now, the whole world knows that Brazil’s President Dilma Rousseff was suspended from office after the federal government’s senators and deputados (congressmen and women) voted to impeach her. In Rousseff’s first speech after being suspended from the presidency, she said something that kind of made me scratch my head. With the recent announcement of the ministers of the interim President Michel Temer, Dilma was correct in stating that her Vice-President’s cabinet lacks a representation of the Brazilian people due to its lack of blacks and women.
Although her statement is true considering Temer’s cabinet being all white and male, her comments were a little strange for me considering that the ministers of her cabinet after a successful re-election in 2014 featured only one black minister. And that minister was really more symbolic than anything else. Of a cabinet of about 40 people selected for her cabinet pictured in January of 2015, only six were women, and one of those women was the lone black minister in the cabinet. But even with this overwhelmingly, almost completely white cabinet, Rousseff makes a comment to make herself come across as some type of champion for the black cause, as if her cabinet
would be was so different.
Once again we see another example of the precarious political position in which Afro-Brazilians find themselves situated politically. Neither of the two major leading political parties (PT and PSDB) have any intention of making drastic changes in the racial dynamics of politics thus the black population must choose between the lesser of two evils and simply hope for the best. This is not to say that policies of Rousseff’s and predecessor Lula da Silva’s Workers Party (PT) haven’t made improvements in the overall situation of the Afro-Brazilian population, it’s just that they have ignored a number of issues important to this community, making it appear that social justice is at the top of their agenda, all the while depending on this community to remain in power but promising nothing in return. All of this with the continued genocidal murder of Afro-Brazilian youth, exploding imprisonment rates, an ongoing military occupation of Haiti and no decision-making power among black Brazilians within the ranks of the PT itself.
Before we get into Dilma’s statements on her political situation, let’s took a look at an article from the Afropresss website that was posted last year on January 1, 2015, when Rousseff was sworn in for her second term.
The policy of whitening and Dilma’s second ministry
Courtesy of Afropress
About 70 foreign delegations were present at President Dilma Rousseff’s inauguration ceremonies for her second term, certainly there was the impression of not being in South America, much less in Brazil, a country that, according to the latest IBGE census, is 50.7% composed of blacks. They probably imagined that they had landed in some Nordic country, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, who knows.
Judging by the ministry chosen by the President, there are no black people in Brazil. At least not there in a position of assuming any ministry or other public office of relevance: among the 39 ministers who will become starting today, January 1, 2015, the new tenants of the Esplanada (location of the Ministry of Executive Power), there is not even one black, male or female. None, which even compared to the standards of the first Lula (da Silva) government – which had four blacks occupying important ministries – this is a monumental step backwards, “never before seen in the history of this country.”
The worst is that the white standard of management is repeated for centuries also in the state governments, and in the posture of the members who were inaugurated. It was hoped, however, that, whoever was elected by a majority of blacks had another attitude, symbolic as it would be. For example, why not give the Ministry of Justice to a lawyer and intellectual caliber of a Hédio Silva, a most prepared black activist? Why not hand over the (Ministry) of Education to an intellectual and educator such as professor Petronilha da Silva, the first black woman to occupy the National Council of Education?
It’s not enough only a ministry with names chosen from a true auction and party bargaining, of a conservative and committed profile to the bone with the interests of the market; it’s not enough the explicit electoral larceny in which the President, closed the polls, went on to do exactly what she said would be the work of her opponent – tucano (PSDB party) Senator Aécio Neves.
To save $18 billion a year, starting from this, Rousseff, through Provisional Measure, changed the rules of the salary allowance, unemployment insurance, insurance of artisanal fishermen, death and sickness pension; just an appetizer of the squeeze to come.
Again, and as always, they will be salaried to pay the account of the mismanagement and corruption of a political-electoral and party system that has run out and has nothing more to offer than the recipe of always: squeeze.
Parallel to this, Dilma 2 decided to embranquecer (whiten) the Esplanada. The only black person in the inauguration is professor Nilma Lino Gomes, chosen to occupy the SEPPIR (Secretaria de Políticas de Promoção da Igualdade Racial/Secretariat of Policies of the Promotion of Racial Equality) – a Secretariat connected to the presidency with ministerial status, but without resources and with the chronic problem of low budgetary execution. Low budgetary execution is the translation for inappetence and managerial incompetence, as even the queros-queros of the Esplanada are tired of knowing, which exposes the complete failure of the model adopted and certain choices by criteria other than efficiency and commitment to the public thing.
Just to give you an idea, in 2011, despite being the year with the highest amount of resources, SEPPIR effectively paid a quarter of the forecast, including the amounts to be paid; of R$95.6 million in the budget, only 25% was spent by SEPPIR, or about R$23.5 million.
The situation has came to the level of the (Luiza) Bairros management to celebrate, in 2013 having reached 89.8% of the budget authorized by the Ministry of Planning, Budget and Management, as if it were an obligation of the manager to spend what it has to meet the demands that are not few, and worse, growing.
Political opportunism and flattery
From four for no minister, this is the result of the fawning and political opportunist stance taken repeatedly by the Movimento Negro (black movement) party, which specializes in brown-nosing with neither rhyme nor reason, in the most shameless hand kisses, as seen in the most recent election campaign, where support for Dilma was offered with no compensation, in anticipation of the usual suspects, in some little position, in some little modification, some little project sponsored by a lawmaker from the allied base.
The interesting thing is that the pretext for the political opportunism was that there were at stake in the elections, “various projects” and that the homeland would be in danger if the official candidate didn’t win. Now we know what the risks were: the political opportunists lose the remains of the kitchen table of the Casa Grande (Big House/master’s house), that was transformed, in the XXI century, the Presidential Palace itself.
Dilma criticizes the absence of women and blacks in the ministry of interim President Michel Temer
President gave an interview on Friday to the international press.
She said Temer’s government has an ‘issue of representativeness’.
By Filipe Matoso, Nathalia Passarinho and Gustavo Garcia
On Friday the 13th, the suspended President Dilma Rousseff criticized, during an interview with foreign journalists, the absence of women and blacks among the ministers chosen by interim President Michel Temer.
Asked about what she thinks of the names announced by the PMDB president, she said the new government has a “problem with representation.”
Temer became the acting president on Thursday (12), after being notified of the decision of the Senate to initiate the impeachment of Rousseff. With the decision, Dilma was removed from office for a period of 180 days, Temer assumed the Presidency and inaugurated the new ministers.
“I regret that after a long time there were no women and blacks in the ministry. I think the question of gender is a fundamental democratic issue in a country where, like it or not, the majority, more than 50% is women. Then you have a problem of representativeness. Second, because women have shown themselves competent in all areas and haven’t because they aren’t represented,” Rousseff said in the interview, given in the Palácio da Alvorada (Alvorada Palace), the official residence of the Presidency. Audio of the interview was released by the press office of the suspended president.
Rousseff affirmed still that blacks and women are “fundamental” and therefore it is necessary to make Brazil an inclusive country from the social, cultural and human rights point of view.
“I think it is a [new] government that reflects a quite clear side. It will be a liberal government in the economy and extremely conservative in the field of culture, in the social area and is already showing this in its formation. That’s what I believe. Whether it will be or not, only the next few days will confirm or reject this hypothesis,” he added.
Rousseff’s press conference was attended by the former attorney general of the Union, José Eduardo Cardozo and journalists of 21 vehicles of the international press: AFP, AP, ANSA, Al Ahram, Al Jazeera, BBC, BBC Brasil, Bloomberg, CCTV News , Clarín, EFE, El País, Reuters, Rádio Oriental, France Presse, Telesur, Página 12, the Wall Street Journal, La Nación, Xinhua News and Diário do Povo (China).
For much of the time, the two sought to strengthen the argument that the impeachment is a coup d’etat. Dilma argued that the government was the target of attack of an “elite” policy and of the market which is contrary to maintaining social programs in the face of the economic crisis.
“The crisis has come. Until the last day, we faced the crisis preserving social programs. All were preserved: Bolsa Familia, Minha Casa, Minha Vida (My House, My Life), Prouni, integration of São Francisco, etc. […] There is another view of how Brazil should act in the face of crisis,” said Dilma.
“This vision has created an alliance. It took advantage of a crisis between the executive and the legislative. It perceived favorable conditions, in the measure in that there was a version by the Brazilian press about this situation. The impeachment has become one of the instruments,” added the president.
In the interview, José Eduardo Cardozo said the government will challenge the impeachment in the Supreme Court (STF), on the grounds that it doesn’t configure a crime of responsibility by the President.
“The conditions of validity and legality of an act, these are without merit. I see the Minister saying that the merits can be judged and others saying no. Merit is the field of political valuation in relation to the convenience of the president staying or not, and there is no legal basis, [if there is crime of responsibility]. This we can discuss in the Supreme (Court). There will be a time when we decide to do so. I reserve myself to decide the moment,” said the former Minister of AGU (Advocacia-Geral da União – Attorney General of the Union).
Asked if he’s thinking of resorting to the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, based in The Hague, Netherlands, Cardozo said the government’s efforts are concentrated in the Brazilian judiciary and legislature. He said, however, that some lawmakers intend to appeal to the international court.
“As for the Inter-American Court, I am working in Brazil. But I already knew of parliamentarians, before the Court’s jurisprudence, would tend to go to that Court. It’s an initiative of parliamentarians that can do it. On the part of the defense, we are linking ourselves to Brazilian agencies because we believe that the Brazilian authorities and the Supreme (Court) can make a fair judgement.”
Alliance with PMDB
Foreign journalists asked Dilma and Cardozo if they repented of the alliance with the PMDB, with Temer as Vice-President on Dilma’s ticket in the election of 2014. Cardozo said that, based on the elements of the time, there was no way to imagine the current scenario.
“At the time in which you decided to make alliance with the PMDB, the PMDB accepted our government program, adding themselves to efforts. If at some point you have a detachment, I think no one could predict such a situation. Was there an error? Based on the elements of that time, I don’t think so,” said the former minister.
Dilma did not answer the question and only said: “This has to be evaluated.”
Dilma began the interview by stating that, in the period in which she is away, “without a doubt” she will dedicate herself to her defense in the impeachment process.
She explained that, so far, Congress voted on admissibility and now will proceed to the collection of evidence and presentation of the defense.
The suspended President also stated that, while she will defend itself, she will dedicate part of the agenda to the “discussion” about why her exit is not only legal, but also political.
“We consider that there is no legal basis for this process and therefore this impeachment process is a golpe (coup d’etat),” said the president, as she has done for the last few months.
To foreign reporters, Dilma said that she would remind reporters that 15 months ago the government suffered “all forms of sabotage” by those trying to rule. “Systematically, all the measures proposed in order to [make the country] get out of the crisis were invalidities, blocked or only partially accepted,” she said.
Elsewhere in the interview, Dilma said that impeachment is a process that “obscures” the attempt to win the presidency “of those” who are not able to reach the Planalto (Presidential Palace) through voting.
She also said that one of the “mechanisms” used against her was the “selective leaks” of accusations against the government. “Everything that is charged against us, is accepted. Everything that is accused and request of the opposition’s investigation, is refused. “
Asked then whether she had made a reference to the decision of the Minister Gilmar Mendes, of the Supreme Court, to suspend her on Thursday (12) the production of evidence of an open investigation into Senator Aécio Neves (PSDB-MG) related to alleged irregularities in the state Furnas, Dilma said, “I think [the decision of Gilmar Mendes] is quite interesting. Extremely interesting.”
During the interview, the former minister of AGU countered the accusations of former senator Amaral Delcídio, who was a leader of Dilma’s government in the Senate, that the president had appointed ministers of the Supreme Court to intercede in favor of contractors investigated for the Lava Jato operation.
Cardozo said the allegations of Delcídio don’t have “the least pertinence.”
“It’s so laughable because, in that chamber [STJ] the one made that decision [not to grant freedom to Marcelo Odebrecht], three ministers had been appointed by us in a very short time, two voted against, one voted for [to release the contractor]. For what reason would I have negotiated with only one?” questioned Cardozo.
Cardozo was also asked if he thought the process of impeachment would be revenge if the Lava Jato operation had not existed. He said it is difficult to talk about hypotheses, but he believed that “perhaps the story would be different.” For the former minister, governments that fight corruption could be threatened.
“Every government that fights corruption runs risk. It is important to say that, especially in a country where corruption is structural and historical. Because you create anti-corruption mechanisms. You give autonomy to the organs of investigations. The corruption that was underground is placed under the sunlight. This creates a nuisance,” said Cardozo, noting that Rousseff had “courage” to fight corruption since the first day of her term.