BRAZIL GOES OVER THE FALLS

By: Michaell Lange,

London, 24/05/18 –

After 10 years of strong economic growth, nearly full employment rates and a huge prospect for the future, Brazil, the 5th biggest country and the 6th biggest economy in the world, made a sharp turn towards the cliff edge.

Since Dilma Rousseff became the 36th President of Brazil in 2011, a political impasse between her presidency and the congress, brought the government to a halt. Rousseff, a technocrat with no talent for politics and even less abilities to articulate agreements with the opposition, became the pivot of the worst political crises since the military coup in 1964. Her predecessor, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, a very charismatic and a master of political articulation, made history by successfully fighting poverty and transforming Brazil’s economy.  Lula however, allowed an old and systematic culture of corruption in the government to carry on freely in order to fulfil his ambitious social policies which lifted over 30 million Brazilians from extreme poverty. Lula left the government in 2010 with over 80% popular approval, and a reputation recognised worldwide for his poverty reduction policies. For the 2010 general elections, Lula appointed Dilma Rousseff as his candidate, and despite never been elected for a public office before, and having very little political experience, Rousseff won the election to become the first female president of Brazil. However, she was very incompetent, she was possibly the most incompetent Brazilian president in history. But, she wanted to combat corruption. For that, she gave total freedom for the federal police to investigate any evidence of corruption in and out of the government. Although, she’s not recognised for that, Rousseff should be known as the mother of the so called “lava Jato” – Operation Car Wash – the biggest corruption investigation in Brazilian history. As the investigations deepened into State and Federal governments, politicians started to panic. The congress united to sort things out by impeaching Dilma Rousseff in a process where 75% of the politicians whom voted for her impeachment, were either under federal investigation or already formally accused of corruption and money laundering. Soon after Rousseff’s impeachment, the president of congress was sent to jail. Lula himself was jailed alongside some of the biggest businessmen in the country.

The new president, Michel Temer, is probably one of the most corrupt man in the land. He also implemented a plan of austerity to reinvigorate the economy by curbing workers rights, raising taxes and cutting social benefits meant to help the poor. It didn’t work. Unemployment rates rose from 4.5% in 2012 to 13% by December 2017. Inflation is at around 10% pushed by almost weekly rise in energy prices. While politicians fight each other in the congress, the economy nosedive. It’s one of the worst economic recessions in Brazilian history and things are rapidly getting worse.

Ten days ago a small group of truck drivers decided to block roads in protest against the rise of fuel prices. The price of Diesel reached R$ 3.80 Reais per litre. On average, a truck (lorry) makes 2.5 kilometres per litre, and drivers are paid about R$2.00 Reais per kilometre, which means an income of R$1.20 ($0.54 Dollar) per kilometre, and that’s before insurance, maintenance, taxes, toll roads, food, and other costs. It’s totally unsustainable!

As of today, with the support of many transport unions from all over the country, truck drivers stopped working nationwide. It’s been four days with only a hand full of trucks being able to deliver goods, these are mainly tankers, escorted by police vehicles to keep airports running. Supermarkets are running out of food and other goods. Petrol stations all over the country are running out of fuel. Perishable food is being wasted. Many slaughterhouses have been forced to stop. Thousands of litres of milk have been wasted daily as there is no way to transport it out from farms to supermarkets. Ports have been unable to load and unload cargo ships as there are no trucks available. Almost the totality of Brazil’s production is transported by road. The strike of truck drivers is causing a total meltdown of Brazil’s economy which could, in a matter of days, develop into a catastrophic social and economic disaster. So far, meetings between representatives of truck drivers and the government have ended without agreement. Authorities are predicting that if the situation remain the same, its a matter of days before the main airports start running out of fuel, and food shortage reach breaking point. If the government don’t find a solution for this crisis quickly, the strike will evolve into a general strike ending either with the collapse of the government or with another military coup. Neither of these options are good to Brazil. To make things more complicated, this October Brazil will vote again on a general election with no candidate with a clear plan to stop the fall before the crash. Many Brazilians fear the country could become another failed state such as Venezuela, many others think Brazil is already at that point. Will Brazil learn the lesson this time? Only time will tell.

CORRUPTION IN BRAZIL: BUSINESS AS USUAL?!?

By: Michaell Lange,

London, 26/09/16 –

Just days before national local elections in Brazil, the political scenery couldn’t be more busyness as usual. Across Brazil countless candidates are either involved or being investigated for corruption and money laundering accusations. If the buying and selling of votes were a legal trade in Brazil, the stock exchange would break all records this week. From today, a frenzy will take over the streets in a last attempt to win voters that can decide the election results. It means that some people working informally for the candidates, will  be going around with a lot of cash in their pockets as well as promises in order to guarantee every possible vote for their candidates. The campaign financiers, mostly bankers and big corporations connected to local governments, will spend whatever it takes to elect their candidates. The days before the elections are crucial. These are when money talks louder and people can change sides depending on the offers in hand. The price of each vote also rises following the market Law of supply and demand. Prices can vary depending on the size of the family and the number of voters in each family. Also, the social status, as well as the willingness to publicly show their support to their candidates, will dictate prices and benefits in exchange of their votes. For full support, the voters will have to use stickers on the windows of their cars and houses to clearly show a done deal, like a stamp to identify a product. These deals are usually negotiated with the father or the oldest family members in private meetings.

Anything becomes a commodity for exchange. Car fuel, bricks, water tanks, jobs, tyres, roof tiles, medical treatments, penalty charge cancelations, driving license, dentures etc. Everything are used to buyout votes. Every person over 16 years old is fair game.

In the past year or so, Brazilians were made to believe, with the help of the media, that the so called Mensalão and Petrolão, were the biggest corruption scandals in the history of Brazil. In fact, no scandal of corruption is bigger than the Brazilian election campaigns. However, it’s in no ones interest to have this one exposed. In no other period of the year, corruption activities are more intense than those during the election campaigns. It’s like a gigantic street market where vote is the only thing for sale. All sectors of society are involved in this game of corruption, including the private and governmental sectors. Big and small corporations, especially those with overpriced projects from the government, awarded by bribing officials, pay fat donations towards candidates which in return will award more contracts for the same companies on an endless cycle of corruption that uses public money to elect a group of carefully pre-selected candidates. It’s like play on black and red at roulette using someone else’s money. You just can’t lose it. The money “donated” by big business will then be used by candidates to pay for more overpriced leaflets, flags and all kind of campaign paraphernalia including votes. Any car without a candidate sticker will be targeted. Some people wait until the last minute to sell their votes for the biggest price possible. Every election the trustworthy of the Brazilian electronic ballot box is put in check for being unsecured and easy to be hacked. It’s seems convenient to blame the computer, but the real hacking actually happens before the election day, and it’s not done by the machine but by corrupted people willing to sell their votes.

In this extremely corrupted society, it’s very important to have friends at any level of the government. It facilitates things and make your life easier. The biggest your friendship and your loyalty to the candidates, the bigger your chances to be well rewarded. It can go from a job as a driver all the way to a cabinet position with your own staff and your own budget. It’s a corrupted rule that is followed from the bottom all the way to the federal government. It’s like an accepted Law from the black market of vote. Without being part of this corrupted game it’s almost impossible to be elected for any Brazilian public office. But there is hope!

Despite the appalling situation, there are honest candidates out there. They are few and far apart, but they are not difficult to spot. I personally know a couple of them and would certainly vote for them if I could. The reason I know they are genuine candidates is because I saw they grow up to become role models in their communities long before they even think to become politicians. They have promoted social projects for children’s development and to help the environment without ask nothing in return. They live a simple life and they can recognise the needs and issues within their communities. Moreover, they are natural altruists, promoting the good and well-being of the people around them voluntarily. The problem is; they might lost the elections by refusing to play the game, the dirty game of corrupt politics. Some of these role models even refuse to put their names forward fearing they might be seen like any other corrupted politician. Although I don’t blame them for refusing to be candidates, I certainly think our democracy lose out without these people being part of their local governments. These are the real candidates and it’s vital that the electorate can identify them and vote for them in the next local elections, which will be held in just a few days.

For all the Brazilian people who watched the despicable display of shameless politicians at the theatre of shame for the past year or so, these local elections are the biggest opportunity to say enough is enough! It’s vital that the Brazilian electorate send the right message to those politicians who think they are untouchable. It’s time to elect a new generation of people that have already done more for their communities than these professional politicians which only go out to meet the people during the electoral campaigns.

The fight against corruption starts at home. Brazilians must reject these century old corrupted system that has dictated the election results for so long. A vote isn’t a product for sale. It’s a social weapon of selfdefense and must be used wisely. A vote is a button to eject corrupted politicians out of the office and straight into prison. This culture of selling and buying votes must stop! It’s not only illegal and a crime, it’s a declaration of corruption made by both parts at the moment these deals are done. Any candidate offering to buy vote should be reported to the High Electoral Tribunal, (TSE).

In just a few days, Brazilians will have a huge opportunity to prove that all the protests were not in vain. Reject the “business as usual politics” will send the right message to Congress that Brazilians will no longer tolerate this kind of behaviour. If they fail, it will give the go ahead to corrupted politicians to continue their money laundering business as usual culture. The Brazilian people must say enough is enough. It will be their choices and it will be a choice for their future. It just cannot carry on like this!

Brazilian local elections will be held in October 2, 2016 in every city to elect Mayor and Aldermen.

THE BRAZILIAN THEATRE OF SHAME

By: Michaell Lange,

London, 19 /04/16 –

The Congress worked in exemplary fashion in recent weeks. They packed the plenary during last Sunday (17) session, a fact so rare as the total eclipse of the sun. They were all there in their fancy dresses, red noses and sharp tongues to vote massively for the impeachment of President Dilma Rousseff. The house was full. If they could, they would bring their families and friends, as if they were about to watch the theatrical show of the century, and indeed it was. With the exception of the truth and the Federal Constitution, no one missed the show. While the military patrolled arrogantly in their tanks on the streets of Brazil, the congressmen in ecstasy, unloaded all their hatred in the Courthouse of Congress. It was the show of the century, but it wasn’t pretty or exemplary. It was ugly, dirty, hateful, miserable, shameful, illegal, irresponsible, inappropriate, and of sadness so deep that turned comedy. They managed to raise absurdity to such a level that it became funny. And how not to laugh at situations such as the deputy who praised her husband as an example of citizen, just to find the next morning that he was arrested by federal police on charges of corruption? Like any comedy show, we laughed out loud at such absurdity!

In any democracy the people are sovereign, and it is the only institution allowed to elect mayors, governors, deputies, senators and the president. These, are not the owners of the state. They are just representatives who must respect and be faithful to the Federal Constitution above all. But, in Brazil, this concept of democracy seems to exist only on election day. Once elected, politicians become some kind of God with absolute and supernatural powers as well as unlimited authority. They are in fact, so they believe, sent by God! And speaking of God, he was slandered all day long by those false prophets and false religious leaders. They do everything to ensure they got the vote, and then, overnight, they become the landlords of the state. They do whatever they please without fear. After all, they were sent by God. When they work by themselves, the threat to the state is little, but when they work together, they become the biggest single threat to national security. The Sunday (17) was the greatest proof of that. The army took to the streets waiting for a possible invasion, perhaps led by Che Guevara and Fidel Castro, or even a surprise appearance of Bolívar himself. Yes, the Brazilian military mentality stopped evolving in the 1960s. The arguments are the same and the rhetoric of hatred as well. When they combine forces with false religious leaders, the whole world is in danger.

Nothing is impossible for an elected Brazilian politician. They have the power to drop lawsuits, to interfere in the course of justice, they abuse power and exercise powers that they do not have or at least they shouldn’t. The Federal Constitution is a mere inconvenient book which is only remembered with great caution, when it’s extremely necessary and even then, during last Sunday session, she wasn’t mentioned once. Clearly, its presence at that spurious session would not be appropriate in any way, shape or form. Instead, they exercise a parallel power that follows its own imaginary laws, based on their own codes and doctrines dictated by the Bible and military mentality. The Federal Constitution probably appears as the fourth or fifth position in the ranking of importance, behind even to personal interests of each public servant. At the congress, even the alleged Constitutional reason to justify the impeachment of Dilma Rousseff, was only mentioned after the 400th deputy vote. Only then, the justification was mentioned.

After the shameful spectacle of last Sunday, one thing was clear. The Brazilian government is a farce! It’s a scam that has been exposed and solidified live on national television. Brazilians have been calling for years for the end to corruption. Last Sunday they received in exchange, a factional dictatorship of one political party, the PMDB Party, who now, controls all the state powers. Michel Temer from PMDB party, will be the new president as he is Dilma’s vice-president. The House of Representatives is chaired by a gangster called Eduardo Cunha, also a PMDB party member, and the Senate Chamber is presided by Renan Calheiros, another gangster from PMDB Party. If we can call it democracy, it would be very difficult to define what would be a dictatorship. Dictated democracy does not exist. It was created to camouflage the assault and handling the crime for the perpetuation of the powerful, by the powerful, for the powerful. The people are merely an inconvenient informality that occasionally can be used as a tool to defend or attack those who by any means, control the media and the justice in Brazil.

But in Brazil every day is celebration’s day, and last Sunday it wasn’t different. It’s not clear though what they were celebrating, or the cause of their celebration. After all, what could Brazil be celebrating after the most shameful show in Brazilian history being shown live on national television? How can there be a democratic system when the President is overthrown precisely by those who lost the last presidencial elections? What democracy allows war tanks to patrol the streets of a free and sovereign country in a clear display of force against any threat that could risk the success of the operation? Which form of democracy would allow a gangster such as Eduardo Cunha, or a convicted criminal such as Paulo Maluff, and many others accused of corruption, to vote out a president who has not been accused or convicted of any wrong doing? Brazilian democracy is most definitely a scam, and the Brazilian government is definitely a hoax. How can this country possibly work with these gangsters in power? It’s impossible!

The Sunday (17) proved that Brazil, or the two Brazils, are not governed but instead, ruled by a bunch of criminals. The people are divided. They support A or B without realising A and B are part of the same side. The same side that steals, deceives, corrupt, kills innocent people, and rape the nations assets in the name of this pseudo democracy they have now. It’s very strange and bizarre to look at it from here and see Brazilians treating other Brazilians as if they were strangers and invaders of their own country. This division is the perfect recipe for the perpetuation of social domination. It must end!

The partition of Brazilian people is a pathological evidence of the social disease that is killing Brazil today. They are suffering from a serious social disease in advanced stage that already cost them their vision, their sensitivity as well as their sense of what is right and wrong. Their memory was torn by some form of hypnosis making them unable to recognise their greatest enemy. It wasn’t the PT Party who suffered a blow, not Democracy either. Who suffered a catastrophic blow this past Sunday was the Brazilian people. Those hundreds of thousands of people who went to the streets in red protesting against the coup. Also, those millions of Brazilians who went to the streets in green and yellow to protest for democracy.

Brazilian politicians have shown their true faces and it’s ugly as it can possibly be. They spat at each others face, they shout and offended one another, they used foul language totally inappropriate to the place and the position they were elected for. They broke all the rules of decency and morality. They were shameful with no emotional control or any dignity. In fact, they were representing the very worst in Brazilian society. They behaved like true social garbage that needs to be fought against. There were absolutely nothing to justify the behaviour of the Army and Congressmen in the last Sunday session. They destroyed the morale, they placed the Federal Constitution in the rubbish bin and destroyed any shred of credibility the country had left. The world watched the Brazilian politic circus as a comedy show on Sundays night, and the people of Brazil were the biggest clowns thanks to these gentlemen that have proved once again, they are unable to represent Brazil in any way. They have made Brazil look like the most stupid place on Earth and the country will pay a big price for that. They should resign collectively and never run for public office again. Only then, Brazil will have a chance to restore their political dignity and recover from this dark moment in its history. But, I think it will be easier to make turkeys vote for Christmas than Brazilian politics give way to a all new generation of politicians. Shame on them!