The people and the elections in Brazil
In the last two weeks Brazil was visited by two important US authorities — Assistant Secretary of State for Latin America, Otto Reich, and Secretary of the Treasury, Paul O'Neil. They followed different but convergent schedules. The first came to be informed on the political situation and analyse Brazil's commitment in the next government regarding the main matters of the US policy for the hemisphere. It was a discreet visit — something convenient when one is trying to make strategic moves. On the other hand, Paul O'Neill's visit — in a moment when the economic and financial crisis in Brazil worsened — reached the headlines and became the main fact defining government measures and the electoral campaign's debates. However, whether discreetly on the backstage or under the spotlights, the two officers from the White House came to feel the Brazilian political pulse, define positions and impose conditions. This is US imperialism reaching the stage of the current electoral struggle in Brazil, and in their usual way and within diplomatic limits, despite O'Neill's impertinence. The United States are not indifferent to the election of the President of the Republic in Brazil. The paths chosen by our country may be decisive to the success or failure of strategy of US imperialism towards the hemisphere. Two pillars This strategy deliriously aims at making the 21st century the "Century of the Americas" — that is, the century of the United States — and is based on two pillars. The first one consists in assuring the full and free circulation of financial capital at the expense of the independent development of national economies in all countries of the continent subordinated to the US dominion. The second pillar is the so-called "fight against terrorism", which implies the struggle against revolutionary movements, nationalist and popular governments, such as in Venezuela, and against the only socialist country in the Americas, Cuba. Even though the situation is not prone to coups d'itat, this aspect of US strategy towards the continent is reflected in its support of neo-liberal governments and strengthens an elitist, anti-democratic and restrictive trend regarding liberties and social rights. Ultimately, it is reflected in the creation of a political institutionality of an authoritative character, even though it lies under the cover of constitutional normality. Washington's heralds came to claim commitment to the realisation of this strategy. And surreptitiously divulged the idea that either the Latin American countries accept that in order to keep their status as allied countries or they will face the onus of being listed as renegade states. Thus they outlined the profile to be accepted by our future President — someone committed to the FTAA, the 'fight against terrorism', the Colombia Plan, the blockade of Cuba — someone willing to be a pawn for the United States. They want a midget statesman destined to enter into history with the stigma of an all-yielding bootlicker such as the last Presidents of Brazil, Argentina, Mexico, Peru, etc. These political moves go hand in hand with interference in the economic orientation in face of the financial crisis and the evidence that the neo- liberal recipe has failed not only in Brazil, but all over the continent. There is stagnated production, high unemployment, diminished labour income and financial strangulation — all phenomena resulting from the implementation of such recipes. It characterises the Brazilian situation and constitutes a heavy inheritance that the government of President Cardoso will leave for his successor. The emissaries of the US Government and the IMF board that are settling a new agreement with the Brazilian Government pretentiously intend to outline the future economic management and demand that candidates repeat in unison their pre-disposition to apply this bitter recipe — the same one that has [already] failed — the achievement of primary surpluses, the policy of high interest rates and the religious payment of [debts to] foreign creditors. In such moments we must read and reread history. What is good for them is not good for us, the Brazilian people. The United States is not willing to deal with statesmen, but with colony governors. We, the Brazilian people struggle to find a new direction, a new policy, a new government identified with the national longings, able to transform this great country into a powerful nation. The election is an important episode and, in the present conditions, is a decisive one. It is at the same time a struggle and a movement. Should it be well conducted, it may prepare the conditions for the second and definitive independence of Brazil.