Monday, September 25, 2006

How do you say "teflon" in Portuguese?

When I was last in Brazil, Luis Inacio "Lula" da Silva's presidency was mired in charges of corruption as Jose Dirceu, one of his top advisors, stepped down and numerous other PT (Partido dos Trabalhadores, "Workers' Party") politicians faced charges from the Partido Social Democratico Brasileiro (PSDB) of graft, corruption, the buying of votes, etc. While many such charges may ultimately prove to be true (though the PSDB was more corrupt between 1994 and 2002, during the severely damaging neoliberal presidency of Fernando Henrique Cardoso) Lula has escaped most of these charges himself, and is riding high on a wave of popularity as he approaches this weekend's election.

The reasons? As the New York Times does a good job of discussing, a lot of it has to do with the fact that, while the PSDB has been perpetually crying corruption in an effort to regain control (something they decried as "dirty politics" when other parties rightly accused the PSDB of corruption in the aforementioned 1994-2002 period), Lula has been continuing to try to implement his programs over the center-right and right opposition in Brazil, and been doing so successfully. So while one party, which sold out Brazil to the neoliberal Washington consensus and increased Brazil's already-awful wage gap, Lula has worked to combat that disparity with social programs offering food, housing, schooling, etc. to many of Brazil's socially, economically, and politically disenfranchised people.

You mean social programs can actually lead to respect, while partisan accusations employed to hide the complete inability to complete anything juridically hurts your party? Who knew?