It will not be easy to reform Brazil, due to the problems the new government has inherited. Lula and his team will face deteriorated economic and social circumstances that have their own dynamic, limiting the possible actions and the short-term horizon. The international situation of generalized economic hardship and threats of war is turbulent and unfavorable to the sovereign affirmation of nations such as Brazil.
But nothing should tie the Lula administration’s hands and those of its supporting forces. The message President Lula has been transmitting to the nation is one of firmness and determination to face the problems, evidently recognizing the objective difficulties.
The new government has begun work and some messages and initiatives are remarkable. Most notable is the summoning of our society to the civic collective work of fighting famine. We are convinced that the possibility of success of Lula’s administration lies in popular mobilization, in awakening the creative force of the Brazilian people. His visit to the Brazilian Northeastern region, where Brazil’s absolute misery is revealed in a brutal and shocking way, is part of this context. Far from being a marketing move, it will mark the first steps of the new government by the power of its denunciation of the social wretchedness engendered by the Brazilian elites and the iniquitous economic and social system.
The program of fighting illiteracy and Minister of Education Cristovam Buarque’s call to society and students carry the same feeling. It is an ambitious project, a huge challenge, but an absolutely feasible objective. One should have no doubt that we will soon see legions of youth and adults, students, teachers and professionals of all kinds, civilians, members of the clergy and the military, in an extraordinary campaign that will illuminate the vastness of the national territory and the most oppressed strata of the population with the light of learning their first letters.
As far as popular mobilization is concerned, the Minister innovated. In visiting the headquarters of the influential National Union of Students and urging the students to keep mobilized to demand more resources for education, he pedagogically demonstrated that democracy in this new stage of the struggle of the Brazilian people may also be translated as participation and mobilization. And that exerting democratic pressure is legitimate and necessary in order to open the way to solving social problems.
Along the same lines, one could also mention the program of social inclusion through sports designed by the communist Minister of Sports Agnelo Queirós, which has drawn the attention of the United Nations. The Minister intends to mobilize the youth and popularize participation in sports in our country with a view to improve education and promote social inclusion.
Also noteworthy is the effort to establish the Council for Economic and Social Development with the organized participation of all representative segments and sectors of society. To symbolize the institutional importance the Council, it will be under the control of the president of the republic himself.
All the above are still partial initiatives yet to be tested, the first sketches of what could be a democratic administration focused on social issues.
José Reinaldo Carvalho is a journalist and vice-president of the Communist Party of Brazil (PCdoB), responsible for international relations. This article originally appeared in the Jan. 8 issue of the Brazilian newspaper Diario Vermelho (Red Daily).