In the last two weeks, Brazil was visited by two important U.S. authorities – Assistant Secretary of State for Latin America Otto Reich and Secretary of the Treasury Paul O’Neill. They followed different but convergent schedules.
The first came to be informed on the political situation and collect elements to analyze Brazil’s commitment in the next government regarding the main matters of the U.S. 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 juncture-related fact, defining government measures and the electoral campaign’s debates.
However, either discreetly on the backstage or under the spotlights, the two White House officials came to feel the Brazilian political and economic juncture, define positions and impose conditions. This is the U.S. imperialism reaching the stage of the current electoral struggle in Brazil, still in their usual way and within diplomatic limits, despite O’Neill’s impertinence.
The United States is 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 the U.S. imperialism’s strategy towards the hemisphere.
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 capitals at the expense of the independent development of national economies in all countries of the continent subordinated to the U.S. dominion.
The second pillar is the so-called “fight against terrorism,” which implies the struggle against revolutionary movements, nationalist and popular governments, such as Venezuela, and against the only socialist country in the Americas, Cuba. Even though the situation is not prone to coups d’état, this aspect of the U.S. strategy towards the continent is reflected in its support to neoliberal governments and strengthens an elitist, antidemocratic and restrictive trend regarding liberties and social rights – ultimately, it is reflected in the creation of a political institutionality of authoritative character, even though it lies under the cover of constitutional normality.
Washington’s heralds came to claim commitment to the realization of this strategy. And surreptitiously divulge 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 ones. Thus they outline the profile adequate to our future president. Someone committed to the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA), the “fight against terrorism,” Plan Colombia, the blockade policy towards Cuba, someone willing to be a pawn for the United States. 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., in those bitter years of neoliberalism.
The political moves go hand in hand with the interference in the economic orientation in face of the financial crisis and the evidence that the neoliberal recipe has failed not only in Brazil, but all over the continent. Stagnated production, high unemployment rates, diminished labor income and financial strangulation, all phenomena resulting from the implementation of such recipe, characterize the Brazilian situation and constitute a heavy inheritance that President Fernando Henrique Cardoso’ government will leave for his successor.
The emissaries of the U.S. government and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) that is settling a new agreement with the Brazilian government pretentiously intend to outline the future economic management and demand that candidates repeat in unison their predisposition to apply this bitter recipe, the same one that has failed: the turning over of surplus government funds, the policy of high interest rates and the religious payment of dues regarding 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 colonial 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 in this effort. It is at the same time struggle and movement. Should it be well conducted, it may prepare the conditions for the second and definitive independence of Brazil.
Jose Reinaldo Carvalho is the vice-president of the Communist Party of Brazil, responsible for International Relations. These articles were published in Diário Vermelho (www.vermelho.org.br) during this month.