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October 20th 2018

A escola da democracia

O caminho da democracia é longo e sinuoso. Muitas vezes como o nosso caminho escolar, e profissional, com seus altos e baixos. Uma jovem democracia viverá momentos de insegurança, terá de lidar com pessoas que querem abala-la, desestabiliza-la, e terá de encontrar seu próprio caminho para uma vida estável e próspera.

O povo brasileiro carrega hoje, em seus braços fortes, um adolescente. Não um bebê, nem um adulto. Um adolescente, que já viu desse mundo, mas não se consolidou. Um adolescente em crise, mas que sabemos que vem crescendo. De quem ainda mais se fala do potencial que de seus feitos.

Esse jovem aprontou na escola. O seu antigo professor esta na cadeia. Ele foi responsável da formação de seu aluno, mas depois desapontou. Está preso. Ainda existem pessoas ligadas a esse professor na escola. Temos razão enquanto povo de duvidar da qualidade da instituição. Mas há também outras pessoas, ligadas ou não a esse professor encarcerado, que só esperam poder ajudar esse jovem a crescer. Um até usa uma camisa igual.

Muitos pensam hoje tirar o adolescente da escola. Coloca-lo num colégio interno das antigas. Essa parece para eles uma opção sensata. É aquele colégio, onde se aprende na base da porrada. Onde o objetivo não é educar, mas manter o aluno sentado. O professor não ensina. Manda. É aquela educação primitiva que não tem noção das ultimas décadas de evolução em pedagogia. Mas é a solução mais fácil de entender. Não aprende por bem, vai aprender por mal.

Os ensinos das duas escolas são, porém, incompatíveis. A segunda não colocará o aluno de volta no aprendizado primeira, da democracia.

A escola da democracia não é perfeita. Mas nela temos a oportunidade de escolher os professores, sempre com o objetivo de continuar formando nosso jovem, para que se consolide. Temos a oportunidade de, mesmo se erramos, não deixar o ensino de lado. Temos a oportunidade de aperfeiçoá-lo nós mesmos, pais e mães. Temos de continuar vigiando os professores e assistentes. E as contas da escola.

Esse caminho da democracia é mesmo o mais difícil. A porrada é mais simples de comunicar. Mas não é o que o nosso jovem precisa, nem a longo, nem a curto prazo.

Considerem também o seguinte. A razão de deixar o professor da primeira escola na cadeia, é a mesma de não querer colocar o jovem no colégio interno: consolidar o ensino da democracia. Mostrar ao jovem que podemos seguir esse caminho, pois a escola já tem mecanismos para se corrigir, e que nos vamos fazer o nosso possível para implementar os mecanismos faltantes.

E não esqueçam. Tem uma floresta na cidade onde vão os alunos da escola, os professores, e todos os outros pais e mães. Essa floresta é essencial a continuação da vida na cidade, e também fora dela. Temos muito pouco tempo para, juntos, proteger essa floresta. Se colocarmos nosso adolescente em crise no colégio interno, o professor falou: “vou queimar a floresta”. Ele não acha que devemos proteger a floresta. Portanto não entende as consequências de queimá-la. No colégio interno quem manda é ele.

 

October 8th 2018

A Democratic Answer for a Divided Brazil
The Brazilian society is angry and nervous. This Sunday, October 28th, in the second round of the presidential election, a centrist choice will not available. A portion of the population might not feel represented. Far-right candidate Jair Bolsonaro (PSL – Social Liberal Party) came out first with 46 percent of the popular vote, on October 8th. He faces moderate left-wing Fernando Haddad (PT – The Workers’ Party) who arrived second with 29 percent.

Yet, the peculiar polarization observed in the first round’s results opened the door to another axis of representation, available to a larger crowd. That is, the representation of all those who aspire to vote for the right to have representatives in the first place. Those who believe that political participation is a very special right. Those who believe in democracy. Democrats, in the fundamental sense of the term.

The Workers’ Party – responsible for much of the discernible anger – has been at the center of corruption investigations since 2014. It saw its very own Dilma Rousseff being impeached and removed from the presidential office in 2016. It also tried to push earlier this year former President Luis Inácio ‘Lula’ da Silva as its presidential candidate, even after the latter was jailed on corruption charges following a Brazilian Supreme Court ruling authorizing his arrest.

The Workers’ Party remains however a democratic party. The Party can and should be pressured to make Brazil, a somewhat young democracy, more established, more honest, more efficient. The population must insist on the constitutional measures that would allow the country to fight corruption effectively. The Brazilian people needs to continue on its journey towards a functional and prosperous democratic republic.

This option is not available with candidate Bolsonaro. The former army captain has no desire to strengthen Brazil’s democracy. He does not wish to take the country on a democratic voyage. He is openly racist, misogynist, homophobic and authoritarian. The far-right candidate does not sugar-coat his longing to put an end to all activism in Brazil. He truly sees dictatorship as a desirable political system.

The vote in the second round of the presidential elections thus sets one opposition above all others: democracy vs authoritarianism – I am not using this word carelessly, as in this case it is not a hyperbole.

Justice and honesty must flourish within a democracy, not in its place. Brazil needs to ascend to a consolidated democratic republic. Its fragile roots need to be nurtured. Its recent episodes of presidential jailing and impeachment are in fact testimonies of a country that managed to solve problems with, and by, the rule of law.

The return to an authoritarian rule should consequently not be seen as an option. It should not be on the table. The country would be putting an end to more than 30 years of hard work, successes and struggles to establish it as a functional republic. One step back, two steps forward? Take a hundreds steps back and you may no longer see which way is forward. Bolsonaro supporters need to actively try to imagine what it is to live in a dictatorship (some might still remember what it was like), honestly think about the aspects of a repressive regime, before casting their vote on Sunday.
Mr. Haddad as an alternative, if anything, gives the country the option of keep building together. A Workers’ Party election in the second round will be anything but a blank check. We cannot forget all the criticisms to the party in recent years, nor its the outstanding achievements in Lula’s two mandates (2003-2010). But the choice before the Brazilian electorate on October 28 will be bigger than that. It is about the very continuation of democracy, Brazil’s progression in history, and about the global moral order.
And for those who see as a disenchant the fact that a background leader of the party is now in jail, consider this. The reason to support Lula’s incarceration is the same to reject Jair Bolsonaro: a sincere wish to strengthen Brazil as a democracy. This reason should prevail in both cases.
On Sunday, presidential candidates Ciro Gomes, Geraldo Alckmin, João Amoêdo, Marina Silva, Henrique Meirelles, Alvaro Dias, Guilherme Boulos, Vera Lúcia, Eymael, João Goulart Filho, former President Ferdando Henrique Cardoso, and Brazilian Democrats need to get behind Mr. Haddad. You have two more days. dfad

I would now beg presidential candidates and, to get behind Mr. Haddad. Support a grant democratic coalition. You only have a few more days.

 

April 5th 2018

The day my dad took me voting

One of the fondest memories I have with my dad was the day he took me voting. We walked to the voting station. There were a lot of people on the streets but not many cars. This was odd for a busy day. My dad was telling me again the story of this steel worker who was running for president. It was São Paulo 1994. Lula – Luis Inácio Lula da Silva – had already lost a presidential election. Politics was already a discussion topic between dad and me. We were coming out of an impeachment process. He has tried before to explain to me the meaning of the black flags calling for the removing of the president who had defeated Lula the first time. I hated corruption.

Being at the voting booth besides my dad meant something. Surely his vote was very important. The most important I suppose. Lula was again defeated. Why was my dad’s candidate not elected? During those years, and after losing again in 1998, it was very hard to believe that one day we would have a Worker’s Party government in Brazil. My dad never got to see the party he vividly supported, against many in his entourage, be elected to the highest office of the country. I would have loved to see my dad excited by all the deep and major changes the charismatic union man brought to the country.

Voting for Lula was one my first acts as a citizen after I turned 18 years, already voting from abroad in the Nordic land of Montreal, Canada. Of course, I thought about my dad on that day. I would have loved for him to see me cast that vote. I voted for him again four years later. We were on the right side of history. My dad was right. And we were right for many years…

Yet, of all the most needed reforms the leader of the Worker’s Party offered the country, one was missing. I saw it coming. This one missing element is what is catching him up now: fighting corruption. Of all the changes we needed, this was a big one.

On Wednesday, after over 10 hours of (at times) fascinating constitutional debate, Brazil’s top Court has ruled. Lula could be jailed, after being convicted on corruption charges in July last year and losing on appeal. On Friday, a federal judge wrote an arrest warrant for the ex-president. He has handed himself in to the authorities over the weekend.

Respecting Brazilian democratic institutions in times like these is as important as fighting corruption as such, both equally above party politics. This applies beyond an ex-president respecting an arrest order. The country needs to move on to strengthening its institutions, passing the legislations and making the constitutional changes that will support its fight against corruption. I am not judging Lula’s political legacy, nor his guilt or innocence. I take as a starting point the fact that he was found guilty on appeal. My point is essentially about an attitude towards, and a suggestion on, what can be done to strengthen the institutions of a young democracy like Brazil in its fight against corruption.

The next step is an election in the Fall though. Hopefully the population will not elect a populist lunatic – we have a world-class maniac running for president, Jair Bolsonaro. The population needs to wake up and make sure an incompetent demagogue like this one will not even get close to the second round. Populism undermines democracies. We have to be careful with a populist madman like Mr. Bolsonaro.

What I really wish now is for the debate around Lula’s trial to be a judicial one, not a political one. We need to regain faith on, and strengthen, our democratic institutions. The presidency is still corrupted. Congress is corrupted – note that sitting politicians and cabinet members in Brazil are shielded from prosecution in the common courts. Speaking of reform, this would be a good place to start.

Besides protesting, Brazil has two weapons: the judiciary and the right to vote. We must muster both. But this has to be a fight against corruption for members of all parties. We need to see now conservative, left-wing and all other no-allegiance-other-than-self-interest crook politicians go to jail, where they belong. Many trials are pending, including the one of the sitting president. Let us make sure they are not delayed any further. And let us make sure we use our right to vote wisely.

In a way, for all that he represents to me, Lula’s incarceration saddens me. Perhaps this is the only way towards justice and honesty.