brazil - grim disappointments


The Brazilian Workers Party has now been in office in Latin America's largest country for nearly two years. Early high hopes of social democracy have foundered on the usual grim disappointments.

The new government's first act was to appoint the former head of BankBoston as head of Brazil's Central Bank. It then gave the Bank independence, just like Labour did here. The government is paying all Brazil's debts, to the despair of Brazilians but to the delight of international bankers — mainly from the US.

It has cut public spending even more than the IMF demanded, and now promises another nine years of cuts. It has also kept interest rates high, currently at 26.5%.

As a result another 500,000 workers have been sacked and the national unemployment rate is now 13%, a fifth of whom are in Sao Paulo, Brazil's industrial heartland. The government has also sent troops to Haiti, to assist the occupying US and French forces.

Promised land reform has been drastically curtailed, and the age of retirement raised. Anti-trade union legislation and university fees are to be introduced.

If this sounds a bit familiar in Blair's Britain, guess what — a new leftist party is being set up with "rights for all tendencies and factions."