Beatrice E. Rangel.-Three Ladies whine in sorrow. One wears the symbols of power. Two wear the love of their husbands and for their husbands. For three days in May the trio will dwell in the land of Carmen Miranda.
One lodges at a presidential palace. Two at middle market hotels close to their meeting destinations.
Dilma Rousseff is lonely and sad trying to figure out how she can turn a dangerous political juncture around. Lilian Tintori and Mitzy Capriles are searching for justice in Venezuela.
They all share one experience — they all are or have been victims of Latin American Authoritarianism or Totalitarianism, which according to Jeanne Kirkpatrick are two sides of the same coin: a freedom crushing regime.
The springs of distress are different for the three ladies.
The President of Brazil is paying dearly for her lack of strength to battle corruption in her own party and her lack of vision to understand that stimulus programs are transitory and need to be replaced by value creating public policies when economic circumstances change.
Liliana and Mitzy are just two of about three million victims of the Venezuelan drama where in the name of equality freedom has been crushed for over ten years. Among those persecuted, vilified and imprisoned are the husbands of Lilian and Mitzy: Leopoldo Lopez and Antonio Ledezma.
Dilma needs to come up with a new strategic program to repair the damage done to the Brazilian economy by the Petrobras scandal and the lack of buffering policies to confront the downturn in the prices of commodities and in the volume of exports. And adding economic insult to injury, lack of investment in electricity infrastructure is testing Brazil’s capacity to turn around its export sector and to rebuild aggregate demand.
In short, Dilma needs to reinvent her government and face the dire opposition of her party to a market-oriented kind of turn. Indeed, Dilma’s lack of response to changing world economic conditions partly springs from the stern opposition of the PT party hierarchy to cutting mass subsidies and market protection measures. Both have been the foundations of PT’s electoral success. Transfers are the spring of happiness to lower income households. Subsidized credit and trade roadblocks are the way to get corruption money while steering away foreign competition to keep businessmen happy.
The Petrobras scandal brought so much garbage into the open that the whole sewage system imploded. People are truly infuriated at the news about fabulous fortunes being garnered by PT members at a time when finding a job is so difficult and when the cost of living is so high.
As the captain of the Brazilian ship, Dilma is responsible for these sorrows. And many have taken to the streets to ask for her impeachment. When the tsunami of discontent had wiped away presidential popularity and impeachment seemed to loom on the horizon, a White Knight came to the rescue: Fernando Henrique Cardoso.
Cardoso aptly took the helm of a succor operation for Dilma, Lilian and Mitzy at the same time! A political wonder similar to those performed by prestidigitators. President Cardoso indicated in the same TV interview to CNN that he was going to participate in the defense of former Mayors Lopez and Ledezma of Venezuela while at the same time he was not going to allow the impeachment calls to proliferate in Brazil.
Opinions about the presidential rescue operation differ radically. Some think he has grown old. Others that Dilma has worked her special kind of magic over him. Still others consider the move as publicity-ridden.
I truly believe all these opinions to be off target. Put simply, Mr. Cardoso has shown his extraordinary endowment of common sense. He understands that an impeachment process against Dilma would be polarizing, rancorous, and divisive. This is exactly what Brazil does not need at this current juncture.
On the contrary, the country needs to be united in favor of reform. The depths and murkiness of the Petrobras scandal are such that only a pro-democracy pact can prevent freedom to fall prey of dogmatism and violence. A pro-democracy pact would aim at opening the Brazilian market while restricting corruption.
And Cardoso knows that only Dilma can put that fight up. Should she be removed, early elections would ensue; Lula would come back to power and he would hold accountability at ransom, entombing it in a huge landfill the size of the country. At the end of the day, Lula is the mastermind of the corporativist operational mode that milks the Brazilian state to benefit individual interests. Sending Lula to Harper Collins for a memoire exercise is then the appropriate move.
By simulateneously supporting the victims of Venezuelan totalitarianism, Cardoso is showing his people what can become of Brazil under a continuing PT rule. This allows him to perform a didactic operation without having to lower himself to local politics. And the three ladies will become the greatest supporters of this knight whose power exudes wisdom. What could a White Knight dream of getting?.
Autor: Beatrice E. Rangel. She is President & CEO of the AMLA Consulting Group and previously she was Chief of Staff for Venezuela President Carlos Andres Perez as well as Chief Strategist for the Cisneros Group of Companies. Rangel is a columnist for The Latin America Herald Tribune.