Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Article on Lula and the Upcoming Brazilian Elections; Checking In Again (Briefly)

My most recent article for NACLA, "Brazil Faces Its Post-Lula Future" is now up on their website. I encourage you, of course, to check it out.

Needless to say, it's not easy to sum up the past eight years in Brazil under Lula's leadership, his complex relationship (to say the least!) with the Brazilian left, the nation's emerging role on the global stage, and the two leading candidates in the upcoming elections, in under 2,000 words. Nevertheless, the lesson to be taken from his presidency, and from what we've seen so far under Obama as well, is this: for true progressive and fundamental change to radically reshape society along more just and equitable lines, one cannot rely on political leaders alone.

There's much more to say, but it will have to be saved for another day. As for now I'm gettting ready to go back into Valpo- I apologize for the lack of reporting on the earthquake, as you can imagine it has been a rather surreal couple of days. I'm still trying to sort everything out that's been going on these past couple of days before I write more on the subject. My friend Rose Costello has some pics and commentary from Santiago, as does political scientist Robert Funk, and The Clinic and The Mostrador are two great sources of Spanish-language reporting down here. More on this to come shortly...


  1. Hey Mr. Kurtz, welcome to Brazil, from your text I could see you´ve just discovered my country, everything is so new and fresh from a gringo´s point of view, and of course the gringo always knows exactly what is right and what is wrong. Brazil has problems because "people" don´t think like the gringo thinks, but hey, looking at your picture I see you are an exception, you can actually administrate your belly and stomach!!! That´s great, so you learnt spanish culture in Butler University, good for you, I don´t know anything about spanish culture, you are probably way ahead, but you felt free to compare Brazil and Chile....why? Owww, wait, they are in the same America, that´s cool, probably they are related, right? kkkkkkk

  2. Do you have an actual point to make or are you content with passive-aggressive generalizations and vague assertions?

  3. Your text is childish, identical to thousands around the Internet. The term "elite" should be the favorite among American university students of today, a sign of the times, these kids feel more the American crisis and feel insecure, they create villains in their minds, Regan must be turning in his coffin. What is the "elite"? Those who sell 300 thousand cars per month for the "poor" (buy more than Germans)300 thousand per month times 12 is a lot of people, the elite who sells cars, petroleum, food, homes, electronics must be really angry, they are buying their stuff, what audacity ... and the land? The lands are desired, or not? 25 million Brazilians left the field in the last 5 years for the city on their own. What the "elite" has to do with it? Maybe is the American elite, which pays subsidies to farmers in the U.S.. Who buys wood from amazon? People from Sao Paulo??? Who buys all the soybean production in Brazil, Paraguay, Argentina? It is not Monsanto? Cargill? What is the per capita income in Brazil, is not 8 thousand dollars a year? So the maximum equality is 8 thousand per capita, right? Unless the U.S. wants to donate a pension per capita for Brazil, cause the "elite" won´t have any more more to share then that, 8 thousand per capita is the total GDP...
    And finally, what the government has to do with the "elite", the government is elected by poor people, the "elite" is not helped by any government, as the "elite" pays more then any other "elite" in this planet. The "elite" is worried of an incompetent government, the kind that could hurt its customers...Do you homework, try to open a company here, hire hundreds of "poor", teach them skills, pay taxes,its the first step, then you will gonna feel how the goverment is helpfull to you, as you play "elite"....Its a good lab, I know it from my own experience, a kind of knowledge you still don´t have...its always better to start from the begining...

  4. 1.) The reference to the Chilean election came out of Lula's mouth himself, a link to which I provided in the original article

    2.) Finding it ironic that you reference red-baiting anticommunist Ronald Reagan while talking about how we "kids... create villains" amidst this economic crisis, I again refer you to Lula himself when he referred to the (very real) "white men with blue eyes," aka the American and European neoliberal power brokers who are largely responsible for the current global economic crisis.

    3.) Millions of Brazilians leaving the field for the city (not to mention hundreds of millions more throughout the region) and "What the 'elite' has to do with it?" Well, for one, the use of violence, intimidation, and slavery can be compelling reasons to leave. The devastation and poisoning of the environment where you live for economic reasons is another. And a neoliberal economic system that forces subsistence farmers with no land title against massive, corporate megafarms can easily push one to grind out a living in the informal urban economy. But I would by no means think that these reasons imply they moved "on their own."

    4.) Of course the United States is complicit in all this, between the government's ag subsidies, the monopolistic efforts of US firms like Cargill and Monsanto, and the voracious consumer market. Where do I ever come across as suggesting I believe otherwise?

    5.) Governments, in most cases, consist of the elites! How else do you refer to the small segment of the wealthiest and most powerful people in society? And here is where the issue of Lula is so troubling- Brazil finally did elect a president from amidst the working class on a platform that adequately represented the interests of most Brazilians, but once in power he shied away from many of his previous commitments and instead fostered closer relations with the traditional power establishment and international oligarchs.