Tuesday, November 12, 2013

610 Who am I to judge Gays? - Pope Francis. Carries his own black bag; addresses Brazilian demonstrators

Who am I to judge Gays? - Pope Francis. Carries his own black bag;
addresses Brazilian demonstrators

Newsletter published on 29 July 2013

(1) Rabbi's shocking comments on sexual abuse (video)
(2) Goys have sex from age of 5 - Orthodox Rabbi, defending Pedophilia
at Yeshiva (school)
(3) Rabbi apologises for sex abuse comments
(4) J-Wire reports Rabbi's apology about Pedophilia, but omits what he
said about Goys
(5) Who am I to judge Gays? - Pope Francis. Carries his own black bag
(6) Brazil: Pope addresses young people who took to the streets
(7) Brazil upheavals caused by switch from Statist policies to
Neo-liberal, from self-sufficiency to commodity export - Petras

(1) Rabbi's shocking comments on sexual abuse (video)

http://media.theage.com.au/news/national-news/rabbis-shocking-comments-on-sexual-abuse-4509977.html

Rabbi's shocking comments on sexual abuse (02:03)

(video) Rabbi Boruch Lesches, a former senior leader at Sydney's Yeshiva
centre, talking about sexual abuse in the Jewish community. 21/06/13

     * Rabbi: Young boys may have consented to sex
     * Rabbi apologises for sex abuse comments

(2) Goys have sex from age of 5 - Orthodox Rabbi, defending Pedophilia
at Yeshiva (school)


Rabbi: Young boys may have consented to sex

http://www.theage.com.au/national/rabbi-young-boys-may-have-consented-to-sex-20130622-2opkf.html

Richard Baker, Nick McKenzie

The Age, Melbourne, June 23, 2013

A senior Australian rabbi who failed to stop an alleged paedophile from
sexually abusing boys at a Sydney Jewish school said some of the man's
victims may have consented to sexual relations and warned that involving
police now would "open a can of worms".

Former senior Sydney rabbi Boruch Dov Lesches, who is now one of New
York's leading ultra-Orthodox figures, made his remarks in a recent
conversation with a person familiar with a series of alleged child rapes
and molestation carried out by one man associated with Sydney's Yeshiva
community in the 1980s. Rabbi Lesches' comments are likely to increase
scrutiny of Australia's senior rabbinical leaders' handling of child sex
abuse cases, amid allegations of cover-ups, victim intimidation and the
hiding of perpetrators overseas.

In a legally recorded telephone conversation heard by Fairfax Media and
provided to NSW detectives investigating the Sydney Yeshiva cases, Rabbi
Lesches admitted to counselling the alleged abuser upon learning that he
had sexually abused a boy a decade his junior. Rabbi Lesches said he
told the man that both he and the boy would be forced to leave the
Yeshiva community if he could not control his urges.

"If not, both of them would have to leave," he said.

Rabbi Lesches, who never informed police of the abuse, said he did not
know that the man had ignored his warning and gone on to sexually
interfere with at least three other boys during the late '80s. He said
other Yeshiva leaders were responsible for supervising the man.

In the conversation, Rabbi Lesches suggested one of the man's victims,
who was aged about 11 at the time of the abuse, may have been a
consensual partner. "Everyone was telling different stories and trying
to put the blame on someone else," he said.

"We are speaking about very young boys … everybody says about the other
one that 'he agreed to this'."

When challenged on his position that young boys could give consent,
Rabbi Lesches replied, "You would be surprised," and added that some
non-Jewish boys, who he termed "goyim", began acting or thinking
sexually "from the age of five". He also said teenagers from poor
backgrounds had "nothing else to do in life, only thinking 24 hours
about sex" with each other, members of their own families and even "dogs".

Rabbi Lesches also said reporting the alleged abusers to police so many
years after incidents occurred would "destroy them and their children"
and cause pain for victims.

"Do not talk this way … when it is such a long time ago, everybody
suffers," he said. "If you start to do something about it will not be
productive."

A traditional rule known as Mesirah, which prohibits a Jew from
reporting another's wrongdoing to non-Jewish authorities, remains a big
influence in some ultra-Orthodox communities.

Rabbi Lesches, who did not respond to questions from Fairfax Media, is
the third senior rabbinical leader to be identified as having known
something about the abuse of boys at the Sydney Yeshiva in the '80s.

In February, Fairfax Media reported how the alleged perpetrator, who was
sent overseas, had recently admitted guilt to some of his victims and
told of how the centre's spiritual leader, Rabbi Pinchus Feldman, once
warned him to stop what he was doing.

In response to that story, Rabbi Feldman released a statement saying he
had no recollection of anyone confessing to him their involvement in
child sexual abuse 25 years ago.

In early March, another senior rabbinical leader, Rabbi Moshe Gutnick,
admitted he did not contact police after a young boy contacted him more
than 20 years ago to report sexual abuse at Bondi's Yeshiva.

Rabbi Gutnick, who heads the Organisation of Rabbis of Australasia, said
he received an anonymous phone call and alerted senior members of the
Yeshiva to the boy's claims. He said that with the benefit of hindsight
"I would have probably called the police".

Rabbi Gutnick is understood to have told Bondi detectives recently all
that he could recall about the phone call. In a statement published in
the Australian Jewish News earlier this year, he said he "felt deeply
saddened that I had not recognised what I only now know was a legitimate
cry for help".

"I appeal to the entire community - to victims and their parents to
community members and leaders. If you have information please come
forward to the police. Don't be afraid."

Fairfax Media can also reveal the family of the man being investigated
by NSW police over the sexual incidents at the Bondi Yeshiva are big
financial supporters of the New York Monsey ultra-Orthodox community led
by Rabbi Lesches. There are also allegations the alleged abuser has also
lent a large sum of money to at least one senior ultra-Orthodox figure
in Australia.

The alleged abuser was also appointed to the board of an Australian
company involved in providing educational materials for Jewish students.
He has in recent years been sheltered by a leading Los Angeles Jewish
welfare group, with 2011 emails between the man and one of the
organisation's senior members showing he was in danger of having his
past in Sydney exposed.

"I have no idea how anyone found out - but calls are coming daily from
many sources. So far, we've been protecting you," wrote an executive
director from the LA organisation in an email to the man.

NSW police were alerted to alleged sexual abuse at the Sydney Yeshiva by
their Victorian counterparts who were investigating two men over sexual
assaults at the Melbourne Yeshiva school in St Kilda. Former St Kilda
teacher David Kramer this year pleaded guilty to sex offences on
students of the school and is awaiting sentencing. He was in a US jail
over child sex offences committed in St Louis when he was extradited
last year.

Another former worker at the Yeshiva St Kilda school, security guard
David Cyprus, will stand trial next month over alleged sexual abuse
offences against a dozen Yeshiva boys.

The school's former principal, Rabbi Abraham Glick, is now under police
investigation over his handling of complaints about abuse over several
decades, including the decision to send Kramer overseas. Rabbi Glick's
nephew is the Victoria Police chaplain, Rabbi Meir Shlomo Kluwgant.

Outspoken Melbourne Jewish sexual abuse campaigner and founder of victim
support group Tzedek, Manny Waks, said Rabbi Lesches' comments
"unfortunately seem to be consistent with the approach of many senior
Orthodox Jewish figures in the community who for decades have been more
concerned with silencing victims and protecting perpetrators as well as
their institutions, rather than with protecting innocent children".

Mr Waks said his organisation would provide the royal commission into
religious groups' handling of child sex abuse cases with full details of
what has been happening for decades in Australian Jewish communities.

Know more? rbaker@fairfaxmedia.com.au

(3) Rabbi apologises for sex abuse comments

http://www.theage.com.au/national/rabbi-apologises-for-sex-abuse-comments-20130624-2ortr.html

Richard Baker and Nick McKenzie

The Age, Melbourne, June 24, 2013

A prominent Australian rabbi has apologised for extraordinary comments
he made about child sexual abuse and reporting paedophiles to police.

Former senior Sydney rabbi Boruch Dov Lesches, who is now one of New
York's leading ultra-Orthodox figures, made his remarks in a recent
conversation with a person familiar with a series of alleged child rapes
and molestation carried out by one man associated with Sydney's Yeshiva
community in the 1980s.

In a legally recorded telephone conversation obtained by Fairfax Media
and provided to NSW police investigating the Yeshiva cases, Rabbi
Lesches revealed he knew about the alleged abuse of one boy but did not
go to police, instead warning the alleged perpetrator that if he did not
stop both he and the boy would be sent away from the community.

Rabbi Lesches also suggested the boy may have consented to sexual relations.

"We are speaking about very young boys … everybody says about the other
one that 'he agreed to this'," he said.

He added that some non-Jewish boys – who he termed "goyims" – acted and
thought in a sexual way from the age of five.

Reporting alleged abusers to police so many years after incidents
occurred would "destroy them and their children" and cause pain for
victims, he warned.

"If you start to do something about it [it] will not be productive,"
Rabbi Lesches said.

His remarks, published by Fairfax Media on Sunday, provoked a strong
reaction on social media and fuelled debate on the attitudes of senior
rabbinical leaders to reporting child sexual abuse to police.

In a statement issued on Monday, Rabbi Lesches said he regretted making
the comments in the recent telephone conversation.

"I would like to apologise for statements made in a private telephone
conversation that caused pain to the greater public," he said.

"I would like to make my position absolutely clear: Without any
reservation, I endorse the rabbinical rulings encouraging victims of
abuse to report to the police."

Despite Rabbi Lesches clearly recalling in the telephone conversation
the alleged abuse of one Sydney boy, he said in his statement that he
was "never informed of any allegations regarding minors prior to this call".

"In retrospect I am shocked to hear of these allegations, because I
often entrusted my own young children to the care of the alleged
perpetrator, without hesitation. I would never have done so had I known
of the allegations," he said.

Fairfax Media can confirm that the alleged abuser, being investigated by
police for sexually abusing at least four boys in the Sydney Yeshiva
community, has privately admitted that Rabbi Lesches did speak to him
about his activities with a boy believed to be about a decade his junior.

Rabbi Lesches also complained that he had not been contacted by Fairfax
Media prior to the story.

In the days before the story was published, Fairfax Media sent emails to
Rabbi Lesches' private email address, the main email address of the US
Jewish community he leads and to one of his rabbinical colleagues in New
York. A text message was also sent to Rabbi Lesches asking for him to
respond.

The Rabbinical Council of Victoria said it was appalled by Rabbi
Lesches' comments.

The group's president, Rabbi Meir Shlomo Kluwgant, said Rabbi Lesches'
remarks represented a fringe view and that the wider Jewish leadership
fully supported the reporting of sexual abuse to police.

(4) J-Wire reports Rabbi's apology about Pedophilia, but omits what he
said about Goys


http://www.jwire.com.au/news/the-rabbi-says-sorry/35271

The Rabbi Says “Sorry”

June 24, 2013 by J-Wire Staff

Rabbi Baruch Dov Lesches has apologised for remarks reported by Fairfax
Media intimating that young sexual assault victims may have been consenting.

In a prepared statement Rabbis Lesches says: "I would like to apologize
for statements made in a private telephone conversation that caused pain
to the greater public. I deeply regret the incident.

I would like to make my position absolutely clear: Without any
reservation, I endorse the rabbinical rulings encouraging victims of
abuse to report to the police.

I was saddened to see an edited audio clip released by the Australian
media regarding a personal phone conversation I had with an alleged
victim of child abuse. I am troubled by the unprofessional conduct of
the reporter who did not call me to verify the facts. Had he called me,
I’m sure the information I would have provided would have produced a
dramatically different article.

As I clearly told the caller in a subsequent phone conversation: I had
no knowledge of the alleged charges claimed to have occurred some
twenty-five years ago and discussed in the news report. In the
conversation, I was discussing a separate incident where I was under the
impression that both alleged parties were similar in age, twenty-one
years old, a fact noted by Fairfax at the end of the audio clip. I was
never informed of any allegations regarding minors prior to this call.

In retrospect I am shocked to hear of these allegations, because I often
entrusted my own young children to the care of the alleged perpetrator,
without hesitation. I would never have done so had I known of the
allegations.

I reiterate my apology, and am firmly committed to taking every effort
to eradicate child abuse in all communities. If the caller had mentioned
present abuse, I would have advised him to contact the proper legal
authorities.

In my present community, where I am the Rabbi, there is no reticence to
contact the police. We do not hide from or cover up criminal behavior.
In our schools this is a known fact, and one of the reasons we, may G-d
protect us, have to date not been afflicted with the evil disease of
child sexual abuse.”

Baruch Dov Lesches

The Fairfax article clearly states that Rabbi Lesches counseled a sexual
abuser who had "abused a boy a decade his junior”.

The incidents happened in the 1980s when Rabbi Lesches, who currently
lives in the USA, was working at the Sydney Yeshiva.

In what Fairfax claims is a legally taped conversation Rabbi Lesches
alleges that some victims agreed to sexual acts.

Rabbi Eli Feldman whose father was head of the Sydney Yeshiva at the
time of the alleged assaults told J-Wire: “We are very open with the
police and are are working with them. Rabbi Lesches has not been a
member of our staff for over ten years.”

J-Wire understands that Fairfax did not speak directly with Rabbi Lesches.

The Rabbinical Council of Victori has added its voice to the recording.

In a media release, they said: “The Rabbinical Council of Victoria (RCV)
is appalled by, and unequivocally distances itself from, comments
attributed to Rabbi Boruch Lesches as reported in The Age (23 June
2013). As stated on numerous occasions, the RCV encourages the reporting
of all incidents of child sexual abuse to the police.

In recent years the RCV, in conjunction with the Jewish Taskforce
Against Family Violence (JTAFV), has held numerous training sessions for
its members and members of the Victorian Rabbinate in general; these
sessions have been focussed on appropriate response to disclosures of
all forms of abuse, including the reporting of child sexual abuse to the
police.”

RCV President Rabbi Meir Shlomo Kluwgant said that any suggestion that
the reported comments are “consistent with the approach of many senior
orthodox Jewish figures in the community” is malicious in nature and
incorrect. “It is deeply regrettable and shocking that there still do
exist some individuals out there on the fringe in the religious
leadership world who take positions contrary to the clearcut
contemporary halachic (Jewish law) approach on the matter of child
sexual abuse.” “The RCV will continue to promote the reporting of abuse
to the police and to renounce any suggestions or individuals who take a
contrary position on this matter,” said Rabbi Kluwgant.

(5) Who am I to judge Gays? - Pope Francis. Carries his own black bag

http://www.france24.com/en/20130729-pope-francis-who-am-i-judge-gays-women

LATEST UPDATE: 29/07/2013 - BRAZIL - HOMOSEXUALITY - POPE FRANCIS

Pope Francis asks, 'Who am I to judge' gay people?

Questioned Monday over reports that a papal aide had a gay encounter
years ago, Pope Francis replied, “Who am I to judge?” Speaking en route
to the Vatican from Brazil, the pope also expressed support for women in
the Church but ruled out ordination.

By News Wires (text) © AFP (AP)

Pope Francis reached out to gays on Monday, saying he wouldn’t judge
priests for their sexual orientation in a remarkably open and
wide-ranging news conference as he returned from his first foreign trip.

“If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will, who
am I to judge?” Francis asked.

His predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI, signed a document in 2005 that said
men with deep-rooted homosexual tendencies should not be priests.
Francis was much more conciliatory, saying gay clergymen should be
forgiven and their sins forgotten.

Francis’ remarks came Monday during a plane journey back to the Vatican
from his first foreign trip in Brazil.

He was funny and candid during his first news conference that lasted
almost an hour and a half. He didn’t dodge a single question, even
thanking the journalist who raised allegations reported by an Italian
newsmagazine that one of his trusted monsignors was involved in a
scandalous gay tryst.

Francis said he investigated and found nothing to back up the allegations.

Francis was asked about Italian media reports suggesting that a group
within the church tried to blackmail fellow church officials with
evidence of their homosexual activities. Italian media reported this
year that the allegations contributed to Benedict’s decision to resign.

Stressing that Catholic social teaching that calls for homosexuals to be
treated with dignity and not marginalized, Francis said it was something
else entirely to conspire to use private information for blackmail or to
exert pressure.

Francis was responding to reports that a trusted aide was involved in an
alleged gay tryst a decade ago. He said he investigated the allegations
according to canon law and found nothing to back them up. But he took
journalists to task for reporting on the matter, saying the allegations
concerned matters of sin, not crimes like sexually abusing children.

And when someone sins and confesses, he said, God not only forgives but
forgets.

“We don’t have the right to not forget,” he said.

The directness of his comments suggested that he wanted to put the
matter of the monsignor behind him as he sets about overhauling the
Vatican bank and reforming the Holy See bureaucracy.

Speaking in Italian with occasional lapses in his native Spanish,
Francis dropped a few nuggets of other news:

  – He said he was thinking of traveling to the Holy Land next year and
is considering invitations from Sri Lanka and the Philippines as well.

  – The planned Dec. 8 canonizations of Popes John Paul II and John
XXIII will likely be postponed – perhaps until the weekend after Easter
– because road conditions in December would be dangerously icy for Poles
traveling to the ceremony by bus.

   – And he solved the mystery that has been circulating ever since he
was pictured boarding the plane to Rio carrying his own black bag, an
unusual break from Vatican protocol.

“The keys to the atomic bomb weren’t in it,” Francis quipped. Rather, he
said, the bag merely contained a razor, his breviary prayer book, his
agenda and a book on St. Terese of Lisieux, to whom he is particularly
devoted.

“It’s normal” to carry a bag when traveling, he said. “We have to get
use to this being normal, this normalcy of life,” for a pope, he added.

Francis certainly showed a human, normal touch during his trip to Rio,
charming the masses at World Youth Day with his decision to forgo
typical Vatican security so he could to get close to his flock. Francis
traveled without the bulletproof popemobile, using instead a simple Fiat
or open-sided car.

“There wasn’t a single incident in all of Rio de Janeiro in all of these
days and all of this spontaneity,” Francis said, responding to concerns
raised after his car was swarmed by an adoring mob when it took a wrong
turn and got stuck in traffic.

“I could be with the people, embrace them and greet them – without an
armored car and instead with the security of trusting the people,” he said.

He acknowledged that there is always the chance that a “crazy” person
could get to him. But he said he preferred taking that risk than
submitting to the “craziness” of putting an armored wall between a
shepherd and his flock.

Francis’ news conference was remarkable and unprecedented: Pope John
Paul II used to have on-board press conferences, but he would move about
the cabin, chatting with individual reporters so it was sometimes
hit-or-miss to hear what he said and there were often time limits.

After Benedict’s maiden foreign voyage, the Vatican insisted that
reporters submit questions in advance so the theologian pope could
choose the three or four he wanted to answer and prepare his answers.

For Francis, however, no question was off the table, no small thing
given that he is known to distrust the mainstream media and had told
journalists en route to Rio that he greatly disliked giving news
conferences because he found them “tiresome.”

Francis spoke lovingly of his predecessor, Benedict XVI, saying that
having him living in the Vatican “is like having a grandfather, a wise
grandfather, living at home.” He said he regularly asks Benedict for
advice, but dismissed suggestions that the German pontiff was exerting
any influence on his papacy.

On the contrary, Francis said he had tried to encourage Benedict to
participate more in public functions at the Vatican and receive guests,
but that he was “a man of prudence.”

In one of his most important speeches delivered in Rio, Francis
described the church in feminine terms, saying it would be “sterile”
without women. Asked what role he foresaw, he said the church must
develop a more profound role for women in the church, though he said
“the door is closed” to ordaining women to the priesthood.

He was less charitable with the Vatican accountant, Monsignor Nunzio
Scarano, who has been jailed on accusations he plotted to smuggle €20
million ($26 million) from Switzerland to Italy and is also accused by
Italian prosecutors of using his Vatican bank account to launder money.

Francis said while “there are saints” in the Vatican bureaucracy,
Scarano wasn’t among them.

The Vatican bank, known as the Institute for Religious Works, has been a
focus of Francis’ reform efforts, and he has named a commission of
inquiry to look into its activities amid accusations from Italian
prosecutors that it has been used as an offshore tax haven to launder money.

Asked if closing the bank was a possibility, Francis said: “I don’t know
how this story will end.”

“But the characteristics of the IOR – whether it’s a bank, an aid fund
or whatever it is – are transparency and honesty.”

(6) Brazil: Pope addresses young people who took to the streets

http://www.france24.com/en/20130728-brazil-pope-francis-support-youth-social-change-copacabana-beach

LATEST UPDATE: 28/07/2013

Pope urges Brazil’s youth to fight for change

More than two million people crowded Brazil’s Copacabana Beach Saturday
to hear Pope Francis urging youth to continue fighting for social
change, weeks after mass protests to demand better public services and
an end to corruption gripped the nation.

By FRANCE 24 (video) News Wires (text) (REUTERS)

Pope Francis on Saturday encouraged Brazil’s young people, who have
protested against corruption in their country, to continue their efforts
to change society by fighting apathy and offering “a Christian response.”

The 76-year-old pope spoke to a crowd estimated by the Vatican to be
more than 2 million people gathered on Rio’s famed Copacabana beach for
an evening rally where he also urged young people to shun fleeting fads
and be “athletes of Christ.”

Francis, nearly concluding his first overseas trip, received yet another
rapturous welcome when he arrived at the crescent-shaped beach. He
stopped his popemobile several times to kiss babies and an Argentine
flag that was waved at the car.

Most participants planned to spend the night on the sand and adjacent
pavement to hold their places for Sunday’s closing Mass on the same
spot, making the place a giant campsite.

Brazil, Latin America’s largest nation, was rocked by massive protests
against corruption, the misuse of public money and the high cost of
living. Most of the protesters were young.

Francis told the gathering he knew that young people had taken to the
streets in Brazil and elsewhere “to express their desire for a society
that is more just and fraternal.”

Speaking from a giant white stage, he encouraged them to fight apathy
and be “protagonists of change” and offer “a Christian response to the
social and political concerns arising in many parts of the world.”

In his prepared text, he had added that they should do it in an “an
orderly, peaceful and responsible way” but he improvised and did not
read that part of his address.

The Vatican says that when the pope departs from his prepared text and
omits phrases, his thoughts are considered valid nonetheless.

Francis has dedicated much attention in his speeches to the problems,
the prospects and the power of young people.

On Friday night he urged them to change a world where food is discarded
while millions go hungry, where racism and violence still affront human
dignity, and where politics is more associated with corruption than service.

The day before, during a visit to a Rio slum, he urged them to not lose
trust and to not allow their hopes to be extinguished. Many young people
in Brazil saw this as his support for peaceful demonstrations to bring
about change.

Strange beach fellows

The Copacabana events were to have taken place on a pasture on the
outskirts of Rio, but days of unseasonable rain turned the area into a
field of mud.

Before Saturday’s event, young people in jeans and nuns in their habits
shared the beach with Rio residents who had streamed out of their homes
to welcome back the sun after days of clouds and downpours.

The nuns wet their feet in the surf next to women playing volleyball in
bikinis. Young people carrying flags from dozens of nations sat in the
sand in groups to pray and play music.

In his address to the young, the pope asked them to hone and perfect
their faith like athletes who train for a match.

“Jesus offers us something bigger than the World Cup,” he told them,
saying they could have a “fulfilled and fruitful life” if they followed
him and not “momentary fashions and fads.”

He asked them to be “true athletes of Christ.”

Earlier in the day, a group of feminists bared their breasts on the
beach in a protest against the Church’s restrictive views on female
sexuality and abortion.

But most Rio residents were happy to have a visit by the pope, who
leaves for Rome on Sunday night.

“The Brazilians have welcomed us so warmly. The only hiccup has been the
crammed public transport,” said Father Martin O’Reilly who led a group
of 60 young people from the Diocese of Clogher in Ireland.

With hundreds of buses still arriving in Rio bringing more pilgrims,
security officials said they expected the crowd to peak at 1.5 million
people during Sunday morning Mass.

Police and soldiers were deployed on waterfront streets while warships
patrolled off shore.

(7) Brazil upheavals caused by switch from Statist policies to
Neo-liberal, from self-sufficiency to commodity export - Petras


{Australia has followed much the same path - Peter M.}

  James Petras <jpetras@binghamton.edu> 24 July 2013 00:01

Brazil: Extractive Capitalism and the Great Leap Backward

James Petras

July 21, 2013

http://petras.lahaine.org/?p=1945
http://www.globalresearch.ca/brazil-extractive-capitalism-and-the-great-leap-backward/5343624

Introduction

Brazil has witnessed one of the world’s most striking socio-economic
reversals in modern history: from a dynamic nationalist industrializing
to a primary export economy. Between the mid 1930’s to the mid 1980’s,
Brazil averaged nearly 10% growth in its manufacturing sector largely
based on state interventionist policies, subsidizing, protecting and
regulating the growth of national public and private enterprises.
Changes in the ‘balance’ between national and foreign (imperial) capital
began to take place following the military coup of 1964 and accelerated
after the return of electoral politics in the mid-1980’s. The election
of neo-liberal politicians, especially with the election of the Cardoso
regime in the mid-1990’s, had a devastating impact on the strategic
sectors of the national economy: wholesale privatization was accompanied
by the denationalization of the commanding heights of the economy and
the deregulation of capital markets.[1] Cardoso’s regime set the stage
for the massive flow of foreign capital into the agro-mineral, finance,
insurance and real estate sectors. The rise in interest rates as
demanded by the IMF and World Bank and the speculative market in real
estate raised the costs of industrial production. Cardoso’s lowered
tariffs ended industrial subsidies and opened the door to industrial
imports. These neo-liberal policies led to the relative and absolute
decline of industrial production.[2]

The Presidential victory of the self-styled “Workers Party” in 2002
deepened and expanded the ‘great reversal’ promoted by its neo-liberal
predecessors. Brazil reverted to becoming a primary commodity exporter,
as soya, cattle, iron and metals exports multiplied and textile,
transport and manufacturing exports declined.[3] Brazil became one of
the leading extractive commodity exporters in the world. Brazil’s
dependence on commodity exports was aided and abated by the massive
entry and penetration of imperial multi-national corporations and
financial flows by overseas banks. Overseas markets and foreign banks
became the driving force of extractive growth and industrial demise.

To gain a better understanding of Brazil’s ‘great reversion’ from a
dynamic nationalist-industrializing to a vulnerable imperial driven
agro-mineral extractive dependency, we need to briefly review the
political-economy of Brazil over the past fifty years to identify the
decisive ‘turning points’ and the centrality of political and class
struggle.

Military Model: Modernization from Above

Under the military dictatorships (1964-1984) economic policy was based
on a hybrid strategy emphasizing a triple alliance of state, foreign and
national private capital[4] focused primarily on industrial exports and
secondarily on agriculture commodities (especially traditional products
like coffee).

The military discarded the nationalist-populist model based on state
industries and peasant cooperatives of the ousted leftist President
Goulart and put in place an alliance of industrial capitalists and
agribusiness. Riding a wave of expanding global markets and benefiting
from the repression of labor, the compression of wages and salaries,
comprehensive subsidies and protectionist policies , the economy grew by
double digits from the late 1960’s to the mid 1970’s, the so-called
“Brazilian Miracle”[5]. The military while ending any threats of
nationalizations, put in place a number of ‘national content’ rules on
the foreign multi-nationals which expanded Brazil’s industrial base and
enlarged the size and scope of the urban working class especially in the
automotive industry. This led to the growth of the metal workers union
and later the Workers’ Party. The ‘export model’ based on light and
heavy industry, foreign and domestic producers, was regionally based
(southeast). The military modernization strategy heightened inequalities
and integrated the local ‘national’ capitalists to imperial MNCs. This
laid the groundwork for the onset of the anti-dictatorial struggles and
the return of democracy. Neo-liberal parties gained hegemony with the
turn to electoral politics.

Electoral Politics , the Rise of Neo-Liberalism and the Ascendancy of
Extractive Capitalism

The electoral opposition which succeeded the military regimes was
initially polarized between a liberal, free market, agro-mineral elite
allied with imperial MNC and on the other hand a worker, peasant, rural
worker and lower middle class nationalist bloc, intent on promoting
public ownership, social welfare, the redistribution of income and
agrarian reform. Militant labor formed the CUT; landless peasants formed
the MST and both joined the middle class to form the PT[6]

The first decade of electoral politics 1984-94, was characterized by the
tug and pull between the residual statist capitalism inherited from the
previous military regime and the emerging liberal ‘free market’
bourgeoisie. The debt crises, hyper-inflation, massive systemic
corruption, the impeachment of President Collor and economic stagnation
severely weakened the statist capitalist sectors and led to ascendancy
of an alliance of agro-mineral and finance capital, both foreign and
local capitalists, linked to overseas markets. This retrograde coalition
found their political leader and road to power with the election of
Fernando Henrique Cardoso, a former leftist academic turned free market
zealot.

The election of Cardoso led to a decisive break with the national
statist policies of the previous sixty years. Cardoso’s policies gave a
decisive push toward the denationalization and privatization of the
economy, essential elements in the reconfiguration of Brazil’s economy
and the ascendancy of extractive capital[7]. By almost all indicators
Cardoso’s ultra neo-liberal policies led to a precipitous great leap
backward, concentrating income and land, and increasing foreign
ownership of strategic sectors. Cardoso’s “reform” of the economy at the
expense of industrial labor, public ownership, landless rural workers
provoked widespread strikes and land occupations[8]. The ‘extractive
economy’ especially the opening of lucrative sectors in agriculture,
mining and energy took place at the expense of the productive forces:
the relative position of manufacturing, technology and high end services
declined. In particular labor earnings as a whole declined as a
percentage of GNP[9].

The average growth rate of industry declined to a paltry 1.4%.
Employment in the industrial sector fell by 26%, unemployment rose to
over 18.4%, the ‘informal sector’ rose from 52.5% in 1980 to 56.1% in
1995[10].

Privatization of public enterprises like the giant and lucrative
telecommunication firm Telebras led to the massive firing of workers and
subcontracting of labor at lower wages and without social benefits.
Under Cardoso, Brazil had the highest rates of inequality (Gini
coefficient) in the world - bar one country.

Cardoso used state subsidies to promote foreign capital especially in
the agrarian export and mining sectors while the small and medium size
farmers were starved for credit. His program of financial deregulation
led to currency speculation, massive windfall profits for Wall Street
banks as the regime raised interest rates by over 50%[11]. Bankruptcy of
farmers led to their dispossession by agro-export capitalists.
Concentration of land took a decisive turn as .7% of large landowners
owning farms over 2,000 hectares increased their acreage from 39.5% to
43% of Brazilian farmland[12].

During Cardoso’s eight years in office, (1994-2002) there was a tsunami
of foreign investment: over $50 billion flowed in just the first 5 years
– ten times the total of the previous 15 years[13]. Foreign owned
agro-mineral companies among the top foreign owned companies (as of
1997) numbered over one-third and growing. Between 1996-1998 foreign MNC
acquired eight major food, mining and metal production firms[14].

Cardoso’s neo-liberal policies opened the door wide open for foreign
capital takeover of critical industrial and banking sectors.
Nevertheless, it was the subsequent “Workers Party” presidents Da Silva
and Rousseff who completed the Brazilian economy’s Great Leap Backward
by decisively turning to extractive capital as the driving force of the
economy.

 From Neoliberalism to Extractive Capital

Cardoso’s privatizations were sustained and deepened by the Lula regime.
Cardoso’s outrageous privatization of the Vale do Doce iron mine at a
fraction of its value was defended by Lula; the same was the case with
Cardoso’s defacto privatization of the state oil company Petrobras. Lula
embraced the restrictive monetary policies, budget surplus agreements
with the IMF and followed the budgetary prescriptions of the IMF
directors[15].

The Lula regime (2003-2011) took Cardoso’s neo-liberal policies as a
guide to further reconfigure Brazil’s economy to the benefit of foreign
and domestic capital located now in the primary, raw material export
sector. In 2005 Brazil exported $55.3 billion dollars in raw materials
and $44.2 billion in manufacturing goods; in 2011 Brazil tripled its raw
material exports to $162.2 billion while its manufacturing exports
increased to a mere $60.3 billion[16].

In other words the difference between the value of raw material and
manufacturing exports increased from $13 billion to over $100 billion in
the last 5 years of Lula’s regime. The relative de-industrialization of
the economy, the growing imbalance between the dominant extractive and
manufacturing sector illustrates the reversion of Brazil to its
‘colonial style of development’.

Agro-Mining Capitalism, the State and the People

Brazil’s export sector benefited enormously from the rise in commodity
prices. The prime beneficiary was its primary agro-mineral sector. But
the cost to industry, public transport, living conditions, research and
development and education was enormous. Agro-mineral exports provided
great revenues to the state but also extracted great subsidies, tax
benefits and profits.

Brazil’s industrial economy was adversely affected by the commodity boom
because of the rise in the value of its currency, the real by 40%
between 2010 – 2012 which increased the price of manufacturing exports
and decreased the competitiveness of manufacturing products[17]. The
“free market” policies also facilitated the entrance of lower priced
manufactured goods from Asia, particularly from China. While Brazil,
primary exports to China boomed, its manufacturing sector, particularly
consumer goods like textiles and footwear, declined from 2005-2010 by
over 10%[18].

Under the Lula-Rousseff regimes, the extreme dependence on a limited
number of commodities led to a sharp decline in the productive forces,
measured by investments in technological innovations, especially those
related to industry[19]. Moreover, Brazil became more dependent than
ever on a single market. From 2000 to 2010 Chinese imports of soy – the
major agro export – represented 40% of Brazil’s exports; Chinese imports
of iron – the key mining export – constitute over a third of the total
exports of that sector. China also imports about 10% of Brazil’s exports
of petrol, meat, pulp and paper[20]. Under the Lula and Rousseff
regimes, Brazil has reverted to a quasi-mono-cultural economy dependent
on a very limited market. As a result the slowdown of China’s economy
has predictably led to a decline in Brazil’s growth to fewer than 2%
from 2011 to 2013[21].

Brazil: Finance Capital’s Economic Paradise

Under the Workers Party free market policies, finance capital has
flooded into Brazil, as never before. Foreign direct investment jumped
from about $16 billion in 2002 during the last year of the Cardoso
regime to over $48 billion in the last year of Lula’s rule[22].
Portfolio investment - the most speculative sort – rose from a negative
$5 billion in 2002 to $67 billion in 2010. Net inflows of FDI and
portfolio investments totaled $400 billion during 2007 – 2011 compared
to $79 billion during the previous 5 year period[23]. Portfolio
investments in high interest bonds, securities returned between 8% – 15%
,triple and quadruple the rates in North America and Europe. Lula and
Dilma are poster presidents of Wall Street.

By most important economic indicators the policies of the Lula-Dilma
regimes have been the most lucrative for overseas financial capital and
the investors in the primary agro-mineral sectors in the recent history
of Brazil.

Agro-Mineral Model and the Environment

Despite their political rhetoric in favor of family farming, the
Lula-Dilma regimes have been among the biggest promoters of
agro-business in recent Brazilian political history. The largest share
of state resources allocated to agriculture, finances agribusiness and
large landowners. According to one study, in 2008/2009 small holders
received about $6.35 billion (US), while agribusiness and large
landholders received $31.9 billion (US) in funding and credit[24]. Less
than 4% of government resources and research was directed to family
farming and agro-ecological farms.

Under Lula the destruction of the rain forests occurred at a rapid pace.
Between 2002 and 2008 the Cerrado region’s vegetation was reduced by
7.5% or over 8.5 million hectares, mostly by agro-business
corporations[25]. The Brazilian Cerrado is one of the world’s most
biologically rich savannah regions concentrated in the center-east
region of the country. According to one study 69% of all the land owned
by foreign corporations is concentrated in Brazil’s Cerrado[26]. Between
1995 – 2005 the share of foreign capital in Brazil’s agro-industrial
grain sector jumped from 16% to 57%. Foreign capital has capitalized on
the neo-liberal policies under Cardoso, Lula and Dilma to move into
agro-fuel (ethanol) sector, controlling about 22% of Brazilian sugar
cane and ethanol companies[27] - and rapidly encroaching on the Amazon
forest.

Between May 2000 and August 2005, thanks to the expansion of the export
sector, Brazil lost 132,000 square kilometers of forest due to the
expansion of large landowners and multinationals engaged in cattle
raising, soya and forestry[28]. Between 2003 – 2012 over 137 square
kilometers have been deforested, aided and abetted by multi-billion
dollar government infrastructure investments, tax incentives and subsidies.

In 2008 damage to the Amazon rain forest surged 67% .Under pressure from
indigenous, peasant and landless rural workers’ and ecology movements
the government took action to curtail deforestation. It declined from a
peak of 27,772 square kilometers in 2004 (second only to the highest
ever under Cardoso in 1995, 29,059 square kilometers) to 4,656 sq. km in
2012[29].

Cattle ranching is the leading cause of deforestation in the Brazilian
Amazon. Estimates attribute over 40% to big capitalist and MNC meat
processing corporations[30]. The Lula-Dilma regimes’ major
infrastructure investments, especially roads, opened previously
inaccessible forest lands to corporate cattle firms. Under Lula and
Dilma, commercial agriculture, especially soya beans became the second
biggest contributor to deforestation of the Amazon.

Accompanying the degradation of the natural environment, the expansion
of agro-business has been accompanied by dispossession, assassination
and enslavement of indigenous peoples. The Christian, Pastoral Land
Commission reported that landlord violence reached its highest level in
at least 20 years in 2004 – Lula’s second year in office. Conflicts rose
to 1,801 in 2004 from 1,690 in 2003 and 925 in 2002[31].

According to the government, cattle and soy corporations exploit at
least 25,000 Brazilians (mostly dispossessed Indians and peasants) under
“conditions analogous to slavery”. Leading NGOs claim the true figure
could be ten times that number. Over 183 farms were raided in 2005
freeing 4,133 slaves[32].

Mining: The Vale Rip-off as “Privatization” and the Number One Polluter

Nearly 25% of Brazil’s exports are composed of mineral products –
highlighting the growing centrality of extractive capital in the
economy. Iron ore is the mineral of greatest importance, representing
78% of total mining exports. In 2008, iron ore accounted for $16.5 of a
$22.5 billion of the industry’s earnings[33]. The vast majority of iron
exports are dependent on a single market – China. As China’s growth
slows, demand declines and increases Brazil’s economic vulnerability.

One firm, privatized during the Cardoso presidency, Vale, through
acquisitions and mergers controls almost 100% of Brazil’s productive
iron mines[34]. In 1997 Vale was sold by the neoliberal state for $3.14
billion, a small fraction of its value. Over the following decade it
concentrated its investments in mining, establishing a global network of
mines in over a dozen countries in North and South America, Australia,
Africa and Asia. The Lula – Dilma regime played a major role in
facilitating Vale’s dominance of the mining sector and the exponential
growth of its value: Vale’s net worth today is over $100 billion but it
pays one of the lowest tax rates in the world, despite being the second
largest mining company in the world, the largest producer of iron ore
and the second largest of nickel. Maximum royalties on mineral wealth
rose from 2% to 4% in 2013[35]; in other words during the decade of the
“progressive” government of Lula and Dilma, the tax rate was one-sixth
that of conservative Australia with a rate of 12%.

Vale has used its enormous profits to diversify its mining operations
and related activities. It sold off businesses such as steel and wood
pulp, for $2.9 billion – nearly the price paid for the entire mineral
complex. Instead it concentrated on buying up the iron mines of
competitors and literally monopolizing production. Vale expanded into
manganese, nickel, copper, coal, potash, kaolin, bauxite; it has bought
out railroads, ports, container terminals, ships and at least eight
hydroelectric plants; two-thirds of its hydro-electrical plants were
built during the Lula regime[36].

In sum, monopoly capitalism flourished during the Lula regime with
record profits in the extractive sector, extreme damage to the
environment and massive displacement of indigenous peoples and small
scale producers. The Vale mining experience underlines the powerful
structural continuities between the neo-liberal Cardoso and Lula
regimes: the former privatized Vale at a “fire sale” price; the latter
promoted Vale as the dominant monopoly producer and exporter of iron,
totally ignoring the concentration of wealth, profits and powers of
extractive capital.

In comparison to the geometrical growth of monopoly profits for the
extractive sector, Lula and Dilma’s paltry two dollars a day subsidy to
reduce poverty hardly warrants calling the regime “progressive” or
“center-left”.

While Lula and Dilma were enraptured with the growth of Brazil’s “mining
champion” (Vale), others were not. Into 2002 Public Eye a leading human
rights and environmental group gave Vale an “award” as the worst
corporation in the world: “The Vale Corporation acts with the most
contempt for the environment and human rights in the world”[37]. The
critics cited Vale’s construction of the Belo Monte dam in the middle of
the Amazon rain forest as having “devastating consequences for the
regions unique biodiversity and indigenous tribes”[38].

The mining sector is capital intensive, generates few jobs and adds
little value to its exports. It has degraded water, land and air;
adversely affected local communities, dispossessed Indian communities
and created a boom and bust economy.

With the marked slowdown of the Chinese economy, especially its
manufacturing sector in 2012-14, iron, copper prices have fallen.
Brazil’s export revenues have declined, undermining overall growth.
Especially important, channeling resources into infrastructures for the
agro-mineral sectors has resulted in the depletion of funds for
hospitals, schools and urban transport – which are run down and provide
poor service to millions of urban workers.

The End of the Extractive “Mega Cycle” and the Rise of Mass Protests

Brazil’s extractive led model entered a period of decline and stagnation
in 2012-2013 as world market demand – especially Asia – declined
especially in China[39]. Growth hovered around 2% ,barely keeping up
with population growth. The class based growth model, especially the
narrow stratum of foreign portfolio investors, monopoly mining and big
agro-business corporations which controls and reaped most of the
revenues and profits, limited the “trickle down effects” which the
Lula-Dilma regimes promoted as their “social transformation”. While some
innovative programs were initiated, the follow-up and quality of
services actually deteriorated.

In-patient hospital beds have declined from 3.3 beds per 1,000
Brazilians in 1993, to 1.9 in 2009, the second lowest in the OECD[40].
Hospital admissions financed by the public sector have fallen and long
waits and low quality is endemic.

Federal spending on the health system has fallen since 2003, when
adjusted for inflation according to the OECD study. Public spending on
health is low: 41% compared to the UK at 82% and the US, 45.5%[41]. The
class polarization embedded in the agro-mineral extractive model extends
to government spending, taxes, transport and infrastructure: massive
financing for highways, dams, hydro-electric power stations for
extractive capital versus inadequate public transport and declining
spending for public health education and transport.

The deeper roots of the mass upheavals of 2013 are located in the class
politics of a corporate state. The Cardoso, Lula-Dilma regimes, over the
past two decades, have pursued a conservative elitist agenda, cushioned
by clientelistic and paternatistic politics which neutralized mass
opposition for an extended period of time, before the mass rebellion and
nationwide protests unmasked the “progressive” facade.

Leftist publicists and conservative pundits who claimed Lula as a
“pragmatic progressive” overlooked the fact that during his first term,
state support for the agro-business elite was seven times that offered
to the family farmers who represented nearly 90% of the rural labor
force and provide the bulk of food for local consumption. During Lula’s
second term, the Ministry of Agriculture’s financial support for
agro-business during the 2008-09 harvest was six times larger than the
funds allocated for Lula’s poverty reduction program, the highly
publicized “Bolsa Familia” program[42]. Economic orthodoxy and populist
demagogy is no substitute for substantive structural changes, involving
a comprehensive agrarian reform embracing 4 million landless rural
workers, and a re-nationalization of strategic extractive enterprises
like Vale in order to finance sustainable agriculture and preserve the
rainforest.

Instead Lula and Dilma jumped full force into the ethanol boom: “sugar,
sugar everywhere” but never asking, “Whose pocket does it fill?”
Brazil’s growing structural rigidity, its transformation into an
extractive capitalist economy, has enhanced and enlarged the scope for
corruption. Competition for mining contracts, land grants and giant
infrastructure projects encourages agro-mineral business elites to
pay-off the “party in power” to secure competitive advantages. This was
particularly the case for the “Workers Party” who’s executive and party
leadership (devoid of workers) was composed of upwardly mobile
professionals, aspiring to elite class positions who looked toward
business payoffs for their ‘initial capital’, a kind of ‘initial
accumulation through corruption’.

The commodity boom, for almost a decade, papered over the class
contradictions and the extreme vulnerability of an extractive economy
dependent on primary goods exports to limited markets. The neo-liberal
policies adapted to further commodity exports led to the influx of
manufactured goods and weakened the position of the industrial sector.
As a result the efforts of Dilma to revive the productive economy to
compensate for the decline of commodity revenues has not worked:
stagflation, declining budget surpluses and weakening trade balances
plague her administration precisely when the mass of workers and the
middle class are demanding a large scale reallocation of resources from
subsidies to the private sector to investments in public services.

Rousseff’s and her mentor, Lula’s entire political fortunes were built
on the fragile foundations of the extractive model. They have failed to
recognize the limits of their model, let alone formulated an alternative
strategy. Patchwork proposals, political reforms, anti-corruption
rhetoric in the face of million person protests spanning all the major
and minor cities of the country do not address the basic problem of
challenging the concentration of wealth, property and class power of the
agro-mineral and financial elite. Their MNC allies control the levers of
political power, with and without corruption and block any meaningful
reforms.

Lula’s era of “Wall Street Populism” is over. The idea that high
revenues from extractive industries can buy popular loyalties via
consumerism, funded by easy credit ,has passed. Wall Street investors
are no longer praising the BRICs as a new dynamic market. As is
predictable they are shifting their investments to more lucrative
activity in new regions. As portfolio investments decline, and the
economy stagnates, extractive capital intensifies its push into the
Amazon and with it the terrible toll on the indigenous population and
the rain forest.

The year 2012 was one of the worst years for the indigenous peoples.
According to the Indigenous Missionary Council, affiliated with the
Catholic Church, the number of violent incidents against the Indian
communities increased 237%[43]. The Rousseff regime has given Indians
the least number of legal title (homologado) to land of any president
since the return of democracy (seven titles). At this rate the Brazilian
state will take a century to title land requests of the Indian
communities. At the same time in 2012, 62 Indian territories were
invaded by landowners, miners and loggers, 47% more than in 2011[44].
The biggest threat of dispossession is from mega dam projects in Belo
Monte and giant hydro-electric projects being promoted by the Rousseff
regime. As the agro-mineral economy falters the Indian communities are
being squeezed (“silent genocide”) to intensify agro-mineral growth.

The biggest beneficiaries of Brazil’s extractive economy are the world’s
top commodity traders who, worldwide, pocketed $250 billion over the
2003-2013 period, surpassing the profits of the biggest Wall Street
firms and five of the biggest auto companies. During the mid-2000’s,
some traders enjoyed returns of 50 – 60 percent. Even as late as 2013
they were averaging 20 – 30% (Financial Times 4/15/13, p. 1). Commodity
speculators earned more than 10 times what was spent on the poor. These
speculators profit from price fluctuations between locations, from the
arbitrage opportunities offered by an abundance of price discrepancies
between regions. Monopoly traders eliminated competitors and low taxes
(5-15%) have added to their mega wealth. The biggest beneficiaries of
the Lula-Dilma extractive model, surpassing even the agro-mineral giants
are the twenty biggest commodity traders-speculators.

Extractive Capital, Internal Colonialism and the Decline of the Class
Struggle

The class struggle, especially its expression via strikes led by trade
unions and by rural workers located in campsites (campamentos) who
launch land occupations has declined precipitously over the past quarter
of a century. Brazil during the period following the military
dictatorship (1989) was a world leader in strikes with 4,000 in 1989.
With the return of electoral politics and the incorporation and
legalization of the trade unions especially in tripartite collective
bargaining framework, strikes declined to an average of 500 during the
1990’s. With the advent of the Lula regime (2003-2010) strikes declined
further from 300-400 a year[45]. The two major trade unions CUT and
Forca Sindical allied with the Lula regime became virtual adjuncts of
the Ministry of Labor: trade unionists secured positions in government
and the organizations received major subsidies from the state,
ostensibly for ‘job’ training and worker education. With the commodity
boom and the rise in state revenues and export earnings, the governments
formulated a trickle down strategy, increasing the minimum wage and
launching new anti-poverty programs. In the countryside, the MST
continued to demand an agrarian reform and engaged in land occupations
but its position of critically supporting the Workers Party in exchange
for social subsidies led to a sharp decline in campsites (campamentos)
from which to launch land occupations. At the start of Lula’s presidency
(2003) the MST had 285 campamentos, in 2012 it had 13[46].

The decline of class struggle and the co-optation of the established
mass movements coincided with the intensification of extractive
capitalist exploitation of the interior of the country and the violent
dispossession of the indigenous communities. In other words, the
heightened exploitation of the ‘interior’ by agro-mineral capital
facilitated the concentration of wealth in the large urban centers and
the established rural areas, leading to co-optation of trade unions and
rural movements. Hence despite some declaratory statements and symbolic
protests, agro-mineral capital encountered little organized solidarity
between urban labor and the dispossessed Indians and enslaved rural
workers in the ‘cleared’ Amazon. Lula and Dilma played a key role in
neutralizing any national united front against the depredations of
agro-mineral capital.

The degeneration of the major labor confederations is visible not only
in their presence in government and in the absence of strikes but also
in the organization of the annual May 1 workers meetings. The recent
events have included virtually no political content. There are music
spectacles, spiced with lotteries offering automobiles and other forms
of consumerist entertainment, financed and sponsored by major private
banks and multi-nationals[47]. In effect this relation between city and
Amazon resembles a kind of internal colonialism, in which extractive
capital has bought off a labor aristocracy as a complicit ally to its
plunder of the interior communities.

Conclusion Mass Movements The Extractive Model under Siege

If the CUT and Forca Sindical are co-opted, the MST is weakened and the
low income classes received monetary raises how and why did
unprecedented mass movements emerge in close to a hundred major and
minor cities throughout the country?

   The contrast between the new mass movements and the trade unions was
evident in their capacity to mobilize support during the June/July(2013)
days of protest: the former mobilized 2 million ,the latter 100,000

What needs to be clarified is the difference between the small student
and local groups (Movemiento Passe Livre-MPL)which detonated the mass
movements over a raise in bus fares and the pharaonic state expenditure
on the World Cup (soccer championship) and Olympics and the spontaneous
mass movements which questioned the state’s budgetary policies and
priorities in their entirety.

   Many publicists for the Lula-Dilma regimes accept at face value, the
budgetary allocations destined for social and infrastructure projects,
when in fact only a fraction is actually spent as much is stolen by
corrupt officials. For example between 2008-12

R$6.5 billion was designated for public transport in the principal
cities but only 17% was actually spent.(Veja ano 46,no29
7/17/2013)According to the NGO “Contas Abertas”(Open Accounts)over a ten
year period Brazil spent over R$160 billion in public works which are
unfinished , never left the drawing board or were stolen by corrupt
officials. One of the most egregious cases of corruption and
mismanagement is the construction of a 12 kilometer subway in Salvador,
with the provision that it would be completed in 40 months at the cost
ofR$307 million. Thirteen years later (2000-13) expenditures increased
to nearly1 billion reales and barely 6 kilometers have been completed.
Six locomotors and 24 wagons purchased for 100 million reales have
broken down and the manufacturers warranty has expired(Veja ano 46.no 29
7/17/13).The project has been paralyzed by claims of corrupt
overcharging (sobrefacturacion)involving federal, state and municipal
officials. Meanwhile 200,000 passengers are forced daily to travel on
dilapidated buses.

   The deep corruption which infects the entire Lula-Dilma
administration has driven a deep wedge between the achievements claimed
by the regime and the deteriorating everyday experience of the great
majority of the Brazilian people. The same gap exists regarding
expenditures to preserve the Amazon rain forest, the Indian lands, and
to fund the anti-poverty programs: corrupt PT officials siphon funds to
finance their election campaigns rather then reduce environmental
destruction and reduce poverty.

If the wealth from the boom in the agro-mineral extractive model
“percolated” into the rest of the economy and raised wages, it did so in
a very uneven, unequal and distorted fashion. The great wealth
concentrated at the top found expression in a kind of new caste-class
system in which private transport – helicopters and heliports – private
clinics, private schools, private recreation areas, private security
armies for the rich and affluent was funded by state promoted subsidies.
In contrast the masses experienced a sharp relative and absolute decline
in public services in the same essential life experiences. The raise in
minimum wage did not compensate for 10 hour waits in crowded public
emergency rooms, irregular and crowded public transport, daily personal
threats and insecurity (50,000 homicides).Parents, receiving the
anti-poverty dole sent their children to decaying schools where poorly
paid teachers rushed from one school to another barely meeting their
classes and providing meager learning experiences. The greatest
indignity to those receiving subsistence handouts was to be told that,
in this class-caste society, they were “middle class”; that they were
part of an immense social transformation that lifted 40 million out of
poverty, as they crawled home from hours in traffic, back from jobs
whose monthly salary paid for one tennis match at an upscale country
club. The agro-mineral extractive economy, accentuated all Brazil’s
socio-economic inequalities and the Lula-Dilma regime accentuated these
difference by raising expectations, claiming their fulfillment and then
ignoring the real social impacts on everyday life. The government’s
large scale budgetary allocations for public transport and promises of
projects for new subway and train lines have been delayed for decades by
large scale, long term corruption. Billions spent over the years have
yielded minimum results-a few kilometers completed. The result is that
the gap between the regime’s optimistic projections and mass frustration
has vastly increased. The gap between the populist promise and the
deepening cleavage between classes could not be papered over by trade
union lotteries and VIP lunches. Especially for an entire generation of
young workers who are not attached to the ancient memories of Lula the
“metal worker” a quarter century earlier. The CUT, the FS, the Workers’
Party are irrelevant or are perceived to be part of the system of
corruption, social stagnation and privilege. The most striking feature
of the new wave of class protest is the generational and organizational
split: older metal workers are absent, young unorganized service workers
are present. Local, spontaneous organizations replace the co-opted trade
unions.

The point of confrontation is the street – not the workplace. The
demands transcend monetary wages and salaries – the issues are the
social wage, living standards, national budgets .Ultimately the new
social movements raise the issue of national class priorities. The
regime is dispossessing hundreds of thousands of residents of favelas –
a social purge – to build sports complexes and luxury accommodations.
Social issues inform the mass movements. Their organizational
independence and autonomy underline the deeper challenge to the entire
neo-liberal extractive model; even though no national organizations or
leadership of these mass movements has emerged to elaborate an
alternative. Yet the struggle continues. The traditional mechanisms of
co-optation fail because there are no identifiable leaders to buy off.
The regime, facing the decline of export markets and commodity prices,
and deeply committed to multi-billion dollar non-productive investments
in the Games has few options. The PT long ago lost its anti-systemic
cutting edge. Its politicos are linked with and funded by the banks and
agro-mining elites. The trade union leaders protect their fiefdoms,
automatic dues deductions and stipends. The mass movements of the cities
like the Indian communities of the Amazon will have to find new
political instruments .But having taken the path of “direct action” they
have taken a big first step.

[1] James Petras and Henry Vettmeyer Cardoso’s Brazil: A land for Sale
(Lanham, Maryland: Rowman and Littlefield 2003/Chapter 2.
[2] ibid Chapter 1.
[3] James Petras, Brasil e Lula – Ano Zero (Blumenau: EdiFurb 2005)
Chapter 1.
[4] Peter Evans, Dependent Development: The Alliance of Multinational
State and Local Capital in Brazil (Princeton NJ: Princeton University
Press 1979.
[5] Jose Serra “The Brazilian Economic Miracle” in James Petras Latin
America from Dependence to Revolution (New York: John Wiley 1973) pp.
100 – 140.
[6] Brasil e Lula op cit. Ch. 1
[7] Cardoso’s Brazil Ch. 5
[8] ibid, Ch.3 and 6
[9] ibid, Table A.12, p. 126
[10]iIbid, Ch. 3.
[11] ibid, Ch. 1, 2.
[12] ibid, Ch. 5
[13] ibid, Ch. 2.
[14] ibid, Table A. 6.
[15] Brasil e Lula, Ch. 1.
[16] Brazil Exports by Product Section (USD)
http:\\www.INDEXMUNDI.com/trade/exports/Brazil
[17] Peter Kingstone “Brazil’s Reliance on Commodity Exports threatens
its Medium and Long Term Growth Prospects”
http://www.americasquarterly.or/icingstone.
[18] Brazil Exports op cit.
[19] Kingstone op cit.
[20] Kingstone op cit. World Bank Yearbook 2011.
[21] Financial Times 3/26/13, p. 7.
[22] Brazil’s Surging Foreign Investment: A Blessing or Curse? VSITC
Executive Briefing on Trade Oct. 2012.
[23] ibid
[24] http://rainforests:mongabay.com/amazon_destruction
[25] Ibid.
[26] Bernard Mancano Fernandes and Elizabeth Alice Clements “Land
Grabbing, Agribusiness and the Peasantry in Brazil and Mozambique”
Agrarian South (April 2013).
[27] Rainforests op cit.
[28] Rainforests op cit.
[29] Rainforests op cit.
[30] ibid
[31] Jose Manual Rambla “La agonia de los pueblos indigenas, buera de la
agenda reivindicativa de Brasil” rebellion.org/notice, 5/7/13.
[32] Rainforests ibid p. 8
[33] Brazil Mining
http://www.e-mj.com/index.php/reatures/850-Brazil-,mining.
[34] Wikipedia Vale http://en.wilkipedia.org/wiki/vale_miningcompany.
[35] The Economist, June 2, 2013.
[36] Wikipedia, p. 9.
[37] Guardian, Jan. 27, 2012.
[38] ibid
[39] Financial Times, July 13, 2013, p. 9.
[40] Financial Times, July 1, 2013.
[41] ibid
[42] Rainforest op cit.
[43] ibid
[44] ibid
[45] Raul Zibechi “Elfindel consenso lulista” rebellion 7/7/13
[46] Ibid.
[47] Ibid.

No comments:

Post a Comment