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Cristovam Buarque: Ladders or paths

Senator Cristovam Buarque, Ph.D. former professor and Rector of the Universidade de Brasilia. Former governor of Brasilia - Federal District - from 1995 to 1998. Former Minister of Education between 2003 and 2004. Was elected senator by the Federal District in 2002 to this date. He is a member of the Brazil Monitor Editorial Council

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by Cristovam Buarque

There was a time when politicians debated the best path to the progress, today it is discussed how Brazil can offer easier ladders to allow social ascension to groups with power to pressure the use of public resources. It seeks to benefit individuals, not the country. The discussion on labor and social security reforms is an example of this deviation from the “path” strategy to the “ladder” strategy.

Each group studies and defends its positions, favorable or contrary to the reforms, not according to which will be the best way to untie Brazil and to allow to move towards the increase of our efficiency, productivity, justice, independence, sustainability, incentive to the young, protection To the old, poor and sick; but on the basis of how to avoid losses to their own group, or to increase their benefits or gain votes. They search for ladders for individuals instead of paths for the whole of the country.

This is not a new phenomenon. In reaction to the “lead years” of the dictatorship, more rights than duties were enacted during the drafting of the Constitution. Since the struggle for democracy, which sought to define the course for the country, the political debate has lost the discussion of the best ways for all Brazilians and mostly focuses on which are the stairs to serve their group and individuals.

Even good practice to correct injustices have been defined more to serve the interests of groups than to form commitments to the country: ones prefer the use of racial quotas for admission to the university, instead of the more ambitious way of ensuring basic education with the same quality for whites and blacks, poor and rich. We are content with a fair income-assistance program for each poor family, instead of a bold strategy for emancipating the poor, so that no one need scholarships. Science Without Borders was more geared towards benefiting young people than to build a powerful system of science and technology serving the whole country and its future.

The Operation Car Wash and the “Clean Sheet” law have the great advantage of taking away ladders for the election of corrupt politicians, but they will not build the way for the election of honest politicians. Fortunately we already have the judicial system that arrests the corrupt, but we still cannot form a mass of voters capable of choosing honest politicians.

Brazil needs to get out of the discussion of ladders that serve the special interests and to debate which are the best paths for the desired future. But this is difficult, because instead of seeking to build national cohesion, we prefer to continue the policy of serving corporations, unions, associations, groups. We do not realize that this lack of cohesion is the main cause of our problems and frustrations: because without cohesion, political and social, we will not set a course for the whole of our people and our nation.

Translated by Ana Freire from Minnesota