Brazil: Neoliberalism with a “Human Face”


by Prof Michel Chossudovsky, Global Research:

October 7 was election day in Brazil, amidst rising confusion and misunderstanding. 

It is important to focus on the history of the PT government since the outset. 

Today Brazil is living the most serious crisis since the end of the military regime in the 1980s.

Whatever the outcome of the Second Round of  the presidential elections scheduled for October 28, Neoliberalism and the Washington Consensus will in all likelihood prevail. 

In this regard, it is important to reflect on how Brazil’s PT government was coopted from the very outset in 2003. 

In 2003, “Leftists” applauded the inauguration of Luis Ignacio da Silva as a victory against neoliberalism, without acknowledging that Lula’s PT had embraced the demands of Wall Street and the IMF. In the words of IMF Managing Director (2003) “the IMF listens to President Lula and the economic team”.  But that team was in fact appointed to serve the interests of US corporate capital including Brazil’s external creditors.  

The impeachment of Dilma Rousseff  led by a corrupt Rightest cabal supported by Washington, should be seen in the broader historical context.  It constitutes a “Second Stage” largely intent upon undermining Brazil as a sovereign nation. The impacts of neoliberalism have created conditions which favor the weakening of the Brazilian State.

Washington has gone beyond demanding the adoption of neoliberal policies, with which the PT government has largely complied. The US does not want to deal or negotiate with a sovereign reformist nationalist government. What it wants is a compliant US proxy state. 

According to the New York Times, Rousseff was accused of  “widespread public anger over systemic corruption and a battered economy.” Conditions were imposed by Brazil’s Wall Street creditors; corruption and a battered economy were the consequence of the IMF’s deadly macro-economic reforms both prior and from the outset of the PT government under Lula in 2003.

While  the main thrust of the neoliberal policy agenda prevailed under Rousseff, a reformist-populist agenda was also implemented which departed from the neoliberal mainstay prevailing during the Lula presidency.  In this regard, there was evidence of  dirty tricks directed against Dilma Rousseff with a view to installing a more compliant and obedient right wing regime.

And that is where the extreme right candidacy of Jair Bolsonaro comes in.

What is at stake through various mechanisms (including media propaganda) is the outright destabilization of  Brazil’s state structure and national economy, not to mention the mass impoverishment of the Brazilian people.

Neoliberalism applied under successive governments including the Workers Party (PT) has created the conditions for the imposition of  “regime change”.  

In the first round of the elections on October 7, the right wing candidate and evangelist Christian  Jair Bolsonaro (PSL) was in the lead with 46 percent of the vote, followed by the candidate for the Workers’ Party (PT) Fernando Haddad with 29 percent of the vote. Haddad will confront Bolsonaro in the second round on October 28.

The Washington Consensus

What most reports fail to mention is that both candidates are controlled by the Washington Consensus.

In this regard, Haddad has already intimated that if elected he would appoint “moderates” to head the Central Bank of Brazil and the Ministry of Finance, namely politicians who endorse the Neoliberal agenda.

This was the procedure adopted by Lula. The chosen candidate to head the Central Bank was Henrique de Campos Meirelles, a former president and CEO of Boston Fleet, which later merged with Bank America.

President Luis Ignacio da Silva had handed over the conduct of the nation’s finances and monetary policy to Wall Street. And Haddad has intimated that he will act in the same way as Lula, ie. consult Wall Street on appointments to the Central Bank and the Ministry of Finance.

In this regard, reports suggest that Haddad has already replicated Lula’s pre election appointment procedures in consultation with the Washington consensus, so it is not “neo-fascism versus democracy”, it is far more complex, it is a shift in the fabric of neoliberalism, which could lead Brazil into an extreme right wing populist regime.

The article below was first published by Global Research more than fifteen years ago on April 25, 2003, shortly following Lula’s inauguration.

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