The most important thing to me about these elections is to consolidate the change that Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva and the Partido dos Trabalhadores, PT, have brought about in Brazilian political history. They defeated the economic-financial elites and their ideological arm, the great commercial press. As is well known, these elites always kept the people at the margins of citizenship; in the harsh language of our most important mulato historian, Capistrano de Abreu, «castrated and castrated again, bleeding and bleeding more.» They have been in power for almost 500 years and they organized the State in such a way that their privileges were always protected. This is why, according to World Bank data, they have accumulated proportionately more than anywhere else in the world, but they are political and socially, among the most backward and insensitive. Twenty thousand families control 46%, more or less, of the national wealth, and 1% of them possess 44% of the land. No wonder we are among the countries of the world with the greatest inequalities, which is the same as saying, one of the most unjust and perverse of the planet.
Until the victory of a son of poverty, Lula, la casa grande of the masters and la senzala of the slaves, formed the basis that sustained the social world of the elites. La casa grande did not allow la senzala to discover that the wealth of the elites was built with their exploited labor, with their blood, and their lives converted into the coal burned in the processes of production. With clever alliances, they played their cards in different ways, to always maintain the same old game and cheerfully, they would repeat: «Let us make a revolution before the people do it.» Their revolution would consist of changing something, so that everything else remained as before. In this way they forestalled the appearance of another historic form of power, capable of taking over the scene and of inaugurating a modern, less excluding, period. In spite of that, and against their will, networks of social movements of resistance and autonomy appeared, and that social power was channeled into political power, until the power of the State was conquered.
It was the scandal to end all scandals for the submissive minds and those aligned with the powers of the world: a laborer, «a survivor of the great tribulation», representative of the popular culture, one not educated academically, in the school of the pharaohs, arrived at the center of power, and gave back to the people the feeling of dignity, of historic strength, and of being subjects of a republican democracy, where «the public thing,» the social, the abused life of the people has gained centrality. In the tradition of Gandhi, Lula announced: «I did not come to administer, I came to care; an enterprise is administered; I care for a living and suffering people.» In the unprecedented and restorative language of a new time in Brazilian politics: «Zero Hunger,» then, «Family Budget», «Consigned Credit,» «Light for All,» «My House, my Life,» «Family Agriculture,» «Prouni,» «Professional Schools,» among other social initiatives, let the society of the dispossessed experience something the economic-financial elites had never permitted: a qualitative leap. Millions went from suffering in misery, to a dignified and labor-filled poverty, and from poverty to the middle class. All society mobilized for the better.
But this defeat of the excluding and anti-people elites must be consolidated in this election with a convincing victory, so that a «definitive no-return» is formed and the elites lose their shame of being part of the Brazilian people as she is and not as they would want Brazil to be. The long dawn has ended.
There were three views of Brazil. First, Brazil was seen from the beach: the Native peoples watching the invasion of their lands. Second, Brazil was seen from the carabelas: the Portuguese «discovering/hiding» Brazil. Third, Brazil dared to see herself and thus began the invention of the mestizo ethnic and cultural republic that we are now. Brazil moreover has faced four hard invasions: the colonization that decimated the Native peoples and introduced slavery; the arrival of the new peoples, the European immigrants, that replaced the slaves with the Native peoples; the substitution of the conservative industrialization of the 1930s, that created a vigorous internal market; and, finally, the economic-financial globalization, that leaves us as minor partners.
Faced with this tortuous history, Brazil was resilient, this is to say, Brazil faced these visions and interferences, and was able to rise above, and learn from her tragedies. Now, Brazil is reaping the harvest.
It is urgent to defeat the reactionary forces that hide behind the opposition candidate. I do not judge the person – that belongs to God – but what that candidate represents as a social actor. Celso Furtado, our finest thinker in economics, left us a warning when he died; the title of his book, The Interrupted Construction, (A construção interrompida, 1993): «What matters in the human process of development is knowing whether we have a future as a nation, or whether the forces that struggle to interrupt our historical process of formation of a nation-State will prevail.» (page 35). Those forces must not prevail. We are capable of completing the construction of Brazil, defeating them with Lula and with the forces that will realize Celso Furtado’s dream, and our own.
– Leonardo Boff, Theologian, Earthcharter Commission
(Translation from the Spanish: Refugio del Rio Grande, Texas, EE.UU., and ALAI)