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Brazil - At the Edge of the Abyss

Atila Sinke Guimarães

Important perspectives for the Catholic Cause as well as for the United States are linked to the Brazilian election in process. I think the reader would be interested in knowing them.

Last October 7, Brazil had its first round of elections for president. The results jolted world attention with leftist candidate Lula receiving 46% of the votes. Lula is known for his admiration for Fidel Castro and his anti-American stance regarding Capitalism. Therefore, there would seem to be a revolution underway in the traditionally conservative Brazilian electorate.

What is the presidential process in Brazil? Anyone can run for this office provided he has some party that supports him. All the candidates are on the first ballot. If one of them receives more than 50% of the valid votes, he is elected. If not, the top two candidates run in a second round. The one who wins this round is elected. Now, in the recent election, no candidate received more than 50%. So the country is awaiting the second round scheduled for October 27. What were the results of the recent first round, and what are the perspectives for Brazil?

News items reported that the candidate who received the most votes (46%) was Lula, the nickname of Mr. Luís Inácio da Silva, head of the Workers’ Party (PT - Partido dos Trabalhadores). In second place (23%) was Mr. José Serra, candidate of the party of President Fernando Henrique Cardoso. Mr. Antonio Garotinho of the Socialist Party came in third (18 %). Fourth (12%) was Mr. Ciro Gomes, supported by a coalition of small parties with the most significant being the former Communist Party. Therefore, Lula and Serra will run in the second round.

Photograph of Lula the communist from police reports

Lula the Communist in 1975,
in a mug shot for police reports


As for the ideological spectrum, Serra represents the center-left; Garotinho is left of Serra; Lula is at the left of these two, and Gomes, a Communist, is still left of Lula. Politically speaking, unless the numbers from the first round change drastically, it seems very difficult to avoid a victory for Lula. A natural alliance with Gomes, which has already been announced, would give him 58% of the electorate. Garotinho is also considering throwing his support to Lula. And even if Serra would receive the eventual support of Garotinho, he would still have only 41%. The political alchemy of the new alliances that could change the percentages is not, however, the goal of my analysis.

I want to focus on other questions that are on the mind of anyone who pays attention to the Brazilian situation, and who realizes that the electorate of this country is normally conservative. The questions are these: Are the 115 million Brazilian voters changing and moving voluntarily to the extreme left? How can the results of the first round and the probable victory of Lula be explained? What will come tomorrow for Brazil from this election?

I am carefully reading the news that come from my country, as well as commentaries on it made here in the United States and in Europe. I haven’t found one that puts its finger on the right point. What would that point be?

The Workers’ Party in Brazil was founded in February 1980 under the auspices of none other than Cardinal Paulo Evaristo Arns of São Paulo. He arranged for the sisters of the Congregation of Our Lady of Sion – one the best Catholic girl schools in the city – to open their prestigious auditorium to the Worker’s Party for its foundation meeting.

The agitated atmosphere of those times is also worthy of mention. The period of late 1979 and early 1980 were months when strikes and riots were disturbing São Paulo under the direction of the Workers’ Pastoral Committee of the Archdiocese of São Paulo. That is to say, it was an ecclesiastical body that was instigating the agitation. Let me transcribe an excerpt from a bulletin of this organ issued December 2, 1979:
“Our aim is a situation of permanent strike. To rouse and spread our fights we need to take advantage of every occasion, religious movement, and neighborhood protest. Some examples would include the Workers’ Mass, the Christmas novena, rallies for better utilities …. We also need to stand behind the leadership of the factory movements.”
On January 20, 1980 the same group met on the outskirts of São Paulo and decided that it needed an official political organ to embody its revolutionary social aims. For this specific end, the Workers’ Party was founded.

What may seem strange to the American public, which is used to a separation of Church and State, is the fact that the concrete behind-the-scenes support for the workers’ movement was – and still is – provided by the Basic Christian Communities – the BCCs, which are directed and run by Catholic organs.

In passing, the Archdiocese of São Paulo was considered the test laboratory for the BCCs, and their first success was there. Twenty years ago the number of these cell-groups was already in the dozens of thousands. Today, thanks to the indefatigable effort of the Catholic Bishops, they have reached the hundreds of thousands. It is well known that the Brazilian BCCs are inspired in large part by Liberation Theology. That is to say, they instigate class struggle and work efficiently for their political candidates.

Americans who think that this is a problem only in Latin American countries should observe the American scene more attentively, because one can already note a similar network of BCCs quietly and rapidly being established in this country, especially in California. The social and political leftist agitation should not be far behind.

Three men have inspired and directed the Brazilian Basic Christian Communities: Cardinal Arns is the founder, sponsor, and main organizer. Friar Betto, the ex-guerilla Dominican monk who built the network of BCCs all around Brazil, is also considered one of the principal advisers of Lula for the last 20 years. Bishop Claudio Hummes of Santo André, a neighbor city of São Paulo, is a chief supporter of the BCCs and Lula. Today Hummes is Cardinal of São Paulo, heir of Cardinal Arns, who, although officially retired, still exercises considerable power in the Brazilian BCCs.

From its founding in 1980 until today, the Workers’ Party has been the political arm of the Basic Christian Communities. Therefore, anyone who wants to know why Lula won the first round and probably will win the second and doesn’t take this fact into consideration is sketching a picture that does not correspond to the reality. Without the support of the Catholic Church, Lula would not exist politically and would not have achieved the percentages he did. In a few days most probably, Brazil will became a kind of Theocratic Socialist Republic directed by the BCCs. It is unfortunate, it is extremely sad for me as a Catholic, as an anti-Communist, and as a Brazilian, but, notwithstanding, this is the truth.

What are the perspectives for a future Lula administration? He will do what he is told by the three aforementioned men – Cardinal Arns, Friar Betto and Cardinal Hummes. Lula is a puppet.

Does Lula admire Fidel Castro? Yes, because Cardinal Arns loves him. You can read a letter the Prelate wrote to Castro on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of the Communist takeover in Cuba on pages 174-175 of my book Animus Delendi II. In it, the Cardinal sent warm congratulations for the conquests of the Communist Revolution on the island and a fraternal embrace to his “very dear Fidel.”

Does Lula hate the US? Yes, because Friar Betto hates it. Last July 16, Friar Betto gave a talk at a Genoa meeting that commemorated the anti-Capitalist riots that took place in that Italian city the prior year. He was invited to speak about the society he foresaw as a model for the future. He summarized his talk in one sentence: “The man and woman of the future will be born of the marriage of St. Catherine of Siena and Ché Guevara” (Adista, August 5, 2002, pp. 9-11).

With this, he was saying that the future belongs to a society where the anti-Capitalist fight would be led by Catholic religious movements with a Communist input. That is, the BCCs inspired by Liberation Theology.

In my opinion, should Brazil, which is tottering on the edge of this theocratic socialist abyss, actually fall into it with the election of Lula, sooner or later the new president will declare a unilateral moratorium of the country’s $260 billion foreign debt. This would establish a precedent that certainly would be followed by other Latin American countries. With a domino effect, each would declare its own moratorium on its own foreign debt.

Surely these various moratoria would be supported by John Paul II, who is already calling for “rich” countries to pardon the debts of the “poor” countries. Who knows what could be the actual consequences of this one single action of Lula for the already difficult Western economic situation? If he is elected, I am sure that this will not be the only action coming from his administration against the Western social-economical establishment.

This October, a huge wave of anti-Americanism seems to be rising – coming from the South.

Into this picture one can insert the icy winds blowing from two of the most important countries in Europe. That is, the very hostile German position regarding the imminent war of the US against Iraq, and a frosty diplomatic attitude coming from France with respect to the same topic.

What does the whole picture reveal? I would say an attempt to isolate the US, and eventually an attempt to break the American Capitalist establishment. A very serious psychological warfare seems to be in action – a colossal tornado taking shape on the horizon. It is not unwise to be prepared for it.

The rising military and economic power of Communist China should cause a national debate in the United States. The major political parties, their candidates for office, and the world of popular radio and television pundits, however, rarely mention China's increasingly powerful influence in the world.

Posted October 12, 2002

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