For those who liked to think that our problems were caused entirely by the Workers’ Party and Dilma Rousseff, witnessing Michel Temer’s administration must be rather frustrating. His presidency has eased the turmoil that plagued the Dilma Rousseff years, but the crisis is still present. Our political establishment is still volatile; sometimes things simply seem to get worse, sometimes they actually do.
Recent events don’t offer us much hope for the short-term: the economy is still ailing, depending on how the political establishment will solve its problems, and Operation Car Wash could create even more damage in the upcoming week. Brazilian politicians are attempting to orchestrate some sort of “general amnesty,” however they will likely be buried before reaching an agreement on how to pardon themselves while saving face. This is especially so because Operation Car Wash has generated many other investigative branches.
Not even the international landscape can offer us comfort, especially after the election of Donald Trump.
When the present clouds the future, as it does now, we must look to the past to project how we are going to get out of this mess. How did we get here? Our political class made a pact built around irresponsibility and megalomania. Rio de Janeiro is the perfect example, although far from the only one. In the long run, the commodity boom was detrimental to Brazil; we spent like no tomorrow, and now there might not be one.
There is a rise in salaries, tax exemptions, and construction projects across the country. However abundant, they didn’t solve Brazil’s infrastructure problems and were instead used primarily to siphon billions of dollars into the pockets of crooked politicians. Everyone is to blame: the elected officials, construction companies, contractors, congressmen, investigating institutions. And us, the voters.
The divisive 2014 presidential campaign only hid our problems. Both sides staged a pedestrian political debate; Dilma Rousseff failed to admit her numerous mistakes and in turn only increased the problems, leading Brazil into the abyss. The impeachment against her was less of a coup and more of a way to fill the vacuum in power. But the solution is not a solid one. We may have changed the names and faces of our political representatives, but the same problems remain.
We need a clean slate, with leaders who are willing to give us “blood, sweat, and tears,” but there are no Churchills in Brazil. Our president – who seems to not be affected by what happens around him – is responsible for a lethargic administration, incapable of surprising anyone. It’s like we say in Brazil: from those you least expect, you get nothing.
The fear this government has of rubbing someone the wrong way serves to demonstrate how fragile our house of cards is. Some bodies have already been thrown to the sea, like the former governors of Rio de Janeiro Anthony Garotinho and Sérgio Cabral. It would be incorrect to believe that the list of names will stop there.
The storm is coming, and let’s hope it’s not going to be a tsunami.