Although still a month and a half away we wanted to give you some prior warning of the 2005 Caledonian Ball, primarily so you can have a chance to attend the Scottish dance practices (for dates see the end of the article).

One of São Paulo’s premier events, the Caledonian Ball is a glittering Scottish evening with something for everyone. The menu will include pre-ball canapés and drinks, plus a four-course dinner accompanied by first class wine, whiskey and other beverages.
There will be Scottish pipe music and dancing to Iain MacPhail and his Scottish Dance Band flown in especially from Scotland. Additional music for dancing will be provided by a DJ throughout the evening. There will be some great door prizes, so come prepared to try your luck!

The Ball will be Saturday 15th October 2005, 8pm, located at the Rosa Rosarum, Rua Francisco Leitão 416 – Pinheiros. 3897-4900.

Dress: Black Tie or Kilts.

Cost: Until October 1st: R$ 190 per person (over 30 years of age), R$ 140 per person (30 and under). After October 1st: R$ 210 per person (over 30 years of age), R$ 160 per person (under 30). All proceeds from this event will be donated to children’s charities.

How to Book: Space is limited so we urge everyone to make their reservation early:

1. Email Rita Juliano (rita_juliano@hines.com), or telephone her on (11) 5504-7599 to reserve your place(s).
2. Deposit cheques in payment / transfer as follows: “Associaão Saint Andrew do Estado de São Paulo”, Banco HSBC, account number. 14473-32 Ag. 0478, CNPJ 06.071.606/0001-02
3. Fax copy of deposit to Rita Juliano on (11) 5504-7556, stating clearly for whom payment is being made.

Dance Practices: In the lead-up to the 2005 Caledonian Ball, the St Andrew Society will be holding Scottish dance practices as follows:

Wednesday 21st September – Kolpinghaus German Club, R. Barão de Triunfo 1213, Campo Belo
Wednesday 28th September – Brazilian British Centre (BBC), R. Ferreira de Arajo, 741, 4th floor, Pinheiros
Wednesday 5th October – Kolpinghaus German Club (address as above)
Thursday 13th October – BBC (address as above) – 4th floor, with an optional buffet dinner served by the Bridge Restaurant, + cash bar.

All practices begin at 8pm. There is no need to book ahead of time for these practices – just come along! Cash bar and paid parking in the building at both venues.

These evenings are always great fun and are open to everyone, even if you don’t intend to go to the Caledonian Ball, so mark your calendars!

For more information visit our website: http://www.standrews.com.br or contact
Rita Juliano on (11) 5504-7599.”

By Blair A. Lasky
Last year, reality TV, becoming more and more a staple of American culture, was exported to Brazil in the form of a popular, prime time show called Big Brother Brasil.” Now, a new form of reality television is dominating the Brazilian airwaves with similarities to one that dominated the United States three decades ago.

In June, when Roberto Jefferson, a delegate to the Brazilian Congress, accused the government of President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva of bribing legislators in exchange for their votes on proposed legislation, a firestorm started that reminded me of an event that occurred in the United States almost exactly thirty-three years ago.

The Committee to Re-Elect the President (Richard Nixon), otherwise known as CREEP, decided that, in spite of polls that indicated that their man would easily win the presidential election in November, 1972, their agents should plant bugs in the headquarters of the opposition, the Democratic National Committee, which was located in a Washington, D.C. office complex known as Watergate. A security man at the building saw the unauthorized men and called the police who arrested the intruders.

With the help of Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, two young reporters at the Washington Post, and Mark Felt, otherwise known as Deep Throat (from a porno film of that era), who was the number two man at the FBI, a third-rate burglary became a national scandal that eventually forced President Nixon to resign in August, 1974. For a least a year prior to his resignation, the Judiciary Committee of the United States Senate investigated the Watergate break-in and various other related scandals that led to the White House. When the committee voted three articles of impeachment against Nixon, he resigned believing he no longer had the support of his Republican Party colleagues.

During that period, the Senate committee held live, televised hearings on Watergate that became the number one daytime soap opera of its day. Today, Brazilians seem similarly interested in the daily events of their national crisis.

Unlike the two-party system in the United States, Brazil has many political parties. Thus, the president must deal and negotiate with representatives of several other parties in order to gain the necessary majority he needs to pass his proposed legislation through Congress. According to Jefferson, Lula’s political party, PT (Partido dos Trabalhadores or Labor Party), invented a new way: bribes. In addition, it was discovered that PT was paying for its political campaigns with cash coming from illegal offshore bank accounts, created to avoid taxation. Politicians linked to the government have been arrested attempting to enter and leave Brazil carrying bags stuffed with cash, in one case in his underwear. As a result, Lula’s chief of staff and PT’s president, treasurer and secretary general were forced to resign. In addition, twenty-two PT legislators have declared their independence from their party.

Was Lula involved in this scandal? A majority of Brazilians believe that Lula was at least aware of the corruption around him. Will this lead to his impeachment? Some opposition politicians believe that it would be better to leave a weakened Lula in office until his term expires at the end of next year. According to a recent poll, he would not win re-election.

Blair A. Lasky was born in Syracuse, New York and educated at the University of Pennsylvania. He is a retired accountant who has been living in São Paulo since September, 2003, giving English classes and writing novels. You can contact Blair at blairlasky@hotmail.com.

By Fiona Locke
So you want to invest in a place of your own in Brazil. All you need is to gather up your good dollars and sense, find the haven, lay down the greenbacks and pick up the deed entitling you to your unequivocal bit of paradise. Right? Well, read on.

Laws and ideas regarding private property vary across the globe. Whether you wish to buy for business or pleasure, knowledge of local laws and traditions are of the essence. In this series of articles you will find some general info for safe acquisition of your Brazilian property.

If you are a foreigner in Brazil, you are legally allowed to purchase and sell urban real estate just as freely as a Brazilian national. Whether or not you live here, you can buy property within urban perimeters of towns. Typically, urban perimeters also include a wide extension of countryside receiving services such as road maintenance and public lighting supplied by the township.

Foreigners who wish to buy property that is officially deemed rural”, however, must either live in Brazil or pledge to move to Brazil and put the land to good use within three years of the date of contract. Foreigners can buy land quite freely up to a total area of three modules (each module varies in size, according to region). Acquisition of larger areas of land – up to a maximum of fifty modules in total – is subject to more or less strict regulation according to purpose.

Foreigners cannot own areas deemed essential to Brazilian National Security. Generally speaking, this includes national borders and the Navy properties all along the Atlantic. Oceanfront properties usually belong to the Navy and are held by private “owners” through concession. However, innumerable foreigners do own beachfront properties in Rio and elsewhere among Brazil’s astounding shores, and no one seems to make any bones about it.

When in doubt about your eligibility to own a given piece of property, inquire at the appropriate office of registry of deeds – the Cartorio de Registros Imobilirios.

Are you currently enjoying an informal relationship – something that you dont necessarily want set in stone? Have a relationship contract written up by a competent lawyer, and do it before you buy. This can be essential in avoiding liabilities held against your property in the event of a breakup. Take the opportunity to choose a competent lawyer who can also see you through your purchase contract needs.

Whether you are wealthy or not, remember to bargain. Locals view non-hagglers as dollar-happy, naãve and slightly foolish, and you dont want that reputation to precede you, especially in small towns or communities. Furthermore, haggling is a community service. It keeps the throat clear and the market in check.

If you do not have a Brazilian bank account and wish to transfer funds from abroad for the acquisition of the property, the funds must be deposited directly into the seller’s bank account and registered within thirty days at the Banco Central. By registering the transferal, you present the official source of your patrimony and ensure certain rights, including the right to repatriate the product of the possible future sale of your property.

Next week will bring a rendering of the events, documentation and disbursements involved in the purchase of real estate in Brazil.

Fiona Locke lives in São Paulo and holds a Master’s in Latin American Studies.

The International Newcomers’ club of São Paulo is holding an event on September 14th (Wednesday) called September Sapphires”. There will be special door prizes, a gourmet luncheon, and fabulous raffle gifts. It will start at 11:30am with cocktails, with a luncheon at 12:30pm.

The event will be held at Apollinari, Rua Oscar Freire, 1206. Jardim Paulista. 3061-9965. Tickets are R$100,00 per person. All proceeds go to charity. For tickets and information Contact: Stephanie Smith, ssmith3073@yahoo.com, 5522-2980 or Sharon Gonzalez, sagrag33441@yahoo.com, 5522-2275.”

For those who have seen the cryptic cow signs around São Paulo, you might have wondered what it’s all about.

These signs refer to the Cow Parade, that was started in Zurich, Switzerland, in 1998 to raise money for charity. So far the Cow Parade has visited 24 cities around the world, including Brussels, Chicago, Las Vegas, London, New York and Prague. São Paulo is the first city to be visited by the parade in Latin America.

Approximately 100 million people have visited the various Cow Parades so far, and in turn have raised US$11 million for various social causes. The parade involves 150 life-size fibreglass cows, which are placed at various tourist points around the city.

The Terminal Tiet is one of the locations chosen for the parade, with a cow painted by Pablo Menezes (a Brazilian artist). The cow has been named CowPirinha (after the famous Brazilian drink, Caipirinha). To the side of the CowPirinha will be the location of the other 149 cows.

The exhibition at Terminal Tiet will be from 4th September until 6th November, and is located on the mezzanine floor.

This week’s entertainment guide features a popular Italian restaurant in Jardins, a contemporary dance club in Itaim, the famous Mercado Municipal which has recently been renovated, a theme park for children based on a famous Brazilian cartoon character, and a movie release this week.

L'Osteria do PieroFor those who like Italian food, particularly pasta, L’Osteria do Piero is the place to be. The decor of the restaurant is atmospheric, with the walls and ceiling full of memorabilia. The meal starts with excellent appetisers, such as sardella with Italian bread, and continues onto such specialities as Tagliarine a Piero (Tagliarine, a type of pasta, with the house sauce) and Espaguete Frutos do Mar (Spaghetti with fruits of the sea). Open for lunch 11:30-15:00 and dinner 19:00-01:00. Friday and Saturday until 02:30. Local delivery also until 23:30. Al. Franca, 1509. Cerquerira Cesar. (11) 3085 1082. http://www.losteriadopiero.com.br

Boogie DiscoBoogie Disco is a somewhat contemporarily themed club that plays all the classic from the 70s, 80s and early 90s. The style of the club is based on the work of Piet Mondrian, a Dutch artist who principally created paintings of complex geometric shapes, which have a contemporary feel. The club has three bars, and the drinks menu is designed by Mr. Rabbit, a barman who has won many championships and is also known for his creative drinks. Aside from this the club simply has great music and a good atmosphere for dancing all night. Rua Alvorada, 515 – Vila Olmpia. (11) 3168-8872. http://www.boogie.com.br

Mercado MunicipalIf you want a flavour of Brazilian foods, it’s hard to beat Mercado Municpal (the Municipal Market). The building was constructed in 1928, and renovated towards the end of last year back to spectacular form, that’s worth seeing for this alone. The market has around 300 stalls with everything from fruits, vegetables, spices, cheeses, wine, fish and meat. It also has a mezzanine floor towards one side where you can have a snack and overlook the market. The market is located in Avenida dos Estados and Rua Cantareira, with the entrance in the latter. http://www.mercadomunicipal.com.br

Parque de MonicaParque de Monica is an indoor theme park based on the famous Brazilian cartoon character, Monica. The cartoon of Monica, created by Mauricio de Sousa, is much loved by Brazilians and the equivalent of Mickey Mouse here. You can meet Monica and her friends from the cartoon at the park, as well as visit the various themed areas. The theme park is located in Shopping Eldorado. R$27.90 for children (2-13 years, Under 2s are free) and R$19.90 for adults. http://www.monica.com.br/parque

The Skeleton KeyThe Skeleton Key (Chave Mestra) opens next Friday at cinemas. The film is a mild horror, starring Kate Hudson and John Hurt. Caroline (Kate Hudson) is a hospice nurse working in Louisiana caring for Ben (John Hurt) a stroke victim who is bed-ridden and cannot speak. Caroline discovers a secret room in Ben’s house, via a skeleton key, that contains hoodoo ritual items. She wonders if these items relate to Ben’s condition, and so the story evolves. The Skeleton Key hasn’t been greatly received, but for horror fans might provide some entertainment.

If you have been to a restaurant, club, theme park etc. and would like to recommend this to other readers in future Entertaintment Guides then don’t hesitate to contact us!

What’s On Guide, August 15 – August 28 2005
What’s On Guide, July 28 – August 14 2005
What’s On Guide, July 7 – July 27 2005
What’s On Guide, June 22 – June 28, 2005
What’s On Guide, June 15 – June 22, 2005
What’s On Guide, June 6 – June 15, 2005
What’s On Guide, May 26 – June 6, 2005
What’s On Guide, May 20 – May 25, 2005
What’s On Guide, May 13 – May 19, 2005
What’s On Guide, May 6 – May 12, 2005
What’s On Guide, Apr 29 – May 5, 2005
What’s On Guide, Apr 21 – Apr 28, 2005
What’s On Guide, Apr 6 – Apr 20, 2005
What’s On Guide, Mar 31 – Apr 6, 2005

By Mark Taylor
In Part 1 of this article last week we covered email and instant messaging. This week we’re going to cover Internet Telephony and webcams.

Internet telephony, also known as Voice Over IP (VOIP), is another fast growing method of communication. VOIP is just a fancy way of saying that your voice is carried over the Internet. One form of VOIP is the audio conversation functions for the IM tools, described previously. At the other extreme some providers (particularly in the USA e.g. Vonage) offer telephones and/or services which allow you to dial a number, and then transparently use the Internet to route your call, with dramatic saving in call cost particularly for long distance. Sitting in the middle of these two extremes are famous programs like Skype, which is one of the most popular VOIP tools. Essentially it is like the previously described IM tools, but Skype have focused very much on high quality audio conversations. For connections between two computers running Skype, much like the IM tools, calls are free (although you need an Internet connection!). Skype have also expanded their operation with the paid SkypeIn, and SkypeOut services. With SkypeIn, currently in the testing phase, you receive a number based on the locale you choose, which anyone in the world can call, and this is routed to your computer. The only charge is for the caller and what they would normally call for the number at the locale you chose. In addition to this you also can currently have a free voicemail service on your account. As mentioned Skype In is currently in the testing phase, and Skype In numbers are only available in certain countries (not Brazil for example). SkypeOut, which predates SkypeIn, is the opposite. You buy credits for your SkypeOut account which allow you to call any normal telephone around the world. Costs vary depending on where you call, but they are dramatically reduced in comparison to normal phone tariffs (e.g. a call to the UK or USA from Brazil costs around 1 Euro for an hour). For a better idea of rates refer to the SkypeOut tariff page.

Webcams were mentioned previously in relation to the IM tools. These add an extra dimension to the average IM as they add video to your “call”. There are various types of webcams, at varying prices, but it is recommended to buy one from a mainstream manufacturer e.g. Logitech, that also has a microphone. This allows you to talk normally, or allow several people in the room to talk in the same phone conversation. Some software doesn’t allow you to use webcams e.g. Skype. Some of the IM tools aren’t particularly brilliant at using webcams either, and can fail to work behind certain Internet hardware e.g. MSN. Other IM tools are better though e.g. Yahoo Messenger, and there are dedicated video messaging tools such as Eyeball Chat which are particularly good for this form of communication. It is also strongly recommended when using any form of audio/video conversation, whether it be by MSN, Skype etc., that one side of the conversation uses headphones. What can often happen is that when using speakers for both sides of the conversation feedback can result, distorting the conversation and generally making it hard for both parties to understand.

Next week I will cover weblogs (also known as blogs).

If you have any technology questions you would like answered, or comment on the article, please contact the author.

Edit: I’ve received a good tip and one drawback about using Skype from Raymond Merk. When calling toll free numbers in the USA using Skype-Out the numbers are still treated as toll free, rather than at International rates. Definitely worth knowing! Unfortunately in terms of drawbacks, Skype’s dialpad doesn’t work with all automated services where you are required to press say “1” to continue.”

By Mark Taylor
For those who want to step outside the realm of the latest Hollywood Blockbuster you might want to checkout some of the excellent Brazilian films available to buy/rent. Other than the infamous City of God” it can be hard though to know what you’re letting yourself in for, particularly for those who don’t speak Portuguese fluently.

I recently watched, thanks to a recommendation, A Marvada Carne (1985). A Marvada Carne roughly translates as The Bad Meat. The film stars Dionsio Azevedo and Adilson Barros. The story is a relatively simple tale of a poor man in the countryside, Nh Totó (Dionsio Azevedo), who is desperate to have some meat to eat. So he decides to leave his hometown and go in search of a woman to marry, in the hope that her father will celebrate the marriage with a feast (with some meat of course). As mentioned it’s a simple tale, so don’t expect much in terms of Hollywood production values or special effects, but like all good films the fun is in the story and the characters, which are both executed well.

You also get to see a somewhat loose interpretation of the famous “Curupira”. A Curupira is a mythical creature from Brazilian legend that has its legs facing the opposite way to the rest of its body, so enters the fray with a spooky moonwalk.

I would recommend watching this via DVD (I rented from my local Blockbuster) as for those who aren’t fluent in Portuguese it has English subtitles.”

By Samantha Tennant
You don’t need to be a jazz connoisseur to enjoy an evening at Opus 2004, the newly reopened jazz club in Bela Vista. The club has a sophisticated and laid-back atmosphere which offers a pleasant contrast to the hectic pace of life in São Paulo city. The unusually shaped triangular room provides a great viewing potential for the live jazz bands that play in the club at night. The club is spacious with a large bar at the back, a stage at the front, and plenty of tables and chairs in between for audiences to sit and enjoy their food and drink while listening to the music.

After speaking to one of the owners, Tito Martino, I discovered that this is the only place in São Paulo where you can listen to live traditional jazz. The club has live music every night of the week from Monday to Saturday and with the exception of Monday nights, when there is blues, it is all jazz. Traditional Jazz has its routes in New Orleans and Tito is an expert in the field. He has been playing this type of music for over 40 years now and it is this passion which has taken him all over the world. Over the years, he has played in the US, Europe and Argentina. Now he is back in Brazil with his band in residency at Opus 2004.

Tito and his band play at the Jazz Club every Friday and Saturday evening usually starting at around 10pm. Whether you are a jazz fan or not, there is something for everybody to enjoy. Last Friday evening, we heard Nat King Cole, George Gershwin and Fats Domino amongst others and enjoyed classics such as ‘Stormy Weather’, ‘Summertime’, ‘What a Wonderful World’, and ‘Georgia on my Mind’ as well as more upbeat numbers like ‘Hello Dolly’. Whilst playing, Tito told the audience a little bit about the history of the songs and the music, thus giving you the feeling that you are not only listening to the music but also having a real jazz experience. The audience were extremely appreciative, with enthusiastic applause at the end of each song. This was hardly surprising because from the moment they started to play, it was obvious that all the members of the band were passionate about the music. They are all incredibly talented and accomplished and musicians who love what they do, and it was a real pleasure to be a part of the evening.

Music aside, the menu has an interesting selection of food and snacks, including barbecue spare ribs, lots of types of linguia (Brazilian sausage) and unusual sandwiches. There are also a wide range of beers including lots of European options as well as liqueurs, wines and cocktails. I enjoyed a delicious plate of calabresa with some out of the ordinary flavours, for example raisin, caper and nut. In addition, the service is excellent, very fast but also with a personal touch.

To sum up, if you would like to experience a real taste of traditional jazz or simply try something different then Opus 2004 Jazz Club is certainly worth a visit.

Opus 2004 Jazz Club, Rua Treze de Maio, 48, Bela Vista, São Paulo.
www.opus2004.com.br
www.titomartinojazzband.com.br

By John Fitzpatrick
One of the most disturbing aspects of the ongoing scandal involving allegations that the Workers Party (PT) paid bribes to members of other parties in return for their votes in Congress is that it could lead to the Constitution being changed to prevent incumbent presidents from seeking a second term of office. This would be a bad move since it could institutionalize the volatility which has marked so much of Brazil’s history and jeopardize the relative stability of the last decade. It would also be an error to rush into making such an important change just because the PT has made a hash of its first attempt at government.

The idea of reducing the presidential mandate to one term was being considered even before this scandal broke but it has now acquired greater impetus. Unfortunately, it could come about without any real debate or thought being given to the consequences. The idea is floating around like pollen seeds from a dandelion just waiting to be grasped depending on how the wind blows. It is unlikely to be implemented for the 2006 election but should President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva be impeached or decide not to stand again then it will be snatched down and used.

The 1988 Constitution established a single four-year mandate for the President. Fernando Henrique Cardoso assumed office in 1995, thanks to the success of the Plano Real which ended years of hyperinflation. His popularity – and ego – was so great that he soon started thinking of standing again. He won Congressional support to alter the Constitution in June 1997 by allowing state governors and mayors to seek a second term as well.i Although Cardoso was criticized for devoting so much time to this issue he was right to push this change through since it gave the country much-needed continuity.

Change Brought Confidence
Once the Constitutional amendment was passed, voters, businessmen, domestic and foreign investors, governments and international institutions knew that they could look forward to a continuation of the same policies if Cardoso was re-elected. This was extremely important at a time when Brazil was being hit by the effects of the Asian and Russian crises. The value of the change was soon confirmed.

The start of the second Cardoso administration in January 1999 was marked by the decision to let the Real float. This led to a sharp devaluation, since the Real had been overvalued for some time. Brazil recovered surprisingly quickly. There were various reasons, including a loan from the International Monetary Fund and fresh policies to combat inflation by the new Central Bank President, Arminio Fraga. However, one of the main reasons why Brazil did not experience the worst predictions of some commentators and economists was because of the continuity the second Cardoso mandate brought.

Had this crisis occurred with a new inexperienced President – Lula, for example – the effects would probably have been more severe and longer lasting. Instead, the country was governed by the same President and its finances handled by the same finance minister, Pedro Malan, for a further four years. There was also a smooth hand-over of power to an opposition party in 2003 for the first time since democracy was restored almost two decades earlier.

Some observers said the Cardoso government had grown stale by the end of its second mandate and the PSDB would have stood a better chance of winning the 2002 election had the re-election not taken place. This may be true but voters behaved sensibly. In response to the reasonable economic and political stability they had enjoyed under Cardoso’s social democratic administration, they chose the new-look moderate Lula rather than the old-style leftist who had failed in three previous election campaigns. Ironically, the eight years of the Cardoso government benefited the PT. By giving society change and stability at the same time, Cardoso showed the PT that its previous policies were out of date and no longer to the electorate’s taste. The PSDB has also benefited since many of its policies have continued and it stands a good chance of fielding the next successful presidential candidate.

Benefits of Fiscal Responsibility Law
Although Cardoso’s chosen successor, Jose Serra, lost to Lula in the following election, the Cardoso government’s economic policies continued. Brazil’s economic policy is still driven by the same determination to keep inflation at bay as it was 10 years ago. It should also be recalled that the Cardoso administration left behind a great achievement – the Fiscal Responsibility Law passed in May 2000 – which holds politicians, such as state governors and mayors, personally responsible for unbudgeted expenses. This law was only passed during the second mandate and it is doubtful that it would have been passed by a one-term presidency. It is also worth pointing out that, even with an eight-year term, Cardoso still failed to pass lots of reforms in areas such as tax, social security and labor regulations. A single four or five-year term is simply too short for a giant, developing country like Brazil with its vast social and economic problems.

Despite the obvious advantages which the re-election brought it has never been really accepted by many, if not most, politicians. Lula himself has even spoken of changing the system from 2010 (after his second mandate, of course, if he wins one) as has the chairman of the House of Representatives, Severino Cavalcanti, and various other senior politicians.

Cardoso himself stoked the debate by suggesting in an interview with Exame magazine in July that Lula should announce that he would not stand again in 2006. Although Cardoso could not call for the system he himself had introduced to be scrapped he must have known that this would be the likely outcome.

The most common alternative proposal is for the four-year mandate to be extended to five years with no possibility of re-election. Thankfully, no-one has suggested the cumbersome Mexican example of a single one-off six-year presidential term. Discussion of this issue is restricted almost entirely to politicians and commentators in the media. The politicians desire for change stems from their lust for power rather than any other reason. There is no rational reason for restricting the presidential term to one mandate. This idea stems from the past and was seen as a way of preventing strongmen hanging onto power as had happened in many Latin American countries. Brazil, for example, was dominated by the figure of Getulio Vargas from 1930 to 1954. This fear is no longer valid. Are these politicians saying that Brazilian democracy is so immature that it cannot cope with having a president in power for eight years? If the United States can have eight years of Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush or France have 14 years under Franois Mitterrand why cant Brazil have eight years of Lula?

Pork Barrel Politics
The one-term system may not have been good for the country but it was good for the politicians. By barring incumbents from standing, potential candidates could stand for top positions by either stepping into the shoes of their party colleague or comrade, or without having the bother of taking on an experienced incumbent. This needless artificial break meant that a new administration appeared every four years, bringing the associated disruption and turnover of staff. As soon as they attained power many of the winners installed their own teams often consisting of party hacks, business cronies and even relatives.

Congress would be better off considering ending this kind of abuse rather than ending the two-term system. The current scandal has shown the scope of the patronage and deal-making which goes on when a new administration takes over. Jobs and sinecures are parceled out across the board. The PT is estimated to have made about 19,000 special appointments, mainly to PT members or sympathizers, who, in turn, appoint their own staff. Since leading politicians have a retinue of aides and others to whom they owe favors, they hate the idea of having to wait eight years before getting a chance to enjoy the taste of power.

Some politicians have found a way round this and nominated puppets or relatives to replace them. A good example was the nomination by former São Paulo mayor, Paulo Maluf, of his finance chief, Celso Pitta, in the 1996 election. Pitta was barely known to the electorate but, with the backing of the charismatic Maluf, he beat the PSDB’s Jose Serra. He proved a disastrous choice and ended up quarreling with his erstwhile master. The losers were the citizens of São Paulo.

There is still more than a year to go before the next presidential election. If the ongoing scandal does not lead to Lula’s fall before the end of his mandate a change in the system is not inevitable. However, the chances are that a change will be considered and approved.

Living in the Fast Lane
Part of this call for change is cultural rather than political. Brazilians thrive on change. They so used to living on the brink that the idea of stability and order seems almost anathema to them, despite the Order and Progress” motto on their national flag. Standing still and taking stock is boring. Brazilians have acquired a taste for dangerous living. To confirm this you only have to watch how many drivers, some accompanied by their children, speed through red lights and endanger their own and other people’s lives for no good reason. In his book “The Brazilians”, Joseph Page refers to this national streak which crosses all social boundaries. Whether it was Fernando Collor riding a motor bike at twice the speed limit without a helmet while he was president or a boy from a favela balancing on top of a bus or train, the same recklessness is there.

This attitude displays irresponsibility and laziness. People prefer to be reactive and cope with the disorder their own lack of foresight has created. This refusal – or inability – to think or plan ahead is one of the most frustrating aspects of life in Brazil for any American or European visitor or resident. There is no doubt that Brazilians can handle crises but since many of these crises are self-created that means little.

iSome PT members of the various Congressional committees – CPIs – investigating the current scandal want to expand the investigations to this campaign to see if payments were made to win support.

John Fitzpatrick 2005

John Fitzpatrick is a Scottish writer and consultant with long experience of Brazil. He is based in São Paulo and runs his own company Celtic Comunicaes. He can be contacted at jf@celt.com.br.

Previous articles by John Fitzpatrick on www.gringoes.com:

Brazil: If Lula is to Survive He Needs to Change His Tactics
Brazil: Many Parties – Few Ideas
Brazil Through Foreign Eyes
Helping the Helpless in Brazil
Pinheiros – São Paulo’s Best District
Growing Old (Dis)gracefully in Brazil
Canudos, Still With Us 100 Years Later
The Rise of the Brazilian Empire
Brazil and Portugal – The Samba and the Fado
Brazil – Just A State Of Mind
Brazil: For Lula, is Ignorance Bliss?
Brazil: Pay Day – or Pay Dirt?