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The Lula Deception

By Heitor de Paola

Rio de Janeiro 16.06.06 | Latin America, and particularly South America, is living a dizzying political turmoil in the last years. Populist and revolutionary leaders are rising to power in many countries. While some of them arose from recent popular and indigenous movements, like Hugo Chávez, Evo Morales, Lopez Obrador and Ollanta Humala, others are deeply rooted in the revolutionary movements of the 60’s and 70’s, like the former Montonero Néstor Kirchner, the Sandinista Daniel Ortega, socialists Michelle Bachelet and Tabaré Vázquez. Bachelet and Vazquez are ruling in coalition with revolutionary movements like MIR and the Tupamaros.

The President of Brazil, Lula da Silva, took too many experts in Latin America by surprise when, six months before elections in 2002, he and his Workers’ Party (PT) changed abruptly from a radical and revolutionary socialist vision of society to what seemed to be a more pragmatic stand. After years campaigning for the non-payment of external debts, nationalization of “strategic” sectors of the economy, rigid government control of private enterprises, review of previous privatizations - the all embracing communist recipe - they came to a sudden and radical change. They started to boast their newly born commitment to paying external debts, their respect for contracts, defense of private property including private enterprises, rigid inflation control and so on. From Lula, the radical, to what suddenly became known in Brazil as ‘Lula of peace and love’. Only a small minority understood that this change in Lula’s mood was no more than a deception, no more than a lull to calm down the more suspicious voters and to be finally elected.

Indeed, after his Inauguration Day an orthodox economic plan was put into action through a former Trotskyist militant, Antonio Palocci, appointed as Minister of Economy. Oh, wonderful!, exclaimed relieved Brazilians as well as so many experts in Latin American politics all around the world. At last a pragmatic and reliable leftist leader! Now, almost four years later, in view of Chávez, Morales and Kirchner radicalization, in close association with the almost eternal Castro, all hopes to save Latin America from leftist radicalism turn to Lula. He is the only moderate politician that can stop those populist revolutionary nuts! I heard this point of view expressed by experts like Alvaro Vargas Llosa, Carlos Alberto Montaner, Senior Policy Analyst Stephen Johnson and also by high officials in the State Department. I also heard from Montaner that José Dirceu, then third in command in Lula’s government, had “went through an ideological change”. By all means it seems that this still is the assessment of Latin American political situation by the State Department. The former (?) American Ambassador to Brasilia , Donna Hrinak, went so far as to say that Lula, a member of the working class, by becoming a President, represented the fulfillment of the “American dream”.

The core of such a diplomacy is to believe in the existence of two lefts: the old revolutionary radical left – the ‘carnivorous’ left - and another one, a modern, pragmatic left – the ‘vegetarian’ left. While the former is still a threat to private property, individual freedom, free elections and so on, the latter can be trusted to defend property, individual freedom, the rule of law and free elections at regular intervals, thus accepting the prospect of losing power now and then. Whilst Chávez and Morales represent the old left, Lula represents the modern and moderate one. It follows that all diplomatic efforts on the part of the free world should be to enforce this moderate left and stimulate friendly relations with its leaders. To promote an alliance with Lula is the basic diplomatic doctrine nowadays, in order to use Lula to soothe and restrain his radical colleagues in Venezuela , Bolivia and elsewhere.

For example, one political analyst close to the State Department Latin American inner circle, Alvaro Vargas Llosa, has recently published in El Diario Exterior, an article entitled ‘Can Lula stop Chávez? (¿Puede Lula frenar a Chávez?). He declares himself amazed with Lula’s lack of leadership and indolent reaction to Chávez aggressions to ‘Lula’s project of integration in a community of South American nations’ and its substitution for what he calls ‘Bolivarian megalomania’. Again Vargas Llosa cannot understand the reaction of Lula to the nationalization of the Bolivian natural gas operations, i.e., the plants of the Brazilian state owned PETROBRAS operating in Bolivia . He calls it a ‘slap’ in the face of Lula and a severe blow to his strategic project of South American integration and concludes: The man to stop Chávez is not President Bush whose direct actions against Chávez would be favorable to the latter, but instead, Lula, who comes from the left and is a key actor in the region (…) and is under challenge from Caracas’.

To anyone who is familiar with the real history of Latin American leftist organizations in the last two decades these are naïve opinions and when they become the basis of American diplomacy towards the region, they can only put into jeopardy both American interests at large as well as the survival of democratic regimes in Latin America. One must be deceived to be blind to Lula’s help to Chávez on many critical occasions, as for example, his support when the latter seized power after renunciation; when he, supposedly a “workers’ leader”, sent Brazilian oil tankers to boycott the strike of the oil workers of Venezuelan state owned oil company PDEVESA (PDVSA?), indeed the crucial movement of the Venezuelan general strike of December 2002; and also in the fraudulent Referendum Convocatorio in 2004; by sending millions of dollars to special plans of the Chávez government, as is the case of Caracas’ subway construction project, while at the same time has denied even a penny to the same kind of public project, now in the Brazilian most important city, São Paulo; recently, the Brazilian government strongly supported Venezuela to be elected to the United Nations Security Council, showing undeniably the close links of both Presidents and their common strategy to establish a South American community of socialist nations, the Union of Latin-American Socialist Republics, URSAL.

However, it was not difficult to know the truth, if only one wanted to. Already in August 7, 2002, before Lula’s election, late Professor Constantine Menges, senior fellow at Hudson Institute, published an article in Washington Times, ‘Blocking a new axis of evil’, in which he denounced the Havana-Caracas-Brasilia anti-American and revolutionary axis in case Lula – whom he called Mr. da Silva, was elected. He showed that ‘Mr. da Silva makes no secret of his sympathies. He has been an ally of Mr. Castro for more than 25 years. With Mr. Castro's support, Mr. da Silva founded the São Paulo Forum in 1990 as an annual meeting of communist and other radical terrorist and political organizations from Latin America , Europe and the Middle East . This has been used to coordinate and plan terrorist and political activities around the world and against the United States . The last meeting (at that moment) was held in Havana , Cuba in December 2001. It involved terrorists from Latin America , Europe and the Middle East , and sharply condemned the Bush administration and its actions against international terrorism’.

In that same year and for the same reasons, Alejandro Peña Esclusa, a well-known Venezuelan opposition leader and President of the organization Fuerza Solidaria, when visiting Brazil wrote an Open Letter to the Brazilian People: Lula, the Candidate of Fidel Castro and FARC (the Colombian narco-guerrilla movement). As well as Lula, Chávez made the same appeasing movement in the direction of the political center when still a candidate in Venezuela . Esclusa also addressed the issue of the Forum of Sao Paulo. Such Forum derives its name because Lula himself and Castro founded it in that City in 1990 and its main aim is, as stated by both, ‘to regain in Latin America what was lost in Eastern Europe ’. The Forum remained until last year a ghost organization, not completely secret but one that never was to be mentioned. During Lula’s campaign a journalist who dared to ask Lula about it, former anchorman Boris Casoy of Record TV Network, was threatened by the then candidate, who said he should never mention again such an inexistent organization ‘invented by an obscure journalist of a second class American newspaper’ (referring to Professor Menges and The Washington Times). I can only imagine that such an exchange between an American presidential candidate and, let’s say, Bill O'Reilly would trigger a Second American Revolution!

Finally, on July 4, 2005, perhaps calculated to coincide with the American Independence Day, Lula showed that he had lied for in the meeting to commemorate the 15 th anniversary of the Forum, he declared: I have founded together with other companions (an euphemism to conceal the old communist comrade) here present, this instance of democratic participation in Latin America (…) thanks to that (special) relationship we were able to construct (…) the consolidation of what happened in Venezuela, as the Referendum that consecrated Chávez as President.

The main realization of the Forum is that we were able to talk among companions (an euphemism to conceal old communist comrades) (from different countries)as if it were not political interference. Meaning that, apart from official foreign relations with regular governments, the members of the Forum – even before rising to power by elections - have ‘another deeper level’ of secret talks without outsiders – mostly the USA - being aware of the political consequences of these talks. Indeed, Brazilian foreign relations are not conducted from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs but from the Presidential Palace through the man who makes things happen, the Presidential Advisory for Foreign Relations and Secretary General of the Forum, Marco Aurelio Garcia. Minister Amorim is no more than a puppet just suited to give ceremonial speeches and to attend to cocktail parties. Therefore, to accept official Brazilian diplomacy at face value is not only naïve, but extremely dangerous.

Lula is not a solution, but a part of the problem, indeed the core of the problem. The ‘vegetarian’ left is no more than a deception to disguise the real, ‘carnivorous’ one.

Heitor De Paola is psychiatrist and psychoanalyst, political and diplomatic analyst, and a columnist at

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