If an adult Brazilian fell asleep in December 2010 and woke up on April 6, 2021, he would certainly be taken aback or imagine he was experiencing some hallucination.
The period between the two terms of Fernando Henrique Cardoso and Lula was marked by great conquests of democracy and, why not say, of politics. The country dominated hyperinflation, universalized basic education, included the poor and blacks in the university, reduced inequality, consolidated the Unified Health System (SUS), the family health program and the award-winning AIDS program, created one of the most sophisticated income transfer systems in the world – the Bolsa Família -, perfected environmental legislation and control bodies, strengthened human rights policies, among other advances. Brazil in December 2010 was growing and had a low unemployment rate. Our “imaginary Brazilian” slept optimistically…
On April 6, 2021, the story is different. The country broke the record for deaths in the coronavirus pandemic, with 4,211 deaths in 24 hours. More than half of Brazilians (117 million people) live in a situation of food insecurity, not knowing whether they will have food on the table the next day, and 19 million are hungry. To address this problem, the Federal Government proposed an average emergency aid of R $ 250, which represents R $ 8.30 per day. Recalling that the extreme poverty line defined by the World Bank is that of people living on less than R $ 10.60…
The Federal Chamber approved a project that allows private companies to buy vaccines against Covid-19, including those not approved by Anvisa, by cutting the vaccination queue and creating a “sanitary apartheid”. Millions of elementary school students are out of school, many of whom have no access to remote education.
Society mobilizes as it can, with individuals and companies donating billions of reais in supplies, hospital beds, food, personal hygiene items and others.
Despite the enormous, meritorious and necessary demonstration of solidarity and effort, only the State, in an organized way, is capable of facing crises of the proportions that we live in. The same state whose managerial capacity has been destroyed by the current government. At the top echelon, a “revolving door” was set up, driven by idiosyncrasies, as in the case of Health and Education, with four ministers each in just two years. Recognized technical bodies such as Inep – responsible for educational assessments and the School Census – and Inpe – which has a fundamental role in monitoring deforestation in the Amazon – are being emptied.
What brought us here so far was not merely the result of an electoral dispute, the judicialization of politics or the (many) mistakes of politicians and government officials after 2010. It was mainly the split between the political system and the people.
We are a more complex and divided country than 10 years ago. The challenges of the economy and the labor market have changed. We have a huge mass of unemployed, precarious workers and small business owners. People are getting more and more information through social networks, without the intermediation of professional journalism. Evangelical religion and its aspects occupy a growing space in society and, contrary to what is often imagined, they are not a monolith, but they have a relevant influence on the issue of moral values and social demands under construction.
All of these changes require education and politics to undergo a transformation that is still far away.
In the case of education, in addition to the basics – ensuring student learning – a transformation in teaching methods is fundamental. Students need to be provoked to “learn by doing”, collaborating, researching, arguing, creating and developing a critical sense. If there is an opportunity that this terrible pandemic gives us, it is to give new meaning to face-to-face activities at school.
In politics, the work is harder. It is naive to think that political parties do not seek hegemony. It is also to imagine that the electoral dynamics does not imply the search for polarization, the choice of an “ideal opponent”, or “scarecrows”.
Fernando Henrique and Lula were good presidents not only for their undeniable skills, but because the platforms they represented dialogued with their time. What is missing today – and the precocious electoral race already points out – is a project that dialogues with this new, complex and multifaceted Brazil. Reconciliation between politics and its people goes through this.
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