Brazil: Reasons not to panic

Temer is in trouble, but the system will sort itself out

Well, they did warn us: that Joesley guy was not to be trusted!

Reputations aside, Brazil remains true to that old definition: 'not a country for beginners'. You ought to have stomach, resilience and imagination to deal with the B.S. leftists and the money-addicted pragmatists. Where on earth do these people stick so much cash? If they worked one-tenth as much as they steal, this country would indeed be a superpower.

But everything that’s wrong with Brazil can be fixed by what’s right with our country.

While we must recognise that our political class (and the largest parties in our Congress) are a union of thugs, on the other hand we must appreciate that, in the fight against systemic corruption, our institutions are not leaving any stone unturned, nor sweeping anything under the rug.

Still, a country cannot live off mere deconstruction. It needs proposals. Continuous improvement. Devotion.

For now, the Lava Jato is rooting out the weed, but it is up to Brazilians to plant the next crop — not emotionally, and not by lending support to the first guy with the big clichés and the easy talk. (We know how that ends.)

When the 'nuclear bomb' went off last night — a blast heard throughout the Central Plains and echoed in those snobbish buildings on [Sao Paulo’s] Faria Lima Avenue — it shredded to pieces two biographies that, to varying degrees, had already been compromised.

Michel Temer, the law professor who’s always so careful with his words, let himself be betrayed by them [allegedly caught on tape condoning ‘hush money’ to a jailed politician]. He went from the leader of the ‘Bridge to the Future’ [the name of his party’s economic platform] to the main role in the movie ‘My Past Condemns Me’, from oracle of the post-PT era to sponsor of obstruction of justice and facilitator of corruption. Senator Aecio Neves, on his turn, mutated from ‘there’s something weird with this guy, though I can’t put my finger on it...’ to a ‘former politician who once had a bright future ahead of him’.

A President who ascended to power swearing to respect and elevate his office was allegedly caught negotiating a R$ 50 million ‘retirement fund’ in the basement of the presidential palace, not the least with a businessman already implicated in a number of criminal investigations. As if it were not enough, Temer was allegedly caught blessing a payoff scheme to a politician Brazilians identify as the most corrupt of them all [Congressman Eduardo Cunha].

Temer will do the political math, his second nature. If he thinks he can survive the injuries, he will likely offer explanations and fight.

It would serve the country poorly.

The evidence is so overwheling he is unlikely to maintain a minimum of legitimacy, and Brazil is tired of surprises — at least, surprises of this type.

At 7:30 pm last night, 'Out, Temer!' stopped being the chant from the empty-headed Left to become a reasonable proposition, one which meets the country’s best interest, provided that Brasilia does not try to find ‘alternative solutions’ and just sticks to the Constitution.

And so we come to what really matters in this tasteless, third-rate soap opera: the agenda of economic reforms. Lots of people will claim that agenda went out the window along with Temer’s biography. This site disagrees. With or without Temer, Brazil’s recent history has demonstrated that, during crises, reforms tend to become the very antidote against turbulence, rather than its victims.

It is during crises that the need for reforms becomes even more justifiable, and their value to society becomes more explicit. The country is lucky enough to have a Finance Minister perfectly capable of acting as the steward of this process, an independent Central Bank (for all practical purposes), a dedicated, top-notch economic team, and both the diagnosis and prescription ready for execution.

If Temer indeed resigns, the job goes temporarily to Rodrigo Maia who, as president of Congress, must call an indirect election in up to 90 days. Any Brazilian can be put forth as candidate and — even though sometimes it seems nobody is honest in this country — this Journal can name many people who would honor that office, such as the head of the Supreme Court, for example.

Below, practical suggestions for each group of Brazilians in this new world that starts today:

Members of Congress:

You can minimize the crisis of confidence that once again is haunting us. Today, say on every microphone and on each speech you deliver that you will approve the reforms that our economy requires, guarding it from the political tempest. Believe me: if this crisis is not contained soon and confidence evaporates, the real crisis will emerge from the ballots in 2018, with a populist candidate that will make Donald Trump look sane.

Businesspeople:

Pick up your phone and call your Congressman. (Tape the conversation, just in case.) Explain to the politicians that what is at stake is larger than A, B or Temer. Brazil is not about this or that person. Thankfully.

Editors and publishers:

Do not dwell on the scandal. Do not feed the hysteria. Yes, this is the most dramatic and juicy chapter of the Lava Jato saga, but the country needs a horizon, and the civilized conversation about our common destiny often happens in the neutral territory provided by the press, which responds to YOUR editorial leadership.

We must imagine and craft the future instead of wasting time in an autopsy of the past. The Federal Police is already on top of that. It's their job.

Dishonest politicians:

If you think you could stretch it a little bit more…. think again. Even as the Lava Jato hits its climax, Cunha is getting paid to stay quiet in jail….bags of cash are changing hands in Brasilia…. and bribe requests are being made to businesses… W-A-K-E UP and smell the coffee! Hybernation is over.

Millenials:

Bear witness to History being made right before your eyes, and learn some facts: there are no shortcuts in life. Only hard work. Stand up for your personal interests, but understand that you are not an island and your mistakes can hurt a lot of people.

Stock market investors:

I know the prophets of apocalypse are carrying the day on those Whatsapp groups you got yourself into, but trust me: Brazil will NOT end today. This Thursday, prices will reflect the indecency of our elected officials, and the alleged lack of visibility for our future as a country — and the market will price this scenario in perpetuity. But, after the spasm, asset prices will go back to reflecting a country with huge pent-up demand, a long list of efficient companies, and (not sure I mentioned) a country much closer to the rule of law. I don’t know a single business owner who will sell shares in his company today because of this.

Plus, there is visibility: the replacement rite is written in the Constitution. In Brazil, the press is free, the Supreme Court rules… supreme, the prosecutors prosecute, and police makes arrests.

All that’s missing is for us to put this country ahead of any and all personal agendas.