I think it was Carlos himself who wrote sometime to this list that Argentina and Brasil mirror each other. Let me throw to the list some reflections on his approach, bred in the Argentine experience.
Perhaps he is too confident in the good feelings of FHC. I believe FHC will resort to outright repression, and that no coup will be necessary in order to impose it. Of course, I agree with the last couple of lines by Carlos.
Personally, I have never given too much credit to credentials such as the "leftist" family background of Cardoso, nor to his having been one of the creators of the "dependency theory" (which absolutely disregards the national question substituting it for the acritical adoption of notions of the liberal, Weberian sociological tradition, such as "nation-state", and is sanitized of any mass struggle content).
Historically, and up to the sixties at least, the middle classes in the large, "Euro-prone" cities of South America, held more often than not "anti-bourgeois" positions less because of a love for socialist revolution but for a hope (or a lingering remembrance) of the good times when they can get some minor clerical position working for a large, solid, imperialist concern. Their anti-bourgeois stand hid(es) a working alliance with imperialism, or the hope to get such an alliance. That is, to -as Carlos correctly points out- integrate passivelly with the "only bourgeoisie that counts, on global scale" (Amin). It is a dream that they sometimes do fulfill, and that is not so easy to achieve if you are, say, the owner of a local factory producing for the domestic market. Please nobody assume that because of this last sentence I am expressing any kind of predilection for the "national bourgeoisies", thank you. This species has never existed, in the true sense of the word, in South America, or at least it is born extinct, and social terathology is not my predilect field.
As seen from Buenos Aires, the next tasks FHC will assume will be:
a) destroy the Brazilian state apparatus (I am afraid that, just as it is happening with Argentinians, many Brazilian Leftists will only then realize that the overarching Brazilian state was something quite different to a "state apparatus" in the derogatory sense the Left uses to refer to it), and only after that,
b) resort to repression.
He will accomplish both. He is no Alfonsin (Sarney was, probably, the Brazilian Alfonsin) . FHC was against the national revolution in Brazil by resorting to "anti-bourgeois" discourse from the left, now he will dismount even that ersatz of a "national revolution" that was the Brazilian state, not because he wants to replace it with a socialist state, but because once President he can be seriously "anti-bourgeois" from the right. Always against the national revolution. There are dozens of guys of this kind in every Department of Sociology of almost every Latin American university. FHC is among the best specimens of the kind.
He will repress mercilessly. He will head a batallion of paratroopers himself, if need be. He is no Menem, he has guts. We had better not diminish his earnestness.
But I still trust the strength of the Brazilian masses, the elan of the Sao Paulo working class, the clearsighted intransigence of the most combative fractions of the PT, and the uncompromising landless peasants who will not be defeated easily, if defeated at all.
History in Latin America is traversing Brazil again. Let us see how will things go on now. As Henry Kissinger stated once: "Latin America will turn to where Brazil turns".
As to Nestor comments on the present Brazilian situation, I find them very able, only wanting to add a few remarks, of which the one below will be 1st:
I still do not think that, in the case of a major upheaval in Brazil, Cardoso would lead the massive repression undertakings necessary.He is too much of the "fashion-victim" type of upstart to head a repression *a tous azimuths*, as the French say. That task would fall, firstly, on the shoulders of his kingmaker and grey eminence, the senator from Bahia Antonio Carlos Magalhaes, who is to the last inch a man who has made his whole career inside the Brazilian state apparatus, has profited very much- during his term as minister of communications during the Sarney government- from handling concessions of radio and TV networks, and so has outstripped the shortcomings of a political basis in an obscure NE state. His son was considered by everyone as the crown prince to the elections of 2002, being kept from being presidential candidate only by an untimely death at age 43. But, anyway, a major social crisis in Brazil will bring to the fore all kind of more plebeian Far Right leaders like the fascistic maverick Eneas and his Party of National Order (PRONA), the former mayor of Rio de Janeiro (and street-vendors' bane) Maia, or the former president Collor.It will be necessary to appeal to the support of the impoverished petty-bourgeoisie, something only an "outsider" of the apparatus can do. Naturally, as Yeltsin's carreer proves, someone can make itself an outsider.
When Nestor puts his trust in the stregnth of the Brazilian masses, and especiallly in the most combative fractions of the PT and in the landless peasants movement, I would only change his stress a little bit. I do not think that "the elan of Sao Paulo workers" will be a significant force of resistance against the Cardoso regime, at least for the time being. Lula and Vicentinho, the chairman of the CUT(Unified Center of Trade unions)have adopted an increasingly a-ideological and trade unionist stance to the workers union in the most developed parts of Brazil, saying that the function of the movement is to mend pressing *social* woes. At the same time, the PT has developed a political strategy during the last presidential campaign of collaboration with left-center parties like Brizola's PDT and with runaway members of the Center PMDB, such strategy (allegedly copied from the Argentinian FEPASO)being intended as a way to win ballots by "not frightening the middle-class". The said middle-class, however, seeing not a real *politica* alternative in the weak programme of mostly face-saving reforms adopted by the PT/PDT coalition, has, in the federal elections, chosen to accept the neoliberal programme of Cardoso in its entirety, in order not to risk economic stability in exchange only for cosmetic concessions.
The only session of the PT that seems to have grasped the necessity of putting stress in a change of political institutions is the section of the S. State of Rio Grande do Sul, that has won the gubernatorial election against the governor in office running for a reelection taken as granted, as he was one of the most outstanding Cardoso's yes-man. The Rio Grande PT has now held control of the state capital city-hall for then years, and has developed important political experiments like a participative budget-making, extensive use of referenda, etc. It seems to have grasped that "politics is concentrated economics". If this section of the PT can hold its ground in Rio Grande (BTW, in the borders of both Argentina and Uruguay)we shall have brighter prospects for the PT in the middle-run.