[Marxism] Lula's cabinet shifts further right

acpollack2 at juno.com acpollack2 at juno.com
Sat Nov 20 16:31:37 MST 2004


Lula’s sacking of bank chief delivers blow to leftwingers
By Raymond Colitt in São Paulo
Published: November 19 2004 00:45 | Last updated: November 19 2004 00:45

Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, Brazil's president, sacked Carlos Lessa as head of the country's large development bank in the course of a broader cabinet reshuffle on Thursday.

The departure of Mr Lessa and Darc Costa, his vice-president, from the National Bank for Economic and Social Development (BNDES), is seen as setback for the leftwing hardliners within Mr Lula da Silva's government alliance. With a budget of R$60.8bn ($22bn) next year, the BNDES is one of the largest banks of its kind in the world. The departure of Mr Lessa the fifth key official to leave government over the past fortnight marks a wider cabinet reshuffle following October's municipal elections.

Frei Betto, a longtime friend and social welfare adviser to Mr Lula da Silva, said he would resign at the year-end. Ricardo Kotscho, Mr Lula da Silva's press adviser, and José Viegas, the defence minister, also stepped down recently. This week Cassio Casseb resigned as head of Banco do Brasil, a large state-controlled bank.

The centrist PMDB party, Mr Lula da Silva's main coalition ally, has threatened to abandon the coalition unless it obtains more government and congressional posts. Aloizio Mercadante, an influential senator from the governing Workers' party, said on Thursday that Mr Lula da Silva was likely to make more ministerial appointments in the coming days or weeks.

Mr Lessa had repeatedly challenged the authority of Luiz Furlan, the industry minister and Mr Lessa's immediate superior, and more recently called Henrique Meirelles' central bank presidency a “nightmare”.

Mr Lessa considered himself a “neo-nationalist” and was a strong proponent of state economic intervention. He was supported by José Dirceu, chief of staff, and Mr Mercadante.

Mr Lessa and Mr Costa were known as fervent advocates of South American integration as a means to counterbalance regional US supremacy. Their departures were widely seen as evidence that the government's market-friendly faction, led by Antonio Palocci, the finance minister, had gained political clout with this year's strong economic recovery.

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