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Martín Santiváñez, researcher of the Center for International development of the University of Navarra and Visiting Fellow of the School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University.

A bear with feet of clay?

Wed, 19 Jun 2013 10:55:00 +0000 Published in The World

We Latin Americans have become accustomed to the philanthropic ogre. Sometimes it is embodied in a dictatorial government, in an autocrat who channels popular desire directly, dynamiting the party system. At other times, the philanthropic bogeyman appears under the sweet guise of a charismatic populism of a welfarist nature, which promotes redistribution with the aim of generating basic environments of social inclusion.

The model of development planned and executed by the Workers' Party of Lula da Silva and Dilma Rousseff is a model that promotes direct subsidies, since it is based on the premise that the construction of Brazil is a function of the articulating capacity of the public sector. The country responds to an old paternal-statist tradition, widely accepted, and the dialectic between independent areas and actors and a State with a decidedly interventionist vocation has been one of the essential engines of Brazilian politics in the 20th century. Without the statist thesis and the antithesis of autonomy, it is not possible to understand what is happening in Brazil, the triumph of the PT's giving socialism and the serious problems of the Brazilian model .

Despite the sympathies generated by a leadership such as Lula and Dilma's, the Brazilian model presents serious problems of design and implementation. These criticisms have been trivialized by global public opinion. The PT has enjoyed, like no other party in Brazil, the open support of the global media left. This has succeeded in silencing the sharpest and most impartial criticisms of the real consequences of PT welfare: rampant corruption, the multiplication of clientelistic networks, the routinization of patronage fostered by social programs and the population's distrust in the political class .

It is this distrust that has provoked the social outburst in Brazil. The philanthropic petista bogeyman is also a highly corrupt spawn. The mensalao, the Cachoeira scandal and so many other episodes of opacity are the sign of the decadence of control. Because an inefficient State generates, by force, inefficient control, creating opportunities for corruption. A State in perpetual growth, anchored in welfarism and phagocytized by partisan clienteles, weakens the quality of government and compromises the authentic development. Because development in democracy is not built from the ivory tower of social engineers and much less from the suspicious atrium of populist tribunes. The integral development is founded on institutions that redistribute in an efficient and impartial manner, subject to the control of a professional State and to an honest leadership with a reformist will, capable of transcending particularisms. Otherwise, we will build giants with feet of clay, which is equivalent, unfortunately, to sowing in the sea.