Lacerda Attacks Brazilian Military Regime; Proposes New 'Popular' Opposition Party

Seeks Political Coalition To Further Social Reform

Carlos Lacerda is a Brazilian liberal democrat, a leading contender for the presidency of his country., and an articulate critic of military authoritarianism.

In this second and last part of an interview conducted at Harvard lat week, Mr. Lacerda comments on his view of contemporary Brazilian politics, their implications for the United State, and his own plans to organize a popular progressive party to return his country to a more democratic tradition.

Lacerda and ex-president Joscelino Kubitscher, were both candidates in a presidential election the military regime had promised to hold last year. The election was cancelled.

General Castelo Branco is the leader of this military regime which came to power after overthrowing leftist President Joao Gotildart, Castelo Branco will be replaced this March by General da Costa Silva who was elected in an indirect vote by the Brazilian Congress.

Free Elections


I would be interested to know whether you think that in the forseeable future there will be a "free election" in Brazil in which all political candidate will be able to participate.

It's very hard to preview that because [Congress has just elected] a new president [Arthur da Costate Silva] who is also a general, who was minister of war, and who was forced upon Castelo Branco as a way of getting rid of Castelo Branco without disrupting the army unity. So they chose the minister of war and said. "You are going to be the next president." But still be is a general. He had some supporters and some enemies, but away he is different from Castelo atanco in his concept of government. BeCastgelo Branco is a so-called military intellectual, while da Costa Silva is a "troupier"--a man from the barracks. And perhaps this is better, because he is more humble in his endeavors.

For the time being the new constitution provides that we can only have a president by indirect elections--that is, elected by Congress--which is a thing that disturbs the whole scene in Brazil. I don't think the people will willingly wait a long time before they try to change that.

The constitution, also has many authoritarian trends. I believe that as soon as da Costa Silva takes over he will be a strong popular movement towards a revision of the present constitution that Castelo Branco enforced.

Right now when I left Brazil he had two very bad laws. One is already before Congress, which has 30 days to vote on it. If not voted on, it automatically controling the press, fine government has a very vague and broad concept of national security, and under that law a thing like that letter to the President [Johnson] by you [100] student leaders [sent in December to protest the Vietnam war] would never be allowed to be printed unlses we were prepared to go to jail.

The second project, not formally proposed but being elaborated, is a new national security law which would be one of the most strict and dictatorial trends that Castelo Branco could make. It would put practically the whole country under that tutorship of a Council of National Security Everything the government dislikes will involve a problem of national security. This is so broad and so vague a term the every move, every action, every preaching, every expose, every statement that is distasteful to the government eye will be considered a breach of national security. So it is a very dangerous thing. The press is reacting strongly against it while who can, but I really don't know what will become of it.

Castelo Branco

what do you think have been the beneficial aspects of Castelo Branco's running Brazil for the past few years?

I don't see many, I think he failed in conquering the true democratic ways the people support. On the contrary, by fighting inflation he meant the he should be unpopular, Actually, he did not curb inflation but to a certain extent, but he could have curbed it bylaw and order and by simply making an effort for more productivity and production.

So I think they [the government] try to follow a prescription standardized for all nations by the international monetary fund, which deliberately ignores the degree of development and the degree of culture in each country and prescribes a standardized recipe for all countries to curb inflation. In our case, for instance, we must have a slight degree not of inflation but of emission--provided we increase productivity to get it back next year, or two years ahead. By giving the financial aspect of inflation a first priority and ignoring all the social cultural, and political implications of it, the government not only hurt badly their social program, but also alienate the people's support.