Friday January 22, 2010

Brazilian President Seeks to Secure Abortion as “Right,” Ban Crucifixes in Government Buildings

Massive legislative program being called a nonviolent “coup d’etat” and a socialist party “dictatorship.”

By Matthew Cullinan Hoffman, Latin American Correspondent

BRAZILIA, January 22, 2010 ( – Brazilian President Luiz Lula da Silva has introduced a massive legislative reform package in the last year of his term that would secure abortion as a “human right,” impose socialist and homosexualist ideology in the schools and media, and ban crucifixes from government facilities, among other measures.

The legislative program, which is called the Third National Program for Human Rights (PNDH-3), would establish a level of control over the media and private property that is being called a nonviolent “coup d’etat” and a socialist party “dictatorship.” It has elicited widespread protest from institutions ranging from the Catholic Church to military leaders, the agricultural sector, and even members of the president’s own cabinet.

The leadership of the National Conference of Brazilian Bishops (CNBB) has issued a declaration “reaffirming its position, manifested many times, in defense of life and the family, and against the decriminalization of abortion, against marriage between people of the same sex and the right of adoption of children by homosexual couples.”

The CNBB leadership “also rejects the creation of ‘mechanisms to impede the display of religious symbols in public establishments of the Union,’ because it regards such an intolerant measure as ignoring our historical roots.”

A Socialist Party Dictatorship?

If the Brazilian Labor Party succeeds in imposing the legislative package contained in the PNDH-3, it will receive broad powers to shut down media outlets that disagree with its ideology, impose its pro-abortion and homosexualist political agenda on the entire country, and undermine the rights of private property. The extensive powers proposed by the government have led at least one prominent Brazilian commentator to speak of a party “dictatorship.”

For example, the Program treats the killing of unborn children as a “human right,” to be protected by the state. Directive 9 includes “supporting the approval of legislation that decriminalizes abortion, considering the autonomy of women to make decisions concerning their bodies.”

It also orders the creation of “campaigns and educational actions to deconstruct the stereotypes related to sex professionals.”

Education and Culture in Human Rights,” the fifth “axis” in the Program, directs that children from “infancy” (early childhood) must be taught the government’s concept of “human rights,” which includes “the study of themes of gender and sexual orientation” for the purpose of “combating prejudice, which is sometimes rooted in the family itself.”

Directive 10 strikes a decisive blow against the Brazilian tradition of displaying crucifixes in public facilities, mandating the creation of “mechanisms to impede the display of religious symbols in public establishments of the Union (Brazil).”

It also proposes to “carry out campaigns and educational activities to deconstruct the stereotypes related to … sexual identity and orientation.”

The Program’s Directive 19 requires the creation of curricula “for all of the levels and forms of teaching for basic education,” for “promoting the recognition and/or respect for the diversities of gender, sexual orientation, gender identity…”

The Program’s educational directives will have an even greater impact given the fact that the government recently passed a constitutional amendment requiring that all children be sent to school at the age of four.

Broad Control over the Media and Private Property

Directive 22 of the PNDH-3 would establish state control over broadcast media content, requiring radio and TV stations to show “respect for Human Rights in services of radio broadcasting (radio and television) that have [government] concessions, permission, or authorization, as a condition for the awarding or renewal [of their licenses], foreseeing administrative penalties such as warnings, fines, suspension of programming and cancellation, in accordance with the gravity of the violations committed.”

It also directs the creation of “incentives” for “regular investigations that may identify forms, circumstances, and characteristics of violations of Human Rights in the media.”

Directive 8 also proposes the use of the media as a mouthpiece of the government’s “human rights” indoctrination program for young people, directing the “informing of children and adolescents regarding their rights, by means of joint efforts in schools, print media, television, radio, and internet.”

Regarding private property, PNDH-3 proposes that a special “legal framework” be created for the “mediation of urban property conflicts” which will “guarantee the required legal process and the social function of property.” It uses similar language for rural property conflicts. According the conservative Spanish publication El Pais, this language is almost identical to that of Venezuela’s president Hugo Chavez, who speaks of the concept of “social property.”

The Program has caused consternation and provoked threats of resignation from senior military leaders for proposing the creation of a “Truth Commission” to examine crimes committed by the military regime of the 1960s and 70s. Military leaders are exempt from prosecution from such crimes according to current Brazilian laws. Lula has calmed fears among military leaders by agreeing to apply the commission to all violations of “human rights,” which presumably includes the terroristic activities of the socialist opposition during the same period.

Controversy Erupts in Brazil

Although President Lula has quieted fears of a socialist witchhunt against its former military enemies, the plan continues to provoke outrage and fierce opposition within Brazil.

Reinaldo Azevedo, blogging for the widely-read news magazine Veja, says that the proposals would constitute a “dictatorship” run by associates of president Luiz Lula, calls it a bloodless “coup d’etat,” and compares the regime it proposes to that of Hugo Chavez, who is gradually eliminating civil liberties in Venezuela.

Azevedo also writes that the proposals would “extinguish private property in the country and the cities” and avers that “the Military Regime instituted in 1964 was more explicit and more modest” in its intentions.

Dimas Lara Resende, Secretary-General of the National Conference of Brazilian Bishops, has commented that “next we will have to demolish the statue of Christ the Redeemer.”

Broadcast media and agricultural associations have also raised their voices against the proposals.

The President of the National Confederation of Agriculture, Senator Katia Abreu, has reportedly said that the creation of mediation programs in cases in which people invade private property will encourage rural violence and prejudice the rights of property owners. Andre Meloni Nassar, Director General of the Institute for Studies of Commerce and International Businesses writes that the Program is a “funeral for agribusiness.”

Even Lula’s Minister of Agrigulture, Reinhold Stephanes, has rejected the idea, expressing fears that such measures will “increase the insecurity in the country” and “strengthen radical organizations.”

Although Lula has himself expressed concern about some of the material in the Program, he appears determined to defend it, although it threatens to undermine his strong popularity in his last year of office.