The Brazilian Spring failed miserably. It seems it was all about a few cents and not about real change. People have obediently gone back to being slaves, but their representatives may not be able to collude in secret while in Congress.
The Brazilian Congress made a historic decision on Tuesday by passing a constitutional amendment that ends with the secret ballot in all decisions made by congressmen and women. The decision was reached unanimously by a 452-0.
To be effective, the measure must now be approved by the Senate, where President Renan Calheiros is against the annulment of the secret ballot in all occasions. According to him, this should be reserved only for when deciding the mandate loss of one of the legislators.
Actually it took two votes in the House to get the motion passed. The first was held as far back as seven years ago but since then everything had been stopped. On Tuesday the initiative finally had the attention of the legislators.
The decision was accelerated after Congress hid behind secretive voting to keep congressman Donadonon Natan in his position, even though he was convicted of corruption. Natan was the first convicted person to serve in Congress in the history of Brazil. The decision to keep Natan in Congress was considered a disgrace since Congress is supposed to be an institution that represents society.
Several social groups announced they would protest on September 7, which is Independence Day in Brazil, to end the secret ballot option used by congress people to save their colleagues when one of them asks in cases of conviction or misconduct. As in many other countries, the public wants to know when representatives make important decisions, instead of hiding under the anonymity of the secret ballot.
To justify the emergency session on Tuesday, the president of Congress, Henrique Alves, of the centrist PMDB, the largest ally of the government of President Dilma Rousseff, even said that the secret ballot was a major problem to the credibility of the legislature.
” I can say without a shadow of doubt, that I have seen further damage to the credibility of this house after the meeting that took place last week . The mea culpa is in all of us. I accuse myself as that result was not desired by the Brazilian society, ” Alves said from his chair. As he spoke, members of the Popular Front were in favor of the adoption of the motion to end the secret ballot with banners calling for an “open vote, now.”
In Congress, other opposition groups opposed the idea of having open voting. For example, the representative of the Party of Brazilian Social Democracy ( PSDB ), Alvaro Dias, proposed a more restrictive bill. The fear of the opposition is that without the secret ballot, it would be more difficult to vote freely against some presidential vetoes on bills passed by Congress. However, Carlos Sampaio, from PSDB, also defended the total cancellation of the secret ballot: “Ending the secret ballot for all is what society expects.” he added: “There are no half transparencies”.
The people require greater transparency in the decisions made by Congress to those who supported us and sent us to make important decisions. As of now, Brazilians will have to wait to see if the Senate, after the decision of the House, will dare to oppose a decision that is welcomed by the majority of society. It is indeed a step forward for brazil in an attempt to end Congress’ unaccountability. In the last national survey in which it was analyzed the degree of popularity and trust that people have on 15 of the most important institutions in the country, Congress was in the caboose. The two most valued institutions were the press and the Church.
Luis R. Miranda is the Founder and Editor of The Real Agenda. His 16 years of experience in Journalism include television, radio, print and Internet news. Luis obtained his Journalism degree from Universidad Latina de Costa Rica, where he graduated in Mass Media Communication in 1998. He also holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Broadcasting from Montclair State University in New Jersey. Among his most distinguished interviews are: Costa Rican President Jose Maria Figueres and James Hansen from NASA Space Goddard Institute. Read more about Luis.