1 diciembre, 2016
By Fiona Krogh Gerson
Madrid – Lurdete Kummer is a 47-year old Vice-Mayor of a small town, called Jandira, in the State of Sao Paulo, Brazil. I wanted to interview her to get a closer look on the inside of a local government in Brazil. Since I know Mrs. Kummer personally, I was hoping to get her insight and opinion regarding the many problems and challenges Brazil is facing today, corruption amongst the political elite being one of the biggest scandals.
Mrs. Kummer has a degree in Administration, Law and Education and currently studying for a master degree in Human Rights. “You don’t really need a degree to work in the local government”, she told me during our skype interview. Adding that you can never get too much knowledge, learning new things and getting valuable experience in new fields is so stimulating and enables me to do a good job for my town and the people here.
At first I wanted to know a bit more about her position, so when I asked her what she does in her current position as Vice-Mayor in Jandira she told me she helps the Mayor in his work for the population. Her daily life is just like any other ordinary job. When I asked her about the positive and the negative sides of her job, she said that the sad thing is that they can’t really do so much. They have very little money to spend on projects compared to the big cities, and people often demanded and expected a lot from her and the local government. However, when they managed to help people, she described it as the most inspiring part of her job and the main reason why she had chosen this field of work. She didn’t want to see people with power destroying ordinary people’s lives, she wanted to make a difference. “I want to improve people’s lives”, she told me and went on explaining how there are too many people getting into politics for the reason of earning good money, and not for the sake of doing something good for their country or its people. This has to change. Because if not, we will never have the right people in power, she added.
We then got talking about the main issues in Jandira and Brazil. The main focus in Jandira right now is to improve basic education and healthcare for its citizens. The town has a massive need for improvements in these fields. With Jandira being one of the poorer cities in the state of Sao Paulo, they are facing big challenges. She mentions the lack of good healthcare being one of Brazil’s biggest challenges at the moment. There are countless people dying all over Brazil every day due to the lack of good health care provision and a shortage of hospitals. There are not enough medicines to meet the needs of Brazil’s large population. She pointed out education as a priority to tackle this problem. “Good schools and equal access to free, good education for all children is a main priority to achieve this”, she said.
When we started on the topic of corruption she got quite exasperated. When you think of all the poverty there is and corruption scandals Brazil has been exposed to over the last couple of years, it’s understandable that people lose trust in the politicians, get frustrated and riot in the streets. They have had to put up with corrupt governments for so long, and now this year even with the president getting impeached along with so many more in the government. And this is exactly how Mrs. Kummer described it. As many foreigners believe, we have seen Brazil really trying to address the problem of corruption this year, getting rid of tons of corrupt people in the government. But did it help? Mrs. Kummer tried to explain how difficult this challenge is. The corruption is not related just to individuals, it pervades the whole system. “The problem is so deeply entangled into the whole political system that nobody can really see it”, she continued. She cited corruption in business contracts as one of the biggest problems. To my question whether she could see it going on in her local government, she said yes. She felt powerless however in trying to do something about it. For instance, one can make overpriced contracts and it is within the law. It is all very well organized and hard to prove, and she described “them” as experts on what they do and how to hide it. She was not talking about one or two persons, because you have the federal police and higher forces playing a role in this corruption, too. According to Mrs. Kummer this is something everybody knows about but it continues in silence. Mrs. Kummer finds it hard to have faith in the system around her, but she believes Brazil can change. This is why she will continue to be honest in her work in the local community and be a good role model for the people she is meant to serve.
To conclude with I was very curious about how she saw Brazil’s position in the world right now, and how the corruption scandals going on this year might have damaged Brazil’s reputation internationally. Mrs. Kummer sees Brazil struggling to regain confidence in its world position today. She also thinks that Brazil is not an isolated case, that it occurs in many other developed countries all over the world, but not in such a shameful way. Brazil has great potential with its huge amount of natural resources, especially water and forest. Brazil has the potential of becoming a great power one day. Even though it has had its struggles in establishing a stable governance, it looks like the country is on the path to a better future with the events and impeachments this year being a good start. What we from the outside have witnessed is a cleansing in the governmental system, and hopefully in the future there will be only more people like Lurdete Kummer, politicians who wants to serve the needs of the people. I still hold Brazil as a “country of the future”, because I believe in people like her.