Ex-director of Infraero attacks changes in state firm
Vasconcelo Quadros, Jornal do Brasil
BRASILIA - Founder of the PT Party and unionist with long-standing ties to airline workers, the ex-superintendent of Infraero in Rio de Janeiro Pedro Azambuja, cut in the wave of dismissals that extinguished the power of the government coalition parties, did not go quietly. In a letter sent to friends and companions who participated Friday in a meeting of the PT Party National Committee, in Brasilia, Azambuja criticized the omission of the government and of his own party in the face of the military's offensive for the control of the company and of civil aviation.
Without mincing words he affirmed - after five and a half years acting in the heart of airport administration - that the Air Force reinforced the intelligence service with "spooks who came in from the intelligence community" to order to take complete control of the sector. According to Azambuja, in April, after changing Infraero's company charter - "under the highest secrecy" - the president of the company, general Cleonilson Nicácio Silva, and the other company directors (“all of them military”) took away from Lula the right gained at the election polls to name four of the six directors, under the controversial argument that they were giving career employees more weight.
"What may appear to the ill-informed to be more emphaisis on career employees, is no more than a strengthening of military power", he affirmed.
Azambuja explained that all the names supposedly chosen by technical criteria came from an era in which there were no civil service exams and those who called the shots at the state-owner firm were the military.
"It's past time to open the black box of civil aviation, entirely under control of the military. Commercial aviaiton is paying for the party for the whole system, including military aviation", said the ex-superintendant.
The firings which cut, according to him, close to 200 jobs, inverted the job patronage, rewarding the barracks caste:
"It's the military who are settled into these comfy seats, as they always have been."
To face down the militarization, he suggests that the PT close ranks and discuss a new law for the sector, as part of the new Brazilian Code of the Air, and confront what he calls the military's strong lobby in Congress.
"My proposal to the party is to separate civil aviation from military, as it currently is all over the world," he said.
Azambuja remembered that the military presence is so bald-faced that the new charter - on which general Nicácio Silva relied to make the cuts - treats the Air Force Command as the "Ministry" (extinguished with the creation of the Ministry of Defense) and the National Civil Aviation Agency (ANAC) as the Department of Civil Aviation (DAC), which also no longer exists.
Director of the party's transport sector, Pedro Azambuja said that, besides control of ideology, jobs and career opportunities, the Air Force wants to maintain complete control of the sector also because it depends on the money that comes from airport fees of which, according to him, 40% is destined to the military area. Azambuja said that he was fired in a context of "a supposed house-cleaning" and that in the best style of military strategy, "supported" by information that a "group of spooks who made themselves part of the company with the pompous name of Superintendency of Entrepreneurial Intelligence" - all of them employed by means of the same special contracts eliminated for the political parties.
"The worst is that the housecleaning began with the career employees with humiliating transfers and salary reductions," he said. "Today I wouldn't go back to any job because of the militarization. The Air Force Command is the true owner of the airports, including the private ones."
He emphasizes that he is not criticizing the company because he lost his job:
"I have documents indicating that I took this same line while still there, in the party as well as in he government", he sustained.
Azambuja further complains that, still, in fact no member of Congress of the party has come out in defense of the PT's jobs at Infraero: “They put us at the same level as PMDB party's famous 'what's in it for me'."