Dilma and I lived on the same street – Rua Major Lopes, in the town of Belo Horizonte. As she walked to school every morning she passed my house where she saw my mother working in her garden. She and my sister Thereza were friends.
I met her again in 1970 in the Tiradentes prison in Sao Paulo. She was in the women´s wing known as the Maidens´ Tower and I was in the men´s. On Sundays I was allowed to go through the gate dividing the two wings in order to celebrate the liturgy with the women. In jail, even atheists did not refuse divine blessings.
Our paths crossed a third time in the presidential palace in Brasilia in 2003. She as Minister for Energy and Mines and I as special adviser for the Zero Hunger programme.
Dilma has a strong character and a short fuse. During her first term in office I suggested she learn to meditate. She once tried phoning me but our agendas did not coincide.
She is an administrator, a manageress, lacking shrewdness in politics. She wants to decide, not negotiate. She wants to resolve things, not consult about them. This impetuousness hinders her political performance.
Our last encounter was on November 26 2014 shortly after her re-election, when she defeated the opposition. She talked for over an hour in her presidential office with Leonardo Boff, Marcia Miranda, Maria Helena Arrochellas, Luiz Carlos Susin, Rosileny Schwantes and me, all of us linked to Liberation Theology. We offered her suggestions for profound structural reforms.
Early in 2015 it became evident that Dilma could not comply with the items on our agenda. I felt foreboding for her government. What she proposed to do, as the sorcerer´s apprentice, is dominated by conservative forces, for they are the very sorcerer.
Associated to what is most physiological in Brazilian politics, Michel Temer approved the parliamentary coup, opening a dangerous precedent: from now on in Brazil, opposition not only rhymes with deposition. It is a trick to usurp political power which, with its back to the people, takes over the State machine.