Brazilian President Jose Sarney has sent a stiff public message to the nation's creditors, complaining of "exorbitant interest rates" and accusing the International Monetary Fund of "dogmatic intransigence" in insisting on what he called unnecessary recession.
In a TV address Monday night to mark the three months since the death of Tancredo Neves that thrust Sarney into office, the president said that, although he had inherited the worst crisis in the nation's history, he refused to be a "caretaker of catastrophe."
He outlined a program of social priorities that will demand a minimum of a 5 to 6 percent rate of "economic growth without inflation" for the world's largest debtor nation.
Brazil will honor its commitments and has no wish to create an impasse with creditors, he said, but it was time they realized that the country was powerful enough to look after its own interests.
"We won't allow the dogmatic intransigence of international financial organizations to force an unnecessary recession on us," said Sarney, alluding indirectly to the IMF.
Sarney's more belligerent stance comes as Brazil and its creditors are again in negotiations after a six-month delay while the government changed. An accord is expected by the end of August.
The IMF is considering whether a recent $6.5 billion package of public spending cuts and success against inflation, now forecast at 140 percent instead of 250 percent, are sufficient grounds for restarting the flow of cash to Brazil.
Sarney also attacked "exorbitant interest rates which we have to suffocate our economy to repay," and insisted on a steady increase in spending on urgent programs for health, education and housing that are part of his administration's "great social option" to relieve extreme poverty and misery.
Sarney repeatedly has said that the foreign-debt issue poses a political risk if creditors fail to understand that social spending is needed to consolidate democracy here.