THEIR new-found hoard of oil still lies 7,000 metres (23,000 feet) beneath the Atlantic Ocean, but the signs are that it has already gone to Brazilian officialdom’s head. No sooner had Petrobras, the national oil company, announced the discovery of a gigantic cache of crude oil buried beneath a thick layer of salt below the ocean floor than every vested interest in the country had a plan to spend the windfall. Brazil’s 27 governors and its 5,600 mayors are all looking to garnish their budgets. Civic groups want their cut of royalties to fight poverty, scientists to fight climate change and students to improve education. “Pre-salt oil is like a pretty woman on a dance floor full of men,” Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, Brazil’s president, put it bluntly. “Everybody wants a go.”

巴西新发现的石油宝藏仍静躺在大西洋海底七千公尺的海床上,但这些发现征兆就已经让巴西官员冲昏了头。国营石油公司Petrobras才刚宣布在海床下方发现厚盐层底下埋藏庞大丰富的原油,巴西国内的各种既得利益就开始计划要来挥霍褶这一笔意外之财。巴西全国廿七位州长和五千六百位市长都在引颈期盼充实他们的预算。公民团体想要利用开采权利金去消灭贫穷,科学家想要用在遏止气候变化,而学生则想要用来改善教育。「盐下石油(pre-salt oil)就像一名美丽的女人在挤满男人的舞池内」,巴西总统Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva直率地形容,「每个人都想上」。

That is troubling for Rio de Janeiro, which as Brazil’s main oil province has until now enjoyed the lion’s share of royalties. Most of the new deposits lie off the shores of Rio and São Paulo states. Last month the lower house of Congress approved by 369 votes to 72 a bill by Ibsen Pinheiro, a congressman from southern Brazil, that would radically redistribute the oil bounty among all states and municipalities. To many Brazilians, spreading the wealth seems reasonable.

这下子让巴西最大产油州里约热内卢遇上了麻烦,直到现在里约州仍享有高比例的开采权利金配额,新发现的油藏多数亦位于里约州和圣保罗州外海。上个月,国会众议院以369票赞成,72票反对,通过由南部州国会议员Ibsen Pinheiro提出的法案,将这笔石油财富完全分配给全国各州和所有城市。对很多巴西人来说,分发财富似乎非常合理。更多信息请访问:http://www.24en.com/

Oil accounts for no more than 15% of Rio’s annual revenues, but the immediate impact would be severe: its royalties would wither from around $4.1 billion a year to just $130m. (Espírito Santo, its northern neighbour, faces a similar fate.) A “lynching”, complained Sérgio Cabral, the governor of Rio state; in tears, he warned that the sudden drop in royalties could cause the state’s finances to collapse and jeopardise investment for the Olympic games to be held in the city in 2016.

石油收益虽然仅占里约州年收入不及一成五,但直接冲击将会非常严重︰开采权利金将从每年约41亿美元大幅缩水至仅1.3亿美元(北部邻省圣灵州亦面临类似的命运)。里约州州长Sérgio Cabral抱怨,这简直是「公报私仇」,他眼角泛着泪光提出警告,开采权利金骤降可能造成该州财政崩盘,并且危及2016年奥运主办城市的投资。

“What am I going to do, stop paying 220,000 public employees and pensioners? Do I close all the hospitals and sack the police?” says Joaquím Levy, the finance secretary. “That’s how much money we’re talking about.” In late March, some 150,000 protesters, many of them bused in by the governor, braved the rain to rally for royalties in the city centre, while locals dressed up papier-mâché Pinheiros as Judas and thrashed his effigy in the streets. To make matters worse, more than 100 were killed and hundreds made homeless in the state this week as hours of torrential rain triggered mudslides in poorer areas.

「我该怎么办呢?停止支付廿二万名公务员和退休金吗?还是要拉下所有医院大门并解雇警察?」州财政厅长Joaquím Levy表示。「我们正在为钱的事发愁。」三月下旬,约十五万名抗议者,其中很多人是搭乘州长提供的公共汽车参加,冒着大雨在市中心为争取开采权利金而集会游行,而当地人将许多纸糊的Ibsen Pinheiro刍像打扮成出卖耶稣的门徒犹大,并且在大街上痛殴这些刍像。更糟糕的是,本周里约州连续十几小时的豪雨在贫困地区引起土石流山崩,造成上百人丧生和数百人无家可归。

The threat comes as Rio has been struggling back to financial health after half a century of setbacks, starting with the loss of its status as the national capital to Brasília and continuing under a string of inept populist leaders. Three years of strong fiscal and administrative reforms have put the state’s shambolic accounts in order—not least by using oil revenues to rescue the loss-making pension system. Standard & Poor’s, a rating agency, has just made Rio the first Brazilian state whose debt is ranked as investment grade. Even the police, one of the most brutal forces in the world, are starting to win praise for pacifying bandit-ridden slums.

这场豪雨威胁的来临,正如里约州在历经半个世纪的倒退(自从首都地位让给巴西利亚,以及一连串不称职的民粹州长持续执政)之后,一直在挣扎要回复过去的健全财务。三年健全的财政和行政改革已经使该州摇晃不稳的账目步上正轨,至少藉由运用石油收益就活了连年亏损的退休金制度。金融评等机构标准普尔(Standard & Poor’s),最近刚将里约州的债信升等为巴西第一个列为值得投资等级的州。即使是里约州警,全球最慓悍的警力之一,亦因弭平盗匪横行的贫民窟而开始赢得赞赏。

Rio’s leaders point out that the state’s oil money balances out its relatively paltry share of federal tax transfers, which flow more copiously to poorer north-eastern states. They hope to persuade the Senate to scrap, or at least soften, the Pinheiro bill. If not, the supreme court might strike it down as unconstitutional. Either way, the bill has revived the rancour that long reigned between Rio and the rest of Brazil. It would be sad if it also derailed Rio’s incipient revival. “Resentment plays into the hands of the worst kind of populism,” says Octavio Amorim Neto, a political scientist at the Getúlio Vargas Foundation. That is a curse Rio’s residents know only too well.

里约州各界领袖指出,该州的石油收入抵消了相对无价值的联邦税配额转移,联邦税配额主要是让较贫困的东北部各州财源更为丰沛。他们希望说服参议院放弃(或至少软化)Ibsen Pinheiro的法案。如果行不通,最高法院亦可以违宪理由封杀该法案。无论哪一种方式,该法案再次激化了里约州与巴西其他各州之间长期存在的积怨。如果也使里约州原本的重振生机走上偏锋,将是一场悲哀。「蓄意让人民愤怒是最不入流的民粹主义手段」,Getúlio Vargas基金会政治学教授Octavio Amorim Neto表示。这对于为充分了解的里约州居民是一种诅咒。