Saturday 30 October, 1.30pm until 3.00pm, Café
The old joke has it that Brazil is the ‘country of the future…’ and will always remain so. Does Brazil’s steady economic advance and growing international role mean it might be finally fulfilling its promise? And after eight years of the Lula government, what has been achieved?Whatever happens in October’s presidential election, things seem to be looking up for Brazil. It was one of the last large economies to enter recession and one of the first to exit. Growth this year is predicted at 5%, cementing a decade of steady progress. Brazil has been dubbed an agricultural superpower - the breadbasket of the world. Discovery of the massive pre-salt oil reservoir in the Atlantic, plus big hydroelectricity generation capacity including the new Belo Monte dam – to be the world’s third-largest – indicates Brazil’s future may be as an energy superpower as well.
Internationally, Brazil’s close links to China and its emerging diplomatic role, seen in the recent negotiations with Iran in the face of the Obama administration’s concerns, is evidence for some that Brazil is no longer a ‘second-class country’. Hosting the World Cup in 2014 and the Olympics in 2016 should see Brazil come out onto the world stage, by then perhaps even having overtaken the UK, Italy and France in economic size. Does the attraction of Brazil - a consolidated democracy unperturbed by ethnic divisions, in contrast to the other BRICs – nonetheless mask its deeper problem? Brazil remains by most measures one of the most unequal societies in the world. The urban violence, drugs and crime that dominate the headlines are symptomatic of Brazil’s uneven development. Rural areas have seen a significant increase in farm occupations that continue to dog the Lula administration. The government’s new Accelerated Growth Programme notwithstanding, Brazil suffers from crumbling and underdeveloped infrastructure which many see as a major hindrance to further development.
After the economic stabilisation through austerity programmes under Lula’s predecessor, Fernando Henrique Cardoso, Lula’s election was seen to herald an end to the period of neo-liberalism. Yet Lula has maintained the macroeconomic policies of his predecessor, drawing criticism from radical circles. Supporters nevertheless point in retort to the massive redistributive programme, the Bolsa Familia, as well as growing infrastructural investment and development of the country’s interior. Do the political and economic categories drawn from 20th century experience still apply, or is Brazil forging a new model of development? What are we to make of Brazil’s advances on the world stage, and how does this impact on Brazil’s self-conception? Is there a ‘Brazilian Dream’ in the making?
Listen to session audio:
|Professor Alfredo Saad Filho|
professor of political economy, SOAS, University of London
|Professor Anthony Pereira|
director, Brazil Institute, King’s College London; author, Political (In)justice: authoritarianism and the rule of law in Brazil, Chile and Argentina
researcher on human rights in Brazil, Amnesty International; author, Empire Adrift: the Portuguese Court in Rio de Janeiro 1808-1821
communications consultant, researcher and blogger based in São Paulo
The photographer Vik Muniz often says that while he considers himself an American artist, his use of imagery owes everything to Brazil, where he was born and raised.Carol Kino, New York Times, 22 October 2010
The Guardian's online series looking at issues in BrazilGuardian, 2010
President Lula da Silva may still be incredibly popular in Brazil but he is not allowed to run for a third term. The candidates of the two big parties lack his charisma and may be given a run for their money by the Green Party's Marina Silva in Sunday's election.Jens Glüsing, Der Spiegel, 2 October 2010
After two terms, Brazil's president will leave behind a booming economy and renewed international confidence. But there is still a mountain to climb for his successorNathan Shachar, Prospect, 30 September 2010
Add in a fast-growing economy and Brazilians can – according to Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, the country’s outgoing president – lay claim to being “the happiest and most creative” people in the world.John Paul Rathbone and Jonathan Wheatley, Financial Times, 28 September 2010
Brazil's presidential election is moving to a climax. A victory for the favourite candidate Dilma Rousseff would also be President Lula'sArthur Ituassu, openDemocracy, 15 September 2010
Brazil has revolutionised its own farms. Can it do the same for others?Economist, 27 August 2010
Brazil is positioned to play a more prominent role in the international economic geography, according to Luciano Coutinho, president of the Brazilian Development BankBrazil Institute, 16 July 2010
Just as Brazilians deserved better from their football team, so they do from visionless politicians in their presidential electionsConor Foley, Guardian, 8 July 2010
Dilma Rousseff is cruising towards victory on the coat-tails of a popular president. But there is more at stake in October’s election than meets the eyeEconomist, 1 July 2010
While most of the developed world worries about excessive debt and stunted economic growth, Brazil has little of the former and an abundance of the latter.John Paul Rathbone, Financial Times, 29 June 2010
The plans have been laid. The economy is growing. Investors are lining up, confident that regulations can be trusted. Yet Brazil’s bright new future still seems tantalisingly out of reach with the outlook for infrastructure deeply uneven.Financial Times, 6 May 2010
Recent analyses of shifts in President Lula’s political strategies since 2002 emphasized contrasts between the pre-2002 “PTism” and “Lulaism, a political agenda marked by Bonapartist strains. Yet, such analyses fail to highlight the key changes occurring in the newest transition from “Lulaism” to “Rousseffism.”Marcelo de Paiva Abreu, Brazil Portal, 12 February 2010
In 1980 I travelled to São Paulo to meet Lula, a firebrand trade unionist. Twenty-six years later, a wealthier and more democratic Brazil is preparing to re-elect him to a second presidential termJonathan Power, Prospect, 22 October 2006
Why do attempts by authoritarian regimes to legalize their political repression differ so dramatically? Why do some dispense with the law altogether, while others scrupulously modify constitutions, pass new laws, and organize political trials?
Anthony W. Pereira, University of Pittsburgh Press, 31 October 2005
BoI 2007 Vox Pop 3
"A rigorous and invigorating exchange of ideas that transcended cliché."
Cory Doctorow, Novelist; co-editor, BoingBoing.net