What Brazil Thinks About Globalization
What Brazil Thinks About Globalization

Brazil is the largest and most populous country in South America, has the 8th largest economy in the world,1 is celebrating its first female president, Dilma Rousseff, and is planning to the host the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Olympics. Brazil has not only weathered the global economic crisis without major problems, its middle class is growing.

Yet despite all the good news, Brazil faces many challenges, including rampant crime and corruption, poor infrastructure, onerous pensions, a restrictive business environment with strict labor laws that encourage a thriving black market, and a very unequal society. Brazil also faces the major dilemma of balancing economic development with environmental protection.

Brazil has a strong export market in commodities that accounts for a third of its GDP.2 Brazil is a leading exporter of sugar, iron ore, steel, soybeans, coffee, and beef.3 In fact, it is the world’s second largest exporter in soy and 4th largest exporter in pork.4 It has a diversified set of trade partners around the globe, including Iran and China. China is Brazil’s largest trading partner and export market.5

Luciano Coutinho, BNDES President writes about Brazil’s economy in Revista Industria Brasileira:

The revival of world economy in the post-crisis and the promotion of sustained and sustainable development pose major challenges they pose to the next generation of leaders and decision makers worldwide.

The results of policies to stimulate the economy, adopted by the advanced industrial countries, has not had the expected effects and the global economy seems to live the threat of a new wave of recession.

Converging on the effort to return to global growth, the Heads of State and Government, gathered at the G20 summit, and pledged to avoid competitive devaluations and work to reduce global imbalances, which could mean a breakthrough in toward the end of “currency war” and the resumption of the Doha Round of World Trade Organization (WTO) is vital to reach an agreement that provides a fairer world trade among countries.

In this scenario of global economic imbalance, the Brazilian has been showing high growth rates, largely due to the strength of its vast domestic market. The Brazilian economy presents with ability to keep growing at a rapid pace and measures to prevent the return of external vulnerability should be taken in order to deflect hazards that endanger the sustainable development of the country

But the increased presence in international markets will only be possible through increased innovation and adherence, unprecedented for Brazilian companies to that cause.

Data from the Survey of Technological Innovation (Pintec 2008), held by the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics (IBGE), with support from the Financier of Studies and Projects (FINEP) and the Ministry of Science and Technology (MCT), embody this idea . The results show only marginal advances and worsens the situation, when compared with Asian countries, demonstrating that there is still a great effort being made by Brazilian companies and a further need in the context of public policy.

On another front, the trade balance has shown a retraction justified by the greater increase in imports relative to exports. So, sum up the need to broaden the innovation imperative to strengthen the Brazilian exports, with predominant production of products with higher technological content. For this reason, the Brazilian government provides a greater stimulus to international trade through the improvement and expansion of the system of export financing.

Innovation and exports gain relevance and become priorities of the Productive Development Policy for the next round of government, assuming the strategic role of inducers of sustainable development of Brazil, to generate more and better jobs, meet the demands of society in various areas such as education, health and environment, and reduce social and regional inequalities in the country.

Coutinho, Luciano. “Innovation and Competitiveness.” Revista Industria Brasileria. January 13, 2010. (Translated from Portuguese by Google)

Brazil attracts large amounts of foreign investment ($45 billion in 2008) and is a major investor in foreign economies as well. The Brazilian Development Bank has a larger lending portfolio than the World Bank.6 Since the 1990s, Brazil’s government has had a strict monetary policy. It has balanced its books, giving the country a reasonable amount of cash reserves to help it through the current, global economic crisis. The government development banks have required state lenders to loan money, when private lending dried up.7 Robson Braga de Andrade, President of Brazil’s National Confederation of Industry, writes about Brazil’s growth and competitiveness in light of the current international economic crisis:

The ability of Brazil to overcome the effects of global crisis last year and accelerating the growth of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) this year resulted in greater confidence among economic agents, thus favoring the attraction of investments. But the optimism may not lead to consider proactive attitude ensured the development process of the country need to set ambitious goals and work hard to achieve them.

If the Brazilians’ income to grow 4.5% annually through 2030, we reach the point where they are today countries like the United States, Switzerland and Canada. For this, we must expand the GDP at 5.5% per year. Maintain this pace for long periods requires the removal of barriers that are imposed for decades. At the same time we must prepare ourselves for the challenges of the global environment.

Brazilian companies bear a tax burden far exceeds the competitors from other countries, which so severely undermines the ability to capture new markets and investing. Reducing this burden, the complexity of the tax system, requires commitment from the Executive and Congress in the adoption of ad hoc measures and a broad tax reform. It fits into the roll of first generation reforms inconclusive, which also includes Social Security and Labour Relations.

The plethora of rules, legal uncertainty and costs for hiring and firing professional result in fewer jobs and lower wages than allowed, even in times of economic prosperity. Eliminate bottlenecks in power generation, ports, airports, roads and railways is also something that belongs to the agenda of the past and what needs to be solved urgently to reduce production costs and marketing.

The area includes educational challenges of the past and future. The country has managed to expand the number of vacancies at all levels. But we need to improve considerably the quality of education, from primary school to university. Besides acting in the public policy proposals, the industry directly contributes to this process through the excellence of the education provided in schools of SESI and SENAI.

Trained professionals are essential to have innovative, industry priority. This requires, however, quite wide efforts. Create and implement new processes, products and services depends on more technological research and dissemination of innovative culture throughout the productive fabric of the country

In the first two days this month, leaders from business, unions and industry associations that participate in the 5th National Meeting of Industry in São Paulo, will discuss these challenges. Overcoming them will take the Brazilian companies to a jump of competitiveness. Our major goal is the same as the whole of society: the path of development of the country.

de Andrade, Robson Braga. “Competitiveness and Growth. Revista Industria Brasileira.” January 13, 2011. (Translated from Portuguese by Google)

Brazil has an inadequate Internet infrastructure and comparatively, low levels of connectivity. Fast Internet connections are only found in the densely populated South East of the country (the coastal strip between Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo, but even in these region, most people have dial-up service. Broadband connections are relatively slow and expensive; carriers state that they face high taxes, which are passed on to the users. Fiber optic networks are being put in place, but progress is slow because of the high levels of initial investment.8 Nonetheless, indigenous communities in Brazil are increasingly taking advantage of the Internet, as described by Elisa Thiago in her analysis of the issue:

The idea commonly supported in the collective Brazilian imagination, that the indigenous Brazilian is no longer considered indigenous as soon as he or she adopts the customs and technologies inherited from the West, is countered by a reality in which indigenous villages are using information tools and technology with ever more frequency precisely for more efficiently defending their indigenous lifestyle and culture.

In Taqui Pra Ti [pt] blog, an article by Professor José Bessa Freire, coordinator of the Indigenous Studies Program (University of Rio de Janeiro) and research with the Graduate Program in Social Memoy (UNIRIO) discusses the indigenous appropriation of citizen media available online and the use of multimedia content to promote socialization, claim rights and affirm indigenous identity in cyberspace:

In Brazil, the government and non-governmental organizations encouraged indigenous Brazilians from different language groups to use the internet. Although the projects are still in their infancy, a number of the 2,698 schools in indigenous villages, frequented by more than 200,000 students, were equipped with computers. And where this was not possible, computers were set up in the Funasa health clinics within the cultural centers as part of the Electronic Government Program – Citizen Service [pt].

With increased computer access, the first indigenous internet sites began to appear in 2001. According to Eliete Pereira, from the Atopos Research Center at the Arts and Communications Faculty of the University of São Paulo, indigenous presence on the internet is still rather erratic. In a map she prepared of indigenous internet participation, Eliete found three types of sites: personal sites, sites corresponding to particular ethnicities and sites corresponding to indigenous organizations.

Holders of personal sites innovatively used the internet to show individual indigenous production. In this category, for example, we find the sites of writers Daniel Munduruku [pt] and Eliane Potiguara [pt], in which the authors present their books and interact with their readers…

The sites pertaining to specific ethnic groups have been designed to bring greater domestic and international visibility to particular indigenous ethnicity through the dissemination of arts, indigenous craft art, design patters, narratives and languages of different ethnic groups. This is the case of the Baniwa [pt], the Ashaninka [pt] and so many others who, after participating in the discussion on indigenous access to information technology and the internet in 2005 in Rio de Janeiro…

Finally, the sites created by different indigenous organizations are presented online by institutions that represent different ethnic groups, that cover local, regional or national collectives, and that are associated with the fight for land rights, bilingual education and the health of the indigenous population….

A very successful case of political action focussing on the use of digital technologies is the initiative pursued by Almir Narayamoga Suruí [en], chief of the Gamebey tribe of Suruí Indigenous Brazilians who live in the indigenous village of Sete de Setembro in the state of Rondônia, Brazil. The forest has always played an important role in the lives of the Suruí, both from a cultural point of view and from an economic one, which is why Almir’s tribe is engaged in reforesting and in combating deforestation of the ancestral lands through the use of tools like Google Earth and GPS….

A partnership with Google Outreach – Google’s social arm, and the Metareil’a indigenous association was signed soon thereafter in 2008. The first tangible result of this partnership, the so-called cultural map, was made available to internet surfers (using Google Earth), including to Suruí internet surfers. With the technical assistance of ACT-Brasil [pt], the map was prepared based on information collected in conjunction with the Suruí elders and wise men who were familiar with the history and characteristics of the tribal territory.

For Almir, the relationship between Suruí and the internet, this “tool of the white man,” is an innovative attempt to ensure that “contact” reinforces, not corrupts, indigenous lifestyle…

Thiago, Elisa. “Brazil: The Indigenous, The Internet and Interculturality.” Global Voices Online. August 14, 2010.

Another major technology issue in Brazil is its strict copyright laws. Debora Baldelli, a Brazilian (and Italian) social scientist, musicologist and web content editor, analyzes this issue:

Listed among the five toughest laws in the world [pt] with regard to access to information and cultural products in protected works, the Brazilian Copyright Act (Law 9.610/98) is to be reformed…

The most popular issues discussed on the web are public difficulties in accessing cultural information, author freedom related to their works and excessive profiteering by industry middlemen. Regarding the misconceptions of the current law, a researcher at the Center for Technology and Society at Fundação Getulio Vargas Marília Maciel states in an interview for Nós da Comunicação [pt]:

The current model of copyright protection favors the middleman, either publishers or labels, over the artist. It is necessary to place the focus on the artist again and to establish limitations and exceptions to strike a balance between the interests of the artist and those of society in gaining access to knowledge and intellectual works.”
The culture of freely sharing content and accessing information is often seen as piracy in Brazil…

The Hackeando Aibo blog points to an incompatibility between the new law, existing technology and the online information sharing conjuncture: ….Information sharing on the web is already taken as fact and defending the 70 year old copyright laws, as the industry has been doing, is akin to becoming obsolete in the face of a reality.”

…The proposed changes have the main benefit of resolving important issues like the public right of access to culture. The “Cineclube: Apontamentos” [pt] blog emphasizes the importance of the new law for greater circulation of cultural production:

The political trajectory of this draft bill will be one the most momentous decisions, precisely because of the central importance it has in the process of ownership and circulation of cultural production which, in turn, will be an increasingly important thing to maintain or transform relations of power in global society.”

…. Meanwhile, independent socio-cultural initiatives have been forced to close down due to the high rates of license fees charged by ECAD. The blog of Ação da Cidadania (Citizens’ Action), for instance, announces that the planned free youth film screening that would launch the NGO’s Film Society created with state funding had to be cancelled.

…The law does provide protection for DRM [Digital Rights Management]; in general, it is illegal to remove, modify, bypass, or impair such anti-copying technology. It’s just that rightsholders can’t use DRM as a digital lock to give themselves more control over a work through technology than they have under the law. (…)

…Even with apparent international support for the proposed changes to the Brazilian legislation, there is a need to place greater attention on the lack of dialogue between the country and relevant international treaties, as Marília Maciel emphasizes [pt]:

The international treaties signed by Brazil allow signatory countries to include in their national legislation limitations and exceptions for educational use of intellectual works, in order to facilitate access to these works for disabled people, and to digitize library collections, for example. Our current copyright law does not allow this.”

Baldelli, Deborah, “Brazil: Copyright Reform Proposal Under Consultation.” Global Voices Online. July 30, 2010.

Brazil’s culture is well-known and regarded worldwide. One element of its culture that has been impacted by globalization is its film industry, as noted below.

Although the modernization and globalization of Brazilian culture can be traced back to the 1960s, the full effects of globalization would not be noticeable until the 1980s, when the Brazilian “economic miracle” vanished amid the tremors of the Latin American “lost decade,” as the 1980s, dominated by neoliberal policies, have been called. While the crisis led to certain political democratization, it also shattered national cinema, unable to cope with the sharp decline in public attendance, the dwindling of state funding, and the television networks.

Television was promoted by the military as a magnet for economic development and an apparatus of national security, and it had taken over the entertainment market and become the main shaper of the national imagination. Telenovelas, in fact, became the undisputed form of popular entertainment as well as an exportable commodity and symbol of modern Brazil. Therefore, the crisis was not just economic, but as Randal Johnson argues, it also represented the bankruptcy of the state-supported mode of film production, which, despite some remarkable success during the 1970s, did not lead to the consolidation of a self-sustaining industry…

While the transitional government of José Sarney (1985–1989) offered tax incentives for film investment, the neoliberal administration of Fernando Collor de Mello (1990–1992), the first democratically elected president in thirty years, abolished all state film agencies and protectionist measures, which had long ceased to be effective anyway… production fell to a historical low: thirteen films in 1990, three in 1993. The situation improved slightly during Fernando Henrique Cardoso’s tenure (1995–2003); the government passed some tax incentives, authorized direct state funding, and reestablished a reduced exhibition quota….

Is it possible to keep talking of a Brazilian national cinema in the age of economic globalization and postmodern cosmopolitanism? One thing is sure: behind the diverse strategies adopted by filmmakers to withstand the impact of globalization, there is always the trace of the national. The growing disillusionment with national models substituted the social didacticism and epic allegories of Cinema Novo with more intimate and testimonial narratives focusing on the daily life of subaltern and marginal subjects…

Thus Brazilian films are often constrained: they are bilingual or entirely in English; deal with topics, characters, and plots that fit—or at least evoke—Hollywood classic genres; tell a “universal” story in a local context; and play the exoticism card, exploiting the typical and the stereotypical (carnival, music, exotic sex)….

The Globalization of National Cinema.” Film Reference.

Brazil offers free, universal health care to all of its citizens; it is considered a constitutional right. The rich can pay for better care.9 Some of the major problems/controversies are the illegality of abortion (except for rape and life-threatening cases) and the inequality of services amongst Brazilians of African descent (in comparison to those of European descent).10

Brazil’s healthy policies have been controversial in the past, such as when Brazil sought access to drugs (i.e. HIV drugs), but did not want to pay the high premiums. Brazil pitted itself against the international pharmaceutical industry (especially U.S. companies) when it wanted to export generic versions of the drugs before these versions were allowed to be sold commercially. Since joining the WTO, Brazil has introduced tougher patent laws. Today, Brazil is working with many of international pharmaceutical companies to co-develop and sell pharmaceuticals both inside the country and abroad.11

Brazil faces many environmental problems associated with deforestation of the Amazon. It is the world’s 4th largest emitter of greenhouse gases, due to deforestation and changes in land-use for agriculture and livestock. Reduced forest cover has decreased rainfall in the Amazon basin, impacting indigenous tribes living off the land. Ahead of the 2009 UN climate change conference, Brazil pledged to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent by 2020. On the other hand, Brazil has also pledged to double the size of its cattle herd by 2018.12

Nestory Bailley, a Brazilian reporter, writes about these environmental challenges in the English-language newspaper, The Rio Times:

It is clear the Amazon rainforest is extremely important for the global climate, sequestering over 2 billion tons of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere every year and harboring a vast diversity of life. It is also clear that there is a plethora of challenges with the Amazon, from severe droughts, floods and environmentally destructive dams, to uncontrolled deforestation and land speculation, also known as grilagem.

The fate of the Amazon is a global concern, but also one that the Brazilian government is fiercely protective of…

Going to the conference, Brazil had an ambitious ‘voluntary national goal’ of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 36.1 percent to 38.9 percent by 2020. In late 2009, these benchmarks were codified into domestic legislation, accompanied by a National Climate Change Fund financed partially by future oil and gas revenues.

Bailly, Nestor. “US Focus on Brazilian Amazon.” Rio Times.

João Miguel D. de A. Lima, a student of Social Sciences, from Fortaleza, Brazil, writes about Brazil’s new forestry code:

Meanwhile, back in Brazil, the new Forestry Code proposal had suddenly made its way back to the National Congress end of year voting agenda….

The bill provides amnesty to illegal deforestation and degradation, it reduces the preservation area along rivers, and eliminates the need for legal reserves for rural properties of a certain size and a discount for larger properties….

As the new Forestry Code still awaits a vote, it seems the debate of environment and agriculture in Brazil will come up again and again, especially with the scenario of climate change.

de A. Lima, João Miguel D. “Brazil: Key player at COP 16 but bad example at home?” Global Voices Online. December 15, 2010.

Brazil is a major exporter of alternative energies, including 37 percent of the world’s ethanol.13 Danilo Gonçalves writes the about the state of alternative energies in Brazil.

Brazil has received acclaim in recent decades as a country of clean energy, with sources like hydroelectric power and alcohol playing a major role in the country’s energy mix…

The Amazônia News blog summarizes the data on energy supply by source [pt]:
According to data from the Energy Research Company [Empresa de Pesquisa Energética] (EPE), 90% of the energy generated in Brazil in 2009 came from renewable sources, primarily water (83.7%), biomass (5.9%) and, nominally, wind (0.3%).

Transforming this natural potential into installed and production capacity requires overcoming a series of economic, technological, logistical and regulatory bottlenecks. The EPE predicts that Brazil’s overall energy mix will not have changed much by 2019.
Despite the predominant supply of renewable energy that Brazil offers, [see graph by Balanço Nacional de Energia (BEN, pt)], the trajectory of energy use demonstrates that the country’s heaviest consumption is still derived from petroleum-based sources.

Thus, there is an excess of renewable energy that Brazil sells to other countries while it is remains obligated to import petroleum-generated energy.

The solution to this situation lies in technological advances…

Yet, despite the availability of this technology in the market, according to the Amazônia News blog, the majority of Brazilians are not in any condition to access renewable energy [pt]:

The problem is price. Solar energy is still relatively expensive, meaning an endeavor of this size is economically unviable. This is not to say that solar energy does not play a strategic role in the country’s sustainable development. According to [Enio Bueno] Pereira, the most simple strategy would be to disseminate the use of solar panels on roofs for domestic use as a means of reducing demand on the system and, thus, freeing up more energy for industrial use, primarily during peak hours.

Most consumption in Brazilian residences comes from electric showers. Noting the needs of Brazilian society, a group of researchers at the USP developed a low-cost solar heating system (ASBC in Portuguese). The system uses PVC covering to capture solar energy and heat the water contained in special holder, which can potentially reduce monthly electricity consumption by 60% – savings that recover the initial investment within five months. Numerous Brazilian blogs like that of Carol Daemon have been spreading word about this system and its installation, and the Sociedade do Sol site even includes free installation manuals as well as a list of material suppliers [all in pt].

Wind energy has also been gaining ground with a number of companies that have placed their bets on the importance of this clean-energy source as a viable alternative for the future.

The Ética Global blog has been promoting an innovative project published in Fiec magazine and developed by Mechanical Engineer Fernadez Ximentes, owner of Gram Eolic in the state of Ceará. The project consists of lampposts powered entirely by wind and solar energy that include a seven-day window in which they can remain lit without any solar or wind input….

According to the company, these lampposts represent savings of R$21,000.00 per kilometer/month when used as a substitute for purely electric lampposts, and their installation cost is 10% less than that of traditional lampposts. The state government is partner in the project and plans to install the system within the next few years.

Gonçalves, Danilo. “Brazil: Research and Advances in Renewable Energy Sources.” Global Voices Online. October 13, 2010.

Brazil is still clearly reliant on fossil fuels for much of its energy needs. In 2007, offshore oil fields were discovered, which are expected to generate billions of dollars in annual revenue in the coming years.14 These oil fields gave Brazil the 2nd largest oil reserves in South America.15 Stone Korshak, Editor and Publisher of English-language The Rio Times, writes about the challenges of Brazil’s recently-found oil fields:

It does not surprise me that such a massive issue has separated the state of Rio de Janeiro and Brazilian federal government regarding oil proceeds. Rio certainly has been counting on this income as part of its budget for the foreseeable future. Living here it’s hard not to have some bias, but one thing seems obvious, Brazil has a lot of eyes on the Cidade Maravilhosa (Marvelous City), and needs to keep investing in it.

Sometimes in Rio it seems that half the estrangeiros (Gringos) living or passing through work in the oil business. Most of these Americans are coming from the deep South, joined by a full range of Europeans with colorful tales of worldwide oil adventures from places like Nigeria and Iraq.

Clearly Rio is considered a choice assignment,… most oil workers are happy to spend a one or two year tour in-country….

Even with all the buzz, it is often hard to gauge just how big Brazil’s oil & petroleum future is, but statistics from 2009 show it with over 12 billion barrels of reserve, much lower then leaders like Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Russia….

Petrobras alone (55 percent owned by the Brazilian government) is reported to have plans to Invest over $200 billion within the next four years on the pre-salt oil fields, which are believed to hold over 50 billion barrels of high-quality crude oil.

So it is not surprising that Brazil is getting serious about what to do with all this new-found wealth, and the national government is flexing it’s authority. According to the new proposed oil royalty plan, 52.5 percent will be spread among all of Brazil’s 26 states, 40 percent will go to the feds, and the oil producing states and cities will get the other 7.5 percent.

This is a far cry from the 30 percent that is currently received, and it will be interesting to see what happens after this current plan is re-negotiated. The only thing I hope for is that there is room in the budget to keep something like the BP offshore disaster in the Gulf of Mexico from destroying Rio’s beaches, and livelihood.

Korshak, Stone. “Oil, State and Unity.” The Rio Times.

In the past 16 years, Brazil has undergone an economic transformation. The country deregulated and privatized many of the public sector industries. Poverty was reduced from 48 percent of the population in 1990 to 26 percent in 2008. From 2004 to 2008, about ten million Brazilians joined its middle class.16 Nonetheless, Brazil faces many development challenges. President Dilma Rouseff addresses the issue of development in her inaugural speech:

… We are living through one of the best periods of our nation’s life: millions of jobs are being created; our growth rate has more than doubled and we have ended a long period of dependence on the International Monetary Fund, at the same time as overcoming our external debt.

Above all, we have cut our historical social debt, rescuing millions of Brazilians from the tragedy of extreme poverty and helping millions of others to join the middle classes.

But in a country as complex as ours, we always have to wish for more, discover more, create innovative new directions and always seek new solutions….

To face these great challenges we have to maintain the foundations that guaranteed our arrival at this point.

But, equally, we must include new tools and new values.

In politics, reform is an indeclinable and urgent task to bring about changes in legislation so that our young democracy can move forward, strengthen the direction taken by political parties and fine-tune our institutions, restoring values and providing more transparency in all types of public activity.

To make the current cycle of growth last, it is necessary to guarantee stability, especially price stability, and to go on ironing out the wrinkles that still hold back our economy’s dynamism. We need to facilitate production and stimulate our people’s entrepreneurial capacity, from the large corporations down to the small local businesses, from big agribusiness to family-run smallholdings.

We cannot, therefore, put off implementing a set of measures that will modernize the taxation system, led by the principle of simplification and rationality. The intensive use of information technology should be put at the service of an increasingly efficient system that is marked by its respect for the tax-payer.

Valuing our industry and increasing its strength in exportation will be an ongoing target. The competitiveness of our agriculture and livestock, which makes Brazil a major exporter of quality products to every continent, deserves all our attention. In the most productive sectors the internationalization of our corporations is already well underway.

Support for our big exporters is not incompatible with providing incentives, development and support for smallholders and micro-businesses. Small companies are responsible for the greatest number of permanent jobs in our country. They will merit ongoing tax and credit policies.

Giving value to regional development is also imperative in a country of continental dimensions. We must sustain the vibrant economy of the North-East; preserve, respect and develop the biodiversity of Amazonia in the North; and provide conditions for the extraordinary agricultural production of the Middle-West, the industrial output of the South-East and the vigor and pioneering spirit of the South.

First, however, it is vital to create real and effective conditions that can better use and realize the potential that lies in the immense creative and productive energy of the Brazilian people.

In the social arena, inclusion will only be fully reached with the universalization and improvement of essential services. This is one decisive and irrevocable step toward consolidating and broadening the great achievements obtained by our people during President Lula’s government.

It is therefore essential that we undertake a renovating, effective and integrated action among the federal, state and municipal governments, especially in the areas of health, education and security, as is the express wish of the Brazilian population.

My Dear Brazilians,

My government’s most determined fight will be to eradicate extreme poverty and create opportunities for all.

We have seen significant social mobility during President Lula’s two terms. But poverty still exists to shame our country and prevent us from affirming ourselves fully as a developed people.

I will not rest while there are Brazilians who have no food on their tables, while there are desperate families on the streets, while there are poor children abandoned to their own devices. Family unity lies in food, peace and happiness. This is the dream I will pursue!

This is not the isolated task of one government, but a commitment to be embraced by all society. For this, I humbly ask for the support of public and private institutions, of all the parties, business entities and workers, the universities, our young people, the press and all those who wish others well.

Overcoming extreme poverty demands that a long period of growth is given priority. It is growth that generates the jobs needed for current and future generations.

It is growth, together with strong social programs, that will enable us to vanquish inequality in income and in regional development…

We will continue working to improve the quality of public spending.

Brazil has opted, throughout its history, to build a State that provides basic services and social welfare.

This involves high costs for the whole of society, but it also means that everyone is guaranteed a pension and universal health and education services. Therefore, improving public services is also imperative as we improve our government spending…

Consolidating the Public Health System (SUS) will be the other great priority of my government…

The SUS must target providing a real solution that reaches the actual people who use it. For this, all the available tools for diagnosis and treatment should be used, making medication accessible to everyone, as well as strengthening policies for preventive action and for health promotion.

I will indeed use all the strength of the federal government to keep under scrutiny the quality of the service provided and the respectful treatment of the users.

We are going to establish partnerships with the private sector in the area of health, ensuring reciprocity in the use of SUS services…

I consider that Brazil has a sacred mission to show the world that it is possible for a country to grow rapidly without destroying the environment.

We are and will continue to be the world champions in clean energy, a country that will always know how to grow in a healthy and balanced fashion.

Ethanol and hydro-energy sources will be greatly encouraged, as well as alternative sources: biomass, wind and solar energy. Brazil will continue to give priority to preserving natural reserves and forests.

Our environmental policy will benefit our action in multilateral forums. But Brazil will not let its environmental action be conditioned by the success and fulfillment, by third parties, of international agreements.

Defending the environmental balance of the planet is one of our most universal national commitments.

Rousseff, Dilma.Official English transcript of Rousseff’s inauguration speech (as released by Brazil’s Ministry of External Relations). Huffington Post. January 3, 2010.

International Law
Brazil’s foreign policy has often drawn the ire of the United States, especially its support for Iran. Recently, Brazil became the first country, among others in Latin America, to recognize a Palestinian state. Brazilians respond:

On December 3, 2010 Brazil officially recognized [pt] the Palestinian state within the 1967 borders – before the Six-Day War – by note No. 707 of Ministry of Foreign Affairs / Itamaraty…

Journalist and historian Rafael Fortes, in his blog, comments [pt] on Itamaraty’s note, praising the decision, which he considers consistent with the foreign policy practiced by President Lula in recent years..

Miguel Grazziotin, in his blog, salutes [pt] Brazilian diplomacy’s decision, which he considers fair, given that Brazil also recognizes the state of Israel…

Marcos Guterman, in his blog, on the other hand, criticizes [pt] the decision, citing possible mistakes..

Claudio Ribeiro at the blog Diversas Palavras [Many Words, pt] also criticizes the media’s coverage, accusing it of having ties with American interests – those that are opposed to the recognition of Palestine…

For a long time, according to the blog Kaos en la Red [Chaos in the Web, pt/es], Brazil has sought an active position on the resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and the recognition of the Palestinian state can give more strength to Brazil in participating in such negotiations. Jorge Seadi, writing for the Sul21 [South21, pt] blog, analyses the meaning of the recognition for the Brazilian government and its practical effects…

Garcia, Raphael Tsavkko. “Brazil: Recognition of the Palestinian State.” Global Voices Online. December 13, 2010.

Marta Cooper reveals how Brazil’s blogosphere reacted to the election of Brazil’s first female president.

Dilma Rousseff, a former Marxist guerrilla who was imprisoned and tortured during Brazil’s military dictatorship, has become the country’s first female leader [pt], winning 56% of the total votes…

Dilma rarely marketed herself explicitly as a female president, instead prioritising poverty reduction over gender issues. But women’s groups applauded [pt] her win as a huge success in a country in which females are often excluded from decision-making, and hoped it would boost the creation of public policies for women…

…veteran women’s rights activist Rachel Moreno [notes] ….We are yet to claim equal pay for women; better access and equity in the labour market; political reform that gives us an equal playing field, a respectful image, diverse and plural media; etc. etc. etc.

Maíra Kubík Mano, writing at feminist blog Viva Mulher [pt], also stressed the symbolic importance of a woman leading the country given the low participation of women in Brazilian national politics. However, also referring to the ugly nature of the recent abortion debate, she reminded us that “Dilma is not synonymous with having a government that supports feminist agendas”:

… Yes, it’s important to elect a woman! Very important, and in the next few days we can assess this better. But Dilma is not simply a “woman.” She is a Brazilian that dared to fight against the dictatorship in clandestine organisations. The old elite does not forget that. She is a brand as strong as the four fingers of the worker that will never be accepted in the old gang.

Cooper, Marta. “Brazil: country elects first female president .” Global Voices Online. November 1, 2010.

Paula Góes further describes Brazil’s reactions to Dilma:

Dilma will also be the first Brazilian woman, and the 18th woman ever, to join the elite club of female leaders currently in power as presidents or prime ministers throughout the world.

… Conscientious women throughout the country are watching Dilma, hoping that she brings justice to the condition of women in Brazil and that she presents herself as an icon of female strength, valiance and intelligence.

…Cynthia Semirames [pt] has taken the opportunity to depict Brazil’s political history from a feminist standpoint, reminding readers that, in the ’20s, when her grandmother was born, women were not allowed to vote, that only in 1932 did they gain the right to help decide how the country would be run. For Cynthia, Dilma’s election musters a wave of hope for so many Brazilian women:

It is interesting to see that the first woman to reach the presidency of Brazil does not hail from a political background (one of the most macho public arenas): she stood out and was chosen as a candidate on account of her professional skills. She is a symbol of hope for so many women who are excellent professionals but who face a glass ceiling, women whose work goes unrecognized and who are prevented from breaking into the upper echelons of the workforce.

… Symbolically, this is incredible, regardless of your ideological bent, especially considering how women are remarkably underrepresented in national politics: in the last legislature, we women accounted for only 8.97% of the House of Representatives and 12.34% of the Senate, and these figures decreased in 2010.

…. Our choice involved a risk; we voted in the hopes that Dilma will essentially continue to pursue Lula’s model of government.

No, I do not think the people voted for an unknown. I think the people voted for an ideology, fragile as it might be. It was a vote of trust.

…A week after elections, Brazilian women bloggers continue to shout out in chorus: yes, she can.

Goes, Paul. “Brazil: Female Bloggers React to the Country’s First Female President: Yes, She Can!” Global Voices Online. November 8, 2010.

Human Rights
Treatment of Brazil’s indigenous population is one of the major human rights issues facing the country.

“For as long as they can remember, the Guarani have been searching – searching for a place revealed to them by their ancestors where people live free from pain and suffering, which they call ‘the land without evil’.

But the evil, violence and human rights abuses is what the Guaraní have found in Brazil. They represent one of the most numerous indigenous people in the country (46,000 out of aprox. 734.000), but they continue to be the target of constant attacks and victims of an alarming rash of suicides. The NGO Survival International adds
Today, this manifests itself in a more tragic way: profoundly affected by the loss of almost all their land in the last century, the Guarani suffer a wave of suicide unequalled in South America….

Egon Heck, a member of the Conselho Missionário Indigenista [Indigenous Missionary Council] (CIMI), in an article reproduced by the blog Global Ethics, presents a panorama of desolation [pt] and describes the persecution of the Guarani Kaiowá as a genocide:

According to reports of violence by CIMI (Indigenous Missionary Council), in the last five years, there were more than 200 murders and more than 150 suicides, more than 100 children died of malnutrition, about 200 Indians were arrested and more than 90% of households were living with basic food allowance and other government benefits. This illustrates a small extent of the dramatic situation that these people are subjected to. Anthropologists and other scientists have described a similar situation as genocide and ethnic cleansing…

The exemption of the judiciary that should investigate and act on the persecution of Kaiowá has been called into question . According to Adital, Frei Tito Information Agency for Latin America,

The question now is the lack of impartiality of the regional judiciary, which has little sensitivity to these native people, systematically favoring the farmers and people linked to agribusiness….

However, to the date they are “systematically encouraging farmers and people related to
agribusiness” and the voices of those who claim on the human rights of the Guaraní Kaiowá seem not to be sufficiently strong as the economic interests of large corporations such as Shell and Cosan focus on exploration of the sacred land, as NGO Survival International reports, calling to action to help the Guarani.

Moreira, Sara. “Brazil: Eradicating the Indigenous Guarani Kaiowa.” Global Voices Online. November 16, 2010.

Brazil’s media is open. A recent case of censorship of a satirical blogs, was heavily covered by Brazil’s media:

In late September, the satirical website Falha de São Paulo was removed from the web by an injunction in the Brazilian courts.

The site’s purpose was to satirize newspaper Folha de São Paulo – the biggest in Brazil. It posted mocking montages [pt] of the newspaper, fake and ironic headlines, and set up a “generator of headlines”…

Dozens of blogs, newspapers and magazines came out in defense [pt] of the website and its authors to freedom of expression. Folha is known for the censoring its critics in the blogosphere, and this is not the first time that Brazilian bloggers showed unity against such practices.

Meanwhile, the journalists’ union in São Paulo condemned the censoring [pt] of Falha, citing other recent cases of censorship promoted by mainstream media….

The Bocchini brothers explain the reason behind being censored, claiming it is the first of its kind in Brazil:

This is the reason why the brothers have decided to spread news beyond the borders of their own country: In Brazil, less than 10 families run the most influential means of communication […]. For corporate reasons, those families’ means of communication never highlight stories that may affect one another. It ‘s become a tradition in Brazil. This is the first time a blog has been censored and sued in Brazil for this reason….

Garcia, Raphael Tsavkko. “Brazil: Newspaper Folha de São Paulo censors satirical blog.” Global Voices Online. December 17, 2010.

Brazil’s newspapers are increasingly found online and its print industry is starting to fade. Raphael Tsavkko Garcia, a Masters student in Brazil, writes about this trend:

On August 31st, 2010, Jornal do Brasil (JB) [Brazil Newspaper, pt] announced the end of its printed edition and the migration to an 100% online version…

Founded in 1891, JB was among the most important newspapers in Brazil at the end of the 19th century and for most of the 20th century. It was also the first newspaper to go online in the country, in 1995…

For Júlio Pegna, from the blog As Sandálias do Pirata [The Pirate sandals, pt], the episode is more like a lesson to the old media itself:

More than just the fall of a company, the end of JB is a sign for the mainstream press. It shows how it is possible, even for an icon, to lose financial consistency when vision is lacking. The print media forms are doomed to disappear as the reading public has more and more access to instant information; broadband is the inexorable path that will strike down the good old newspaper. The question is how the fish will be wrapped in the free-market thereafter

On the last day of the newspaper printed existence, many journalists gathered in protest [pt] against the upcoming lay-off of almost half of its employees, claiming that the decision is comparable to throwing the country’s memory to the trash…

Garcia, Raphael Tsavkko. “Brazil: Jornal do Brasil Quits Print and Goes Online.” Global Voices Online. September 16, 2010.

Brazils faces major education gaps amongst its citizens. Brazil’s students have consistently scored low on international exams. Repetition of grades, especially first grade, is common. Many students are only in school because of President Lula’s compensation policy to keep children in school. Because of the poor education system, more than 22 percent of Brazil’s workforce is not qualified to meet market demands.17

One reason for the poor education system is that 50 percent of school funding is used to pay for pensions of retired teachers (who can retire with full pay after 25-30 years). Teachers are allowed to be absent up to 40 days in a school year without losing any of their salaries. In general, low quality teachers are a big problem, as teachers do not receive training in the subject matter or pedagogy.18

Reforming Brazil’s education system is a high priority of incoming President Dilma Rousseff. Cristovam Buarque, a professor at the University of Brasília and a PDT senator for the Federal District, writes about the state of Brazil’s education in Brazzil magazine:

Of all these changes, the only one that will permit President Dilma to leave her mark on Brazilian history, as the 21st-century Juscelino Kubitschek (JK), will be the initiation of the process of radically transforming elementary/secondary education and providing each Brazilian with the same opportunity to access quality education, independently of family income or city of residence.

This can be done by elevating all 200 thousand schools in Brazil to – at least – the quality of the nearly 200 schools that are currently federally run. To do this, it will be necessary to initiate the National Teachers Profession and a federal program of scholastic quality with full-day class sessions.

These two programs are not enough, nor will they yield their complete results throughout Brazil during one or even two presidential terms. But if she undertakes the right measures to promote a break with the sad picture of the Brazilian educational tragedy, the new president will be not only the first Brazilian woman president, she will also be the first president for a new time: the Dilma Cycle.

Buarque, Cristovam. “After Brazil’s Timid Social Democracy Dilma Has a Chance to Start New Cycle.” Brazzil. January 2011.


1 “Cattle, Soyanization, and Climate Change Brazil’s Agricultural revolution.” Policy Brief #2. Brighter Green. 2011.
2 Casas-Zamora, Kevin. “Brazil: Poster Boy of Globalization Charts Own Course.” YaleGlobal. April 9 2010.
3 Prada, Paulo. “For Brazil, It’s Finally Tomorrow.” Wall Street Journal. March 29, 2010.
4 “Cattle, Soyanization, and Climate Change Brazil’s Agricultural revolution.” Policy Brief #2. Brighter Green. 2011.
5 Casas-Zamora, Kevin. “Brazil: Poster Boy of Globalization Charts Own Course.” YaleGlobal. April 9 2010.
6 Ibid.
7 Prada, Paulo. “For Brazil, It’s Finally Tomorrow.” Wall Street Journal. March 29, 2010.
8 Trevisani, Paulo. “Picking Up Speed.” Wall Street Journal. March 29, 2010.
9 “The highs and lows of universal health care in Brazil.” World Focus. January 26, 2009.
10 Soman, Ebey. “Health Care in Brazil.” January 8, 2009.
11 Andrew, Jack. “Brazil’s prescription for pharma.” Financial Times. December 22, 2010. 12 “Cattle, Soyanization, and Climate Change Brazil’s Agricultural revolution.” Policy Brief #2. Brighter Green. 2011.
13 Casas-Zamora, Kevin. “Brazil: Poster Boy of Globalization Charts Own Course.” YaleGlobal. April 9 2010.
14 Prada, Paulo. “For Brazil, It’s Finally Tomorrow.” Wall Street Journal. March 29, 2010.
15 Casas-Zamora, Kevin. “Brazil: Poster Boy of Globalization Charts Own Course.” YaleGlobal. April 9 2010.
16 Ibid.
17 Barrionuevo, Alexei. “Educational Gaps Limit Brazil’s Reach.” The New York Times. September 4, 2010.
18 “Education in Brazil.” The Economist. December 9, 2010.

Leave a Reply

six × 3 =