Brazil in the 2010’s

Brazil in the 2010's

In the space of a little more than a decade, Brazil presented himself on the international scene profoundly changed: from a country characterized by fragile and uneven growth, with very high indices of social inequality and rural and urban poverty, to one of the most emerging economic powers. dynamics, capable of overcoming the effects of one of the most serious global economic and financial crises of the last eighty years almost without consequences. The main protagonist of this change was the president Luiz Inácio da Silva, called Lula, exponent of the Partido dos trabalhadores (PT), in office from 2003 to 2010, who was able to wisely exploit, through targeted economic and financial policies, the enormous potential of the country., one of the world’s leading producers and exporters of raw materials. During his two terms, Lula managed to combine growth and social development and to relaunch the country’s international role in both the regional and global contexts. His first measures, in line with those of his predecessor Fernando Henrique Cardoso, focused on the issues of financial recovery and containment of inflation, which was accompanied by a program of incentives for production and investments in public works aimed at absorbing unemployment and restart the economy. GDP growth was thus anchored not only to exports, but also to the increase in domestic consumption, supported by public social inclusion programs aimed at the poorest classes and by other measures such as subsidized credit for pensioners and low-income workers and guaranteed minimum wage. Growth Acceleration Program), a vast three-year infrastructure investment plan in key sectors such as energy, transport, water resources, housing and health, which constituted a further driving force for development. However, many structural deficiencies continued to exist. The corruption and inefficiency of the bureaucratic and administrative apparatus were only minimally scratched and the ruling party itself, including the president’s closest collaborators, were repeatedly involved in financial scandals. The expectations of the new middle class in sectors such as health and education were in many cases unfulfilled and the conditions of the poorest strata of the population remained precarious. Land reform and land redistribution, despite the promises made during the election campaign, they underwent a progressive slowdown as well as the demarcation of indigenous territories, often violated by mining and oil companies, with the consequent rekindling of the protests of the Sem terra movement and of the Indians. The fight against organized crime also set the pace and internal security still remained somewhat precarious. Harsh criticism also raised the devastating impact of many infrastructures on both indigenous peoples and the ecosystem. One of the most talked about projects was the one involving the construction of the Belo Monte dam along the Xingu River in the heart of the Brazilian Amazon, destined to be the third largest dam in the world, after those of the Three Gorges, in China, and of Itaipú, at border between Brazil and Paraguay. Against its construction, which provided for the flooding of about 500 km2 of the forest, environmentalists and indigenous communities of the area took sides, who with their protests stopped the construction sites several times. For Brazil 2011, please check

Even with these heavy limitations, at the end of his second term (2010), Lula could boast a positive balance: the country had 30 million people out of poverty, an unemployment rate almost halved, to 6.7%, the lowest level ever recorded, while citizens falling into the middle income classes had exceeded the threshold of 100 million, becoming the majority of the population for the first time. In 2010, supported by Lula, Dilma Rousseff was elected president in the second round with 56% of the votes. The first woman to hold this office, Rousseff resumed the guidelines of her predecessor’s program (state intervention and protection of the internal market), but in an unfavorably changed context. The economy, after years of sustained growth, it began to slow down gradually as inflation and unemployment rose. The government tried to run for cover by launching a new investment plan (PAC2) and a new welfare program called Brasil sem miséria, considered an integration of the Bolsa familia (launched in 2003 by Lula) which provided for economic aid and bonuses in services to families with less than 70 reais per month (about 42 dollars). This plan was accompanied by a second program (a green Bolsa) which provided for the provision of loans to poor families living in protected areas committed to protecting the environment. Additional funds were then earmarked for preparations for the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Olympics.

In reality, these latest projects were accompanied by numerous controversies and thousands of demonstrators protested near the most famous stadiums on the occasion of the World Cup. In fact, a large part of public opinion considered the precarious socio-economic situation incompatible with the expenses linked to these events, disputing that public money was used in the construction of pharaonic sports facilities rather than in improving the health, school and transport infrastructures that were still too backward. All this weakened the position of Rousseff who still managed to win, albeit by a narrow margin in the second round, the presidential elections of October 2014, beating the social democrat Aécio Neves, supported by the socialists of Marina Silva (51.6% against 48.4% %). Voted above all in the poorer and more depressed regions of the North, Rouseff said she was ready to relaunch the economy even by expanding the intervention of private individuals, without however weakening social programs. In December 2014, to meet the requests from the business world, Rousseff appointed Armando Monteiro, former president of the Brazilian Confindustria and exponent of the opposition party Partido Trabalhista brasileiro (PTB), Minister for Development, Industry and Foreign Trade. Nonetheless, its position was weakened in early 2015 by the financial scandal involving the state oil giant Petrobras and dozens of politicians, including members of the PT, and by the slowdown in the economy.

The international politics of the Brazil is characterized in this decade by an extreme dynamism. The country’s goal was to reform world governance through the affirmation of a multipolar political model in which Brazil could play a leading role. As part of this strategy, Brazil strengthened cooperation with other emerging powers, such as India, China (which in 2009 became Brazil’s main trading partner, ousting the United States), Russia and South Africa (v. brics) and fought for a more prominent role in some international organizations such as the WTO and the UN in which he continued to claim a permanent seat. A further strategic objective was the strengthening of relations with South American countries to which Brazil he made a significant contribution – from the Union of South American Nations to Mercosur – in the attempt to lead the cooperation on the continent. Economic and commercial relations with the European Union and with Italy also remained close, despite the fact that during 2011 some friction was created due to the failure to extradite former Italian terrorist Cesare Battisti.

Brazil in the 2010's