Brazil in 2014: Will Rousseff change course?

January 7, 2014

Paulo Soter0 – CNN, 12/30/2013

Editor’s note: Paulo Sotero is director of the Wilson Center Brazil Institute. The views expressed are his own. This is the latest in the ‘14 in 2014‘ series, looking at what the year ahead holds for key countries.

Three consecutive years of disappointing economic performance, with an average GDP growth of barely 2 percent and deteriorating fiscal and external accounts, should be enough to convince President Dilma Rousseff to move Brazil away from the inward policies and micromanaging style she introduced after succeeding her popular mentor, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, in January 2011. The same mindset has affected Brazil’s international affairs, with similar results.

A leader with little appetite or patience for diplomacy and focused by necessity on domestic challenges, Rousseff implemented a modest foreign policy agenda when compared to her predecessor and became the first Brazilian president to fire a foreign minister, over a preventable incident. There are both negative and positive incentives for Rousseff to change course as she faces reelection in October 2014.

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Brazil’s great moment of hope: interview with Paulo Sotero

July 11, 2013

Warren Hoge – Global Observatory, 06/28/2013

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“People in power are really ignoring the common man’s plight, and I think that is what made this thing boil over,” said Paulo Sotero, director of the Brazil Institute of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, of the recent protests, where hundreds of thousands of Brazilians took to the streets in over 100 cities.

The size of the protests caught even the organizers by surprise, and though they began after the government announced a modest rise in bus fare, Mr. Sotero, speaking from São Paulo, said a deeper sense of disappointment in the government is what really made the protests catch fire. “It’s not bus fare rises, it’s not per se the lavish expenditures on the stadiums. It is the irritatingly slow pace of change in a country that has experienced the emergence of a middle class that was promised and has seen some of the benefits of a middle class life with some degree of equity, but that suddenly see that life is very hard, that they may not get there because the economy is stalling, because inflation is on the rise again, because there is too much corruption,” Mr. Sotero said.

Mr. Sotero said that the Worker’s Party, which many Brazilians felt, “had been a party that valued ethics in politics, a party that came from the bottom of society, the only grass roots party in the history of Brazil,” changed once it was elected to the federal government, where it’s goal became to keep power and to have access to public funds for their own objectives, creating disillusionment among its supporters.

Click here for full article, transcripts and audio.

Paulo Sotero is the Director of the Brazil Institute at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.

Photo courtesy of Flickr user Yassin


Brazil’s leftwing leaders mourn Chavez with not-so-veiled criticism

March 11, 2013

Paulo Sotero – Financial Times, 03/11/2013

Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff declared three days of official mourning in honour of her late Venezuelan colleague Hugo Chávez Frias, who died on Tuesday in Caracas after a two-year public battle with cancer. “We recognize a great leader, an irreparable loss and above all a friend of Brazil, a friend of the Brazilian people,” she said before leading a minute of silence at a meeting with rural leaders in Brasília carried live on national television.

There was, however, an uncharacteristic twist in Rousseff’s expression of condolences. “On many occasions,” she noted, “the Brazilian government did not agree” with the policies of the Bolivarian leader. Insiders say this was not an extemporaneous remark, but a pre-planned statement calibrated for domestic and international consumption.

Rousseff also put some distance between her government and Venezuelan Bolivarians and their allies by returning to Brasília before the official funeral ceremony on Friday, attended by three dozen leaders, including Iran’s president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and Cuba’s Raul Castro.

 Read more…


Paulo Sotero on Brazil’s economy

February 4, 2013

Paulo Sotero – CCTV, 02/01/2013

Follow the link below to see Paulo Sotero’s interview on CCTV regarding the state of the Brazilian economy.

Paulo Sotero on Brazil’s economy

 


Brazil in 2013: Can Rousseff rise to the occasion?

December 11, 2012

Paulo Sotero – CNN, 12/10/2012

120604025757-dilma-rousseff-story-topThis is the first in a series of entries looking at what we can expect in 2013. Each weekday, a guest analyst will look at the key challenges facing a selected country – and what next year might hold in store.

Editor’s note: Paulo Sotero is director of the Brazil Institute at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, in Washington D.C. The views expressed are his own.

In her first two years as Brazil’s first female president, Dilma Rousseff did the improbable. A neophyte in elective politics seen by many as a mere extension of her revered predecessor and mentor, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, Rousseff is today more popular at home than her creator. Remarkably, she gained the trust of the Brazilian people while her economic team and policies lost investors’ confidence – GDP growth moved in the opposite direction of her approval rating, shrinking from 7.5 percent in 2010 to 2.7 percent in 2011, and somewhere around 1 percent this year.

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Policy Brief: Pursuing a Productive Relationship Between the U.S. and Brazil

December 3, 2012

Paulo Sotero – Brazil Institute, November, 2012

http://www.wilsoncenter.org/sites/default/files/styles/main-image-max-width-500/public/Dilma-and-Obama.jpg

blog do planalto

Converging economic interests are emerging as the principal driver of U.S.-Brazil relations. A reelected President Barack Obama and President Dilma Rousseff, at the half mark of her government, are confronted with daunting tasks. Both leaders need to scientifically improve the economics performance of their countries in the case of major political obstacles at home and an adverse economic outlook abroad. In both countries, sustainable growth will require investment in infrastructure, education, and innovation more than consumption. How they respond will determine the success or failure of their administrations. It will also affect the two countries’ bilateral relationship and their regional and global standing.

Continue reading the policy brief here…


Coisa de americano

November 14, 2012

Paulo Sotero – O Estado de S. Paulo, 11/12/2012

No fim de semana anterior às disputadíssimas eleições que deram o segundo mandato ao presidente Barack Obama, na última terça-feira, cenários de pesadelo preocuparam os analistas da grande imprensa americana. Em meio à polarização política que ameaça a governabilidade do país, e chegou ao paroxismo durante a interminável e caríssima campanha eleitoral deste ano, eles temeram que o pleito terminasse num empate no colégio eleitoral dos 538 chamados grandes eleitores que, constitucionalmente, escolhem o presidente do Estados Unidos. Num dos cenários, Obama e seu desafiante republicano, o ex-governador de Massachusetts Mitt Romney, acabariam com 269 votos cada um. As eleições, nesse caso, seriam decididas pela próxima legislatura do Congresso, a de número 113, que tomará posse no próximo dia 3 de janeiro, como manda a Constituição. A Câmara dos Representantes elegeria o presidente e o Senado, o vice. Como se previa que os republicanos continuariam no mando na Câmara e os democratas manteriam a maioria no Senado, como de fato aconteceu, os deputados elegeriam Romney para a presidência, os senadores confirmariam o vice-presidente Joseph Biden no cargo e a desgastante divisão que sufoca a política americana há quase duas décadas se instalaria na própria Casa Branca.

Outro cenário que preocupou os analistas até tarde na noite do dia 6 foi a inversão dos resultados da eleição popular e do colégio eleitoral. No envenenado ambiente da política americana – no qual narcisistas bilionários como o empresário e personalidade de televisão Donald Trump alimentam a mentira segundo a qual Barack Obama não nasceu nos Estados Unidos e não é, portanto, elegível à Casa Branca -, a inversão certamente ajudaria a alucinada direita republicana a levantar dúvidas sobre a legitimidade do presidente. Ocorreu quatro vezes na história do país, em 1824, 1876, 1888 e no ano 2000. No episódio mais recente, o vice-presidente Albert Gore, democrata, ganhou a votação popular por uma diferença de 543 mil votos num total de mais de 104 milhões. No entanto, o republicano George W. Bush recebeu a maioria dos votos do colégio eleitoral depois de uma controvertida decisão por 5 a 4 dos juízes da Suprema Corte, que lhe deu a vitória na Flórida. Em 18 eleições desde 1824, o vencedor foi eleito sem receber a maioria dos votos das urnas.

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Why the United States and Brazil will pursue a more productive bilateral relationship

November 13, 2012

Paulo Sotero  - Wilson Center/The Huffington Post, 11/09/2012

The growing presence of Brazilian global companies in the United Stated, complementing traditionally strong American investments in Brazil, has created a two-way street where common interests are more visible and pressure both governments to recognize the benefits of working together or risk paying a political price for not doing so.

Converging economic interests and similar challenges are emerging as the principal driver of United States-Brazil relations in the years ahead. A reelected President Barack Obama and President Dilma Rousseff, at the half mark of her government, are confronted with daunting tasks. Both need to significantly improve the economic performance of their countries in the face of political major obstacles at home, and an adverse economic outlook abroad. In both countries, sustainable growth will require investment in infrastructure, education and innovation more than consumption. How they respond will determine the success or failure of their administrations. It will also affect the two countries’ bilateral relationship and their regional and global standing.

After four years of anemic recovery and a victory on November 6th without a clear political mandate,, President Obama has now to find a path of economic growth that reduces unemployment while avoiding the pitfalls of a fragile fiscal and financial situation, which, if mishandled, could easily throw the United States and the world economy back into recession.

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Featured Q&A: Who are the big winners & losers in Brazil’s local elections?

October 26, 2012

Inter-American Dialogue,  10/24/2012

Brazilians went to the polls Oct. 7 to choose mayors and other local officials in the first round of the country’s municipal elections. Rio de Janeiro Mayor Eduardo Paes, of the Democratic Movement Party, easily won re-election, while in São Paulo, José Serra of the Social Democratic Party and Fernando Haddad of the governing Workers’ Party now face a runoff on Oct. 28. Who were the big winners and big losers in the municipal elections? What effect will the municipal elections have on national politics in Brazil? What role has the ‘mensalão’ corruption trial and conviction of José Dirceu, the chief of staff to then-President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, played in the country’s politics?

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Guest post: Brazil’s advancing democracy

October 21, 2012

Paulo Sotero – Financial Times, 10/19/2012

Democracy is not for the faint-hearted… It requires hard work, constant  attention, takes a lot of time to build and can easily be undermined by  political polarization, regressive campaign finance rules and deficient laws on  political representation. This month, two major events shed light on both the  successes and failings of Brazil’s quarter century old, vibrant democracy.

On October 7, municipal elections brought over 115m voters to the polls to  elect mayors and councilors in 5,568 cities and towns. A few days later, the  country’s Supreme Court returned guilty verdicts in the largest trial of political  corruption in Brazilian history.

The municipal elections were the first since the adoption of a new law  barring candidates with criminal records. Cast in electronic ballot boxes, votes  were tallied and results were published four hours after voting booths closed.  There were no legal challenges. In 50 municipalities, including 17 of the 26  states capitals, where no candidate cleared the absolute majority of 50 per cent  plus one, the two top candidates will go into a second round on October 28. The  top prize is São Paulo, Brazil’s economic capital and home to the country’s  third largest public budget.

Read more…


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