Global Security Headlines

Sunday, November 22, 2009

´´Brazil is different´´

Spain´s leading daily in Madrid, El Pais, sports a thorough article on the Brazilian success story in -Brasil, el gigante despierta (´´Brazil: The Giant Awakens´´) this Sunday.

Brazil is different. "Brasil es diferente". Brazil is in ascendancy.

Oil (la gran espoleta ) ´´fuse´´ is fuelling Brazil´s rise to eminence. Brazil hosts the World Cup in 2014, the crown jewel of soccer and the national passion as well as the recently-announced summer Olympics 2016 - both in the strife-torn paradise of Rio de Janeiro.

However, it was not always so. As the article points out, a mediados de los cincuenta importaba el 95% del petróleo que consumía (in the 1950s, it imported 95% of its oil consumed) and now se puede convertir en la sexta región petrolífera del planeta, could become the world´s sixth largest oil producer, a virtual island of stability in contrast to the far-flung and fragile oil sheikdoms in the Middle East.

Indeed, state-run megacorporation Petrobras posted a $4.24 billion profit last quarter in line with market expectations.

On the flipside, 25% of Brazil´s population swelters in poverty, a high rate of violence afflicts its largest cities, and substandard infrastructure and educational systems are difficult obstacles to overcome. The large oil profits accumulated by the state are not reaching the most destitute and less fortunate.

President Lula, a fighter from his union days, can point to at least one success on the macroeconomic level during his two terms in office: Brazil, the largest economy of Latin America, was one of the first countries to emerge from the global economic crisis.

As a powerful developing country with unlimited ambition and a regional heavyweight, on the diplomatic front, Lula drew raised eyebrows by welcoming Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad this Monday just two weeks after the visit by Isreaeli President Shimon Peres. Mr. Ahmadinejad will also include mutual friends Hugo Chavez of Venezuela and Evo Moraels of Bolivia, two countries at odds with Washington, on his travels to the region.

Perhaps the retiring president believes his good offices could promote peaceful dialogue with a fellow oil producing state. Next year, Brazil chooses a new president as he steps aside.

At the end of the day, despite its internal challenges, Brazil continues to acumula las mayores reservas de optimismo del planeta (accumulates the greatest reseves of optimism on the planet).

Any visitor here can certainly attest to that feeling in the air and among the people.

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