Inside a Champion. An Analysis of the Brazilian Development Model
In a two-page advertisement in May 2012, the Itaú Bank summed up things as they now stand: “We are no longer the land of the future, we are the land of the present. We are in the limelight now.” Brazil’s foreign minister, Antonio Patriota, said much the same thing that same month when he stated: “For the first time in history, Brazil is an international power.” He continued by saying that Brazil is currently moving on the global political stage on an equal footing with stable nations like the United States, the United Kingdom, and China, and that it is justifiably being afforded a great deal of attention as a result.
This feeling of “and now it’s our turn” is something that can scarcely be overestimated in its significance for politics and the collective consciousness of the country. It guides and legitimizes Brazilian politics – both at the domestic and international levels – and drives forward the development model, which is celebrated abroad as much as it is criticized by those affected as well as by critical observers.
In the past 10 years, Brazil has undeniably gone through a remarkable process of transformation. It has halved poverty rates and the country has changed its role in the international finance system from that of debtor to creditor,the economy has been growing continuously for years, and unemployment figures are low. In addition, those who were formerly considered environmental sinners have also kept in line with the transformation trend: The process of rainforest deforestation – the largest individual factor responsible for Brazil’s CO2 emissions – has slowed considerably since the beginning of the decade. At the UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen in 2009, Brazil even announced that it intended to voluntarily reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 36–39 percent by the year 2020.
The international community likes to see Brazil as a socially oriented, economically successful state that is sensitive to environmental and climate-friendly issues – one that has even managed to get the endemic destruction of the Amazon rainforests under control – and as a great power on its way to the top: a fact that can no longer be ignored by the global political community. Apparently, Brazil has top top marks in all disciplines – a champion.
A champion? It was this perception of Brazil abroad that led the Heinrich Boell Stiftung Brazil pull together a publication about the Brazilian development model. Because, in Brazilian civil society, another perception of its own state and the politics it pursues prevails. From the perspective of social and ecological justice, social movements and NGOs recognize a development paradigm that is all too similar to what came before and that, at the same time, has revived several large-scale projects from the times of the military dictatorship. They have also been criticizing a model that even conventional economic opinion considers to be founded on unsteady ground, as it relies on the exporting of raw materials and agrarian products – markets that are traditionally subject to considerable price fluctuations. Above all, however, critics say it is a development model that incurs considerable social and ecological damage as well as significant costs.
This publication takes a closer look at this discrepancy between how Brazil is perceived by those outside of and within its borders.
Click here to read Inside a Champion. An Analysis of the Brazilian Development Model (228 pages, pdf, 2.82MB)