I'm truly stunned that the most popular news magazine program in this country would actually do a segment on Latin America that doesn't involve coups, natural disasters, drugs or disease, so I'm generally pleased to see this segment on 60 Minutes focusing on Brazil:
I largely agree with the report regarding the infrastructure and the issue on training workers, but disagree with Eduardo Bueno, the historian/journalist/commentator, who seemed eager to generate old stereotypes about Brazil that seem more rooted in a carioca mentality, than say, one from Parana, Minas Gerais or Sao Paulo (yes, I know Bueno is from Rio Grande do Sul). There are plenty of serious, hardworking, dedictaed Brazilians. Now may very well be their time.
Dilma Rousseff has been elected Brazil's first woman president and vows to continue the policies of her predecessor, Lula.
This largely spells the end to Jose Serra's political career. He has now lost two elections for president and I think that his party, the PSDB, is going to look elsewhere to run against Ms. Rousseff in 2014; a likely candidate being Aécio Neves, the governor of the state of Minas Gerais, the grandson of former president, Tancredo Neves, who died before taking office and is firmly in the tradition of canny politicians from Minas Gerais. Neves has just been elected senator.
This is worth noting, however:
Mr. [outgoing President Lula] da Silva has praised Ms. Rousseff’s administrative credentials as more than sufficient to lead Brazil. But her lack of sway in the Workers Party could hamper her, analysts said.
Ms. Rousseff “is much more of a hostage to the party than Lula was,” said Denis Rosenfield, a political analyst at Rio Grande do Sul Federal University. The result, he said, could be that the more left-leaning arm of the party seeks to “radicalize her positions.”
If Ms. Rousseff looks weak in four years, do not be surprised to see Lula reappear on the political scene. I've always felt that he is bigger than the party he created and his current approval rating is 83%. Those are numbers of which most politicians can dream.
Boz tips me to the fact that Tiririca, arguably one of the most annoying personas to appear on television in Brazil, not only was elected a Federal Deputy (equivalent to US Congress), but received more votes than anyone else.
Most of my experience with Tiririca has been to see his antics on television in Brazil and his borderline racist rant Veja O Cabelo Dela (Look at Her Hair), in which he sings of a woman whose hair resembles steel wool, refuses to bathe and smells worse than a skunk.
Notwithstanding the possibility that he's illiterate which may disqaulify him for office, I would imagine given his career success, that should be interested in learning to read, it would be no problem for him to do so, unlike someone poor whose work leaves him with precious time to do so. I wouldn't be surprised if it were part of his persona.
I have to disagree with Boz, by the way. Requiring literacy for office holders isn't any more discriminatory than minimum age requirements for example. Indeed, the necessity of being able to write legislation as well as read it is of paramount importance to legislators.
This is embarrassing - at least according to my Brazilian family. One hopes he'll do the right thing and realize that there are far to many clowns in office in Brazil.
Although Dilma Rousseff has garnered more votes than Jose Serra, there will be a runoff in Brazil's presidential election as she failed to get a clear majority of the votes. There will be a runoff on October 31.
I'll have some more thoughts on Dilma and Lula tomorrow.
I was out of town last weekend and am just getting around to reading this article in last Saturday's New York Times about education in Brazil. Some points worth mentioning:
Mr. Trend is enthusiastic about Brasilia's 50th anniversary. I, alas, am not. I find the city to be unpleasant, impersonal, even downright Stalinist in its appearance.
It's a place in my mind utterly devoid of charm and a monument to the automobile. It is also a symbol of wasteful spending. There were no roads from the coast to the construction site, so building materials were brought in by helicopter. Even Oscar Niemeyer, the architect who designed the buildings is disappointed with what it has become.
It was wastefully expensive, but I suppose it's one of those places worth visiting once in your life. I have and have little desire to repeat the experience.
Boz asks some good questions about Brazil and Lula:
Is it Brazil? Or is it Lula? Does Brazil get this seat because they are a rising regional and global power with real political, economic and diplomatic influence? Or does Lula sit there because he's a global rockstar, someone whose sheer personal presence seems to be a force on the international diplomatic stage?
Yes, Brazil now has real political, economic and diplomatic influence. For years Brazil has had the canniest diplomatics in Latin America, if not the entire hemisphere. The economic credibility started to come into focus when inflation was successfully tamed in the 1990's and has been generally improving since, with an occasional hiccup. The current decade has been about the best and Lula's leadership is a significant part of the reason.
The political influence has developed as a result of the improved economic influence as well as Lula's ability to deal successfully with leaders across the political spectrum.
So the short answer is probably all of the above.
I am not familiar with Dilma Rouseff, Lula's Chief of Staff profiled here in Sunday's New York Times. Her predecessor, Jose Dirceu, a shrewd, albeit slimy political operative was more visible and got more attention, even before his resignation under allegations of vote buying.
Nevertheless, while I believe that there is legitimate concern about her running for president under the PT banner with a cancerous tumor just having been remived from her chest, there is an underlying core of idiocy in this article and I think it is a classic example of Alexei Barrionuevo's poor journalism.