Monthly Archives: July 2013

Brazil: it’s a Long Way to the Top

“Ôoooo, o campeão voltou! O campeão voltou!”

“The champion is back! The champion is back!”, sung thousands of fans in the renewed Maracanã stadium in Rio de Janeiro, by the end of the Confederations Cup Final on sunday. Brazil scored three times against the powerful and revered Spain, who scored none, and even lost a penalty kick. One columnist assigned the victory to the “weight” of the yellow jersey: although Spain holds the current World Cup trophy, that’s their only title; Brazil is five times winner of the championship, with no other nation having gone so far.

Meanwhile, one block from the stadium, more than a thousand demonstrators gathered for another of a series protests in major Brazilian cities, that started nearly a month ago due to rise of public transportation fares, and rapidly increased in magnitude, with a variety of topics entering the agenda, including the high costs of hosting the World Cup of 2014 and the Olympic Games of 2016.

It is too soon to evaluate the full implications of the so called “2013 protests in Brazil” — as named by the corresponding Wikipedia page. Overall, the only thing one can safely claim is that there’s a general dissatisfaction with the state of affairs in the South American country, specially regarding the political and economical areas.

While Brazil experienced great development in the last decades, reaching the position of 6th largest economy, it’s GDP growth rate has been under 1% since 2011, and inflation — a major problem in the 90’s — is again at frightening levels — the forecast by the Central Bank is of 6% for this year.

In politics, corruption scandals are commonplace, and the chambers are poisoned by representatives with a religious agenda, politicians sponsored by large farmers with no concern for the environment, and pop stars that ceased to be successful on TV many years ago.

President Dilma Rouseff — backed by city majors and state governors — tried to calm the population down by proposing reforms in five major areas: economy, politics, health, education, transports. But the announcement didn’t have much effect on protests, and critics say it was a government maneuver to gain some time.

On one hand, it’s nice that the people are demonstrating anger and shaking the system. On the other hand, since the agenda is too big, there’s the danger that right-winged politicians will end up benefiting from the movement, getting back in power and making the situation worse.

At least Brazilians realized that the optimism that permeated the country was mostly the product of government advertisement and wishful confidence. Just like the Spanish team learned that there are “champions” and “five-times champions,” Brazil realized that it takes more than a few years of economical growth to become a strong, stable, first-world nation.