Tag Archives: Brazil

Friday Film: Dancing with the Devil

Dancing with the Devil (2009) is a documentary directed by Jon Blair. It is a story about crime in Rio de Janeiro told through the lives of three men: Spiderman, a 28 year old leader of a drug cartel, Leonardo Torres, a police inspector, and Pastor Dione, an evangelical preacher. By approaching the theme from three angles Blair gives us a well rounded insight into the situation.The warped mentality not only of Spiderman, but also of the police inspectors, speaks much about the continuing problems of tackling the drugs problem in large urban centres. The views of Pastor Dione, which often border on hyperbole, add another interesting take on the situation, and also provide insights into the rise of evangelical Christianity in Brazil. Despite the fact that the film is now a little out of date, as the police in Rio have started implementing a pacification programme, it is still well worth watching.

Film trailer:

The film is a little difficult to find on the internet, but a little bit of perseverance will pay off. For more information see the film’s official website, and IMDb.

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Indigenous Groups Start to Collaborate Against Mega Projects

I read an interesting article today on the BBC about the way in which indigenous groups across Latin America are collaborating in order to share ideas about how to oppose projects that threaten their ways of life. The inter-ocean highway, a road that will run from the Atlantic coast through Brazil, Bolivia and Peru to the Pacific coast, has been especially important in prompting groups with common interests to cooperate. There is an interesting video about protests against the highway in Bolivia here. Various indigenous groups have meet at summits, and they are increasingly using the internet to share ideas and build links with one another. Groups have also shared ideas about how to oppose hydroelectric projects, which indigenous groups have opposed strongly in both Chile and Brazil.

The strengthening of indigenous groups can only be a good thing for democracies in Latin America that are still far from being truly representative. Their increased involvement in national and international communities should ensure that they are better represented and that their interests are properly considered by governments. However, if they truly want to be incorporated in the body politic (and some do not) then they must accept that their wishes have to be balanced against the need for better infrastructure in order to promote economic development.



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O Globo Reveals Brazilian Participation in Falklands/Malvinas War

Source: Fox

The Brazilian newspaper O Globo has revealed that Brazil actively supported the Argentinian military dictatorship during the 1982 Falklands/Malvinas war, despite the fact that the Brazilian government has consistently denied that it took part in the conflict. The newspaper revealed that Brazil was involved in an operation to supply the military junta with large quantities of military hardware. Brazil’s role was to serve as a trafficking point for arms, most of which came from the Libyan capital Tripoli. The operation was organised by the Soviet Union in conjunction with the governments of Brazil, Cuba, Peru, Libya and Angola.

Brazil has been a strong supporter of Argentina’s claim over the islands in recent years, but it seems unlikely that Brazil would give Argentina similar support in a future conflict over the islands. Brazil has close links with Argentina and together they form the backbone of Mercosur, but Brazil is now fully inserted into the world economy, and has too much to lose by siding with an increasingly marginalised country.

There is more information here in Spanish, or here in English.

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Argentinian Government Begs Petrobras For Investment in YPF

After the severe backlash that followed the announcement of the nationalisation of YPF last Monday, the Argentinian government has asked that Petrobras – the energy company that is part owned by the Brazilian state – to invest more money in the Argentinian energy sector. The Argentinian planning minister Julio de Vido asked for the money while visiting the Brazilian capital Brasilia. He stated that ‘we are not asking that Petrobras replace Repsol,’ but that ‘we would like them to increase their participation in the sector.’ The Brazilian energy minister Edison Lobao said that that Petrobras ‘will invest as much as it can,’ but in actual fact the $500 million that it plans to invest this year is no higher than what it spent last year.

The agreement between the Argentinian government and Petrobras is an excellent sign for regional development. Latin American governments have traditionally relied on partnerships with North American and European companies to exploit their natural resources, but now Brazilian companies especially are starting to develop the financial muscle and know-how to make their own investments. Both Argentinian President Cristina Férnandez de Kirchner and her late husband found a close ally in former Brazilian President Lula, but the current Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff’s attitude toward left-leaning governments in the hemisphere has been a little more luke-warm. Although the agreement is a promising sign of things to come, it is still only a sign, and is not the answer to Argentina’s energy problems.

North American and European oil companies and investors that have the necessary knowledge and capital are now very unlikely to make significant investments in Argentina, and the appeal to Petrobras appears to be an attempt to find alternative sources of investment. The fact of the matter is that to fully exploit its reserves of shale oil and gas Argentina needs huge amounts of investment, which Petrobras alone is not capable of providing.

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Disagreement and Tension Mark Meeting Between Dilma and Obama in Washington

Source: noticias R7

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff’s first official visit to the United States this week has been marked by confrontation and disagreement. The purpose of the visit was to attempt to strengthen trade, investment and political ties between the two nations, but nothing substantial was agreed. Obama praised Rousseff and Lula for the progress that they have made in Brazil, and especially for aleviating poverty. The meeting, however, was marked by Rousseff’s combative mood; she strongly criticised developed nations for the financial policies that she said were threatening growth amongst emerging nations.

The biggest bone of contention for Brazil appears to be the fact that the US does not want to recognise Brazil as an merging world power. While Obama treated both Chinese and Indian leaders to a ‘state visit,’ which entails a formal banquet at the White House and the possibility to address Congress, Rousseff was on an ‘official visit,’ with less pomp and circumstance. The United States continues to be suspicious of the Brazilian government’s motives, and has been annoyed at Brazilian opposition to American international actions, most recently in Libya.

Both leaders were mistaken in their approach to the meeting; Brazil clearly wants to rival the United States in the Americas, as well as on the world stage, but it is still a long way from achieving that. Although Brazil has gained headway in terms of diplomatic power, and is fast emerging as a regional leader, the US still dominates Latin America economically and militarily. If Brazil covets a greater international role then it would be best advised to cooperate closely with the US, and not appraoch bilateral meetings in a combative mood. The United States must recognise that Brazil is a rising power in the hemisphere, and if it is not yet a great power, it looks likely to be one in the near future. Failing to recognise that fact now could have important ramifications for the US position in the Americas in the near future.

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Tipping the Scales: Brazil’s trade with China

Source: Veja

The Brazilian Ambassador to China Clodoaldo Hugueney today warned that Brazilian trade with China is becoming unbalanced, and that Brazil must take measures to correct the situation. As it stands at the moment, Brazil is exporting huge quantities of primary products to China, while China is flooding the Brazilian market with cheaply produced manufactures. Hugueney emphasised the fact that, ‘Brazil has the capacity to export manufactures and not only primary commodities,’ and that Brazil must try hard to rectify the situation.

Perhaps Brazil, of all of the Latin American countries, has been the most successful at diversifying its economy in the last two decades, but it still lags significantly behind other emerging economies, such as China and Korea. This is in part a reflection of the ‘success’ of the neo-liberal reforms of the 1990s, and the dismantling of the Import Substitution Industrialisation model, but it is also a reflection of the fact that high commodity prices are not conducive to diversification. The problem is that the longer Brazil waits to diversify its economy and strengthen its manufacturing sector, the more difficult it will become to compete with China. Latin America has faced a similar problem in the last two hundred years in regard to the United States and Europe; this time it is with China, and it needs to act quickly. Hugueney is right, but whether there is the political will or the resources for reform and investment is yet to be seen.

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