While international media focuses on Brazil’s mass demonstrations against corruption, efforts behind the façade precipitate regime change, restoration of a pre-Lula order, and a struggle against the BRICS nations. The U.S. feels threatened by an era of multipolarity, which deeply implicates China, and other emerging economies.
In August 2016, Rio de Janeiro should host South America’s first-ever Olympic games, which were supposed to be its great coming out carnival, even amid campaigns against the Zika virus.
Only a few years ago, Brazil exemplified the BRIC dream of rapid growth. Now it is coping with its most severe recession in century. But there’s worse ahead.
Lula’s economic boom and countervailing forces
When Brazil’s first working-class President Luis Inácio Lula da Silva took office in 2003, the poor nation was on the verge of an economic implosion. President Lula’s center-left Workers’ Party (PT) and its coalition won the markets with conservative fiscal policy and lifted millions from poverty, while living standards rose by 60%.
Timing was favorable. A year after China joined the World Trade Organization; Lula initiated Brazil’s economic reforms. To modernize, Brazil needed demand for its commodities; to industrialize, China needed commodities. In the subsequent eight years, the U.S. share of Brazil’s exports plunged, while China’s soared. Regionally, Brazil became Latin America’s growth engine. Brazil and China shunned President Bush’s unipolar foreign policy; each supported a more multipolar view of the world.
So Washington’s neoconservatives began to strengthen ties with Brazil’s center-right opposition. Politically, this opposition comprised conservative social democrats (PSDB), Democrats, and Lula’s more liberal allies, juridical authorities and military leaders. Economically, it featured the narrow elite, which reigns over an unequal economy polarized by class and race, as well as conservative and highly concentrated media conglomerates owned by a few families, including Marinho brothers’ Grupo Globo. The demonstrators represent a multitude of groups, such as Free Brazil movement, neoliberal activists, Students for Liberty, Revolted Online etc. – but several have cooperated with or been funded by, the Koch brothers, the John Templeton Foundation, National Endowment for Democracy and many others.
During these years, Sérgio Moro, a Harvard-trained judge, and other emerging Brazilian leaders participated in the U.S. State Department’s International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP), which opened doors to U.S. agencies and institutions struggling against terror and money laundering. Created amid the Cold War, IVLP has engaged 200,000 international leaders with their U.S. counterparts, including current or former chiefs of state or heads of governments. Meanwhile, Brazil’s federal police began broader cooperation with the FBI and CIA in anti-terrorism.