Brazil: Getting Real

How do Brazilians look at their country at this significant development stage?

July 31, 2002

How do Brazilians look at their country at this significant development stage?

For quite some time, Brazil — the largest country in South America — has managed to cope with economic and financial difficulties quite well. But now, as the country's presidential election approaches, investors are nervous about the outcome. They fear that the leftist Luis Inácio “Lula” da Silva might be Brazil's next President. Our new Read My Lips explores what Brazilians and others have to say about their country's affairs.

How does the Brazilian opposition view the current government?

“President Fernando Henrique is in command of the Titanic. He should stop taking part in those elite parties. He should see the iceberg ahead of him — and stop acting like Captain Smith.”

(Luis Inácio “Lula” da Silva, Brazil’s Labor Party presidential candidate, June 2002)

Apart from the results, why are Brazil's upcoming elections so important?

“We need to show that we have political capacity and maturity to make the transition to a new government in the least turbulent manner possible. That is what the population desires.”

(Pedro Malan, Brazilian Finance Minister, July 2002)

Why do foreign investors watch the elections closely?

“Investors fear earthquakes, droughts and elections, that is natural. And it is our duty to take the necessary measures to prevent election turbulence.”

(Cristovam Buarque, former governor of Brasilia, June 2002)

Does Brazil need to please foreign investors?

“Brazil can’t be treated as if it were a colony. Brazil needs to think about what it wants.”

(Luis Inácio “Lula” da Silva, Brazil’s Labor Party presidential candidate, July 2002)

What makes the present crisis different from previous ones?

“The pressure on Brazil is real: to shrug it off as just a speculative attack obscures the underlying problems.”

(Marc Chandler, chief currency strategist at HSBC in New York, July 2002)

Is the present opposition — if elected — ready to work with the IMF?

“What is it that we will never allow the IMF to do? To determine our economic policy. It may well discuss the rate of loans and the form of payment — but not our minimum wage or the fiscal adjustment I will do.”

(Luis Inácio “Lula” da Silva, Brazil’s Labor Party presidential candidate, May 2002)

Why is the U.S. Secretary of the Treasury cautious about supporting Brazil's economy?

“Throwing the U.S. taxpayers’ money at a political uncertainty in Brazil doesn’t seem brilliant to me.”

(Paul O’Neill, U.S. Secretary of the Treasury, July 2002)

Does the U.S. President share this view?

“Brazil has demonstrated its ability to use international monetary assistance effectively — and they have sound economic polices that are in place.”

(U.S. President George W. Bush, July 2002)

How does Brazil's opposition think about this approach?

“Bush thinks first in the interest of the American people — and there is nothing wrong with that. I think that Brazil should do the same and negotiate its interests in a more open and daring way.”

(Luis Inácio “Lula” da Silva, Brazil’s Labor Party presidential candidate, May 2002)

What needs to done to put Brazil in such a position?

“Each country has its own economic model, its own tax policy and development policy. Brazil needs to build its own.”

(Luis Inácio “Lula” da Silva, July 2002)

What is a philosopher's take on Brazil's future?

“The future that never arrives is the greatest mystery in Brazil.”

(Brazilian novelist Joao Ubaldo Ribeiro, July 2001)