I’d like to start AQ’s special issue on Brazil with a confession.
Over the past two years, as Latin America’s biggest country sank ever deeper into crisis, I’ve voiced more or less the same view: That Brazil is resilient, that its long-term history is one of clear growth and progress. That it will come out of its worst-ever recession with a healthier economy than before. That the investigation of corruption at Petrobras will lead to a quantum leap in strengthening rule of law.
So here’s the confession: I’ve wondered if all of that is really true.
Why? Because Brazil’s fate will depend entirely on the decisions that are being made right now, and in coming months and years. With the worst of the recession and political turmoil apparently over, this is the time for Brazilian politicians – as well as its business leaders, civil society and other citizens – to step up and create the country they want to live in. Progress is not impossible; but it’s not inevitable, either.
With impeachment and the Olympics behind us, we decided this would be a good time to publish an issue full of ideas from Brazilian and non-Brazilian authors on how to fix the country. Gray Newman, a distinguished economist, writes that nearly everyone has reached the wrong conclusions about what went wrong starting in 2014. We sent AQ special correspondent Stephen Kurczy on a two week trip to soy country for a piece on what may be Brazil’s best near-term hope for recovery: agribusiness. Esteemed author Juliana Barbassa visited a favela in Rio to see how to ensure the vast social gains of the past decade aren’t lost.
While some investors have been encouraged by President Michel Temer’s early decisions, it’s still unclear what kind of government he will lead. One thing does seem obvious, though: Many necessary reforms will be left to whoever succeeds him in 2018. Anybody looking at long-term bets on Brazil is already thinking about who that might be. So I interviewed the current frontrunner, environmentalist Marina Silva, to try to gauge how she has evolved since leaving the Workers’ Party in 2009 – and losing two elections since then. We have also published a look at who the other candidates might be.
This issue also includes a rich trove of non-Brazil pieces, including the second edition of our new cultural supplement, Cultura, a look at travel in Buenos Aires, and much more.