In recent years, many events in Brazil are incomprehensible if one doesn’t have in mind the country’s international relations. Many analyses, most of them, even those that present themselves as critical, reflect on this period having in mind only the internal dynamics, especially that of class struggle. Although the workings of class struggle dynamics are at the epicenter of the crisis, its genesis and much of its mechanics have external origin. It is the power of the world’ most influent country, the United States of America, for destabilizing that we speak of here.
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Iraq, Syria, Ukraine, Lybia, the “Arab Spring” and Iran are examples of the regime change action of the USA, as it has been spoken of by many scholars and even by the press. From explicit use of military power (as in the Iraqi case), to the support to opposition armed forces (the “moderate opposition” in Syria), to the use of the internet as means of destabilization coupled with the financing of internal opposition groups (that organize demonstrations, occasionally violent, and act strongly in the social networks) – the top world player makes use of many tools to sabotage the governments that stand against its agenda and its interets in the specific regions.
In the Brazilian context, as it has been put in another article, the current instability began with the demonstrations of June 2013. In an article published on a Brazilian magazine (Piaui), the mayor of the biggest national metropolis, Sao Paulo, Fernando Haddad, member of the Worker’s Party – PT – mentioned that Dilma Rousseff and Lula were informed by Recep Erdogan, Turkish president, and by the Russian leader, Vladimir Putin, that at that time an intense “bot” activity on the internet had been detected, meaning fake profiles that would be inciting protests. Political right groups under suspicion of foreign financing surfaced. Active protest organizers were important in the creation of the overall hate and politically and socially intolerant atmosphere that took over since then. Even though the left had taken active part on these protests and emphasized historically important demands in Brazilian society, the like of health care and quality public education, the new demonstrations after Dilma Rousseff’s reelection in 2014 were headed by the right, composed basically of the middle class, dissatisfied by the social ascension of millions of poor people and the loss of their relative status.
The foreign policy in the PT period was very different from that of the precendent, with FHC, and aimed to prioritize the South-South partnerships, the strengthening of the South-American bloc (Unasul) led by Brazil and, that which might have been the most ambitious step, the forming of the BRICS bloc (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa), which, after the “Fortaleza Declaration” in 2014, ceased to be only an annual meeting of rising countries in global affairs represented by their chiefs of government, and started to be a group that proposed a new fund, the “BRICS IMF”, officially named “Contingent Reserve Arrangement”, and a new bank (the New Development Bank), with its headquarters in Shanghai, China. Other measures were important, like the successful intermediation with Iran over a nuclear issue in 2010, five years before the agreement that is in effect nowadays (having started in 2015, and not having worked for the lack of interest of the USA at the time), the establishment of the South-American Defense Counsel (which was an effort to institutionalize the mediation of potential conflicts in the sub-continent by the Unasul without, therfore, interference from foreign powers), the creation of Celac (alternative to the Organization of American States without the presence of the United States and Canada), the expansion of Brazilian diplomacy with the installation of new embassies, especially in Africa, among more examples. All of those sedimented a foreign affairs step to broaden the range of Brazilian influence and reduce dependence on traditional partners (the United States, Western Europe), although in no moment this policy tried to challenge with North powers. In truth, agreements were attempted, for example, the commercial negotiation between Mercosul and the European Union (which lasts to this day). But in the case of FTAA (Free Trade Area of the Americas), a USA government’s objective since Bush the Elder, the countries of Brazil, Argentina, and especially Venezuela, did not accept its celebration.
This policy displeased the dominant power axis in the North Atlantic. Particularly the establishment of the BRICS group. Brazil’s move to an economic and political approximation, especially with China and Russia, is being blocked. Brazil continues to participate but with much smaller ambitions under Michel Temer’s presidency, result of a parliamentary coup that has most likely gotten foreign support. He sees the group merely as a way to attract foreign investments, a passive strategy that dissonates with recent Brazilian objectives of search for global protagonism, expansion of diplomatic relations, of political influence and of Brazilian companies of national capital.
The Brazilian Prosecutor General made deals of “international cooperation” with many countries, among them the USA, represented by the Justice Department. And, in an action that could be taken as against the state, passed sensitive information about Brazilian companies to a competing country. Crucial companies for the expansion process abroad in the PT government, as Petrobras, building contractors as Odebrecht, Embraer and JBS are object of investigations and actions in Brazil and in the USA, and also in other countries. JBS became a global giant, the biggest global beef processing company and leader in the North-American market. Petrobras kept exclusivity over operations in the so-called pre-salt (deepwater oil reserves) and the supply of equipment for this exportation needed to have mostly Brazilian origin. The Brazilian contractors, sector in which Brazil had expertise, had been thriving in Latin America and Africa, running against North-American, European and Chinese companies. And Embraer (target acquisition of the North-American Boeing) is the biggest manufacturer of regional jets in the world.
Curiously, Operation Car Wash hit precisely these protagonist economic sectors. Sectors that had developed with public financing, which is not exactly a Brazilian innovation. As an example, all it takes is analyzing the role public banks have in the Chinese development. Or the public spending on the USA’s technological development via military spending (which then affects civil investments). All of the relevant countries in the world count on the State’s presence in the development of its national capitalism. The problem with corruption, which certainly has to be examined, has changed into alibi for the disarray in internal sectors, as it has been the case of heavy construction engineering and shipbuilding. Recently, the president of the Korean company Samsung was involved in a corruption scandal that caused the impeachment of the South-Korean president. He was arrested but the company carried on normally. In the USA and Europe, the investigations assert penalties to people and companies, but do not block its regular production. Brazil Attorneys in association with institutions in other countries harmed the Brazilian economy, caused unemployment, drove away investments, precipitated market loss, ruined companies. The anti-corruption action taken by Operation Car Wash came to be (and still is) in a destructive format. The previously embezzled resources that returned to Petrobras were of minimal ranking if compared to the huge losses that the company has had since 2014, year when the Operation hit start, incurred by investment paralysis, stock market devaluation and credibility loss. Besides that, the bad managerial decisions from Temer’s government on, verifiable in its attempts to slice the company up to sell assets (while other big oil companies are integrated and work from drilling to selling products), try to diminish Petrobras’ protagonism in energy production and in fostering Brazil’s growth.
Thus, powerful economic and political interests, both internal and external, conjoined to make the scenario fertile for the taking of the legitimate president’s power. As once said Henry Kissinger, former secretary of state in the USA that it isn’t in the USA’s geopolitical interest that there be a Japan in South America. In a few years, as a promising nation Brazil has become a country in economic, political and social crisis, which, it seems, will take a long time to leave.