Brazil-US Accords: Back to the Backyard?

The return of the Cold War in international relations seems to translate into new alignments in Latin America. It’s largely the result of struggles between the great powers. At a time when Brazil is going through severe economic and political instability, the rapprochement of the United States could cut the wings of a region that had taken solid steps toward independence, and reaffirm its subordination as “America’s backyard.”

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2 thoughts on “Brazil-US Accords: Back to the Backyard?

  1. The Brazilian government is in trouble, and is asking Washington for help.

    Unfortunately I cannot explain why in just a few words.

    Read on if interested.

    Brazil is a hellhole for all but the very rich. Brazil used to be quasi-socialist. Now it is a plutocracy. Brazil used to be a rapidly developing nation. Now it is covered with favelas (shantytowns). It used to have an economy based on manufacturing. Now its economy is based on resource extraction (e.g. mines owned by the rich) and on Big Ag (i.e. giant farms, owned by the rich).

    The catastrophe began in the mid-1990s with election of neo-liberal politicians, whose sole function was to widen the gap between the rich and the rest.

    President Fernando Henrique Cardoso (in office from 1995-2003) “reformed” Brazil – i.e. he enacted mass privatization, plus mass decriminalization of financial fraud. Cardoso put the state oil company Petrobras under private control. He privatized the lucrative telecommunication giant Telebras, which led to the mass firing of workers, and the subcontracting of labor at lower wages and without benefits. (By “privatized,” I mean Cardoso handed it over to the rich in return for bribes.)

    In 1997 Cardoso privatized the gigantic Vale do Doce iron mine. The Vale S.A. company now owns almost all mines in Brazil, and has become the world’s largest mining company. In Brazil as elsewhere the mining sector creates few jobs, and massive pollution, plus environmental destruction. Vale S.A. also owns railroads, ports, ships, container terminals, and nine hydroelectric plants that were built with government money. Vale S.A. pays no taxes, as all its funds are stored in the Cayman Islands.

    In January 2012, Vale S.A. was elected world’s worst company by the Public Eye People’s, an award that refers to human rights and environment. This is the Oscar of Corporate Shame. Vale became the first Brazilian company to “win” it. The choice was made by public vote, and Vale received 25 thousand votes.

    Cardoso also lowered tariffs, and ended industrial subsidies, thereby opening the door to industrial imports (i.e. he began the process of sending Brazil’s manufacturing jobs to other nations). Cardoso also opened the door to a mass influx of trans-national corporations.

    Naturally he gave endless speeches about the wonder of “free trade.”

    All this was designed to widen the gap between the rich and the rest.

    Cardoso had been a professor, and was called a “sociologist.” That is, Cardoso was an Obama — i.e. someone who pretended to care about the masses, but was an eager puppet of the bankers and the rich. Cardoso’s successors (Lula da Silva and now Dilma Rousseff) were also Obamas: radical right-wingers that the corporate media outlets call “leftists.”

    (And the masses actually fall for it! But as we shall see below, the Brazilan masses aren’t falling for it anymore.)

    SIDE NOTE: Actually we have always had Obamas. Woodrow Wilson’s re-election slogan was, “He kept us out of the war.” Three months after Wilson was re-elected, he forcibly sent 117,000 Americans to their deaths in World War One. (The victims were conscripted.) Wilson imprisoned anyone who questioned the slaughter. He also passed the Espionage Act of 1917, which was used to crush the American Socialist Party, and send its presidential candidate (Eugene V. Debs) to prison for five years. Obama himself has used the Espionage Act to send seven truth-tellers to prison, including Bradley Manning. In 2005, Pentagon Iran expert Lawrence Franklin, along with AIPAC lobbyists Rosen and Weissman were indicted under the Espionage Act. Franklin was forced to plead guilty, while Rosen and Weissman walked (since they were Jews).

    And still the masses love their Obamas. And their Jews.


    Lula da Silva and Dilma Rousseff are members of the “Workers’ Party,” which corresponds to the Labor Party in England and Australia, and to Democrats in the USA.

    They pretend to represent workers, but they represent bankers and financiers. The party’s symbol is a communist red star. (What a sick joke.) The “Workers’ Party” now controls the House, but the senate is controlled by the “Democratic Movement Party,” which corresponds to Republicans. There are 28 other parties, but all of them are aligned with one side or the other. (Republican or Democrat.)

    Under the “Workers’ Party,” more workers have been laid off than ever before. Party leader Dilma Rousseff preaches the gospel of “free markets” and austerity (i.e. ever-worsening inequality and unemployment) as did her predecessor, Lula da Silva.

    The global depression has slowed China’s economy, which in turn has plunged Brazil and Australia into a depression, since their economies depend on exporting raw materials to China. Brazil and Australia are similar in some ways, although Brazil is 10% larger than Australia, and has nine times the population, much of which lives in extreme poverty.

    Naturally Brazil’s financial markets are booming, as they are throughout the world. Wall Street thrives, while Main Street dies.

    Each new Obama in Brazil increases the rate at which the Amazon rainforest is being destroyed. The rain forest creates most of our oxygen, and much of the rain forest is now privately owned, which means that eventually we will have to pay the rich if we want oxygen. Already in much of the world we must pay the rich if we want water. Detroit sits on the edge of the world’s biggest supply of fresh water, but the people cannot afford to pay for water.

    As poverty and inequality increase, so does racism. Under Dilma Roussef the number of violent incidents against Indian communities increased 237%. The Rousseff regime has given Indians the least number of legal titles (homologado) to land of any president in decades. (Rousseff gives the land to rich miners and loggers instead.)

    And of course the “progressive” governments of Cardoso, Lula, and now Dilma forcibly purge favelas (hundreds of thousands of residents) in order to build sports complexes and luxury accommodations for the rich.

    Perhaps you can see why Brazil is not an ALBA nation. Brazil is ruled by a brutal plutocracy.

    There are huge social protests almost every single day, in over 200 cities. The latest scandal involves politicians and their cronies having stolen over $17 billion from Brazil’s biggest oil company, Petrobras, which became an ATM for those with power and connections. Everyone was in on it, including former president Lula, the inner circle of current President Roussef, the chairs of both houses of Congress, and the treasurer of the ruling “Workers’ party,” plus all of Brazil’s biggest construction firms. So far, one hundred and three politicians and executives have been indicted on charges of racketeering, bribery, and money laundering. They pocketed millions while they laid off millions. (And none will ever go to jail.) (President Dilma Rousseff is also a thief, but as a sitting president of Brazil, she cannot be indicted. Rousseff was president of Petrobras when much of the theft took place.)

    The thieves include former Brazilian president Fernando Collor de Mello (who was impeached for corruption in 1992). Another thief was Eduardo Cunha, an evangelical preacher and president of the lower house. Cunha has a cinema inside his mansion in Rio de Janeiro.

    Another thief is Renan Calheiros, the president of the senate. Calheiros is a member of one of Brazil’s political dynasties. He is filthy rich, and a career criminal. In 2007 he was forced to resign as head of the senate after it came out that a construction firm lobbyist was paying child support on Calheiros’ behalf to Calheiros’ former mistress. However Brazilian politics are so corrupt that Calheiros had no trouble becoming president of the Senate again.

    Brazil’s economy – and Petrobras itself – had already been shaken by the sharp fall in oil prices, but the latest scandal has made things worse. Petrobras recently announced plans to sell off $15.1 billion of assets in assets this year, which will lead to more layoffs. Brazil’s largest oil workers’ union has staged an open-ended strike to protest this.

    Congress is paralyzed. More than 200 companies involved in the theft have lost credit lines. Major construction projects have been halted. Countless workers have been laid off. Dilma Roussef’s approval rating is the lowest of any Brazilian president in decades.

    This is why I say the Brazilian government is in trouble, and is begging Washington for help. As the Brazilian masses become increasingly furious and desperate, Dilma Roussef needs new means to crush them. She also wants weapons that will let Brazil become a new imperialist power in South America.

    Obama is eager to help her with loans and guns. Brazil’s economy is the seventh largest in the world. Half of South America’s GDP is in Brazil alone. Hence, a full imperialist alliance with Brazil will make Obama ecstatic. And, as the article notes, Washington wants to stop Russia’s involvement in Brazil’s space program (e.g. satellite launches).

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