Brazil-What went Wrong?

I can recall my HS days, reading about Brazil-the “giant” of the south. Back in those days (late 1960’s) the writer of the articles predicted that Brazil, because of its vast resources and productive climate, would become a “First World” country by 2000. They predicted that by the end of the 20th century, Brazil would have an interstate hiqhway system like the USA, and would have a first-class army and a blue-water navy. It would be a thoroughly modern country, like the USA or Germany.
Now, going on 40 years later, the dream seems to be in tatters. Brazil has a huge foreign debt, and is having trouble competing with the Asian countries. It has widespread poverty, and its industrial miracle did not result in what was expected-it still suffers from widespread unemployment. As for its influence in the world-its armed forces play almost no role in world affairs-it remaina strictly regional power.
So what went wrong? The country is rich in resources, but it has experience instability in government, having been a republic, then a military dictatorship, now back to a constitutional republic again… Its currency has been prenially weak, and it is dragged down by its huge debt. Most disturbingly, there has been an exodus of many of its young, productive people to the USA-surely not a good sign for the Brazilian economy. The Brazilians I talk to are pretty cynical-they don’t trust their government. Still, I cannot believe that such a wealthy nation can stay so mismanaged…what do you think will happen the this “country of the future”?:confused:

You have summed up the reason. Revolution, economic chaos, the educated emigrating, ther citizens, alienated.

Yup. That’ll do it.

I spent a few months in Jundai (Near Sao Paulo). A first-class city.

From my Brazilian coworkers, I was under the impression that the government is very corrupt, which on top of the other problems listes, generally isn’t a good thing.

Another vote for corruption here.
I’ve spoken with Brazilian friends about this at length several times, and it turns out you have to bribe the cop to not arrest you for speeding, if you have a business, you have to bribe the tax inspector to not land you with a huge bill amond other things
Corruption is endemic.
Also, although I can’t prove this, it seems that some politicians could be construed as actively trying to deny a decent education to the poor. Trying to keep a compliant and ignorant electorate?

Another vote for corruption here. My mother works for a company that tried for almost a year to make a go of business in Brazil. They finally gave up a few weeks ago. They could never get anything done thanks to all the impediments thrown at them by the government, all in an effort to exact bribes. As soon as they’d bribe one pol to get a waiver from the “no blue boxes” rule that was conveniently excuted last week, they’d get hit with a notice teling them their boxes all had pointy corners and this was expressly forbidden by Brazilian law. In the US, this is a well run company that treats its employees well, and I’m sure that many Brazilians would have benefitted from it, but instead, the corrupt politicians chased it away.

I used to live in Brazil. Corruption is a big part of what is holding the potentially strong nation back.

My dad was stopped once by a cop and accused of committing a traffic violation (which he claims was untrue). My dad already had a number of points on his license, and he asked if there was a way to pay the fine without getting points. The cop answered, “If you want me to help you, you have to help me.” My dad interpretted this as a soliciation for a bribe, and gave the cop R$80 (everything he had on him), and the cop said, “That’s enough,” and left without writing a ticket. My dad later found out that he paid way too much- the usual bribe is about R$10.

We knew a person there who sat in on a government meeting once. The officials were working on distributing money for some government program, and the main point of discussion is how much they would embezzle for themselves. Our friend got uncomfortable, and said that he might ought to leave. One of the officials assured him that it didn’t matter- this kind of thing is normal.

I personally think Brazil needs some good muckraking jounalists. Many people have no clue this is going on, and most of the others accept it as normal.

This happens all over. I can name numerous American politicians that seem to be following this philosophy. Unfortunately, eventually you get an electorate too stupid to master the mechanics of voting. Florida is perfect proof of this.

I’ve spent weeks in Brazil (Salvador and Rio), and weeks more working on a Brazilian navy ship. These are wonderful, educated, hardworking people. I’d love to see what they could accomplish if they reform their government.

In this thread, http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/showthread.php?threadid=125442 , I outlined a universal characteristic of tropical countries, namely poverty in relation to their temparate neighbours. In terms of GDPper capita amongst tropical countries excluding small islands and city states, Brazil does rank in the top 5

It’s no different in most of the rest of Latin America, Indonesia, Philippines, Thailand, India, virtually all of Africa, etc, etc, etc. Corruption from top to bottom. No rule of law. The ethos is one that admires or encourages favoritism - family comes first. It’s basically socially unacceptable - immoral - to be even-handed and deny advantages to those close to you. Of course, you can become “close” by flashing some $$$$. Without that, nothing would get done. They simply don’t have the institutional infrastructure to support a level playing field. It’s human nature. The wonder is that the Western world has largely overcome this.

I have lived in Brazil, and like the OP said, it is a land of vast resources and opportunity. I lived in Sao Paulo and found it to be a both a modern place and huge dump at the same time. In the financial district I could eat at fancy american restaurants and a few miles away people would dump their toilet contents in the muddy streets.
The majority of the country is totally lacking in education and the opportunities to put an education to use. I will still take years to educate the masses and then build up a business base to take advantage of a skilled workforce.

I believe that Brazil will take giant steps towards becoming a more powerful economic force. It will just take a few more decades and it will then leave its South American counterparts in the dust.