Brazil Faces Global Economic and Environmental Pressures
Michael J. Strada
During the Cold War era, from the late 1940's to the late 1980's, the United States led the West while the Soviet Union led the East in a bitter competition affecting every corner of the globe. The axis of conflict in the Cold War was east versus west. It involved issues that were mostly political, ideological, and military.
In sharp contrast, the key issues at work in the post-Cold War era revolve around economic and environmental themes, and pit wealthy northern hemisphere countries against poor southern hemisphere nations. Whereas Brazil was relegated to minor roles on the world stage during the Cold War, it finds itself under the spotlight reserved for world-class actors in the post-Cold War era. Brazil's current relevance does not stem from any sudden increase in its national power. Rather, it results from the changed script driving the global drama--especially the widening chasm between the haves of the north and the have-nots of the south.
Concerning economic and environmental issues, Brazil matters globally. Its economic output, population, size, and bounty of natural resources all rank among the world's top ten. As a frontier society that expanded aggressively across a territory seen as infinite, Brazilian culture developed a sense of profligacy, or large-scale wastefulness. In particular, the belief that "bigger always means better" has caused problems for Brazil. This attitude continues to plague Brazil as global critics point to wasteful economic and environmental practices tied to crash programs intended to solve problems quickly via massive spending on huge public projects.
Brazil occupies nearly one-half of the area of South America and borders on nine of the continent's eleven nations. Brazil is slightly larger than the forty-eight contiguous states of the United States, and its climate is mostly tropical or semitropical with a temperate zone in the south. Vast stretches of dense forest dominate the northern region, a semiarid plain can be found along the northeastern coast, while mountains and hills typify the southwest.
Brazil was claimed by the Portuguese navigator Pedro Alvares Cabral in 1500. Colonial Brazil was ruled from the Portuguese capital of Lisbon until 1808. In that year, the Portuguese royal family fled from Napoleon's invading army and established its seat of government in Rio de Janeiro, on Brazil's Atlantic coast. Brazil became a kingdom under Dom Joao VI, who returned to exercise power from Portugal in 1821. Dom Joao VI left his son, prince Dom Pedro, to rule as regent in Brazil. Brazil's independence was declared by the prince on September 7, 1822. He then became emperor, taking the title of Dom Pedro I. His son, Dom Pedro II, then ruled from 1831 to 1889, when a federal republic was created following a coup d'etat. Slavery had been abolished in 1888, one year before the creation of the republic.
From 1889 to 1930 Brazil operated as a constitutional democracy. A military coup occurred in 1930 that put Getulio Vargas in power as dictator until 1945. From 1945 until 1964, elections resulted in the presidencies of Eurico Dutra, Getulio Vargas, Juscelino Kubitschek, Janio Quadros, and Joao Goulart. Economic difficulties and radical political activism in the early 1960's motivated the armed forces to once again stage a military coup on March 31, 1964. Elections failed to see the light of day until the generals relinquished power to Tancredo Neves, who was chosen by an electoral college in 1985. Brazil completed its transition to a popularly elected government in 1989 when Fernando Collor de Mello won only a brief stay in the presidential palace, since he was impeached for corruption and resigned in 1992. With the nation beset by economic problems such as high inflation and massive external debt, it turned to Fernando Henrique Cardoso, whose economic program, known as the Real Plan, pledged to reform the underlying policies causing Brazil's dysfunctional economy. Relatively pleased with his performance as president, Brazilians re-elected Cardoso to another four-year term in 1998.
Brazilians are a heterogeneous people, consisting of more diverse ethnic and racial groups than those found in the United States. The four major groups are led by the descendants of Portuguese colonists who first arrived five centuries ago. Second numerically to the Portuguese are the Afro-Brazilians. The first slave ship arrived in 1538, supplying cheap labor for Brazil's profitable sugar industry. Thousands more ships followed in its wake, as 3.5 million slaves--six times the number brought to the United States--were imported. Brazil's abolition of slavery in 1888 created a labor shortage on its booming coffee plantations, which was resolved by a massive influx of European and Asian immigrants, most notably from Japan, Germany, and Italy. Finally, while Indigenous peoples continue to exert a cultural influence in Brazil, their numbers have dwindled to less than one percent of Brazil's 155 million inhabitants. The nation's aggressive exploitation of its rainforests has historically devastated Indigenous peoples relying on these eco-systems for their existence. One aspect of Brazilian society that may prove instructive for the future of the United States is Brazil's widespread miscegenation for the last 500 years. One-third of Brazilians are racially mixed, which exceeds the rate of racial blending to date in North America.
Despite its social heterogeneity, Brazil possesses a coherent national culture shared by most of its citizens. Racial miscegenation is one factor contributing to a widely-accepted social tolerance. While examples of racial and ethnic discrimination can be cited in Brazilian history, they are less virulent, overt, and institutionalized than those experienced by minorities in the United States. Another factor binding Brazilian culture is the pervasive role of Roman Catholicism, to which 80 percent of the population belongs. While many nations in the world possesses a passion for the game of soccer, nowhere else do as many people follow the sport in a serious manner as in Brazil. This is true partly because no other country has enjoyed international soccer success to match that of Brazil. Soccer operates as more than mere entertainment in Brazil, making it another force contributing to a cohesive culture, or a sense of Brazilian-ness.
Desenvolvimento . One aspect of Brazilian culture that has frequently placed the nation in trouble is its tendency toward grandiosity, known in Portuguese as desenvolvimento when it refers to economic development projects. Scholars cite various historical factors to explain why the maxim that "bigger is always better" goes unchallenged in the Brazilian mind-set. The opposite viewpoint, that sometimes "small is beautiful," as popularized by British ecologist E.F. Schumacher, has never appealed to Brazilians. Such a reality takes on added importance in the post-Cold War when northern and southern hemispheres clash vigorously and often over both economic and environmental issues. In this milieu, Brazil faces international pressures that challenge its long-held values--values that favor creating public works mega-projects in search of quick and bold solutions to its most pressing problems.
Many of these "pharoanic" projects have risked huge investments on poorly-planned ventures, often resulting in massive losses. The motivation has been to find a short-cut to the promised land of economic development that has continued to elude Brazil. For much of the twentieth century, Brazil's vast natural resources have led observers to predict that this sleeping giant will awaken to realize its latent potential. A succession of failed expensive gambles, each based on borrowed foreign money, has proven costly to the nation. These failures can not merely be blamed on the military regimes common in twentieth century Brazilian history, since they have been undertaken by democrats as well as dictators.
In fact, possibly the greatest proponent of desenvolvimento was President Juscelino Kubitschek, who was elected with an industrialization mandate in 1955 of "fifty years in five." The popular leader is still revered as a national hero and is immortalized in a massive mausoleum fit for a king in the heart of Brazil's capital city. Born of a Czech father who died soon after his birth, and a school-teacher mother, the young Kubitschek worked his way through medical school, taking internships in three European cities in the process. After serving as governor of his native state of Minas Gerais, Kubitschek was elected to a five-year term as president of Brazil in 1955. Shortly before assuming office, he visited the United States in search of investment money to exploit Brazil's vast natural resources. In a Time magazine interview on February 20, 1956, he promised that "No matter how busy I may be, any foreign investor who comes to Brazil will find my door open." Later that year, U.S. Vice-President Richard Nixon visited Brazil and announced the U.S. Export-Import Bank had approved a $35 million loan to expand Brazil's steel industry. Domestic steel was needed by Kubitschek as the foundation on which to build his most cherished form of industrial expansion: a large automobile industry centered around the city of Sao Paolo.
Kubitschek's rapid industrialization also sped the process of urbanization, with concentrations of poor people living outside of Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paolo in giant slums known as favelas. Most residents of favelas were squatters for whom local governments could not supply basic services such as sewage collection, clean water, and electricity. Kubitschek sought to relieve some of the pressure from urban areas by another massive national project, namely building paved roads into hitherto inaccessible areas of the Amazonian rainforest. However, Kubitschek's largest gamble was his plan to end the country's traditional concentration in the Atlantic coastal region by moving the capital city from Rio de Janeiro to a central location carved out of the high desert region. Amazingly, this ambitious mega-project went from concept to completion during his first five-year term in office. Named Brasilia, this planned city remains impressive in its scope and futuristic vision. Its completion gave Brazilians a new-found sense of pride and elevated their president to hero status. The long-term economic consequences, however, were equally monumental and burdened Kubitshek's successors for decades.
The fact that the military dictators who ruled from 1964 to 1985 were forced to cope with fiscal woes unleashed by Kubitschek's spending spree did not prevent them from succumbing to the temptation of desenvolvimento. In all, they initiated thirty-three expensive mega-projects of their own. Under the slogan of "Land without people for people without land," they expanded his wilderness highways into a truly trans-Amazonian system, costing $1 billion, that linked Recife on the Atlantic coast with the Peruvian border to the west. Regarding migration to the Amazon, they did Kubitschek one better by offering free 100-acre plots to urbanites willing to become Amazonian farmers.
The generals underwrote not only individuals, but corporations as well, in abortive Amazonian development projects such as the one know as "Grand Carajas." This huge mining project begun in 1967 in the southeastern Amazon basin was intended to produce iron ore, gold, and manganese. It is better know today for producing red ink and ecological damage. In the same year, the military regime extended large tax incentives to lure U.S. billionaire Daniel Ludwig to purchase for $3 billion an area larger than Austria along the Jari River, a tributary of the Amazon. Ludwig hoped to harvest lumber taken from rapidly-growing trees imported from Asia, but this grand scheme also foundered when the Asian transplants died in the thin Amazonian soil. The generals' plan to industrialize the Amazon basin required electricity, and many dams were constructed for this purpose. The Tucurui dam on the Tocantin River, the largest ever built in a tropical forest, cost nearly $10 billion, and flooded 1,000 square miles of virgin woodlands. To harvest the trees, the government subsidized the operation of a company with no experience clearing trees. The company went bankrupt and only a fraction of the wood was recovered.
Economic Fallout from Desenvolvimento. Negative economic results of a succession of pharaonic projects can be summarized as: fueling inflation, adding to the foreign debt burden, worsening socio-economic inequality, encouraging protectionist trade policies, and discouraging foreign investment.
The increased cost of goods and services in an economy, known as inflation, causes problems that lead most governments to undertake measures intended to keep the annual rate of inflation below than 5 percent, because when goods and services cost more, one's money loses value. In the United States, the situation was considered bad in the 1970s when double digit inflation existed. In the 1980s, Brazil became one of relatively few countries in recent decades forced to deal with triple digit yearly inflation greater than 100 percent. One of the main causes of inflation is the deficit in current accounts resulting from governments spending more money than they collect in taxes. When governments do this, they are forced to make up the short-fall in one of four ways: by either raising taxes, reducing spending, borrowing money, or printing significant amounts of new money. If a government lacks the political courage to either raise taxes or reduce spending, it must then borrow or print new money--either of which contributes to inflationary pressures. Over-spending on dubious mega-projects by successive Brazilian administrations, as described above, was not followed by responsible fiscal belt-tightening, namely, raising taxes or cutting spending. Instead, subsequent leaders chose the short-term easy way out, producing deeper long-term problems. First, they borrowed still more foreign money; when that failed to slow the rate of inflation, they printed new money whose value was doomed to de-valuation.
Individual people who use credit cards to spend more than they earn incur personal debt, which is a self-defeating condition. Similarly, when nations borrow large sums of money in search of quick-fix solutions to their problems, they also often incur debt. In the 1970's, a variety of circumstances coalesced to what was known as the global debt crisis. The price of oil increased more than ten-fold during that decade, creating huge sums of "petrodollars," which oil producing countries such as Saudi Arabia and Kuwait invested largely in Western banks. Flush with "petrodollars," these banks in turn aggressively sought ought third-world countries with development potential. Brazil sat at the top of many banks' list of borrowers to solicit. Brazil's military regime responded enthusiastically, since it required foreign money to feed the kind of mega-projects described above. The result? Few pharaonic projects succeeded, and Brazil exited the 1970's leading the debt parade with more than $120 billion owed to financial institutions. This massive debt created by risky, grandiose projects exacerbated the already troublesome inflation rate eroding the nation's economy.
One of the insidious effects of inflation is that it hurts most those who afford it least: poor people, since life's basic necessities comprise a higher percentage of their expenses. By first borrowing heavily to fund dubious mega-projects, then borrowing again and printing new money to service the debt incurred, successive Brazilian governments condemned the majority of its citizens--the impoverished--to become even more impoverished. The rich became richer and the poor became poorer during the 1970's and 1980's. Some critics referred to this as "Hood-Robin economics:" robbing from the poor and giving to the rich. By 1990, Brazil was identified by the World Bank as the country with the most unequal distribution of wealth, as the richest one percent enjoyed the same income as the poorest 50 percent of its society.
Another pervasive aspect of desenvolvimento has been official corruption enabling governmental officials, and their friends, to enrich themselves at the public's expense. The self-interest of Brazil's elite class has motivated five decades of public economic policies crafted largely to maximize the private interests of these powerful and wealthy individuals. Since these same elites make up the owners of big business in Brazil, governments have followed the general policy of economic nationalism, which tries to shield domestic producers from foreign competition. Economic nationalism helps domestic companies through tax breaks, taxes on imported goods (tariffs), quotas on amounts of foreign goods importable, assistance in researching and developing new products, and propaganda campaigns to convince citizens to buy domestic products. The protectionism afforded by economic nationalism directly helps those who work for domestic manufacturers as well as those who own these companies. However, economic nationalism hurts everyone else in the society by taking foreign producers out of the economic game, thus artificially reducing competition. This increases the cost of goods and services, and encourages inefficiency in the operation of domestic companies otherwise unable to compete successfully. Modern economists agree that economic nationalism hurt Brazil badly. The failures of desenvolvimento spurred Brazil's leaders to retreat further into a protectionist shell, when a commitment to free and open trade would have served the nation much better.
All of these economic difficulties--high inflation, huge foreign debt, and economic nationalism--discouraged investors from abroad from risking their money in a country not considered to be following sound economic policies. Wealthy Brazilians similarly sought more promising venues for their investments. Creditor organizations like the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, as well as creditor nations such as the United States, Japan, and Germany, urged serious economic stabilization measures as a necessary condition for extending further aid to Brazil. However, external pressure required a long time to produce results in Brazil. It was not until the election of Henrique Cardoso in 1994 that such politically difficult, but fiscally responsible, policy choices were made. Cardoso's Real Plan sought to lower inflation, privatize many state-run companies, reduce protectionist barriers to free trade, and expand the economy at a reasonable rate only. Cardoso's reforms forced many citizens to tighten their economic belts, but were based on sound economics and met most of the Real Plan's objectives.
Environmental Fallout from Desenvolvimento. The negative economic consequences of Brazilian culture's penchant for grandiosity are matched by its out-sized degradation of its environment. Based on the myth of an "infinite country," Brazil's extensive natural resources have always been misinterpreted as not merely extensive, but as limitless. Environmental profligacy has characterized the string of developmental short-cuts financed by Brazilian leaders. So wasteful were its practices that Brazil developed an image among northern hemisphere countries in the 1990's of being "ecologically incorrect."
It was Brazil's rainforests that came to symbolize its environmental problems. Two of Brazil's five eco-systems are forests. Fully 93 percent of its Atlantic forest had already been decimated before the 1990's. More remained of its Amazonian forest, but a combination of logging, mining, cultivation, and intentional burning were annually reducing it in 1998 by an area the size of Washington state (4.5 million hectares). Logging operations by wood-starved Pacific nations like Japan, Taiwan, and South Korea were facilitated by the Brazilian government's routine approval of massive removals that environmentalists referred to as the "Asian invasion." Brazil's tropical rainforests represent one-third of those remaining on earth, leading some to describe them as the "lungs of the world."
The world's growing population and increased burning of fossil fuels serve to highlight the critical role of rainforests in converting carbon dioxide into oxygen. But with the loss of rainforests also comes loss of bio-diversity. Approximately one million Amazonian species exist, including at least 3,000 tree species and 3,000 fish species. Since most new medical drugs used to treat diseases derive from species unknown even one generation ago, every case of species extinction equals a potential pharmacological and medical loss to humans. Paleo-anthropologist Richard Leakey says that five great waves of extinction have affected winners and losers in the game of life on earth for hundreds of millions of years. The current sixth wave of extinction differs in that it is largely attributable to human agency. Human causation of species extinction raises the ethical question known as deep ecology: do humans have the right to prevent other species from competing for survival?
The majority of Brazil's mega-projects involved efforts to colonize the Amazon wilderness in the country's north via mining operations, fish farms, highway construction, electrical projects, and timbering activities. A population explosion resulted from these endeavors. In the state of Amazonas, the headcount went from 2 million in 1960 to 20 million by 1998, an increase which local governments were ill-prepared to cope. Each of these environmentally costly migrations also damaged the cultural integrity of the few remaining Indigenous peoples. Although northern hemispheric eyes tend to focus on the rainforests as the Earth's lungs, even worse environmental degradation accompanied the rapid industrialization process begun in the 1960s.
No other city symbolizes urban industrial blight in Brazil as poignantly as Cubatao, which became known in the 1970's as "the valley of death." The road leading east from Sao Paolo crosses a beautiful mountain range on its way to the most scenic coastline in Brazil. However, it must also run through the denuded, brown and barren valley of endless smoke-stacks--Cubatao. In 1980 the World Health Organization described this as the most polluted spot on earth. Alarming levels of birth defects, infant mortality, and serious lung disease were routinely chronicled. A large swamp one century ago, Cubatao was eventually drained and covered with landfill. Located strategically near both Sao Paolo's ten million people and South America's largest port at Santos, Cubatao's geography inspired President Juscelino Kubitschek to rapidly install oil refineries, steel mills, fertilizer manufacturers, cement factories, petrochemical plants. No one in 1957 worried about the inversions predictable in a tight valley like that of Cubatao.
Global Criticism of Brazilian Economic Policy. Brazil is a big, bold country. Precisely these qualities pervade both the nation's physical attributes and its culture. In contributing to the belief that "bigger is always better," bigness and boldness have caused serious economic and environmental problems for Brazil. In an era when the rich-northern and poor-southern hemispheres find much to disagree about, Brazil presents a large target for northerners to criticize. This is especially true concerning the economic and environmental issues that highlight the global agenda in the post-Cold War era, and includes not only nation-states like the United States, but also international financial institutions such as the World Bank, Inter-American Bank for Reconstruction and Development, and International Monetary Fund, in addition to non-governmental organizations (NGOs) like the Sierra Club and the World Wildlife Fund.
High-risk economic policies based on desenvolvimento produced widespread criticism from many quarters. Since these policies worsened socio-economic inequality, human rights NGOs like Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and Human Rights Internet all decried the injustices associated with gross inequality as ethically repugnant. During the 1980's, United States presidents Ronald Reagan and George Bush, both highly committed to free trade policies, led a bevy of nations condemning Brazil for protectionist trade policies closing its domestic market to U.S.-made products. The International Monetary Fund, whose policies tilt toward the views of rich northern hemisphere countries who make the largest contributions, routinely pressured Brazil to introduce austerity measures reducing high-level governmental spending, privatizing state-run enterprises, and allowing free market forces a free hand to operate. In most instances, the IMF would not grant loans badly-needed to pay off foreign debt without these steps toward a more free-market economy. Pressures to abandon the mentality of desenvolvimento also came from some domestic quarters. Although Brazilians generally exhibit a high degree of tolerance for suffering and political apathy, the runaway inflation of the 1980's did produce a public opinion backlash on the part of normally-docile citizens. All in all, the range of pressures arrayed against policies based on desenvolvimento was formidable.
The 1994 economic reform package of President-elect Cardoso helped to reduce some of the international criticism that Brazil had become accustomed to receiving from the world community. Yet, despite his efforts to ground the economy in a more sound market-oriented foundation, many structural economic problems were difficult to correct in a short time period. Cardoso's first term in office witnessed the taming of inflation, some privatization, a reduction in trade barriers, and reduced governmental spending. Still remaining, however, were large foreign debts, sizable trade deficits, stubborn pockets of governmental corruption, and the ever-widening gap between the few rich and the many poor. Voters decided in 1998 to give Cardoso the opportunity to continue his economic policies by re-electing him to a second term as president.
Global Criticism of Brazilian Environmental Policy. The Cardoso administration succeeded in significantly reducing the shrill voice of international criticism aimed at Brazilian economic policy. More intractable, however, was the rising crescendo of green voices from the north condemning Brazilian environmental policy. In simplest terms, while the northern view considers resources like rainforests as part of the shared global commons, the southern view says that such resources are the sovereign property of independent countries waiting to be used as they see fit. Although President Cardoso had become more adept at talking the environmental talk, his government was still not ready to walk the environmental walk. The first Cardoso administration managed to pass a broad range of environmental laws. This fact impressed many U.S. citizens, conditioned to believe from North American experience that changes in the law routinely produce changes in behavior. However, in Brazilian culture, the role of legislation has generally been limited by either the will or ability of the governmental bureaucracy to enforce it. The expression commonly heard in the late 1990's regarding environmental protection was that the essence of the government's problem lay in "getting it off the paper."
The Earth Summit and Sustainable Development. Brazil must have felt like a magnet attracting environmental criticism as it approached the twenty-first century. It is ironic that Brazil found itself defending the views of the south against a barrage of northern voices at this time. Only a few years earlier, in 1992, Rio de Janeiro had been selected by the United Nations as the site for the largest global town meeting ever held: The United Nations Conference for Environment and Development (UNCED), better known as the Earth Summit. Nearly every country in the world, thousands of journalists, and even more NGOs participated in a meeting featuring some of the world's best minds. The daunting task was to identify a blueprint for the future balancing the conflicting priorities of rich north and poor south. The essence of the northern view favored environmental integrity in the service of improved quality of life for current and future generations, which coalesced around the concept of sustainability, or long-term replicability. In sharp contrast, the south saw environmentalism as secondary to the inalienable right of poor southern hemispheric peoples to economic development resulting in a higher standard of living for the world's disadvantaged. These two divergent goals had traditionally been seen as inimical, but the approach taken at Rio was different; the Earth Summit defined environmentalism and development as potentially complementary, and around this idea was forged a rare global consensus pointing toward a new goal: sustainable development. This concept of environmentally conscious forms of development was formalized in the document that emanated from Rio '92--called Agenda 21--which placed the whole world on the same page by pointing to sustainable development as the common goal for humankind's future. Reaching agreement on Agenda 21 represented a considerable achievement, but its acceptance as a political symbol could not answer whether sustainable development was, in fact, possible. It soon became apparent that while both the north and south saw enough of what each wanted in Agenda 21 to accept its goal of sustainable development, the north focused on the sustainability component, while the south prioritized economic development for poor countries.
In particular, the Cardoso administration was being challenged in its second term not only to aggressively enforce moribund environmental laws already on the books, but also to catch up with a variety of Central American countries that have engaged in creative programs made obvious by their absence in Brazil. The debt-for-nature swap pioneered by Thomas Lovejoy, Director of the World Wildlife Fund, in Guatemala in 1987 is most apparent by its absence in Brazil, because it can address both ends of Brazil's dilemma: foreign debt and its image as an environmental malingerer. In debt-for-nature swaps a northern NGO such as the Sierra Club repays some of the debt owed by a poor country to an international financial institution. In turn, the poor country guarantees the protection of an environmental asset on its territory. In effect, this amounts to a win-win-win situation. The environmental NGO protects a green asset, the debtor nation enjoys debt reduction, and the financial institution receives some overdue payment.
Another creative response advocated for use in Brazil is the Extraction Reserve. When activist Chico Mendes was assassinated in 1988, he was advocating this concept attuned to both sustainability and profitability. Only 10 percent of resources like gas, timber, fish, or coal may be harvested in an Extraction Reserve, as a compromise between hands-off Nature Reserves and unfettered commercial enterprises. Another idea is for Brazil to expand its infrastructure for eco-tourism. In 1998, tiny Costa Rica was hosting more than six million eco-tourists while fewer than two million eco-tourists were bringing foreign currency into giant Brazil. Its failure to incorporate these and other new ideas committed to making sustainable development more than a slogan contributed to Brazil's continuing to absorb heavy criticism at the turn of the millennium.
For Further Study
A useful general introduction to Brazilian culture is provided by Joseph A. Page's The Brazilians (1995). The cultural concept of desenvolvimento is chronicled in, Desenvolvimento: Politics and Economy in Brazil, by Wilber A. Chaffee (1997). Brazilian political culture is afforded more detailed coverage in Ronald M. Schneider's Brazil: Culture and Politics in a New Industrial Powerhouse (1996), and in Ted G. Goertzel's Fernando Henrique Cardoso: Reinventing Democracy in Brazil (1999). A good general history of Brazil can be found in E. Bradford Burns, A History of Brazil (1993).
An examination of Brazilian economic dilemmas facing its policy-makers can begin with an article by Peter Flynn entitled, "Brazil: The Politics of the 'Plano Real'," Third World Quarterly (1996), pp. 401+, and one by Matt Moffett called, "Deep in the Amazon, An Industrial Enclave Fights for its Survival." The Wall Street Journal (July 9, 1998), pp. A8-11. Then one can move to The Brazilian Economy: Structure and Performance in Recent Decades (1997), Maria Willumsen and Eduardo Giannetti, eds., and Political Constraints on Brazil's Economic Development (1993), Siegfried Marks, ed.; The World Bank Group, "Brazil's Economy," www.worldbank.org/html/extdr/offrep/lac/brazil.html.
For information on Brazilian environmental and global sustainable development issues see Warren Dean, With Broadax and Firebrand: The Destruction of the Brazilian Atlantic Forest (1994); A. Revkin, The Burning Season: The Murder of Chico Mendes and the Fight for the Amazon Rainforest (1990); United States and Brazil, "Joint Statement on the US-Brazil Common Agenda for the Environment," (August 19, 1997); Virginia Morell, "On the Origin of Amazonian Species," Discover (April 1997), pp. 58-64; Howard LaFranchi, "Spare the Ax, Spoil the Amazon," The Christian Science Monitor (May 14, 1997), p. 9; Barry Ames and Margaret Peck, "The Politics of Sustainable Development: Environmental Policy Making in Four Brazilian States," Journal of Interamerican Studies and World Affairs (1997-98), pp. 31-43; Richard Leakey, The Sixth Extinction (1996); John Vandermeer and Ivette Perfecto, Breakfast of Biodiversity: The Truth About Rainforest Destruction (1995); Gareth Porter and Janet Welsh Brown, Global Environmental Politics (1996); Alan Gilpin, Dictionary of Environment and Sustainable Development (1997); Colin Kirkpatrick and Norman Lee, Sustainable Development in a Developing World (1997); Ian Moffatt, Sustainable Development: Principles, Analysis, and Policies (1996).
1500 Navigator Pedro Alvares Cabral claims for Portugal what he called Terra de Vera Cruz
1501 Navigator Amerigo Vespucci returns to Portugal with a cargo of Brazilwood, used for dyeing, thus renaming Terra de Vera Cruz
1530 Portuguese King John III begins systematic colonization of Brazil
1532 Sugar cane introduced at Sao Vicente
1538 First slave ship arrives in Brazil
1549 Thome de Souza arrives as first Governor-General with city of Bahia as his capital
1693 Gold discovered in central Minas Gerais region
1720 Coffee introduced from French Guyane
1729 Diamonds found north of gold mines in Minas Gerais
1763 Portuguese Premier Marques de Pombal expels the Jesuits from Brazil
1808 Portuguese royal family established in Rio de Janeiro under Dom Joao
1822 Brazilian Declaration of Independence
1831-89 Pedro II advances prestige of Brazil through his statesmanship
1850 Wave of immigrants begins to arrive as labor in coffee plantations
1853 Further importation of African slaves is outlawed
1888 Brazil is last country in Western hemisphere to abolish slavery
1889 Republic is declared
1898 Jose de Moraes Barros becomes first nation's first civilian chief executive
1912 Rubber boom goes bust
1941 After siding with Allies in WW II Brazil receives U.S. aid for industrial expansion
1955 Election of Juscelino Kubitschek as President (October)
1956 Kubitschek inaugurated (January) and announces ambitious five-year development plan
1960 Kubitschek makes good on his pledge to inaugurate capital city of Brasilia
1964 Military coup d'etat initiates two decades of military regimes (March 31)
1965 Law passed severely restricting civil liberties of citizens
1970's Current account deficits to finance mega-projects financed by foreign borrowing
1982 Brazil re-schedules loans with creditors with new money to buy time
1985 Tancredo Neves elected as first civilian president in twenty-one years
1987 Brazil declares a moratorium on interest to preserve foreign exchange reserves and stop the net transfer of resources to creditors
1988 New constitution provides for direct election of president, without electoral college
1988 Assassination of Chico Mendes
1992 United Nations Earth Summit held in Rio de Janeiro produces Agenda 21 as blueprint
1992 Impeachment of President Fernando Collor de Mello for corruption
1994 Fernando Henrique Cardoso is elected as President
1995 Cardoso initiates his "Real Plan" of fiscal responsibility
1998 Cardoso re-elected for second presidential term