Brazil, increasingly distant from the rest of Latin America | Opinion

President Jair Bolsonaro, on September 21 at the United Nations General Assembly in New York.
President Jair Bolsonaro, on September 21 at the United Nations General Assembly in New York.EDUARDO MUNOZ / POOL (EFE)

The rejection by the Brazilian president, the far-right Jair Bolsonaro, of the offer of help from the Argentine government to Brazil due to the serious floods that have hit the State of Bahia with dozens of deaths and more than half a million unprotected in the middle of Christmas They are one more symptom of how Bolsonaro is distancing Brazil from Latin America and, in general, from the world. The excuse given by the Head of State has been that his Argentine counterpart “is on the left.”

At this time when Brazil seems to focus more on its Portuguese colonial origins with the upper classes buying a second home there and with more frequent visits to the place, the journalist Carlos Fino, one of the most prominent figures in Portuguese journalism, has just throw the book Brazil: Roots of Estrangement, to prove otherwise. According to Fino, 73, the so-called “Russophobia” is growing in Brazil, fueled by a negative vision of Portugal present in the press, in books and even in films and soap operas: “Brazil is ashamed of Portugal’s heritage. And this even by the most enlightened elites ”.

If to this we add that Bolsonaro has done nothing, the other way around, to strengthen Brazil’s ties with the rest of Latin America, not even with South America, which were never idyllic, the danger that Brazil will stay is clearer. increasingly isolated from the world locked into itself.

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When I arrived in Brazil 20 years ago, what struck me the most was seeing that among ordinary people and among students little or nothing was known about the rest of the American continent. And when I asked the intellectuals what they felt in the world, they looked at me strangely and replied: “Brazilians.” Very few of the elites spoke Spanish and for 10 years there was a battle in Parliament to make the teaching of the Cervantes language compulsory in schools. It was of no use. The law was forgotten under the excuse that there were not enough teachers and that they earned less than in other parts of the world.

Added to this is the very little information that the large media, with minor exceptions, offer on Latin America. This explains why Brazilians feel only Brazilians, belonging to an empire of their own, aware of its great wealth, of being the fifth largest territory on the planet that has 16% of the world’s drinking water. This together with the incredible diversity of the Amazon that this Government is doing everything to destroy to make way for livestock and soy cultivation, sacrificing if necessary the indigenous peoples who were always the owners of those territories.

That isolation even from its very origins leads Brazil to not know with whom to identify or with whom to share its history. The result is impoverishment and increasing isolation from the world.

Brazil is going to celebrate its 200 years of Independence from Portugal this year with a government that impoverishes the country more and more every day. Instead of turning this date into a moment of reflection to know where it came from and where it wants to go, Brazil lives with anxiety and threats to its democracy, harassed by a coup government whose president is only interested in maintaining good relations with him. American far-right Trump with hopes that he will return to power.

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According to a study by the Instituto Cervantes in Brazil, only 6.7% know or study Spanish in Brazil and 3% do not know which countries make up Latin America. And yet, just as the Portuguese Nobel Prize in Literature José Saramago ironized that the Spaniards continued to keep Portugal on the map because if they removed it they felt a “castration complex”, one could say of Brazil compared to the rest of the continent. If we cut off Brazil from Latin America, which has borders with 10 of its countries, the map would be ugly.

Brazil will only be the geographic and economic power that it represents grafted onto the continent and can only be seen as a world force within its region. That will happen only if the more open ideas of some Brazilian politicians of the past, who dreamed of a united, rich continent and with a single currency, a kind of the Latin American United States, are raised again.

If the disunity of the peoples creates only poverty, violence and desert, the union of the peoples ends up enriching them all. The experience of the European Union can be criticized, but the truth is that, while before the union the continent always lived in wars, today, since then, it has never suffered a violent conflict between its states and has a strong currency .

Bolsonaro has come to power with the virus of separation, hatred and isolation of Brazil from the rest of the world. Today the only possibility of dreaming again of a Brazil grafted onto the rest of the world, especially in Latin America, is that the second centenary of its independence may also be the liberation of what has already been considered the “worst” government ”, the most impoverishing and isolationist in its history.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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