Which direction for Brazil?
by Jose Reinaldo Carvalho Vice-President of Communist Party of Brazil Secretary for International Relations Elections are due to be held in Brazil on September 21. The outcome of these elections will have important ramifications far beyond Brazil's borders. Is Brazil to become a prosperous, progressive and independent country playing an important role in world affairs or is it to remain a colony of the giant US corporations? In the two (edited) articles on this page Jose Carvalho argues for the first alternative. Jose Carvalho is a journalist, Vice-President of Communist Party of Brazil, responsible for International Relations. The elections in Brazil raise attention all over the world. The perspective of change regarding the South-American giant should new progressive, left- wing forces deeply rooted in the working class and popular masses take power, results in different kinds of reactions. There are the attempts by North-American imperialists (via IMF), to condition the economic policies of the future government and determine the strategic siding with the US policy towards Latin America, as Assistant Secretary of State for Latin America Otto Reich and US ambassador in Brazil Donna Hrinak have insinuated. For the United States, [it demands that] whichever government is elected it will have to submit itself to the rules of the international financial system and take the necessary steps towards integrating the Free Trade of the Americas Agreement (FTAA). In Europe the focus of their interests is different. With an eye on the great Brazilian and Latin American market, the European Union has given different signals. The declarations of many EU leaders, even conservative ones, indicate that it may support Brazil in its effort to create another kind of block — a strengthened Mercosur or possibly a Free Trade Area of South America — an exclusively Southern block. There is no doubt regarding the monopolist nature of the European interest in Latin America and especially Brazil, but we should not be indifferent to the development of such a contradiction between the great imperialist blocks especially when the contention takes place in our own continent and the Brazilian nation. Since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 many strategic changes have taken place in the world. Europe has been consolidated as a powerful economic union and now is in a process of military strengthening. The United States began the formation of an economic block with the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), involving Mexico and Canada, as the starting point for the annexation of all Americas in the FTAA. The great empire enjoyed its five minutes of glory and spent the last decade of the previous century affirming its hegemony by means of aggressions and by the aggrandizement and improvement of its military and nuclear power. The facts make it clear that the United States is a superpower — literally the only one as far as its military power is concerned. When its economic power is taken into account it becomes clear that it is relatively smaller than it was in the '70s and now faces the rivalry of consolidated poles such as the European Union and Japan, despite the economic crisis of the latter. Europe and Japan are obviously strategically preparing themselves to get rid of the US control and seek their economic, political and also military independence. The government of Lula da Silva, which we struggle to elect, must take this situation into account. Brazil has a huge room to occupy in the world and a leading part to play among the great nations. It must not be treated as a neo-colonial banana republic at the disposal of the determinations of the US imperialism. We must wipe out the ignominious stain with which the government of Fernando Cardoso has covered itself in the submissive era that its eight years of misgovernment constitute. During five centuries the people who lived here have been the leading characters in the beautiful and epic human adventure that resulted in the development of a modern civilisation in the tropics — despite enslavement, the past colonialism with its perverse results, and the present dependence that cripples national development. A firm, independent and able foreign policy will make the world treat us with respect. The fair exploration of the contradictions between imperialists and the search for strategic partnerships with countries such as China, India, South Africa and others will contribute to that end. There is still another kind of reaction raised by the perspective of electing a government representing the democratic, national and popular forces: the hope — especially regarding our Latin American brothers — that a turnaround in the situation will contribute to the struggle of us all against neocolonialism and imperialist domination.