sexta-feira, 4 de novembro de 2005
Lula Government’s foreign policy
Comment on the following statement: “Over the last couple of years Brazil has accumulated a series of humiliating defeats. The foreign ministry is a disaster.”
There is a political struggle for power in Brazil today. Some conservative sectors of society, most of the big media companies, and opposition parties (led by right-wing PFL and center PSDB) cannot accept the fact that a left-wing grassroots party has democratically achieved the highest level of power in Brazil.
That is the basis of the current wave of unproven, sensationalistic accusations against President Lula’s government. It’s an orchestrated effort to demoralize the biggest and most organized party of the realistic and responsible left – the Workers’ Party (PT). In this negative campaign, nothing escapes – the main goal is to get across an idea to the population that the government is a total failure, that nothing works.
Incoherence and frailties stem from the opposition’s rhetoric, for a balanced and fair judgment is not its method. However, most of the press is all too willing to play the role of the opposition’s mouthpiece, and it’s shocking. Truth is the first victim of this process. Many honest politicians are being condemned out of hand as a consequence of this tactic of generalization. In the same way, many successful and innovative public policies are ignored – as the “Bolsa Família” and “Pró-Jovem” social programs – or condemned outright, as the cultural and foreign policies.
Let us take the latter one, for the sake of illustration. A lot of misinformed or biased “analysis” has been made, as a means of criticizing the Lula Government, about several subject areas – including the foreign policy. The opposition and conservatives in general claim that “the Foreign Ministry is a disaster” (as right-wing weekly newsmagazine “Veja” recently stated).
A basic mistake in such categorical affirmations is the lack of understanding of the dynamics of international politics. International relations is not a sports game, it is not a win-lose situation, where if one side wins, the other necessarily has to lose. In these days of multi-lateral negotiations, reality is a lot more complex than that.
The policies adopted under the Foreign Affairs minister Celso Amorim administration don’t follow the domestic politics electoral calendar – and perhaps that is what conservatives fail to realize. The foreign policy agenda is drawn up for the long term. Brazil is on the move towards the occupation of more space in the international public arena. What to layperson may seem as a defeat is, in fact, a step forward into a new level of engagement in international politics.
The G-20 proves the point. When Brazil, India, South Africa and others joined to form this coalition of developing countries that export and import farm products, they changed the way business is done at the World Trade Organization. The Cancun Round was declared by the world media to be a failure; but for the G-20 it was a huge victory. Up to that point, it was the G-7 that established and imposed the WTO agenda. That ended in 2003 with the G-20’s aggressive approach defending their interests (to reduce and eliminate agriculture subsidies in the rich countries). Now, the rich nations actually have to negotiate.
From August 2004 to July 2005, Brazilian sales to South America increased by US$ 6 billion, and to Africa by US$ 3 billion. Exports to other developing countries today represent 52% of the total Brazilian sales abroad. In 2002, exports totaled US$ 60 billion; this year they will be well over US$ 100 billion. Three factors explain these positive numbers: the crumbling and re-structuring of the Brazilian industry in the 1990’s, the increase of the price of commodities on the global market and a good foreign policy (trade agreements with new partners).
President Lula’s foreign policy’s basic interest is a pragmatic one: to put Brazil on a new level, by expanding foreign trade as much as possible. The preference for developing countries is due to the fact that these are the countries that want to buy our products with higher added-value.
Brazil’s exports agenda has more manufactured goods which are sold to more countries than ever before. Brazil’s role in international politics has never been greater. These are direct effects of the policies chosen since January 2003. It bothers some people who prefer to see Brazil selling more soybeans rather than TVs; and they are also not happy to see that Brazil is successfully represented abroad by a monoglot factory-worker.
What is at stake here is what kind of nation we want. Behind much of the criticism against Lula’s policies, there are hurt economic interests and ideological and political disputes.
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Comentários do professor –
A most interesting analysis of the topic.
I think paragraphs 1-3 are not really relevant to the issue. Maybe you could have treated the subject briefly.
But the overall treatment is very good, clear, coherent and well stated.
Very good English.
Celso Amorim would be proud of you!
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Escrevi esse texto como uma atividade para a aula de inglês há várias semanas. Nessa semana de denúncia vazia irresponsável de "Veja" (mais uma pra lista...) e do acirramento retórico da oposição, que já fala abertamente em impeachment e em "dar surra" no Presidente da República, o texto está ainda mais atual agora do que à época que foi escrito, além de comprovar aquilo que afirmo nos três primeiros parágrafos (que embora fujam ao que foi pedido na atividade de classe, se adequam bem à realidade).