Brazil, Land of Fools (2010)

Josino Moraes
Latin America Economic Researcher

Brazil is the empire of illusions (Jean Baudrillard, 2002)

There are many examples to illustrate the above title. I am just taking the
most recent factoids since 2008 – some of them have a previous existence, but
their relevancies have just been emphasized in recent years. These factoids can
be seen as merely mental exercises, though with deep political implications.

First of all, there is the so-called
pre-salt crude exploitation. Here, in fact, there
is a trick of semantics. The real name should be
exploitation of crude in ultra-
deep waters
. Obviously, ultra-deep waters mean enormous difficulties – vide
the BP disaster in the Gulf of Mexico in April 2010 in just deep waters so the
word was avoided. In fact, this is an impossible task for the semi-failed
Brazilian state.

Hilarious is that the Congress has begun debating the sharing of “royalties”,
really a booty, among the states. Here, there is another semantic trick: the
word royalty, an English loanword, in fact, means tax in Brazil. The original
English meaning of the word has been modified completely. In fact, it is the
only meaning recorded in our dictionaries - 2010, nowadays the correct
meaning being employed solely for international commerce.  This task is not
that difficult in a country where 75% of people don’t even know the meaning of
the word tax. A good question is why there is such a level of idiocy. That’s the
main reason for Lula being so popular.
The second foolishness is the high-speed train. It’s a great idea that has been
going around in some developed countries and in the emergent China. The train
would link the cities of Campinas, São Paulo, and Rio de Janeiro. It is complete
economic nonsense, but it gives the idea of the grandiosity of the “nation”.  We
don’t even have a healthy state - rule of the law – to be able to think about a

The third foolishness is the building of a very large hydroelectric dam called
Belo Monte on the Xingu River in northern Brazil. The authorities have no
money to maintain the current fragile infrastructure - roads, ports, airports,
etc. They haven’t even resources to fix holes on the streets. They have to pay
too many privileges as hereditary pensions for government jobs and high-sky
salaries to staff of the state-owned monopolies.  This is the cruel reality.  

In the case of Campinas, 60 miles from São Paulo, capital of the State of São
Paulo, there is another local demented dream, i.e., the expansion of the
“international” airport of Viracopos. In fact, this airport was built in 1958 as an
international airport to serve the city of São Paulo with just one runway! At the
time, there were no funds for a second one! After more than half a century, the
talk of the town still turns on the building of this second runway.

The fifth foolishness is the transformation of Brazil into a global military power.
It’s really ridiculous! After five/six years of high-sky commodity prices and large
dollar reserves, the government says it is going to buy nuclear submarines and
warplanes from France. Since 2008, Sarkozy has made several travels to Brazil.
Why not from the US which, obviously, due to its permanent war status over
the last two centuries, has the better weaponry?  Why?  Because they have a
kind of ongoing love affair with Cuba, and such an option would not be seen as a
good one. Recently, Venezuela bought eighteen warplanes from China saying it
is going to be a socialist power! Dementia is a continental sickness!   

On last September 7th, 2009, Brazilian Independence Day, Sarkozy was invited
to the ceremony in Brasília to close the deal.  Being rushed, I guess, he didn’t
bring the wonderful Carla Bruni.  The Brazilian media didn’t like that.  For the
occasion, as usual, there were aircraft flyovers and a military parade. It was a
show to demonstrate Brazil as a global power

Poor Sarkozy. He doesn’t understand the national soul (culture). He should
have studied more history. In the early 1800’s, Napoleon Bonaparte said of D.
João VI, King of Portugal and Brazil, that he was the only one that tricked him.
De Gaulle, when visiting Brazil, about 1950, said “Brazil is not a serious