Brazil is the fifth most populous country in the world after China, India, United States, and Indonesia. It is also the fourth-largest democracy. The Federative Republic of Brazil is governed by a presidential administration, where the President is both Head of the State and Head of the Government. The federal government comprising the legislative, executive, and judiciary, are granted broad powers by the 1988 Constitution. The president of the state holds the office for a period of four years. The president also has the right to re-election for an additional four years.
Brazil was dominated by Portuguese rule while all the other countries, Mexico, Argentina and Venezuela, were dominated by the Spanish empire. The independence of Brazil is surely a fascinating phenomenon. Unlike the bloodbath of Mexico here it was more democratic in nature. By the term Brazilian War of Independence, we understand the political movements and power restructure that took place in Portugal during the 1820s when the concept Kingdom of Brazil was dissolved and it was termed as a Portuguese colony. Pedro IV of Portugal later granted independence to Brazil on 7 September 1822. According to reports by CIA (2012), “Brazil underwent more than half a century of populist and military government until 1985 when the military regime peacefully ceded power to civilian rulers” (p.1).
At present, the Federative Republic of Brazil, more popularly known as Brazil, is the fifth largest country of the world. It is centrally located, occupying almost half of Latin America. It shares its border with all the South American countries except Chile and Ecuador. Brazil’s immediate neighbors are Venezuela, Guyana, Surinam and the French Guiana in the north; Colombia in the northwest; Peru and Bolivia in the west; Paraguay and Argentina in the southwest; and Uruguay in the south. It is bounded by the Atlantic Ocean in the east.
Population of Brazil
When Pedro Álvares Cabral arrived in Brazil in the year 1500 he found the region inhabited by nomadic tribes with no specific civilizations like Mexico or Peru. But there are some minor religions in Brazil like the Yoruba cult with their gods like Oxum and Shango but the major part of culture is predominantly Portuguese. CIA (2012) also reports “less common languages include Spanish (border areas and schools), German, Italian, Japanese, English, and a large number of minor Amerindian languages” (p.1). At present, according to CIA (2012) report, “white 53.7%, mulatto (mixed white and black) 38.5%, black 6.2%, other (includes Japanese, Arab, Amerindian) 0.9%, unspecified 0.7% (2000 census)” (p.1). As per July 2012 the approximate population of Brazil is 205,000,000. Unemployment is around 17%, and it ranks 65th in the world. The literacy is around 90%. Life expectancy is around 73 years, and it ranks 126th in the world. According to CIA (2012) report, “Roman Catholic (nominal) 73.6%, Protestant 15.4%, Spiritualist 1.3%, Bantu/voodoo 0.3%, other 1.8%, unspecified 0.2%, none 7.4% (2000 census)” (p.1).
However, a constant threat on the Brazilian population is drug. Increasingly, the response to this growing criminal enterprise will be an increasingly aggressive US policing on the drug trade already evident in the destruction of drug laboratories and landing strips deep in the heart of countries like Colombia and Brazil. This will enhance vigilance in smaller countries as well. For instance, in parts of South America drug gangs have been hounded out of their holes into the surrounding territory. This has led to the development of newer drug-producing centers. US agents on the trail of drug cartels have tended to have an influence on countries previously considered less capable of retaliatory action on organized crime.
Political System and Political Economy of Brazil
The political system in Brazil is composed of a president who is the head of government. The president oversees the day-to-day running of the country. The country is composed of a federal government that deals with weighty issues, such as management of the tax and security systems. This role is played out in Brazil, like in other countries where federal governments manage the economy. In addition to the national federation, the country is composed of various states, each being represented by a governor (Brainard, 2009). The constitution of Brazil has entrenched a functioning system of government that is composed of the legislature, judiciary, and the executive. This system of government has been formulated in such a way that the balance of power exists.
The executive is the arm of government that is charged with the task of running the affairs of the country on a daily basis. The executive, which is headed by the president, operates in conformity with the expectations of the constitution. This implies that the constitutional dispensation avails checks and balances in the government. The executive coordinates with the other arms of government in decision-making. Just like in other countries where tussles abound between the arms of government, the Brazilian situation is no different (Canuto & Danny, 2012).
The legislature is the arm of the government charged with the responsibility of formulating the laws of the land. The legislature is composed of parliamentarians who coordinate together to form laws which define the operations of the country. The parliamentarians have the powers to amend the constitution where there is need. The amendments are often done through a voting system via the balloting system. The side which wins takes the law to the next level. The legislature consists of the federal senate and the national congress. The federal senate, which is considered as the upper house, comprises of 81 seats of which three senators are elected from each the respective federal unit. The senators are expected to hold office for a term of 8 years, after which they are replaced from office by other candidates (Ciochetto, 2012). The lower house of the federal senate is the chamber of deputies, and it comprises of 513 elected deputies. These deputies are expected to hold office for a period of 4 years.
The judiciary is the third arm of government and it is involved in running the judicial system of the country. In a nutshell, the judiciary is composed of the superior court of justice, the national justice council, the regional federal courts and the supreme federal court. The judiciary is headed by the Supreme Court chief justice who is selected by the legislature, and approved by the president. It should be understood that the vetting process of constitutional office holders is done by the parliament where the house vets the candidates, discusses their qualifications and then presents the final nominees to the president. Like many countries, the office of the chief justice and the attorney general is constitutional, meaning that the officeholders cannot be sacked directly; not unless the parliamentarians convene a session in which they vote for their sacking (Dedrick & Zhu, 2010).
In Brazil, the federal units are headed by the governor who acts as the president of the region. The residents of the states are responsible for choosing the governor, who is elected for a four-year term in office. The governor coordinates the activities between the federal government and the states; in activities such as disbursement of funds and other issues. It should be noted that despite the fact that the governor manages the activities of the respective state, the crucial sectors of the economy such as education and security are handled by the national government. In Brazil, there is a local government that coordinates with the federal government on a number of issues such as tax collection and the administration of security in the country (Roett, 2011). The local government is entrenched under the municipality in which the mayor is the head. The mayor works with other local government officials who comprise of a legislative assembly elected by the people (Mlore, 1998).
In the case of Brazil, we have a President who oversees the regular working and all the other aspects of the country are being controlled by the Federal Government. All the economic aspects of the country are looked after by this Federal Government. All the crucial aspects like National Security and Trade are being controlled by this Federal Government. On the other hand, if we look at the political scenario of Japan we will see that it is basically a three-part Government, which is being run by the legislature, the executive and the judiciary. The parliamentary part of the Government is really powerful here as they have the power to make and amend the laws.
The economic policies in Brazil are based on the fundamental policies of economics. The economic policies are meant to accelerate economic growth, create employment, and increase the national gross domestic product. The economic policies of Brazil have been lauded for their impact on the national economy, for example, statistics from the department of commerce indicate that economic growth has been achieved in Brazil since the introduction of the above mentioned economic policies. The tremendous improvement in the economy uplifted the country to a position of being ranked among the top 20 richest countries in the world. Despite the fact that the country is a developing nation, the government has worked tooth and nail to ensure that the economic environment in Brazil is conducive for investing (Tabak, 2007).
The Brazilian government has formulated a tax policy which ensures that the business community is not overburdened by unnecessary tax burdens. In light of this, the government introduced tax cuts to foreign companies so as to create employment for its citizens. The tax code formulated by the government is based on the earnings made by companies and individuals. Sometimes last year, after the government introduced crucial reforms on the tax system, it announced an increase in job recruitment and a fall in unemployment rates.
The government has done a lot to curb inflation; an economic menace which takes toll on the hard earned income of consumers. The effort against inflation involved introduction of policies, such as the price control mechanisms, which would help to avoid scenarios where commodity prices skyrocket. The prices control measure was a boost to Brazil’s economy at a time when the prices of oil and food were on the rise. In addition, the government introduced a number of incentives to manufacturers thereby offering relieve to consumers. The tax reforms implemented on the average citizen have also been a factor in the improving economic situation of the country. This is because reducing taxes on the individuals increases their disposable income, translating to higher spending power (Hollerman, 2008).
The Brazilian government has entered into collaboration with the central bank in a bid to strengthen the exchange rate mechanisms. For example, the exchange rate has been modified to favor both the importers and exporters. The stable Brazilian currency means that importation will not hurt the local importers and that exports sell well in the international markets. In addition, the central bank has introduced fiscal measures, such as taming interest rates, to avoid the burden most consumers bear of repaying loans. This has encouraged credit to flow in the economy enabling entrepreneurs to expand their business ventures. The government has also appointed special agencies charged with the responsibility of advising the government on major economic reforms. These agencies are also charged with supervising government transactions to check against corruption.
The Brazilian government has encouraged the strengthening of the private sector, an aspect that has contributed to the country’s vibrant economy. The strengthening of the private sector has been lauded as vital in boosting the economic prospects of Brazil. The government has additionally invested millions of dollars in stimulus package projects all over the country to encourage economic growth. The government has started various construction projects and other infrastructural rehabilitation programs aimed at creating employment to the population.
In addition to Brazil’s economic policies explained above, the government has formulated policies that shall ensure proper investments in the information and communication sector. The government has encouraged the formation of technology hubs which shall be used to encourage international investors. In addition, the government has embarked on a mechanism of streamlining various departments in terms of service provision. This is meant to eliminate bureaucracies associated with running the government.
Economically, Brazil is the tenth largest at the market exchange rates and eighth-largest by purchasing power parity. It’s GDP (Gross Domestic Product) surpassing a trillion dollars, stands tenth in the world, and first in the South America. Brazil has an export oriented economy. The Latin American countries comprise almost 25% of their foreign trade. Brazil also has the second most advanced industrial sector in the Americas. The minerals such as iron and manganese, exploited here, serves as important sources of industrial raw materials and export earnings.
As earlier mentioned, the Brazilian economy operates on the basis of a number of regulations which are meant to eliminate all forms of market unfairness. In this regard, it was also mentioned that the government has introduced price control mechanisms aimed at curbing inflation. These price control mechanisms are constituted by a number of codes which are used to maintain the commodity and services prices. The detection mechanisms associated with the price control mechanisms take account of factors which could lead to price increases and reverses the situation, thereby maintaining the prices. This trend has made the Brazilian economy to enjoy stable inflation rates.
The Brazilian inflation rate stands at 5% with the central bank targeting an inflation rate of around 4.5%. Achieving this target has not been an easy task since the external pressures have had a toll on the Brazilian economy. In spite of this, the government is doing more to tame inflation rates both in the short run and the long run. Together with this, the government is considering a number of alternatives aimed at stemming the inflation rate. The alternatives include increasing the lending rate, since reducing the lending rate increases market liquidity thereby increasing inflation.
The Brazilian inflation rate makes the country face numerous challenges as far as undertaking international trade is concerned. This is for the reason that the inflation rate is way too high to facilitate a favorable trade mechanism. It is for this reason that most developing countries such as Brazil face numerous challenges as far as operating in the international markets is concerned.
However, Brazil plays a leading role in shaping and determining the political and commercial relations between the regions. Brazil has totaled more than US$ 70 billion in 2002, marking them as the largest exporter in Latin America. The year also marked the launch of Mercosul, where Brazil played a leading role which increased their access to the regional market. Brazil’s foreign policy reflects a style of diplomacy that encourages efforts towards opening up better access for Brazil to foreign markets, and also ensures the Brazilian presence in international debate on all contemporary world agenda.
Brazil with its popular foreign policies, growing economy and stable government under Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, and the United States facing economic slowdown, is the most popular power in the region. Its foreign policy has silently shifted away from Washington towards autonomy. Brazil’s market friendly policies have tamed inflation and survived the worldwide recession. Brazil is on the verge of fulfilling its potential as a global power, as it is proving worthy of its growing importance in the current political world. The big time for Brazil has arrived.
Major Issues of Brazil
Brazil’s strategic geographical, political, military and economic coordinates in the continent make it the political and economic leader of South America. Brazil arises as the regional leader among the South American countries. Brazil’s foreign policy reflects non-intervention in the affairs of other countries, multilateralism i.e. multiple nations working for a common cause or mission, peaceful dispute settlement, and political, economic, social and cultural integration of the nations of Latin America. Recently, Brazilian foreign policy has aimed to strengthen ties with its neighboring countries and increase the process of regional integration. So, instead of concluding beneficial and meaningful trade agreements with developed countries (the European Union and the United States) , the Brazil foreign trade policy lays more emphasis in its leadership role in Mercosul and the Union of South American Nations to promote regional integration. The packed diplomatic agendas have led Brazil in the exercising of a presidential diplomacy which has achieved great importance both inside and outside the country. Brazilian foreign policy supports multilateral diplomacy through the United Nations and the Organization of American States, and act as a countervailing force to the United States’ political and economic influence in South America.
The United States has increasingly acknowledged Brazil’s role as a stabilizing force and an apt interlocutor in Latin America. According to the US, Brazil is regarded as a friendly country, they share commitment to democracy and macroeconomic policies. However, Brazil’s foreign policy regarding regional integrity has led to periodical disputes with US on trade and political issues.
Brazil has been engaged in many of the United Nations (UN) specialized agencies. It contributes troops to the various UN peacekeeping efforts. It also has been a member of UN Security Council. It is seeking permanent representation to the Security Council. Brazil’s foreign policy allows it to have a diplomatic presence across all the continents.
Mercosul, which means Common Market in Spanish, is a Regional Trade Agreement (RTA) among Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay which promotes free trade and smooth movement of goods, people and currency. Other Latin American states such as Chile, Colombia, Peru, Ecuador, Bolivia and Venezuela are other associate members. Brazil, as one of its founding nation, are heavily involved in the operations and working of the pact. In fact, Brazil with its considerable military capabilities spearheads the defense portion of the union., The main weapon producer in the region, Brazil is the major beneficiary from shipment of weapons. Brazilian government hopes that the increasing arms sales to markets around the world and the availability of the latest technology would reduce the dependence on the United States.
Brazil compare with another country in the region: Argentina
The Argentine economy is market based economy. Apart from having a market for locally produced commodities and other imports, the country has a mass of natural resources. This natural resource includes human resources since the population of the country is well educated. The agricultural sector is also developed and an industrial base which offers divers form of products and has diverse forms of production methods. The service industry in the country accounts for about 59% income and economy, this means that despite the fact that the country has a good industrial base; the service sector is also well developed (Zhicheng & Zhaofeng 2003). The sector accounts for about 72% of the country’s employment. The manufacturing sector accounts for about 12% of GDP, despite being well developed it accounts for only 13% of the entire country’s employment. The rest of economy is accounted for by the construction, mining and agricultural sectors. The agriculture sector contributes about 9% of the GDP and 7% of employment. The agricultural sector accounted for about 54% of total exports in 2010 the manufacturing sector contributed 35%. This means that a good amount of agricultural produce is not consumed locally instead it is exported to other economies (Synovate, 2011).
The country also enjoys good economic environment because of low corruption level, according to transparency international, the country rates 106 in the global corruption table. However, the country still has problem in the government and private sector with regard to corruption. Corruption cases in the country include, drug trafficking, money laundering, and tax evasion.. the current administration has tried to put up measures which will ensure payment of taxes and elimination of other corruption cases (Synovate, 2011). There have been strategic changes on institutions to ensure taxes are fully paid. The country has the second highest GDP per capita and human development index after Chile with regard to purchasing power in south America. The country is among the world’s best 20 economies, 31st in the world in terms of GDP and 23rd when it comes to purchasing power. The World Bank classifies the country as a secondary emerging market economy (Synovate, 2011).
Cultural example of Brazil
The cultural heritage for the people of Brazil is the film industry. The industry records over fifty full length movies every year. This puts the country in a spotlight to compete with other countries which have prospered in the film industry. The number of screens produced by per capita is the highest in South America, which makes Brazil well recognized in the region and around the globe for good movie production. Since production of first Brazilian movie in 1970, the industry has kept on growing and from 1980, movies produced in the Brazilian industry have earned global recognition. The movies have earned several international awards. The capital city provides a fantastic environment for theatre. The country is also recognized for its passion for sports, and the most popular sport in the country is football. The Brazilian national team boasts of six World Cup titles. The country also boasts of having the best footballers of this generation. The county has a pride for football and it has been always on the spotlight around the globe whenever football competitions are held. The country has won more than fifteen global titles including fourteen Copa America titles. Football encounters rivalry both internally and externally in the region. The football league of Brazil is called Campeonato Brasileiro da Série A and is their highest division of football. It consists of 20 teams that play from April to December. Since the last 6 years they have been playing according to the double round robin format where the team acquiring the most point by the end of a season is declared the winner. Série A is considered to be the 5th strongest league all over the world by IFFHS. In 2006 the team was valued at £330 million. In 2005 almost 804 league players were exported to other leagues of the world, mainly to Europe. Earlier foreign private inversions in Brazil had made finances for football leagues easily available but since Brazil was a developing economy their football leagues desperately required administrative overhaul (Aidar & Taylor 2007).
For the Brazilian people football and their national team is everything since it is a part of their life, soul and culture. All the population of 180 million in Brazil is enthusiastic about football as it helps in bridging the massive social divide that is present in their country. Their team has produced a number of first rate players well known the world over, which is an achievement in itself. The Brazilian national team has proved over and over that they have the potential of becoming the most successful national team that take part in international football competitions. They have held the World Cup five times and are currently ranked at the 5th position as according to FIFA. The Brazilian Confederation of Football or CBF has plans to renew their contracts with the major sponsors.