Brazil Essay, Research Paper
Stretching over 2,500 miles form east to west and 2,700 miles from north to south, Brazil is the world s largest tropical country. The only nations that are larger are the lands of Russia, Canada, China and the United States. Brazil has more then 150 million people spread unevenly over its huge land area, making it the fifth most populated country in the world. (Encyclopedia.com)More then two thirds of Brazil s people live in the cities and towns and more then 29 percent of them are in the ten cities with more then a million people. These include the metropolitan area of Sao Paulo with more then 15 million people and Rio de Janeiro with more then 9 million people. The rural population is mostly concentrated on the East Coast or in the highlands of the more southern states. Settlement however among the other states is sporadic through the other sectors of the country, but no matter where the majority may reside or continue to move, one unitary government still shelters them under the flag of Brazil.The Spanish navigator Vicente Yanez Pinzon was the first known European in the region now constituting Brazil and with this discovery placed the newly discovered land in the hands of Portugal. In April 1500, the Portuguese navigator Pedro Alvares Cabral also reached the coast of present-day Brazil and formally claimed the surrounding region in the name of Portugal. The territory was named Terra da Vera Cruz, Portuguese for “Land of the True Cross”). An expedition under the command of the Italian navigator Amerigo Vespucci was sent to Terra da Vera Cruz by the Portuguese government in 1501. In the course of his explorations Vespucci named many capes and bays, including a bay which he called Rio de Janeiro. He returned to Portugal with a cargo of brazilwood, and from that time forward Terra da Vera Cruz bore the name of the valuable wood Brazil. (Encyclopedia.com )Later through the passing years Brazil has undergone a series of political rulers from the autocratic rule of Pedro I and II to the militaristic regime of Manuel Deodoro da Fonseca. In November of 1889, A republic was proclaimed, with Fonseca as head of the provisional government. Separation of church and state and other republican reforms were swiftly decreed. The drafting of a constitution was completed in June 1890. Similar to the Constitution of the United States, it was adopted in February 1891, and Brazil became a federal republic, officially styled the United States of Brazil. Fonseca was elected its first president.Brazil is now a federal republic with 26 states and a federal distract. In the 1988 constitution granted broad powers to the federal government, consisting of executive, legislative and judicial branches, similar to our form of government. The president holds office for four years, with the right to re-election for an additional four-year term, and appoints his own cabinet. On October third, 1994 elections were held and won by popular vote by Fernando Henrique Cardoso who later took office for two terms on January first, 1995 to the present after wining a second term in 1998. (edci.gov)Federal deputies and senators who belong to the parties compromising the government coalitions do not always vote with the government. As a result, President Cardoso has had difficulty, at times, gaining sufficient support for some of his legislative priorities, despite the fact that his coalition parties hold an overwhelming majority of congressional seats. Cardoso as president of Brazil, hold two titles while he remains in office: Chief of State and Head of the Government. These presidential powers are balanced by a bicameral legislature. There are 81 senators, three for each state and also for the federal district, and 513 deputies. A deputy being a member of the lower house of the legislative assemblies who has the power to take charge when their superior is absent. The Senate terms are assigned for eight years, with elections staggered so that two thirds of the upper house is up for election at one time and the other one-third, four years later. Chamber terms are for four years, with elections based on representational elections by states. Each state is then eligible for a minimum of 8 seats; the largest state however, Sao Paulo is stopped at 70 seats since its size is the largest of the country. The result of this is a system weighted in favor of the physically larger, but lesser populated states. (edci.gov)With such a large country, the amount of representative seats is almost excessively large. Fifteen political parries are represented in Congress and since it is common for politicians to switch parties, the proportion of congressional seats filled by parties changes regularly. The following are the major parties in order of largest to smallest in the congressional delegations: Liberal Front Party (PFL), Brazilian Democratic Movement Party (DMDB), Brazilian Social Democratic Party (PSDB), Brazilian Labor Party (PTB), Brazilian Progressive Party (PPB), Workers Party (PT), Democratic Labor Party (PDT), Brazilian Labor Party(PTB), Brazilian Socialist Party (PSB), Communist Party of Brazil (PCdoB) and Liberal Party (PL). (edci.gov) Since 1960 when Brasilia, the new national capitol was established, great changes have taken place in Brazilian society and its economy. Schools and medical care have come to villages; a network of highways has been built across the interior land and new industries have grown up. But the price of modernization as also introduced its less desirable by-products such as pollution and an increasing crime rate. One other striking problem that has been plaguing the country of Brazil has been the decline in the stability of their economy. Since World War II, Brazil has seen tremendous growth and modernization. Today, Brazils economy is the tenth largest in the word. It s called a developing country. The military dictators had visions of Brazil joining the ranks of the advanced, industrialized nations by the year 2000. No one believes that goal to be possible now, but no one denies that tremendous development has occurred. Brazil is almost a country of contradiction when talking about its economy. Traveling through the country it s possible to witness incredibly uneven development from booming cities touching the sky, to small native villages planted on the ground. Production techniques that have barley changed from the colonial era dominate many parts of the Northeast and Amazonia, while Sao Paulo s massive, high-tech automobile, steel, arms and chemical industries successfully profit in world trade. Brazil s rulers, atleast since President Kubitschek established Brasilia, have had a penchant for building things big and they have, of course, been encouraged to do so by the World Bank. The government borrowed heavily to finance Brasilia s construction and resulted in the country s external debt beginning to take off exponentially and a couple of years later inflation followed. Economic development in Brazil began to slow, but there always seemed to be some highly visible larger projects under way, which have been instigated by President Cardoso. One such example of this was the construction of a hydroelectric dam in Sao Paulo in order to sustain the country s growing energy needs. In response though environmentalist deemed the project an ecological disaster since hundreds of acres of rainforest would have been covered in water. Cardoso though in response continued with the operation with hopes in correcting the energy needs brought about their fading economy. (cnn.com) Many of the projects brought about to Brazil have been economically ill advised and some never get completed. Whatever the reason may be doe the incomplete projects, huge amounts of money are wasted. The large projects do get finished, like the dam, create many jobs, atleast once they are built. Utilizing the latest technology, much of Brazil s new development is capital intensive. Few jobs are created, but not nearly enough to employ the millions of urban poor who come from the country side.
Brazil now has an estimated 64 million working people; 17% of people work in agriculture, most are landless peasants and 12% work in industry. (edci.com) The Majority of the rest cannot find decent work and are forced to sell their labor extremely cheap in jobs that are economically unproductive for society and a dead-end for the individual. These economic roadblocks are another factor that has been damaging the status of Brazils economy by trying to support people who can t in return support the economy. With cheap labor and underemployment in Brazil many middle class families commonly hire two or more live in maids. This contrasts with five-year-old kids, who will never go to school, who sell chewing gum or shinning shoes. People are hired to walk dogs, to watch cars or to deliver groceries. Even large crews of street sweepers clean the streets with homemade brooms. Hawkers on the beaches sell everything and earn almost nothing. Restaurants seem to have more waiters then customers. Unlike other countries like Mexico, the poor have no rich neighbors where they can go for possible employment and with minor financial reforms, there is no relief in sight. The fazendeiros, or estate owners, with their massive land holdings, are very influential with the government and apart from the occasional token gesture, they are unlikely to be interested in parting with their land so that the poor may accomplish themselves financially. With land reforms a far dream for the country of Brazil, the government built roads into the amazon, the road between Belem and Brasilia in 1960 and the Transamazonica and the Cuiaba to Porto Velho roads in the 1970 s. The addition of these roads was for the soul purpose of increasing the intake of modernization to the country and to open up the Amazon to mineral and agricultural development, and also encourage settlement by the rural poor. The mineral poor Amazonian soil proved hard for the peasents to farm. After cutting down the trees and opening up the land, peasants were forced off by large cattle ranchers. Even today the settlement of the Amazon continues, particularly along the strip of Cuiaba, Porto Velho and Rio Branco, where boomtowns and deforestation follow in the wake of ambitious settlers. Over 50% of Brazil s industry and financial security are clustered in and around Sao Paulo City. Most important of these industries is the car industry. Labor relations with the workers at Volkswagen, General Motors and Ford were managed by an idea that government approved unions were backed b the power of the military state. From 1968 to 1978 the workers were silent and passive, until the day one hundred workers at a bus factory went to work and sat down in front of their machines. Within two weeks 78,000 metal workers were on strike in the Sao Paulo industrial belt. Within a few weeks the strikes spread to other industries. There were mass assemblies of workers in soccer stadiums and the government-sponsored unions were replaced. At the invitation of the Catholic Church, union offices were moved to the cathedral of Sao Bernado. From this move the military and corporations were caught by surprise and were forced to give into substantial wage increases that lead the industries economic holdings to drop even more. (darkding) In 1980 there was a new wave of strikes, which were better organized, with greater rank-and-file control. Demands were made to democratize the workplace, with shopfloor union representation and factory and safety committees. Many improvements were won and many have been lost, but the industrial working class had shown its strength and it has not been forgotten. From all these drastic changes in the industrial world of Brazil, economists called the 80 s the Lost Decade since a number of wild boom-and-bust cycles decimated the economy from negative growth and explosive inflation followed record-breaking industrial growth fuelled by foreign capital. Until 1994, the only certainty in the Brazilian economy was it uncertainty. Then came the Plano Real, that stabilized the currency, ended the inflation that had corroded the salaries of the lowest wage earners, and provoked a rise in consumption. Out of the seven economic plans introduced in the last eight years, the Real was the first without shocks or broken contracts. The death of the previous monetary unit, the cruzerio real, was announced 52 days before the Plano Real introduced a new currency, the real. A record volume of international reserves economically backed the real, the real began on a one-for-one parity with the US dollar. But as the real began to float financially investors began to hold Brazil to a tough standard. The most important lesson is that no currency policy can work without strong economic fundamentals to support it. Sure Brazil had to act on its overvalued exchange rate, but the country is still very much on investors watch list. Congress must carry out long-promised spending cuts and deeper reforms of the tax and social security systems to cut a budget deficit running at 8% of GDP. Meanwhile, President Cardoso has to ensure that the profligate states make good on their $73 billion in debt to Brasilia (Katz ) Before the Real Plan began in action it was difficult to predict what business could survive with the changes in the economy. With each step that the government used to lower the inflation there would always be some sectors of the economy who benefited with those steps, but unfortunately other sectors were effected severely where many business became bankruptcy. With the attempts at stabilization of the economy the construction and bank sectors were affected with difficulties, but now most of the economy is recovering and recuperating from the damage. The economic rules change and the competition is a strong factor to influence the institutions in order to better their services and their technologies. On the other hand, with this recent economic recovery that the Brazilian government put in action to reinforce the currency, it is difficult to predict what will happen with the economic stability and what kinds of markets will be affected. As a whole, many institutions in Brazil can survive for many years depending on the good administration to compete in open markets. (Economy) As for the political effectiveness of the country most of the political effectiveness in Brazil depends on time, the interests and the region in Brazil. For example, it is dependent on the time because in the time of elections the Brazilian people can observe the government in action, such as constructions and other political activities. Everything at this time is done and concluded to guarantee the new election. In the interests of the regions, it means that the effectiveness of the government concluded some activities vary in political interests. As an example the distribution of the federal budget in the southern regions receive more benefits because it is more politically strong, and it is more populous and can guarantee more advantages in new elections. The difference between the north and south Brazil is that in the south they are more effectiveness like many developed countries because it is a rich industrialized region. But on the north region the activities take a long time to be approved or put in action, because it is a poor economic region. (Katz) Bibliography http://www.encyclopedia.comhttp://www.cnn.com/http://darkding:woregon.edu/sergiok/brnews.html#historyhttp://www.odci.gov/cia/publications/factbook/br.html#gov Economy (Brazil, China, and Venezuela) The Economist, February 20, 1999. Vol 350 pg. 102Katz, Ian. Brazil: Still on the Edge of a Cliff. Newsweek. February 1, 1999. Issue # 3615 Page 59