Why is Jair Bolsonaro the most likely
next president of Brazil?
Beatrice E. Rangel
As we all too well know Brazil has been the least violence prone country in South America. This attribute perhaps springs from the fat that the Portuguese elite was one of the most innovative in Europe through the Medieval period . Located at the farthest outer corner of Europe and lacking truly munificent lands Portugal had to become a trade freak first to survive and to grow once its nationhood was settled at the end of the 11th century with the fusion of the counties of Portu Cale and Coimbra. And grow it did!
From the 1500s–1800s, Portugal reigned as a world trading power thanks to its commanding maritime empire. The country dominated the long route to Asia going South through the African continent. These exchanges brought about a powerful economic boost ; a development of sciences and an innovative attitude by the subjects of this kingdom who welcomed change. Prince Henry, the Navigator was the perfect epitome of Portuguese society. Henry loved research both in the area of materials resistance to build better vessels as well as in economic production and social customs of the African and Asian nations with a view to enrich trade. The fourth son of King John, Henry encouraged his father to take over the Muslin Port of Ceuta in what today is Morocco to dominate the trans Saharan trade routes. Henry also led the Portuguese faction of the Templar Brothers thereby becoming very knowledgeable of finance.
It thus is no wonder that instead of launching a search for El Dorado, the Portuguese settlers in what today is Brazil sought to build trade routes and to sell local products both in Europe as well as in Africa and Asia. Given that local manpower was scarce and weak, they resorted to the horrific practice of human trade by hunting and bringing as slaves the people of Africa. Brazil was thus a country created under the wealth creation cum trade paradigm. As such is a society that values order and order is precisely what has lacked over the past five years.
Brazil has indeed seen the development edifice built over the last three centuries crumble under the weight of its own failures. After independence Brazil for reasons that have yet to be fully researched departed from its glorious wealth creating beginnings to turn into a corporativist society where freedom was subject to stiff controls and controls created monopolies for the elites. Elites set themselves out to protect monopolies and development was strait jacketed like elsewhere in Latin America. The world saw the largest and most promising economy in Latin America to falter between stagnation and inflationary growth. Finally, in the 1990s a macroeconomic reform headed by Fernando Henrique Cardoso launched the Brazilian economy into full-fledged growth. Along came Luiz Innacio da Silva and used the fiscal bounty to subsidize poverty. A demand fed economic boost followed. This proved to be unsustainable as the number of households eligible for subsidies continued to grow while fiscal receipts remained stagnant.
Discontent settled in and in the midst of this deflationary mood a major scandal broke that rendered naked the political system which was sustained by illegal contributions to political parties from businesses and state-owned enterprises. Corruption was so pervasive and entrenched that its exposure wiped out 30% of the value of Petrobras the state owned oil giant and between 50% and 30% of the five leading Brazilian stocks. A president was impeached, half the political establishment is either being investigated or indicted. Crime is rampant, and chaos seems to have set in to the point that cities refuse to pay their dues to states or the federal government.
In this climate of economic pessimism and political confusion the Brazilian society seems to be vying for order. And the best incarnation of that virtue seems to be Mr Bolsonaro. To begin with he is the depository of trust by the most diverse people. The poor trust him because he is not part of the elites. The middle classes because he was a military officer who embodies order. Most intriguing perhaps is the support he is receiving from the young and rising businessmen and entrepreneurs. The rise of the internet through accurate telecommunications policies and to promote green energies have placed Brazil as the largest technology incubator in South America and also as world agricultural powerhouse. Leaders of the ventures responsible for these developments are young Brazilians from the provinces , many US educated that resented the iron grip of the 20 business leaders that trapped every development opportunity in the country.
These economic agents want competition, order and freedom and believe Mr Bolsonaro can deliver. They are behind his successful fund raising and his lead in the polls. The recent attempt on his life has not only entrenched these beliefs among his followers but also the suspicion that behind this event were elite leaders including businessmen and politicians. With Lula out of the race the presidential competition is populated by unappealing political leaders and Bolsonaro. And guess who is going to benefit from this? The real doubt thus is not whether he will win but whether without a structured team to rebuild the Brazilian state he is going to be able to effectively govern the country of the future.
Published by LAHT.com on Monday, September 17th, 2018
*The opinions published herein are the sole responsibility of its author.*
Beatrice Rangel is President & CEO of the AMLA Consulting Group, which provides growth and partnership opportunities in US and Hispanic markets. AMLA identifies the best potential partner for businesses which are eager to exploit the growing buying power of the US Hispanic market and for US Corporations seeking to find investment partners in Latin America. Previously, she was Chief of Staff for Venezuela President Carlos Andres Perez as well as Chief Strategist for the Cisneros Group of Companies.
For her work throughout Latin America, Rangel has been honored with the Order of Merit of May from Argentina, the Condor of the Andes Order from Bolivia, the Bernardo O’Higgins Order by Chile, the Order of Boyaca from Colombia, and the National Order of Jose Matías Delgado from El Salvador.