Brazil’s Popularity Problem
THE SOURCE: “A Leader Without Followers? The Growing Divergence Between the Regional and Global Performance of Brazilian Foreign Policy” by Andrés Malamud, in Latin American Politics and Society, Fall 2011.
After decades of failing to fulfill predictions that it would become Latin America's great power, Brazil seems to have made good on its singular potential. Its humming economy has earned it recognition as one of the four international up-and-comers known as the BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India, and China). It took on a high-profile role in the G-20 negotiations in 2008 and 2009, and has snagged spots in the G-8+5 and other negotiating bodies. But while Brazil is enjoying its spot on the crowded global stage, it has failed to command a strong following in its own backyard, writes political scientist Andrés Malamud of the University of Lisbon’s Institute of Social Sciences.
There are several reasons for the “growing mismatch between the regional and global performance of Brazilian foreign policy,” Malamud writes. For one, “Brazil scares nobody.” The country boasts the largest defense budget in the region, but “Brazil is not—and has no intention of becoming—a military power,” preferring to be seen as a “peace-loving, law-abiding, and benign” force. And while Brazil does have the largest economy in Latin America, several neighbors—notably Argentina, Chile, and Uruguay—consistently outperform it in gross domestic product per capita and human development indicators.
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