The Brazilian Dream: Brazil's Quest For Greatness
The Brazilian Dream, written by Thomas G. Sanders and G. Harvey Summ,
chronicles how the leaders of Brazil, a so?called "middle power," attempted to achieve their dream of greatness for their country in the 1970s and 1980s. It grew out of a series of 45 American Universities Field Staff (AUFS) reports on Brazil written between 1970 and 1991 by co?author Thomas G. Sanders. The reports, both academic and practical in nature, are an unusual and invaluable resource for understanding Brazil in the late twentieth century, and form the main body of this book.
In 1960 President Juscelino Kubitschek of Brazil presided over Brazil's crash move of its capital from Rio de Janeiro to the newly?created and modernistic Brasília. He used the slogan "Fifty Years' Progress in Five" (the length of his presidential term) to realize the country's long?held aspiration to place the capital on its central plateau.
Military leaders who took power in 1964, after a period of uncertainty and chaos of democratic government, attempted to follow through with Kubitschek's dream. They believed that unlike most developing countries, theirs was a leading candidate for greatness. Businessmen and members of the middle class with whom the military shared these and other ideas believed that their country had all the prerequisites??size, population, and geographical location??to make it the great capitalist power of the South Atlantic within 30 or 40 years. They regarded the second half of the twentieth century as the crucial period when Brazil would have to bring about this transformation through high rates of growth.
These military leaders meant to use Brazil's conservative authoritarian tradition, including a widely accepted social class system, a Catholic culture and religion, and a tradition of paternalism, as instruments for developing Brazil into a modern society and a major international power, with broad implications for individual and national well?being. Thinking on a grandiose scale, they envisaged using Brazilian solutions to create a modern and powerful nation, respected internationally for its strength and culture, a potential world actor, a common news topic, and a major force in international relations, with the status of countries such as the United States and the Soviet Union.
In 1500 a Portuguese expedition had discovered Brazil. Portugal, one of the world's leading empires of that era, was interested in conquest, plunder, and trade, had neither the population nor the resources to develop its new colony, and was at the beginning of a long period of decline. Rather than gold or silver, settlers from Portugal found brazilwood, the dyewood which was to give the new colony its name, and which offered only modest prospects to them. Private merchants licensed by the Portuguese crown exported the wood until the supply gave out, and engaged in other small?scale agricultural activities.
Throughout most of its history, the economy depended on the export of a succession of primary products. After dyewood and sugar in the sixteenth century, colonists found gold and diamonds in the late 1600s. Coffee and rubber later were principal export crops. The vagaries of worldwide demand, other European countries' more modern production methods, or exhaustion of the supply of minerals led to frequent boom?and?bust cycles. Industrialization did not take place until well into the twentieth century.
To exploit their colony, the Portuguese crown established a captaincy system under which large plots of land were granted to a small group of friends and proteges of the court. Seeking labor to work the plantations and mines, the colonizers first attempted to use native Indians as slaves, but found that unsuccessful because of disease and Indian unwillingness to work at regular labor. They then imported large numbers of African slaves, beginning a three?century?long process that left profound marks on every aspect of Brazilian life, even after Brazil became independent from Portugal in 1822. Other legacies of the colonial era, many of which still operate in Brazil, included an extractive get-rich?quick mentality, a landowner?dominated patriarchal and hierarchical society, and a highly unequal plantation economy.
This system was the basis for Brazil's later development as a patrimonial state, that is, a highly flexible and paternalistic public order under the tutelage of a small political and economic elite. Brazil continued under various types of oligarchical rule after independence, first under an empire until the end of the nineteenth century, followed by periods of nominal republican government, interrupted by occasional periods of dictatorship.
Planning for Economic Development
Before World War II, the goal of national greatness seemed very distant to Brazilian leaders. Brazil still depended primarily on coffee for export earnings, and its industrial system was limited to producing simple consumer items.
During World War II, the 1950s, and after 1968??the three major periods of rapid economic expansion??Brazilian elites adhered to an ideology of nationalist development. President Kubitschek (1956?1961) defined his administration precisely in terms of development and nationalism. He drew from analyses by the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America (ECLA), which had emphasized rapid industrialization based on substitution for imports, the inevitability of inflation as an accompaniment of development, and basic reforms.
The elites who guided Brazilian policy still considered the missing ingredient to be an economic system commensurate with great power status. Their objectives included:
??A consistent, rational, comprehensive and diversified economic program, leading to a self?sustaining economy.
??Increased exports in manufactured items and diversified food products, as well as minerals and coffee.
??Increased production in products like steel, petroleum, and chemicals.
??An industrial base in capital goods, as well as high technology consumer goods like automobiles and airplanes.
??Redistribution of income and greater opportunities for the mass of Brazilians.
??Adequate levels of nutrition, housing, health, and education.
??A lower population growth rate through increased education, urbanization, and participation in a market economy.
In accomplishing these objectives, the government would collaborate with the private sector, but would play the dominant role in planning, credit control, establishing basic industries, creating infrastructure, and fostering regional development. It would use public policy to provide incentives for investment by foreign companies and domestic producers. To enable Brazil to compete both locally and internationally, Brazilian elites would employ available technological, managerial, and capital inputs dynamically and pragmatically, would encourage private Brazilian entrepreneurship, would intensify the government's own involvement in the economy, and would reform public administration.
The 1964 Revolution
From 1961 to 1964 a turbulent period took place in Brazil. Jánio Quadros, elected president in 1961, left office after less than a year in power, and was succeeded by the vice president, João Goulart. Corruption, rhetorical nationalism, personalize, extravagant promises to win elections, and economic indecisiveness under Goulart in particular contributed, in the view of military leaders, to unprecedented inflation, lack of investment, a decline in growth, and a negative international economic image. Military and civil