An economy crisis, a political turmoil, a footballing nightmare and cultural emptiness. That is Brazil these days. One of the few things President Dilma Rousseff got right this year is that the country is experiencing a moment of crossing. From third world nation to… nobody knows exactly what. The time for quick and easy answers to Brazilian woes is definitely over.
In politics, it is hard to make predictions that live through one week. The model of presidential coalitions has definitely died with the current crisis. Since 1992, presidents made their best to secure support from most political parties so they could stop investigations and pass their reforms. After only one tight presidential election, Brazil’s first in that scenario, the current presidential coalition is destroyed. And there is no sign anyone can make that kind of arrangement work again. Corruption investigations will free Brazil from many of those who profit in those coalitions, but that doesn’t mean there will be leadership to put party politics in another level.
In the economy there is no clear path after the super consumption pathway seems finished. With a cyclical crisis, consumer confidence has dropped to record lows. So how can Brazil take a better and more sustainable road? The problem is clearly related to politics too, but the timing for politicians and economists will always be very different. Some will say Brazil needs to get rid of the absurd interest rates that stall the economy and others will insist in cutting government expenses. Whichever is the option for the next few years, it is hard to say anyone without strategic planning will be able to hit the bull’s eye. There are no bull’s eye left in Brazil.
Since democracy was reestablished in 1985, Brazil had major challenges to tackle. Challenges that seemed urgent. First we had to consolidate our democracy. Then it was all about fighting inflation. In this century there was a quest against extreme poverty. At the end of the day, Brazilians won all those disputes. But now what? Education, public security, healthcare and infrastructure are clearly important areas in which Brazil has to improve, but that urgency hasn’t quite sunk in. Most programs in those fields are quite basic and fail to confront important interest groups that have halted improvements. Will that happen now that Brazilians feel that malaise? Hard to know.
Even in football Brazil seems exhausted. Coach Dunga is the archetype of a pragmatism that Brazilians reject. Fans are fewer and fewer not only because the team was destroyed by Germany in the 2014 World Cup, but also because there is no fun. The Brazilian creativity that used to compensate for all the flaws and hardships seems to be gone now that Brazil isn’t as troubled — despite the current crisis — as it once was.
In other arts it is no different. Take the last edition of festival Rock in Rio as an example. Most of the Brazilian bands playing there exist since the 80ies. Not much has happened in the last two decades, except for record label-sponsored rockers that have little food for thought to offer. The cinema industry could be a good exception to the rule, but even that one, despite recent successes, is dominated by pasteurization. Just like Brazil’s economy for a while, it is a success for consumers, not so much for serious critics. And all that confusion will still be seen when Rio de Janeiro hosts the next edition of the Olympic Games.
Since politics tends to guide all the other fields, the future of President Rousseff will probably have a big impact on Brazil’s final stop after this gruesome crossing. A crossing that is nowhere near the end.