Emir SaderEver since, as one of its first international stances, the Government of Brazil – when it was in charge, together with the United States, of concluding negotiations for the FTAA – blocked the US project for a free trade area, the positions of the two countries began to distance themselves. Since then, the differences have only increased.
 
Recent decisions involving BRICS have crystallised the insertion of Brazil into a project of a bi-polar world, which is what most contradicts and unsettles Washington. Obama has attempted to minimize the differences; but even sending Joe Biden to Brazil failed to induce Dilma Rouseff to set a date for a visit to the United States, a visit that was suspended due to denunciations of US espionage.
 
Unexpectedly, the US sees a presidential candidate emerge – even appearing as the favourite – who proposes, at the international level, everything that Washington desires. This includes lowering the profile of Mercosur and establishing bilateral agreements – above all, we can presume, with the United States – praising the Pacific Alliance, criticizing the decisions of BRICS, as well as underestimating the role of Unasur, of the South American Defence Council, among other international bodies that today are essential pillars of Brazilian foreign policy.
 
It is not simple to imagine the consequences of an eventual victory of Marina Silva, given these positions. It would be the biggest advance of the United States for some time, after their increasing isolation in Latin America and in the global South. This, in the first place, is what is at stake in the Brazilian elections, and what makes them so important.
 
Moreover, in a complementary and coherent stance, Marina Silva proposes to overthrow the economic model begun with the Lula government and continued under Dilma Rousseff. She has announced she will grant independence to the Central Bank, with the well-known argument that this would free the Bank from influences – as if the influences of the market and private banks were technical rather than political.
 
To this is added a frankly neoliberal team, with a former minister of Fernando Collor de Mello and Fernando Henrique Cardoso, as well as the inheritor of the Itau Bank, one of the biggest private banks of Brazil. Plus the lowering of the profile of Presal, the gigantic plan for deep-water petroleum exploration that the present government is undertaking.
 
What is at stake in Brazil in these elections is whether the country will continue to be an essential ally of Latin America and the global South, or if it will return to being a satellite of the United States.  An additional issue at stake is whether the model of economic growth that includes redistribution of wealth will continue, or if it will be replaced by models of fiscal adjustment, with a reduced presence of the state and a central role for the market.
 
In a country that gained such a high international profile since the Lula government, due to its priority to attacking the problem of hunger and to the processes of regional integration and South-South exchange, precisely these achievements are what are at stake. After the spectacular launching of her candidacy, Marina has ceased to grow and has begun to lose votes. Dilma Rousseff has again become the favourite. But the struggle is still open regarding who wins and who loses in the Brazilian elections.

15/09/2014

(Translated from the Spanish version for ALAI, by Jordan Bishop)
 
– Emir Sader, a Brazilian sociologist and political scientist, is the Coordinator of the Laboratory of Public Policy in the State University of Rio de Janeiro (UERJ).