Brazil: Awakening Giant

April 12, 1972

Report Outline
New Economic Boom Amid Suppression
Big Country of Long-Standing Promise
Brazil's Widening Political Horizons

New Economic Boom Amid Suppression

Self-Confidence in 150th Year of Independence

Brazil, approaching its 150th anniversary of indepeadence this year, is a booming, headstrong nation which feels that its moment in the sun has finally arrived. The dynamic economy is the fastest growing in the western hemisphere, and worldwide only Japan and Israel boast of comparable rates of growth. Inflation is down and foreign-exchange reserves are rising. Internally, Brazil is undertaking projects to bridge the geographic and political barriers which for centuries have divided the country into economic islands. Two major cities, Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo, have dominated the country. Now a dozen or more cities, from Belem in the north to Porto Alegre in the south are assuming new importance. The new capital, Brasilia, is opening up the sparsely settled central plateau, and a monumental project to build a highway through the Amazon basin promises to do the same for that region.

Equally important, the steady gains of recent years seem to have quieted the social unrest that plagued Brazil through most of the past decade. After the takeover by a military government in 1964, a wave of terrorism swept the country. Urban guerrillas kidnapped prominent officials, including American Ambassador C. Burke Elbrick. Student demonstrations engulfed Rio and other cities, and the police retaliated. There were widespread charges in the foreign press, but not in the controlled Brazilian press, that the Brazilian government tortured political prisoners. Such charges have waned—without entirely disappearing—as have street demonstrations and terrorism.

The new prosperity, moreover, seems to have restored the confidence of the Brazilian people in themselves and in their future as South America's biggest and potentially richest country. “Self-confidence,” a former U.S. ambassador told Editorial Research Reports, “is the key to what's happening in Brazil today.” Where Brazilians used to joke that “Brazil is a land of the future—and always will be,” they now hearken to government-promoted slogans, such as “Nothing holds back Brazil,” which appear on posters and billboards all over the country.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Apr. 07, 2017  Troubled Brazil
Jun. 07, 2011  Brazil on the Rise
Apr. 12, 1972  Brazil: Awakening Giant
Sep. 27, 1969  Amazon Basin Development
Jan. 26, 1966  Brazil: Democracy or Dictatorship
Jan. 15, 1962  Brazil in Ferment
Regional Political Affairs: Latin America and the Caribbean