In the words of Mr. Thomas A. Shannon, Jr., the US ambassador to Brazil, Brazil's emergence as an important global player is one of the most significant events in this century. Its ability to use democracy and markets to deliver economic development, address entrenched social inequalities, promote regional integration, and build consensus in support of a globalised trading system sends a profound and powerful message to countries facing similar challenges.
Brazil's commitment to soft power, including eschewing nuclear weapons, is a helpful example to other emerging powers. Its growing agricultural potential, second only to the US in food production; its increasing mastery of renewable energy and the vast environmental capital that lies in the Amazon makes Brazil a central actor in all questions related to food and energy security as well as climate change and biodiversity. As Brazil has emerged, it has brought with it the rest of South America, allowing us to glimpse into the future of a peaceful and stable continent that will be a constructive and positive force in shaping the 21st century.
It was in1999 that the label "BRICs" (Brazil, Russia, India and China) came about, largely due to the fact that Brazil was on its way. The country's economic and social development had, by then, passed some important landmarks such as the 1988 constitution which brought about democratization. The people became better organized in pressuring the government. Consequently, Brazil became a more vigorous and vibrant society.
The next important step was the opening of the economy beginning in the early 1990s. There was decrease in tariffs which was a necessary step to inject some competitiveness into the Brazilian economy. Next was the monetary stabilization due to the fact that, without a stable currency, government could not control state revenue and expenditures as required for any long term policy. Stabilization made it possible to develop more effective social policies in education, health and social security. Then came the programme for family fellowship and the establishment of health care as a right for citizens and an obligation for the state.
Due to Brazil's investment in education, the country has a more educated population with the capacity to lead in technology and to industrialise accordingly. Compared to neighbouring Argentina, Brazil is simultaneously an agrarian export-oriented society and an industrial economy. There is telephone automation such that Sao Paolo is one of the 10 most impressive cities in the world as a communication hub and they are competing globally.
Brazil has a large African diaspora, but there is no "white culture" and "black culture." The integration process is very admirable such that the Brazilian culture is mixed, blended. Blacks became more accepted as part of Brazilian heritage because of the arts, and because of sports. Most Brazilians believe that it's essential to promote both equality and liberty, and that an open politics should be concerned primarily with reconciling the two.
Although the country has attained high levels of education, the content of that education is undergoing change to become more pragmatic, to involve new technologies. For instance, if one looks at data on the participation of Brazilian scientists in the world, one will see that the number of papers published by Brazilian scientists in international journals is rising steadily. But the number of patents remains small. The reason is that theoretical thinking and pure science is strong but not the development of practical instruments.
Brazil has a long history of good diplomacy. It has a professional, competent diplomatic corps. Brazil is a peaceful nation with no enemies in the whole world. That is why it is bidding to have one seat at the Security Council when the United Nations reforms take place. Brazil was also a member of the League of Nations, the precursor of the current UN. But the reform of the UN Security Council will take a long time because the prospect for change is small for the time being.
What is important for now is that Brazil is performing at the global level; its participation in the G-20, the WTO and the UN is important. It has already shown that it can handle responsibility at the global level and the prestige of a Security Council seat may come later. Believe me, there is more than football in Brazil and the world must come to terms with that. The point now is that Brazil may become the world's first "soft" superpower because of her strengthening economy, size and population as well as her peaceful disposition towards all the countries of the world.