Winter 2014

Who can think of Brazil and not immediately think of football? And little wonder. Brazil’s national team is simply the best in the history of the Fédération Internationale de Football Association: it has won the World Cup a record five times and is the only nation to have played in all nineteen World Cup tournaments since play began in 1930. The country has given rise to so many icons of the sport: among them, Ronaldo, Ronaldinho, Romario, and, of course, the incomparable Pelé, perhaps the single individual who did the most to spread the game’s popularity around the globe. Neymar, one of the most electrifying players of our day, graces the cover of this issue of the Cairo Review.

This year, Brazil hosts the twentieth edition of the FIFA World Cup finals. Two years from now, Rio de Janeiro will host the 2016 Olympic Games. The country’s sporting spotlight is not the only reason our editorial team was driven to produce Special Report: Viva Brasil! Brazil’s impressive political, economic, and social strides have made it a formidable emerging nation. Jerry Dávila leads our lineup with “Brazilian Triumphs,” exploring the country’s successful transition from dictatorship to democracy in the last thirty years. In “Boom or Bust,” João Augusto de Castro Neves examines the need for economic reform after years of notable growth; Guilherme Casarões parses the growing pains of Brazilian foreign policy in “Itamaraty’s Mission;” and João Marcelo Ehlert Maia and Lia de Mattos Rocha tell the inside story of Brazil’s social movements in “Protests, Protests, Everywhere.”

It may surprise non-Brazilians to learn that some of the current discontent is directed at the World Cup—or government spending on it, at the perceived expense of social programs. In “FIFA Rules,” Bernardo Buarque de Hollanda and Jimmy Medeiros take a look at how the World Cup is changing football culture in Brazil. In “How to Host a World Cup,” Scarlett Cornelissen takes us back to the 2010 games in South Africa, and asks if the tournament really contributed to socioeconomic advancement.

Why is football so important, not only to Brazilians, but to the entire world? We put that question to Kanishk Tharoor, who delved into the long history of the sport for some answers. His essay is titled, appropriately enough, “The Beautiful Game.” Long may it live.

Scott MacLeod
Managing Editor

Comic Relief

In times of political crisis, out comes the red pen. Egyptian journalists have long labored under various forms of censorship, but by most accounts, conditions have become worse after the overthrow of the Hosni Mubarak regime. In the tumultuous three years since the Tahrir Square uprising, a number of young Egyptian cartoonists have persevered to defend a crack of space for free expression and dissent. Among their favorite slings: Tok Tok, an alt-comic magazine.

Tok Tok is more preoccupied with the country’s social issues than with the politicians of the day. Its narratives range from wordless strips on corrupt government officials and businessmen, to the misadventures of an antihero combating sexual harassment. The quarterly’s illustrations depict an Egypt largely absent in the mainstream press—downtown street corners, packed minibuses, cramped apartments, and daily addictions such as coffee or hashish. The artists challenge readers to attune themselves to the city life around them. Variously drawing on the aesthetics of Mad Magazine and Walt Disney, noir film and street art, Tok Tok captures Cairo’s grit, and is always penned in colloquial dialects. Mohammed Andeel, one of the magazine’s five co-founders, who goes only by his last name in the tradition of Egyptian cartoonists, calls Tok Tok  “an answer to censorship.”

Reading Tok Tok is like pitching up at a downtown ahwa packed with artists, listening to the conversations of passersby, witnessing the city breathing. Each issue contains a bright centerfold, such as the one that depicts a typical scene from Egypt’s difficult political transition: pedestrians, motorcycles, and taxis all competing with a tank for space on a Cairo boulevard. The last page of Tok Tok features “Made in Egypt,” profiles of real-life characters such as a tea waiter at a Champollion Street café, the needle worker of sportswear knock-offs (“Abibos” and “Njkf”), or a woman pushing a grocery cart.

The publication has turned the founders into minor celebrities, winning financial backing from the European Union. In May, at the Cairo launch of Tok Tok’s ninth issue, the queue for autographs snaked through the Institut Français. Indie rock band Like Jelly jammed while the artists sketched, their spontaneous lines projected live to a packed theater of fellow cartoonists, journalists, and activists: the in-crowd.

Speaking in November at an event hosted by the Department of Arab and Islamic Civilizations at AUC, Andeel explained that one of Tok Tok’s goals is to expand the boundaries of comics. “Unfortunately in Egypt, comics have been just Mickey and Samir—things for kids,” he said. In one issue of Tok Tok, for instance, he illustrated the first chapter of Beer in the Snooker Club, Wagiuh Ghali’s bildungsromanabout Cairo after the 1952 Free Officers revolt. The protagonist, caught between a repressive junta and his own subversive politics, grapples with tragedy of national and personal proportions. That revolution had gone awry—something cartoonists relate to these days.

Andeel honed his skills at the weekly Al-Dostour in the 2000s, where editor Ibrahim Eissa, a tenacious Mubarak critic, incubated the new vanguard of Egyptian caricature and mentored the future creators ofTok Tok. Since 2010, Andeel has drawn daily cartoons for Al-Masry Al-Youm, the country’s largest-circulation independent newspaper. His doodles have targeted the government, the Muslim Brotherhood, the military, and everyone else involved in the political sphere, often to the discomfort of his editors.

In October, Andeel reported on his Facebook page that Al-Masry Al-Youm’s editors had censored more of his cartoons since the July 3 military takeover than during the entire year of the Muslim Brotherhood leader Mohammed Morsi’s presidency. The Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice newspaper, struggling amid a violent clampdown on the organization, turned Andeel’s Facebook post into a story headlined: “Freedom of Expression Declined After the Coup.” How comic that the Brotherhood would embrace a cartoonist who had rendered Morsi standing in a pool of blood just months earlier. For now, he has stopped submitting illustrations to the newspaper. “If I criticize the military, they won’t put it in,” he told me as we drove into downtown Cairo from the AUC campus. “They encourage me to criticize the Brotherhood.”

Lately, Andeel has become a writer for comedian Bassem Youssef, whose popular satire show has stirred repeated controversy for its mocking of everyone from Field Marshal Abdul-Fattah Al-Sisi, to Mohammed Morsi, to fellow journalists and talkshow hosts. With a new iteration of Youssef’s show scheduled to premier this year, Andeel has another opportunity to fight the red lines.

Oriental Hall, etc.

Is Egypt’s new constitution, ratified by a popular referendum in January, an advance toward democracy? Speaking at a recent forum hosted by AUC’s School of Global Affairs and Public Policy,Mona Zulficar, deputy chair of the fifty-member Constituent Assembly that drafted the document, said that by enshrining rights for all citizens, the constitution protects Egypt from the dangers of sectarianism. Ibrahim El-Houdaiby, director of the Al-Shorouk Research Unit in Cairo, argued that the constitution safeguards institutions rather than people—specifically, the country’s powerful armed forces, which last year overthrew President Mohammed Morsi, a leader of the Muslim Brotherhood. El-Houdaiby pointed to provisions that allow for military trials, the lack of oversight on the military’s budget, and the inability of parliament to hold the military accountable. The constitution, he said, reflects a movement that is “turning the civic state into a military state, in attempts to make the civic state not a religious one.”

When the 2011 uprisings spread across the Middle East, many wondered if Turkey would become a model for Islam and democracy in the Arab world. Koray Çalışkan, associate professor of politics at Boğaziçi University in Istanbul, points out that Turkey is undergoing a shift of its own. Over the past few years, he argues, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his Justice and Development Party (AKP) have consolidated power and have been using the judicial system to enforce increasingly conservative policies. In a lecture at AUC in November, Çalışkan said that the Turkish government had engineered formal changes, such as allowing the dual court system to suspend the constitution, and informal changes, such as the increasing autonomy of state bureaucracies, the politicization of the judiciary, and broader interpretations of law. “Now we know that the AKP will never like to see Turkey as a part of Europe,” Çalışkan said. “Because if you become a part of Europe, your policies need to be normalized, institutions democratized, rule of law needs to be supreme.” Çalışkan’s lecture titled, “Islamists in Turkey: From the Rule of Law to the Law of Some,” was hosted by AUC’s Middle East Studies Center and the Law Department.

Letter from Brazil

It is not uncommon to hear about the United States as a melting pot, an allegory for the diversity of peoples found in America. In Brazil, we like to believe that the pot has melted already. Accurately tracking down the origins of people in a country shaped by successive generations of migrants who arrived and mingled with scant attention to ethnic purity is a daunting task. Indigenous populations, Portuguese, Africans, Spaniards, Dutch, Italians, Japanese, Poles, Germans, Lebanese, Syrians… Brazilians.

Since at least the late nineteenth century, the Middle East has been an intrinsic part of our national narrative of racial and ethnic blending. By some estimates, there are as many as fifteen million Brazilians of Arab ancestry. A few go so far as to suggest that there is Arab blood in every Brazilian. After all, the argument goes, the Moors spent about seven hundred years in Iberia spreading their art, architecture, food, and genes. As Darcy Ribeiro, one of Brazil’s most respected anthropologists, once put it: “The Arab culture first arrived in Brazil in the memory of the Portuguese.”

The Arab identity of Brazilians with Arab ancestry has never been at odds with their profound sense of bring Brazilian. The Arab cultural element might even reinforce the national identity of a country whose distinctive element is, arguably, miscegenation and the absorption of foreign influences.

One tale is inevitably trotted out whenever one recounts the saga of Arabs in Brazil. Syrian and Lebanese immigrants and their descendants are usually called “Turks” on Brazilian soil, in spite of the rather tiny number of Brazilians who actually came from Turkey. As author Jorge Amado explains, “the first to arrive from the Middle East carried papers issued by the Ottoman Empire, which is why right down to the present they’re all stamped as Turks, making up that fine Turkish nation, one of the many in the amalgamation that has composed and is still composing the Brazilian nation.”

Lebanese and Syrians largely arrived during three historical junctures: in the aftermath of Emperor Pedro II’s visit to Beirut and Damascus in 1876, with the crumbling of the Ottoman Empire; in the period between the world wars; and in the wake of the Lebanese Civil War. In the eyes of Levantines facing hardship at home, Brazil has always served as a safe haven of tolerance halfway across the globe.

Part of the Brazilian (and indeed South American) story is the chronicle of the Syrian and Lebanese caixeiro-viajantes—the traveling salesmen—who thrived in business and managed to put their children through school. The latter would wind up becoming lawyers and doctors, earning social pedigrees and eventually paving the way for their heirs to rise to high office. In politics, public service, business, healthcare, and arts, Brazilians bearing an Arab name are everywhere to be found.

Many Brazilian families of Arab ancestry still keep close touch with the lands of our forefathers. Still, for many of us, the Middle East is a romantic, conflict-ridden land from where our heroic ancestors came in the pursuit of a better life for their kin. For far too long, Brazil remained relatively detached from a corner of a world to which it is culturally and genetically tied. Foreign policy is the natural bridge to reconnect Brazil with its indelible Middle Eastern roots.

Especially in the last decade, the country’s leaders have increasingly recognized this. Brazil opened embassies and consulates across the region. As foreign minister, Celso Amorim (currently Brazil’s defense minister) became a frequent traveler to the region. One of his predecessors, Luiz Felipe Lampreia, also made pioneering visits to Israel and Palestine, revitalizing Brazil’s commitment to the peace process. President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva was the first Brazilian head of state to officially visit Lebanon, Syria, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Israel, and Palestine. Brazil consolidated institutional ties with the Arab League. The position of special envoy for the Middle East was created in the foreign ministry.  Trade between Brazil and the Arab world has increased four-fold since 2000. Perhaps the most enduring accomplishment has been the South American-Arab Countries Summit, which has managed to build solid bridges across the two regions over the years.

Brazil has raised its voice on Middle East issues that have a global impact. We were a vocal critic of the 2003 invasion of Iraq. We were one of the few non-regional, non-Muslim, non-traditional donors to participate in the Annapolis peace conference in 2007. We recognized Palestine as an independent state, prompting other Latin American countries to do the same and helping to level the playing field in the peace process. With Turkey, we brokered an agreement in 2010 addressing Iran’s nuclear program. Last December, Brazil was invited to participate on the Geneva conference in the Syrian crisis.

None of this has come at the expense of relations with Israel. The capacity to talk to everyone in the region, combined with Brazil’s blood ties to the Middle East, is what gives Brasília the diplomatic credentials to serve as an honest broker and effective mediator. Brazil’s melted pot illustrates the possibility of peaceful coexistence and actual integration between Jews and Arabs.

Brazil’s foreign policy is rooted in its self-image of being a global player. It is also an expression of the tapestry of multicultural influences that shape the Brazilian people. Brazil’s new strides in the Middle East hardly represent the first chapter of the country’s history with the region. They are certainly far from being the epilogue.

Filipe Nasser is a career Brazilian diplomat currently serving in the Embassy of Brazil in Washington, DC. The opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of the Brazilian Ministry of External Relations.

Nile View: Managing Egypt

Egypt is going through a transition period marked by political turmoil and major economic difficulties. Since the January 25 Revolution three years ago, we have witnessed five changes of government, yet citizens are still complaining about government performance in general. When President Mubarak stepped down, many people thought most of their problems would be solved overnight. Expectations were very high. Much attention has been directed to fundamental questions such as writing a constitution and reviving the parliament. Meanwhile, many core services have deteriorated, including education, health care, policing, and traffic control. Indeed, according to the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Report 2013-2014, Egypt ranked last in primary education, and 118th among 148 countries in higher education and training. Meanwhile, according to a World Bank Worldwide Governance Indicators data report, Egypt government effectiveness decreased significantly in 2012, as compared to 2007, registering declines in public trust in government and perceptions of quality of government services.

What is it that other nations do, and do well, that Egyptians can learn from? On top of the list is managing for results, or performance management. This was the core of what is known as New Public Management (NPM), a concept that gained attention starting in the mid-1980s. Governments realized that the way forward is to abandon the rigid bureaucratic ways of administering work, with the excessive focus on procedures and rules, the extreme internal perspective on implementation of policies, and authority limited to spending money. Instead, as NPM envisioned it, governments and government officials should be accountable for results achieved, adopt a strategic perspective to managing their affairs with an eye always on the external environment, consider how to generate additional resources, and introduce greater management flexibility.

Recently in Egypt, in a debate about the draft constitution, supporters argued that the public should approve the document simply because the drafting committee had expended a lot of effort in the write-up. Similarly, the new constitution determined specific percentages for government expenditure on education and health. These moves reflect a type of thinking against current trends of public management. What really counts is the final product—the actual constitution, the quality of education and health services—and the outcomes and impact of government decisions. The time, effort, and money spent may matter, but is less significant.

Success stories in performance management abound. These can be found not only in countries like the United Kingdom, the United States and New Zealand—main contributors to the development and practice of NPM—but also more recently in India, Kenya and South Africa, to mention just a few. In the early 1990s, the United States introduced the Government Performance and Results Act and achieved positive outcomes in terms of better quality services, measurable results and more accountable government spending. In Britain in 2006, a Capability Review Program was developed as a tool to assess how government departments met their objectives. In Kenya in 2006, the Performance Contract was developed and used as a management tool to measure the performance of different government units against agreed to and negotiated performance targets. In 2008, the Scottish government started implementing the Scotland Performs reporting system to communicate government performance data to the public. In India in 2009, a Performance Monitoring and Evaluation System was developed for government departments. Each year, all agencies define their objectives and priorities and report on their achievements against predetermined measurable targets. In 2013, Sheikh Mohamed bin Rashed Al-Maktoum, vice president of the United Arab Emirates, announced the launch of a national performance management system called Adaa, with the purpose of achieving continuous improvement in the quality of services rendered by federal government institutions.

Performance management is not without its problems and critics. Measurement is more difficult for many government activities that are shared between several organizations and entities; some activities and functions, such as work of foreign affairs ministries, are more difficult to assess than others. However, there are always ways to overcome these hurdles. So far, the strides taken by various countries around the world in focusing on results, and holding managers and officials accountable, based on results achieved, were instrumental in achieving progress in government management and in enabling governments to meet citizens’ needs and expectations. We hope that in the new Egyptian Republic, one of these days we will have a comprehensive government performance management system in place.

Laila El Baradei is the acting dean of the School of Global Affairs and Public Policy at the American University in Cairo.

Brazil on the World’s Stage

Brasília is a diplomatic backwater no longer. On the strength of impressive economic and social strides, the Federative Republic of Brazil is projecting its influence throughout the Americas and beyond. It is making a strong push for a permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council. And in 2014 and 2016, respectively, Brazil pulls off the enviable feat of hosting two international sporting spectacles back to back: the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) World Cup, and the Olympic Games.

To take the measure of Brazil’s growing global stature, the Cairo Review caught up with one of the country’s star diplomats, Antonio Patriota, a former foreign minister, envoy to Washington, and currently Brazil’s permanent representative to the United Nations. In addition to also serving in Brazilian missions in Geneva, Caracas, and Beijing, he has held numerous positions in the Ministry of External Relations in Brasília including secretary general of the ministry, under secretary for political affairs, and secretary for diplomatic planning. A native of Rio de Janeiro, Patriota, 59, holds degrees from the University of Geneva and the Rio Branco Institute, Brazil’s diplomatic academy. Cairo Review Managing Editor Scott MacLeod interviewed Patriota on December 20, 2013, at the Permanent Mission of Brazil to the United Nations in New York.

CAIRO REVIEW: Do you see a way out of the Syria crisis?

ANTONIO PATRIOTA: The Syria crisis has now become extremely violent, brutal, deadly. Of course, this is something that has particular resonance for Brazil, because of the large number of Brazilian descendants of Syrians and Lebanese, mostly Christian Syrians and Lebanese, but Muslims as well. This instability and the scale of the violence is something that affects us very personally and in a very emotional way. Now the way out for us is obviously through diplomacy. We don’t see a military way out of the crisis. This is something we’ve repeated many times, since we were in the Security Council in 2011, in fact. We welcomed the appointment of Kofi Annan at the time as special envoy to the Syrian issue for the United Nations and the Arab League. His efforts that culminated with the outcome document of the first Geneva Conference in mid-2012 to me provided a blueprint for a diplomatic solution in Syria. Unfortunately, that document was not endorsed by the Security Council in the following months for reasons that I think have more to do with domestic politics in [the countries of] some of the permanent members of the Security Council rather than with the Syria crisis itself. This delayed the establishment of a strategy for pressuring the parties into a political transition. Several months later, the use of chemical weapons in Syria led to the U.S.-Russian Federation agreement that led Syria to join the convention on the prohibition of chemical weapons, and to the dismantling of the chemical weapons arsenal in Syria—which is a very positive development in itself. But perhaps as important was the final endorsement by the Security Council of the Geneva I document. Which among other things says that there is no military solution for the Syrian crisis, and foresees a transition and a political program for the country.

Now that a Geneva II conference has been announced, and Brazil is going to be among the parties, along with India and South Africa, this is something important. From the very outset, Brazil, and myself in my former capacity [as foreign minister] in Brasília, we had defended the idea that the IBSA countries—India, Brazil, South Africa—that enjoy correct relations with all the countries in the region including Israel, and that kept a diplomatic presence in Damascus through the conflict, could add some value to the multilateral efforts to put an end to the violence, to promote a ceasing of hostilities, and to support a political transition. This doesn’t mean that we have condoned the actions by the Syrian government. Brazil in particular has condemned systematically the human rights violations by the Al-Assad regime, at the Human Rights Council and at the General Assembly.

As you speak to me today, [UN and Arab League envoy to Syria] Mr. [Lakhdar] Brahimi has just announced the twenty-five countries that will be participating in Geneva II, and Brazil, India, and South Africa are included. We welcome this announcement and look forward to the possibility of creating a kind of adequate environment for a solution to the crisis to be negotiated and upheld by enlisting the support of the United Nations in particular. I think the department of peacekeeping operations here in New York is making contingency plans to look at how a UN peacekeeping or a civilization mission or some form of UN presence including a military component can ensure that whatever agreement is now reached for the Syria crisis can be sustained and lead to a sustainable peace.

CAIRO REVIEW: What is the formula for peace?

ANTONIO PATRIOTA: The formula is already in Geneva I, so you don’t need to reinvent the wheel. I think one of the big challenges now is the presentation by the opposition. The opposition as we know is very fragmented. The [Syrian] government has already expressed its intention to participate in this new conference. So what is not clear is who will represent the opposition. Within the opposition, there are extremist groups. How do you handle that situation? There are the Kurdish elements. There are Kurdish elements that are sympathetic to the government. There are others that are sympathetic to the opposition. Whereas the way forward is not difficult to imagine, since we already have the first Geneva conference outcome document, the real difficulty lies in the modus operandi: who will be there, how do we ensure that the actors who need to sit around the table to negotiate will actually do so.

There is also the question of the supply of weapons to the factions or to those involved in the conflict in Syria, involvement by countries in the neighborhood and countries beyond the neighborhood. That also has to be taken into consideration. Even today, there was an article in the New York Times that talks about the inter linkages between Iran and Syria. I think it is a legitimate question to ask whether the more favorable atmosphere that is developing between the Iranian authorities and the Western governments—in particular the United States—that has led to an interim agreement on the nuclear file for Iran, will have repercussions for the Syria situation. What has become clearer in the past few months is that whereas in the past certain countries considered the departure of [Syrian President] Bashar Al-Assad as a precondition for looking at a transition in Syria, well, this is no longer a realistic proposition.

CAIRO REVIEW: What about internally in Syria? You mentioned the split within the opposition. Something’s got to give or they will continue fighting with more bloodshed and bigger crisis.

ANTONIO PATRIOTA: I think the process has to be Syrian-owned. This is a point that Mr. Brahimi made today in his press conference in Geneva. I don’t think it would be appropriate for me, up front, and at this point, to pronounce myself on how the Syrians themselves should negotiate. Or what exactly is the format for them. I think that the general framework adopted in 2012 provides the necessary parameters for an agreement to be reached.

CAIRO REVIEW: I was in Beirut in the 1980s covering the Lebanese civil war, and today the world is still talking about how to reconcile Lebanese factions. Should the Syrian people really put much faith in this process?

ANTONIO PATRIOTA: Well the first step is cessation of hostility. Reconciliation takes time and is obviously difficult when you have 100,000 deaths plus, and different sectors of society that have been killing each other. But I think there is something to be said also about a foreign involvement. You were mentioning the 1980s. But you know the crisis, for example, between Iran and the United States predates that. And if we were to evolve into a scenario where there is communication—there doesn’t have to be agreement across a whole range of issues, but adequate communication between Tehran and Washington. In the press recently, one was reading that there actually are many areas where the two countries would have common interests in the Middle East—certainly in Afghanistan and possibly in Syria as well. Especially in avoiding the worst-case scenarios, which I think are—and this perhaps is where also a consensus is emerging—the prospect of the more radical Islamist groups occupying parts of territory, or coming to dominate the country to some extent. So I think one has to be pragmatic but also not be deterred by the challenges, because there are also positive elements on the horizon. I think the chemical weapons agreement in many respects seems to have been a turning point. And maybe in the future, as we look back hopefully to a stabilized Syria—there have been societies that have gone through civil war in the past and that reconciled. I mean, the United States went through a civil war that killed more than 300,000 people in the nineteenth century. Even strength can be derived from that, and look into the future.

CAIRO REVIEW: You mentioned the Islamic extremists. Is there a growing feeling that stability of the regime, even around the Al-Assad regime, is now an international interest? To prevent more gains by radical elements, to prevent a failed state scenario?

ANTONIO PATRIOTA: I think the expression ‘failed state’ is a little bit overused. I don’t see Syria as ever falling into that category because it has such a strong sense of identity. Syria is a society that has millennia behind it. Damascus is the city in the world that has been inhabited for the longest time continuously. This is one aspect of your question. The other one is how do you deal with some of these Islamic agendas that are appearing in the Middle East? I think to the extent that they don’t advocate violence, and that they are ready to participate in a democratic process, they should be allowed to do so. And to the extent that a transparent fair electoral process gives them a voice in society, I think that this voice should be heard. I think it is very problematic when Islamic groups that are participating in a democratic process and have electoral victories are not allowed to govern. And this unfortunately has happened in the Middle East. And when they are not allowed to govern, what we witness is a lapse into even more extremism. We’ve seen this in Algeria; we’ve seen this to some extent in Palestine. The question is raised whether we are witnessing this in Egypt. Certainly Brazil has gone through military dictatorship and today there is a national consensus that places democracy as one of our priorities in terms of our national development. Certainly there are no voices that question the value of democracy in Brazil. We also defend democracy for others. I think it would be a serious mistake for groups of countries or individual countries in the international community to predetermine who are the leaders who should govern country X or Y. It is up to the electorate to determine that. And if a ruler doesn’t govern to the satisfaction of the majority, he can be replaced through another democratic process.

CAIRO REVIEW: What do you make of the recent Geneva Agreement with Iran? Has Iran simply succumbed to sanctions pressure, and buying time? Has the Obama administration genuinely opened a window for Iran? Or is this a tactic so that if Iran fails to live up to the agreement, Washington can win more support for stronger measures against Iran?

ANTONIO PATRIOTA: I was present at the inauguration of the new Iranian administration in Tehran a few months ago, when President [Hassan] Rowhani took office, as an envoy of President Dilma Rousseff. And I had meetings with the outgoing foreign minister, Mr. [Ali Akbar] Salehi, and brief encounters with some of the incoming [ministers]. All the expressions I heard from the Iranians at that time—that they were committed to reaching an understanding with the United States and with the P5+1 countries that are negotiating with them the nuclear file—have within a short time span in effect revealed themselves to be correct and true. I think the answer to your question is, yes, there is something important happening here. A new administration in Tehran, democratically elected, through their procedures, by the Iranian people, on a platform that included the idea of overcoming this stalemate that is creating difficulties for Iran, is going forward.

And here, on the part of the United States also, I think there has been a readiness to open serious channels of communication. This is something that has not been going on since the 1970s. So it is a major diplomatic event, and we should not underestimate its importance. I think it has the potential for being a real game changer in the Middle East, in a positive sense. In a sense of limiting violence, limiting tensions, introducing more rationality in a region where, unfortunately, there has been considerable irrational behavior. The irrational behavior is not only a manifestation of behavior by those in the Middle East. I think the U.S.-led Iraq intervention in 2003 was a very irrational intervention as well. It took place under a false pretense, the pretense that there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Rather than contributing to stabilize a region, I think it actually destabilized it quite considerably. Let’s give credit to those who are sitting around the table through the P5+1 format negotiating with Iran, and hope that this will continue to lead to improved contacts between Iranian authorities, the West, and their immediate neighborhood. I think the fact that the Iranian foreign minister has been visiting the countries of the Gulf to explain the agreement is an additional demonstration of their interest in normalizing relations in the region and beyond.

CAIRO REVIEW: How did this come about? There have been years of false starts, Iranian reluctance, American reluctance.

ANTONIO PATRIOTA: I like to believe that people learn from their mistakes. The accumulation of all these years, and the fact that this stalemate wasn’t producing any positive results for the region, led a more enlightened leadership to reach the conclusion that a renewed effort should be made to try to look at possibilities for an understanding that would preserve Iran’s essential interests as regards Iran’s development of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes. They have always affirmed that their objective is purely peaceful. So if this is sincere, and we have reason to believe it is, then there should be ground for understanding.

CAIRO REVIEW: Does Iran have a “right” to enrich uranium?

ANTONIO PATRIOTA: Certainly, yes. NPT [Non-Proliferation Treaty] signatories have a right to enrich for peaceful purposes. Brazil is an NPT signatory. It has enshrined in its constitution a commitment not to develop nuclear weapons. And yet it has enrichment capacity that was developed through an autonomous technological process. Iran should have the same right; of course provided that it grants the kinds of assurances that are being requested from Iran that its nuclear program is exclusively for peaceful purposes. The Iranian situation has been brought to the attention of the Security Council. The international community included this item in its agenda at the United Nations. What is it saying? It is saying that it is not perfectly or entirely satisfied by the guarantees that Iran has provided. So there is a question here of Iran reconquering the trust and credibility that will indeed allow it to pursue enrichment. I think the position that Brazil holds, and it is not only Brazil, it is a mainstream interpretation of the NPT, is that signatories who afford the necessary guarantees that their programs are for peaceful purposes have a right to enrich.

CAIRO REVIEW: Can those assurances actually be given on a technical basis, or is it ultimately a political decision in Washington whether the assurances are acceptable or not?

ANTONIO PATRIOTA: I think there are technical assurances that can be satisfactory. Certainly. For example, in the case of Brazil and Argentina, we are countries with advanced nuclear technology. We have nuclear reactors, the capacity to build nuclear reactors. Some years ago, we had kept an option open of pursuing a military program, especially as non-NPT signatories. We only signed the NPT in the 1990s, so there was no international obligation that would have prevented us from doing that. We unilaterally gave up this option through our 1988 constitution. And we provided the international community with the guarantees, the technical guarantees, that our program is exclusively geared toward peaceful purposes. This was through a very sui generis kind of understanding that includes a bi-national entity, which is the Brazilian-Argentine Agency for Accounting and Control of Nuclear Materials. And through agreements between Brazil and Argentina and this agency that have been deposited at the International Atomic Energy Agency today the international community and entities such as Nuclear Suppliers Group have recognized that the kind of assurances we provide are satisfactory. Iran in fact has even gone beyond Brazil in some respects because they have signed an instrument called the Additional Protocol to the NPT, although they have not ratified it. Now I understand that, through this agreement that was just reached in Geneva, they have also opened up the country to much more intrusive verification by international experts. This is something that is feasible, and I think the international cooperation in this area has advanced sufficiently for there to be satisfaction that a country is actually fulfilling its commitments.

CAIRO REVIEW: Brazil became involved and negotiated the Tehran Declaration in 2010. Is there a diplomatic role for Brazil in the ongoing negotiations with Iran to ensure a successful outcome?

ANTONIO PATRIOTA: I wouldn’t rule out the possibility that at some point Brazil may be called upon to play some role in contributing to the full satisfaction by the international community that Iran’s program is exclusively for peaceful purposes. But in some respects we have already made a significant contribution that historians and political analysts often refer to. And I would mention a recent book by Trita Parsi, A Single Roll of the Dice. There is a chapter in the book called “The Art of Taking Yes for an Answer,” which is about the efforts by Brazil and Turkey that led to the Tehran Declaration of May, 2010, that at the time conformed integrally with the kind of parameters that letters by the president of the United States to Prime Minister [Recep Tayyip] Erdoğan and to President [Luiz Inácio] Lula da Silva had established for what would be seen as a significant confidence-building measure in dealing with the Iranian nuclear file. And yet was not well received once it was achieved due to other considerations and probably some degree of discomfort in the face of two non-permanent members of the Security Council accomplishing through their own diplomatic efforts and through a process that was essentially based on dialogue and not on threats or military pressure, for that matter, where others had failed. It remains an important contribution, I think, that speaks in favor of exhausting channels of communication before you resort to coercion.

CAIRO REVIEW: The Tehran Declaration showed that the P5+1 was not achieving success with Iran at that time. Can it do so now? Or do they need Brazil and Turkey back in the process?

ANTONIO PATRIOTA: There is a new government in Tehran. This new effort that is yielding results is very much the product and consequence of a deliberate political decision by the Iranian authorities who have been recently elected to, in fact, seek better communication, dialogue, and try to reach an agreement with the P5+1. That’s a very important element. Under the previous circumstances, there was greater animosity between the Iranian government under President [Mahmoud] Ahmadinejad, the U.S., and others. We always condemned the kind of hostile rhetoric by the Iranian authorities regarding Israel’s right to exist, for example, or Holocaust denial. Notwithstanding our disapproval of these messages, we always thought that threatening Iran with unilateral military action was not in conformity with international law, in the absence of concrete proof that Iran had any hostile designs over Israel or another neighboring country. And the hostile rhetoric would not qualify as sufficient in that case. Not only Brazil, Turkey, but other leaders, like the foreign minister of Sweden, have considered that the Tehran Declaration was a good example of what can be achieved through dialogue. Whereas intimidation will not get you there, necessarily. And it can still be an interesting reference. Be that as it may, I think we are in a different context, and we welcome the agreement announced in Geneva last month and hope that this process indeed will promote a more stable environment. Because if there is one thing the Middle East needs, it’s stability.

CAIRO REVIEW: Secretary of State John Kerry has also been very active on the Israel-Palestine issue. Is there any sign that the approach of the United States on this issue is any different from what we have seen in the past?

ANTONIO PATRIOTA: I suppose that those who take a more skeptical view of what these efforts may lead to are in part justified in their attitude. Indeed there is a sense of déjà vu—you know, that this has been attempted before, it doesn’t really lead very far, the Israelis continue building settlements, we don’t really see tangible results coming out of the diplomatic negotiations. But on the other hand experience shows that even when it looks like you are going through a repetitive motion, there are new elements always coming into politics domestically or diplomacy internationally that alter the equation somehow. And I mean we’ve been talking about Iran, Syria, and others—the mere fact that the U.S. is speaking to Iran today, and that an agreement is being reached on the nuclear file—I think that takes away from the Israeli authorities the kind of argument that they have been using that the real existential threat to Israel is the Iranian nuclear file.

I say this very comfortably because when I met with Israeli authorities in October [2012], I told them, in a very straightforward manner, I told this to Mr. [Avigdor] Lieberman, the foreign minister, and to Mr. [Benjamin] Netanyahu [the prime minister] in a meeting where he was courteous enough to receive me as an envoy of President Dilma Rousseff, that to our mind the real threat to Israel was not Iran. It was the absence of an agreement with the Palestinians. This is what Israel needs in order to continue on a sustainable path for development and peace in its region. You can be assured that Brazil is a very firm supporter of Israel’s right to exist in the first place. We enjoy strong relations with Israel; we cooperate in a number of areas including science and technology, trade is thriving. There is an influential and well-integrated Jewish community in Brazil with which the Brazilian government stays in close contact. So our own commitment to positive relations with Israel is one that cannot be called into question. But at the same time, we are extremely worried by some of the manifestations we see on the ground, the continued settlement activity, and the subterfuges and delaying tactics that seem to always be preventing Israelis from seriously addressing the question of a sovereign and viable Palestinian state. We saw this even through opposition at the United Nations to grant observer status to Palestine or UNESCO where Palestine is already a member, and in other instances. It may look like there is a repetition here but there are other elements in the surrounding environment and complex equation that are moving. And of course we are very supportive of Secretary Kerry’s efforts and we believe that everything should be done in order to try to advance in this direction. Like many have said before me, the essential elements of what an agreement should look like are well known by the two sides. It is really a question of political will, and enlightened leadership taking the difficult decision to compromise where the compromises have to be made.

One aspect that I’ve been highlighting recently, that struck me as very significant but sometimes doesn’t transpire into the mass media, is the strength of Israeli civil society. Beyond and outside governmental circles there are NGOs and groups of Israelis that actively pursue peace. There are extremely admirable groups such as the Parents Circle group that is made up of Israelis that lost family through terrorist attacks. But rather than becoming anti-Palestinian, they reach out to Palestinians who have also lost family in this conflict. And they join hands in favor of peace. I think it is very important to become aware that these groups and these individuals exist. These are heroic people and with the right kind of leadership on both sides, I think Israel and Palestine have everything to heal their wounds and join forces in making the region a region of prosperity and democracy. They already are Israel and Palestine, and through their own models and given their own circumstances that are very different, they are successful examples of democracy in the Middle East. And this is something that we should value in itself.

CAIRO REVIEW: Broadly looking at the Arab Spring, are you optimistic it will change the Middle East for the better?

ANTONIO PATRIOTA: Brazil will always be on the side of the forces that promote democracy, social justice, and emancipation for societies. I think the previous regimes in many of these countries that are now experiencing turmoil were not really sustainable and didn’t meet standards of democratic rule that we would like to see for ourselves and for others. We obviously supported and identified with all those who manifested in favor of a greater say in their countries’ futures, better institutions, more economic opportunity, employment, freedom of speech and expression, and we will continue siding with those views. Now radical change in any part of the world, if we look at history, always brings with it new and unforeseen consequences and complexities. We are witnessing some situations that seem sometimes to point in a direction of even more circumscribed freedom of expression or democracy. But I think we also have to be to some extent respectful of each society’s trajectory without undue interference. We’ve been defending this perspective here at the United Nations and at the Security Council and elsewhere that whenever the international community is authorized to intervene it should do so responsibly. It is the concept of “responsibility while protecting.” Because, if there is one thing that the United Nations or the Security Council or anyone from outside the region should avoid doing, it is making a situation worse than it is.

Unfortunately this is what I believe the 2003 military intervention in Iraq did. And perhaps in the case of Libya, there are arguments in favor and arguments against and there are several schools of thought. But I believe that today there is an international consensus that the way the intervention was carried out, it actually spread instability into the Sahel, into Mali, and into other areas where weapons are now finding their way in a pattern that has actually created more difficulties for the civilian population perhaps than the benefits the intervention may have brought to some civilians in Libya. This is not to say that the former regime of Muammar Gadhafi was one that could be considered minimally acceptable from all these standards I have mentioned to you—democracy, offering opportunity, equality, justice, etc. But it is a very difficult call at times, and one of the questions this raises is precisely the question of governance. Here, one of the challenges is having mechanisms that reflect today’s distribution of power and influence and capacity for dialogue in order to reach and devise the best possible strategies for dealing with these complex situations. And not just taking decisions in a precipitate manner in order to placate your domestic public opinion in one direction or another. I am referring indirectly to the need for the Security Council to reform for example.

CAIRO REVIEW: Do you think in your diplomatic lifetime that Brazil will have a seat as a permanent member of the Security Council?

ANTONIO PATRIOTA: The debate has been going on for twenty years. I think there is a sense of frustration with the absence of results. I’ve been called to participate in a small advisory group to the president of the General Assembly here in New York to try to impart new impulse into the discussions on Security Council reform. And if there is one common element that I identify, it is the desire by a majority of UN members—and when I say majority, I think what we need here is a two-thirds majority—to reach some understanding on the expansion of the Security Council within a relatively short time span. The time span that Brazil has been advocating, for example, is 2015. Because that will be ten years since a declaration in 2005 was issued at presidential level that called for early reform of the Security Council. While you can interpret “early” in a rather elastic way, I think that after ten years we can agree that it will not be early anymore. We are working very hard to ensure that by 2015 we will have made significant progress in this direction.

CAIRO REVIEW: President Rousseff came to the United Nations and delivered a very strong statement against the American government’s global network of electronic surveillance. Why has Brazil been so outspoken on this issue in comparison to other nations? President Rousseff demanded apologies, explanations, and assurances that this espionage would not be repeated. Have any of these demands been met up till now?

ANTONIO PATRIOTA: We take this to heart strongly, but we are not the only country that has reacted in this manner. Germany has, and others have, around the world. And many in the United States also expressed their disagreement with these practices whether they affect Americans domestically or others internationally. A demonstration of this is the strong NGO support that Brazil and Germany received when they decided to present an initiative on the right to privacy as a human right in the Third Committee of the General Assembly. Brazil, and Germany and others, what we are doing is trying to raise awareness regarding practices that can represent an abuse of power and a violation of human rights; the right to privacy, the right to freedom of expression. You are a journalist. The extensive wiretapping of communications involves also placing journalists’ sources at risk. In that sense it affects your profession, it affects the kind of free societies we would like to see thriving internationally. But, of course the human rights dimension is not the only one. There are other aspects that have to be dealt with. The disregard of sovereignty of other countries, which brings to mind issues of cyber security. There are the gaps in international law that we have been calling attention to, and today we are reaching a situation of a new consensus that we need to look at Internet governance in ways that are equitable and that do not accept a disproportionate amount of control by one individual country. There are other aspects that have to do with the secrecy and security of communications from diplomatic missions and embassies around the world, which I think also require strong vigilance. We have international commitments in this regard through the Vienna conventions on diplomatic relations and consular relations. But the truth is that the digital age has provided new means for international surveillance—or domestic surveillance, for that matter—that have completely revolutionized this area [and] that I think are urgently calling for international cooperation. It is in this sense that we are working here at the United Nations.

If you ask me why does Brazil react in this way, I think it is because Brazil values freedom, values justice, values its independence, and is not ready to compromise on any of these agendas. Maybe what also drew attention was the fact that it is true that Brazil asked for explanations and apologies and assurances that these practices would not continue. And so far the response has been less than satisfactory. This does not mean we cannot have correct relations with the United States. The United States is the number one investor in Brazil, our second largest individual trading partner. The two nations are multiethnic democracies in the Americas that share values and objectives. But I think one of the objectives we share is upholding the rights of individuals. The U.S. Constitution says that all men are created equal. I think this has to apply universally.

CAIRO REVIEW: What kind of assurances would Brazil be looking for, in terms of the practice not continuing? The National Security Agency is a spy agency that operates in secret.

ANTONIO PATRIOTA: Just to give you a very broad and general answer, I think the assurances are that the rights of Brazilian individuals will be respected, and the Brazilian leadership will not be spied on, and that Brazil will not be the object of wholesale spying that is entirely unjustified and disassociated from common objectives. For example, if the U.S. is interested in combatting terrorism through these mechanisms, well then we should develop a dialogue about this and join forces. We already have mechanisms, for example, for looking at the so-called tri-border area that joins Paraguay, Uruguay, and Brazil, where there were suspicions in the past that there may have been some financing for terrorist activities. So we created a working group and joined forces to see how we could work. This is how nations that value cooperation and openness join their efforts.

CAIRO REVIEW: Is Brazil ready for the World Cup?

ANTONIO PATRIOTA: Brazil is absolutely enthusiastic about soccer, as you know, very proud to have been chosen for the venue of the 2014 World Cup. We will be ready. There are setbacks, this happens in different countries at different times, but I think they can be overcome, and they will be. And I know that we will be providing the world with a fabulous spectacle of a sport that we excel at.

CAIRO REVIEW: What does it mean for Brazil to host the World Cup and then the Olympics, back to back? Luck of the draw?

ANTONIO PATRIOTA: First of all, it is not only a draw. To some extent this involves quite a bit of diplomacy, achieving the honor to host such events. And by having convinced the necessary number of countries to support your bid to host them, well, this says something about the country in question, and about Brazil in particular. I think that this is also associated with the economic growth, the social programs, the kind of model that today one sees in Brazil that associates economic and social progress, environmental awareness and progress in that dimension as well, and very strong engagement with the outside world. In some respects, Brazil is a large country with a large economy and has always had a strong diplomatic presence in the region and in multilateral organizations. But perhaps for the first time in our history, we are in a position where we have true global outreach. In the past ten years, we’ve opened close to forty new embassies across the world, many in Africa, some in Europe, and in Central Asia, and the Far East. It’s hard to find a place around the globe where you won’t see a Brazilian company or Brazilians interacting with any given society. So this new kind of global outreach, in a situation where, for a country of this sized economy and population, we are in a very distinct situation of not having enemies anywhere in the world, having essentially an agenda for peace and development in our relations with other societies and with other countries. If you put all that together it is a very compelling case for hosting events that symbolize international cooperation through sports, peaceful means.

CAIRO REVIEW: Does that in itself make Brazil a target for terrorism during the World Cup and Olympics?

ANTONIO PATRIOTA: I think we have to raise our awareness somehow, because we have been blessed in Brazil and by and large in our part of the world, with exceptions here and there, in having been spared the scourge of terrorism and extremism that is based in intolerance. We take pride in being a very multiethnic but also a relatively harmonious society. Of course today we are more aware than in the past of the remaining manifestations of racial prejudice that still affect us, but we are a society where Jews and Arabs and people of African descent and European descent intermarry and cooperate in all areas of activity; in business, the arts, etc. So the answer is that while not underestimating the importance of being on the lookout and being vigilant, I think we have reasonable grounds to be confident that this is not going to happen in Brazil.

CAIRO REVIEW: After the protests in Brazil in 2013, should we expect some domestic unrest around these events?

ANTONIO PATRIOTA: I think the important observation to make here is that to the extent that these manifestations are peaceful and do not involve destruction of private or public property, or any violent attitudes, they are legitimate expressions of opinion that a democratic society such as Brazil’s does not repress. In fact, the president herself is on record having said that we must listen to the voice of the streets. It is quite an extraordinary development, for those who know Brazil and have observed Brazil, given the passion for sports and soccer that most of the population have, that young people and others should come to the streets and say, “Listen, we also want first rate hospitals and schools. We don’t only want first rate stadiums.” I think this is well received by the political establishment. In some respects, as the president and others have said, the reason these expressions of frustration are coming out into the open, into the streets, is because the standard of living has been rising continuously in Brazil. More than forty million people brought into the middle classes, and extreme poverty being all but eliminated. I think within this decade we will be able to say that Brazil is a country that, with very rare exceptions, you don’t have extreme poverty anymore. So when this happens in a society, the public starts aspiring for better transportation, better schooling, better health system. And these improvements come gradually; they don’t come from one day to the next, hence the frustration. But again to the extent that manifestations are peaceful, this is part of what democratic societies are about.

CAIRO REVIEW: Connection with the Arab Spring protests?

ANTONIO PATRIOTA: I see more differences than similarities. To the extent that there are manifestations, there is some parallel. The other similarity is the way in which new technologies and new social media, Internet, cell phones, can be used for rallying people to come out in the streets in favor of a cause. That is a common phenomenon. But the important difference is the following. In the Arab World, what you saw in Egypt, or Tunisia, or in Syria in the first stages in the manifestations was a rejection of the form of government that was in place, which was, let’s face it, dictatorial, undemocratic, suppressing fundamental liberties and freedoms and human rights. In Brazil, this is quite the opposite. We have fully democratic institutions, increasing respect for and protection of human rights. In fact, in many areas we are at the forefront of legislation. For example, in combating violence against women, we have some of the most progressive laws in the world. In other areas as well. So there is no parallel in that sense. There is a national consensus that upholds and defends the conquests of the past decades in terms of political institutions, human rights, social progress, etc. What happens in Brazil is a desire for better services, quality of life that is superior to the existing quality. Let’s face it, in many respects we remain a developing country. We have made strides but it takes time to establish and to provide the great majority of the population with the kinds of services you have in a highly developed country. So the manifestations reflect this aspiration for an accelerated transformation into a higher degree of development. Not something easy to deliver within a short time span. I think also in the recognition by the government itself that these manifestations are legitimate and should be taken seriously you have another contrast with what the attitude was, perhaps, in the Arab Spring.

Brazilian Triumphs

This year, the matches of the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) World Cup will be played on pitches throughout Brazil. In a little more than two years, Rio de Janeiro will host the 2016 Olympic Games. These sporting spectacles are an opportunity for a country with regional and international ambitions to take a victory lap. Not so long ago, Brazil was a nation plagued by runaway inflation and governed by dictators. Today, it boasts a stable economy, which in size is akin to those of France, the United Kingdom, and Russia, and some 40 million Brazilians made their way into the middle class during the past decade. Meanwhile, Brazil has achieved a remarkable transition to democracy after a century of political upheaval.

The political and economic platform on which this democracy is built is particularly striking because it has so little precedent in Brazil’s history. Brazilian presidents are now elected with a wider base of public support: illiterate Brazilians gained the right to vote in 1985, when they still accounted for 20 percent of the adult population. By contrast, in 1960 and the last presidential election before the military coup, only 60 percent of adults were literate and therefore allowed to vote. Mistrust of the political aims of illiterate Brazilians, most often very poor, was one of the motives for the 1964 military coup. Brazil’s democracy today is not only more broadly rooted, it is also able to accommodate the political pressure of social policies aimed at alleviating conditions of misery in a country with some of the world’s largest income inequalities.

For much of the twentieth century, these outcomes would have been hard to imagine. The people who went on to become Brazil’s three most recent presidents had been treated harshly by the military dictatorship that ruled from 1964 to 1985. Fernando Henrique Cardoso, president from 1995 to 2003, is a sociologist who had been one of the major theorists of Marxist-influenced dependency theory and one of the early social scientists to challenge the myth that Brazil was a country without racial inequality. The dictatorship purged him from his faculty position at the University of São Paulo in 1969. Along with other fired faculty, he formed a research institute, the Brazilian Center for Analysis and Planning (CEBRAP), with funding from the Ford Foundation. When CEBRAP suffered a bombing in 1976, the São Paulo state secretary of security told the press “there are countless entities like CEBRAP in São Paulo that deserve a bomb.”

Cardoso’s successor as president, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, commonly known simply as Lula, is a former metalworker from São Paulo’s industrial belt who led a series of wildcat strikes beginning in 1978 that defied military rule and served as a catalyst for the creation of the Brazilian Workers’ Party, or PT. The military regime purged him from the presidency of the metalworker’s union and imprisoned him for a month during a 1980 strike calling for a forty-hour work week as well as other labor reforms. Lula’s PT became an umbrella for many stripes of opposition to the dictatorship, and pressured for a return to direct presidential elections. Lula was elected president in 2002 and was re-elected in 2006 with over 60 percent of the vote. His popularity allowed him to realize a feat no predecessor had accomplished in modern times: the election to the presidency of a protégé from his own party, Dilma Rousseff.

As a university student, Rousseff, who succeeded Lula in 2011, participated in a succession of Marxist revolutionary organizations that carried out guerrilla actions against the dictatorship. One of these organizations’ actions included a botched assassination attempt against the Bolivian officer who commanded the military unit that killed Che Guevara. Rousseff was apprehended by state security forces, tortured, and convicted by a military tribunal under the regime’s national security law. Where Cardoso and Lula chose not to look back at the dictatorship, Rousseff has instead empaneled Brazil’s first National Truth Commission. Though the 1979 amnesty law covering crimes both by and against the state remains in place, the National Truth Commission is a belated version of the reckoning that took place in Argentina and Chile in the aftermath of dictatorships in those countries.

Grand Brazil
The best way to understand Brazil’s transition from dictatorship to democracy is to understand how Brazil became a dictatorship. The armed forces took over in a coup known as the Revolution of 1964 and held power until 1985. In Brazil’s politically turbulent twentieth century, it went through six different constitutions. Before 1964, the armed forces had installed or removed presidents three times, and twice forced a change in the nature of the regime; once to create dictatorial powers for a president, and once to strip a president’s powers through the creation of a parliamentary cabinet. Beneath these repeatedly successful efforts to change Brazil’s political regime, the armed forces were a bottomless source of conspiracies and insurrections. In other words, the armed forces were one of the key political and governing arteries of the country.

The difference after 1964 is that the armed forces asserted a monopoly on political power after overthrowing leftist President João Goulart. Through this monopoly, the armed forces controlled the presidency, culled the congress, modified and eventually replaced the constitution, and arbitrated state and local elections. When the armed forces seized direct power in 1964, the new regime was pulled in contradictory directions by the army officer corps. Some officers sought a narrowly conceived course correction that would shake leftist populists out of government and engage in economic stabilization through a liberal and orthodox austerity plan. This was the view of the first military president, General Humberto Castelo Branco, who governed from 1964 to 1967. Castelo Branco and his allies identified closely with the United States, often connected by bonds formed with U.S. officers during their service together in Italy during the Second World War.

Politically, Castelo Branco’s regime purged the congress and government ministries of leftists, crushed the landless workers’ movement in the impoverished northeast, curbed labor unions, and suppressed the student movement. Economically, the new military government fought a rate of inflation that neared 100 percent through a combination of spending cuts and caps on industrial and service wages. Having cleaned house, the regime expected to restore civilian rule through direct elections to be held in 1966, in which purged politicians on the left would be disqualified from running for office.

If the coup initially brought to power officers who foresaw limits on the armed forces in government, it also aroused deeper ambitions within the armed forces which went back generations. Since the late nineteenth century, army officers had embraced nationalist modernizing projects that ranged from pursuit of the 1888 abolition of slavery to the coup that deposed Brazil’s monarchy a year later and installed a republican regime. Influenced by Comtean Positivism, these officers believed in modernization through rational planning that could solve national problems. In the aftermath of the First World War, this line of thought among officers was reinforced by the perception that only industrialized nations could persevere in modern warfare. An emerging national security doctrine thus combined the pursuit of heavy industry with a concern for building a strong central state that could integrate the vast country and secure national territory.

The scheduled 1966 presidential election never took place. Beginning in 1967, four successive military presidents, followed by one civilian president were anointed by an “electoral college” comprised of the remaining members of purged legislative bodies. The direct popular election of a president, last achieved in 1960, would not recur until 1989. The political and economic stabilization realized by Castelo Branco became the springboard for increasingly audacious developmental projects that coalesced around the vision of a Brasil Grande. Theorists in the armed forces took it as a matter of faith that their modernizing and developmental ambitions would make Brazil a world power. As General Carlos de Meira Mattos, an influential exponent of Brazil’s national security doctrine expressed in 1977, “We will be a world power if we meet our development goals for the year 2000, regardless of our vocation or desire for power. We must be prepared to exercise that power, whose geo-strategic and economic dimensions will have a global reach.”

These ambitions drew Brazil’s generals in curious directions. On one hand, they professed alignment with the United States and adherence to liberal market principles. On the other hand, they skirted market mechanisms or eschewed the United States when they believed that economic growth and national development depended on it. By the late 1970s, the Brazilian government pursued relations with the Marxist regime in Angola, as well as commercial opportunities in Libya and Iraq. In many respects, by deposing a populist president, squelching leftist movements, and winning foreign investment, the military regime was the fruit of the Cold War. But in many other ways, the regime reflected more historically rooted aspects of the worldview of military officers. The dictatorship was the full bloom of a particular culture of modernization, development, and security that had germinated in the armed forces for nearly a century.

The generals pursued both economic development and national integration, giving wide berth to technocrats and engineers in both civilian ministries and the armed forces. The pursuit of national integration was formidable. The regime partnered with Globo TV to develop a national television network supplemented in 1985 by the country’s own transmission satellite, along with early implementation of a nationally specific color transmission standard. First through Globo and eventually through other networks, this infrastructure brought the same news and entertainment programming to all reaches of the country.

The expansion of road and railroad networks was equally dramatic. The Trans-Amazonian Highway epitomized the push for national integration. Inaugurated in 1972, the road stretches westward four thousand kilometers from Brazil’s easternmost tip into the far western Amazonian region. It is incomplete, and many of its completed segments unpaved, but the projected route would reach from the Atlantic Ocean to the town of Benjamin Constant (named after Brazil’s most influential Positivist thinker) at the border with Colombia and Peru.

The Trans-Amazonian highway accelerated the deforestation of the Amazon, though the generals did not regard this as a problem: it meant the economic development of the region, as well as the intensification of settlement in regions that military strategists saw as vulnerable to foreign encroachment. State planners also viewed the highway as a means of redirecting the great migration of rural workers from the impoverished and arid northeast into new Amazonian farmlands rather than the crowded industrial cities of the southeast, such as São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro.

Massive infrastructure development projects were fueled by accelerated economic growth, and this growth was sustained by borrowing to continue to expand infrastructure. The regime’s most influential finance minister, Antônio Delfim Netto, developed a mechanism to ease credit without triggering inflation by resorting to indexation and frequent small devaluations, essentially sweeping inflation under the rug. The flood of credit helped fuel the Brazilian Miracle through which the national economy grew at an average annual rate of 11.3 percent between 1968 and 1973. Amid this growth, the generals grew confident that, as the state planning blueprint published in 1974 proclaimed, Brazil had capitalized on “the momentum the Revolution [of 1964] has sought to generate, in order to cross the frontier between underdevelopment and development.”

‘Lost Decade’
The generals’ reaction to the 1973 Arab oil embargo had disastrous consequences: committed to maintaining the high levels of economic growth upon which the regime’s popularity floated, the regime chose to subsidize oil prices through borrowing. At the time, Brazil imported half of its oil, and the cost of those imports quadrupled: the country faced a soaring balance of payments deficit and a debt burden that carried on in the belief that future growth would offset current costs.

After the oil shock, the government doubled down on infrastructure investments in order to ease dependency on oil imports. Massive projects in hydroelectric dam construction, the development of a sugarcane-based ethanol industry, and other energy projects compounded the debt. Brazil became a leading borrower of petrodollars, with the largest foreign debt in the developing world. The government and state-owned companies extended their reach into the economy, competing with private sector firms for profits that could ease its balance of payments deficit. By the end of the 1970s, nearly half of the economy was in the hands of the state—an ironic outcome for a regime that took power out of fear of the socialist leanings of the government it deposed.

The second oil shock in 1979, followed by a global recession fueled by the increase in interest rates in the United States to curb inflation, brought Brazil’s debt-fueled growth model to collapse. After the first 1973 oil shock, Brazil’s foreign debt reached $12 billion, an amount so large that the government needed to borrow simply to make payments on the debt. By 1982, Brazil owed $82 billion. Interest rates on the debt soared, and amid Mexico’s moratorium on debt payments and Argentina’s war with Britain over the Falkland Islands (Islas Malvinas), Brazil’s capacity to borrow was exhausted. The annual cost of interest payments alone was more than half the value of Brazil’s exports. The result was the subsequent ‘lost decade’ of economic stagnation and runaway inflation. In 1990, per capita GDP was lower than it had been in 1980.

The military regime’s promise that rational and purportedly apolitical planning would achieve the development aims that had eluded the country was in tatters. The regime limped along seeking to manage the financial crisis alongside a gradual transition to civilian rule. The character of this crisis and its connection to re-democratization gave shape to a particular culture of opposition that brought seemingly incompatible groups together in a new political dynamic. Business groups that had long benefitted from the regime came to see the dictatorship as an entity that was incapable of reading and responding to market signals, and wanted to reduce their market competition with state enterprises.

Their opposition took the form of promoting neoliberal reforms that would curb what they saw as the statist and ruinous policies of the dictatorship. By the early 1980s, this neoliberal opposition formed a common cause with social movements that were often leftist but which increasingly framed their demands in the language of individual human rights. The combination of neoliberal economic pressure and opposition based on the defense of the rights of the individual created a potent movement for liberalization.

Rule of Law
Over the life of the dictatorship, opposition had taken many forms. In 1968, public protests led by students and workers filled main squares and central avenues across major cities. The military’s crackdown on the protesters and its expansion of national security laws to allow for the indefinite detention of dissenters radicalized the opposition. Urban and rural guerrilla groups, many formed by radicalized university students, waged campaigns of assassinations, bank robberies, and the kidnapping of diplomats. The regime responded with a proliferation of security agencies. One of the most notorious, OBAN, was formed by soldiers and police and was funded by corporations including Ford and General Motors—this corporate U.S. support of repression followed years of training in torture and counterinsurgency techniques provided by the U.S. government. It was OBAN that, in 1970, detained and tortured Rousseff.

The guerrilla groups, whose members mostly lacked military training, were badly outmatched by a regime that confronted them through torture, disappearance, and extrajudicial executions. By 1975, armed opposition to the regime no longer existed, and popular dissent was muffled. A congressional minority party, the Brazilian Democratic Movement, placed muted pressure on the regime, but was cautious not to trigger purges of its diminished caucus. The sprawling state security apparatus nonetheless continued to voraciously seek out new targets. These could be a university valedictorian who made an unguarded address to his class, or industrial workers with past radical affiliations. In October 1975, the target was a São Paulo journalist, Vladimir Herzog, who was news director at a public television station but had once been a member of the Communist party.

Herzog died at the hands of the army intelligence agency DOI-CODI, which claimed he committed suicide while in detention by hanging himself with the belt of his prison uniform (the uniforms did not have belts). When the president of the Israelite Congregation of São Paulo, Rabbi Henry Sobel, buried Herzog in the main part of the Jewish cemetery rather than a separate plot, which would be the custom for suicides, he implicitly challenged the government’s account of the death. Cardinal Evaristo Arns held an ecumenical service for Herzog in São Paulo’s cathedral, and 30,000 students at multiple university campuses went on strike.

Herzog’s death stands out, among many others at the hands of the regime, for the public response to it. Religious leaders, student leaders, and the journalists’ union to which Herzog had belonged resolved to avoid the kinds of noisy protests the regime was accustomed to suppressing. In the place of political banners denouncing the regime or advocating for socialist revolution and the chants and pot banging of typical Brazilian political demonstrations, the public manifestations around Herzog’s death were conducted in silence. Like the work of the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo in Argentina and the arpilleras—quilt-weavers—in Chile, whose silence defied their respective dictatorships, the protesters in São Paulo developed a powerful challenge to the regime.

The dictatorship had represented itself as the defender of public order, the family, and moral values against the forces of demagogic populism and radical subversion. The regime had always taken pains to present itself as being the rule of law, for instance putting on elaborate public performances of constitutional reform to legalize its arbitrary decisions. Brazil’s military leaders wore civilian dress, and disdained the ostentatious uniforms of neighboring dictators like Alfredo Stroessner and Augusto Pinochet. They were not, in their own way of thinking, even dictators: they were constitutional heads of state duly “elected” by an electoral college.

The protesters now turned this equation on its head. Their demonstrations were not explicitly political in that they did not demand the end of the regime, or its replacement with an ideologically different one. Instead, the protesters championed the integrity of the individual before the state and a return to a rule of law that the state itself would be subordinate to. Defense of the rule of law grew into the advocacy for liberalization that also spoke to business groups. Opponents began to challenge military rule not ideologically but procedurally: pressing for an acceleration of the civilian handover and advocating for direct presidential elections.

In 1985, a tenuous political transition took place. The armed forces held to the indirect election by the congress of a civilian president, and permitted two slates: one allied to the armed forces, and the other a slate that included Tancredo Neves, a leader of the senate opposition to the regime, as the presidential nominee, and José Sarney, who had been a leader of the pro-regime majority in the senate, as the vice presidential candidate. As the electoral college voted, a rock festival took place in Rio de Janeiro. Between performances by bands like AC/DC and the Scorpions, festival-goers kept track of the vote and cheered “Eu, eu, eu! Maluf se fodeu!” (Politely: Paulo Maluf, the defeated candidate of the armed forces, “got screwed.”)

A Program for the Poor
The most immediate experience for Brazilians in the years after the dictatorship was inflation. In 1964, the armed forces held up the foreign debt of $3.2 billion and an inflation rate of nearly 88 percent per year as evidence of the inability of civilian politicians to make difficult but rational choices. Yet the military presidents bequeathed their first civilian successor a foreign debt of $95 billion and an inflation rate of 235 percent. The new civilian leaders had to confront the economic crisis using political and governing institutions whose legitimacy had been ravaged by dictatorship.

Tancredo Neves fell ill and died before taking office, leaving the presidency in the hands of a politician long identified with the regime. Indirectly elected and not the first choice for presidency, José Sarney lacked the popular mandate to make difficult economic choices. As a result, repeated plans to curb inflation failed, and each triggered a backlash and a growing loss of credibility. At moments, between 1985 and 1994, inflation exceeded 3,000 percent, and public confidence in the capacity of the government to solve problems collapsed.

The legacies of debt and inflation left behind by the military regime devastated the public sector in Brazil. Public enterprises such as the state telephone and electrical utilities were repurposed to combat inflation by keeping the cost of public services low, while budgets for public education and health, or maintenance of roads and rail vaporized. By the 1990s, Brazilians had to wait several years to purchase a phone line that cost hundreds of dollars and offered no guarantee either of a dial tone or that a dialed number matched that of the intended recipient of the call. Interstate roads became hazardous, passenger rail service disappeared, and subway systems remained incomplete. Across Brazil, maintenance of infrastructure and of the quality of services largely disappeared.

Brazil’s debt crisis fed the economic dimensions of liberalization: inflation was tamed in 1994 and was kept low through high interest rates and reduced public spending. The federal government privatized utilities and other state enterprises. Agricultural cartels were disbanded. Where public investment faltered in areas such as road or mass transit infrastructure, large segments of public infrastructure were contracted to private concession holders.

Ironically, the center-left governing coalition that has held the presidency for the past twenty years has been a champion of liberal market reforms and privatization, in contrast with the anti-communist and pro-business military regime that had increasingly relied on central planning, and state enterprises that controlled key economic sectors. The failures of the military regime’s economic planning would inadvertently have the most profound influence over Brazil’s future by placing successive governments in a straightjacket of debt that has compelled adherence to liberal market principles and access to foreign loans and investment.

The social side of liberalization proved harder to achieve. The social movements that had been at the forefront of opposition to the dictatorship included both old and new parties on the left, notably the Workers’ Party, as well as the women’s movement, gay rights movement, black movement, and environmentalists. For all these forces, the indirect election of a civilian president was an unsatisfying transition. The judiciary, bureaucrats, the legal code, and the constitution remained legacies of the dictatorship.

As police violence against frequently middle class and affluent political opponents of the regime receded, it left in its wake widespread police violence against the poor. Most Brazilians, particularly the poor, spent an inordinate amount of their time simply contending with inflation. Little room remained for social movements to challenge social and racial inequalities, violence based on gender and sexual orientation, the rights of minorities, or environmental questions. At first blush, the new democracy offered little that was new and even less to cheer.

Social movements focused their attention on the assembly that drafted a new constitution in 1988. The constitution is in some respects a very specific document. For instance, Article 230 guarantees the right of those over the age of sixty-five to ride urban transport for free. This specificity reflects the remarkable degree to which social movements succeeded in securing the protection of a broadly defined set of human rights, including the rights to land for indigenous groups and communities descended from slaves.

By the 1990s, the consensus around liberalization among opponents of the dictatorship coalesced in two poles: a set of neoliberal economic policies that responded to the dual challenges of debt and inflation; and a set of social goals anchored in the 1988 constitution and the universal right to vote—voluntary at the age of sixteen and obligatory after eighteen. In recent decades, no one could win national office without both speaking to the role of public policy in reducing social inequality, and adhering to the liberal principles that keep inflation in check and the debt at bay.

In some respects, the results have been very unexciting. Brazil’s economic growth over the past two decades has been meager compared to many of its peers, held back by interest rates that are among the highest in the world but which keep inflation in check. As a result, public financing of the private sector remains considerable, and many private firms have merged with international ones that have access to cheaper credit and greater investment overseas. On the other hand, the social rights promised by the constitution remain a work in progress: many, particularly the urban and rural poor, lack full access to those rights, and are subject to high rates of violence by criminal gangs, the police, or, in the countryside, land-grabbers.

In other respects, the results are impressive. Cardoso’s success in taming inflation has created breathing room to focus on other dynamics of social inequality. In its wake, public understanding of racial inequalities has sharpened, allowing for new policies such as racial quotas in public university admissions and public sector hiring. Cardoso’s successor, Lula, defied his base of support among public employees to reform and reduce public sector pensions, which freed up resources for the implementation of conditional cash transfer programs that have revolutionized Brazil’s social welfare network.

Lula’s Bolsa Família (modeled on Mexico’s Oportunidades program and now one of many similar projects worldwide), provides cash supplements to poor families who keep their children in school and meet other benchmarks, such as vaccinations. Thirteen million families receive the benefit, which ranges from $30 to $60 a month per child. The program serves a long-term goal of alleviating poverty through higher educational attainment while providing immediate economic relief that has generated a proliferation of local economic activity in the communities where poor families are concentrated. Bolsa Família has contributed to the first sustained reduction in income inequality in Brazil: between 2001 and 2011, the income of the poorest 10 percent of the population increased 91 percent.

Running in Circles?
Military rule in Brazil generated utterly unrealistic expectations for economic growth and national transformation. By leaving the economy, public institutions, and political practices in chaos, it threw those expectations into severe doubt. Fifty years after the military coup and twenty-five years since the ratification of the constitution that undergirds Brazil’s new democracy, the challenges of both managing and meeting public expectations remain.

The protests that erupted across Brazil in June 2013 highlighted these challenges. They began over two unrelated concerns: a $0.08 increase in bus and subway fares in São Paulo, and the opening of the FIFA Confederations Cup in Brasília—a prelude to the FIFA World Cup. Protests over transportation costs were really protests about the rising cost of living and the difficulty most inhabitants of major Brazilian cities have in both getting around and getting by. The demonstrations at the FIFA tournament expressed unease about the costs of hosting the 2014 World Cup as well as the 2016 Rio Olympic Games. The last country to host these events in succession was Mexico, in 1968 and 1970, where a similar phenomenon occurred: Mexico’s effort to increase its international standing exposed its unresolved problems of poverty and social exclusion. In 1968, Mexico’s government massacred protesters in Tlatelolco in advance of the Olympic games, causing lasting damage to the credibility of the ruling Revolutionary Institutional Party (PRI). In Brazil, by the time the protests peaked, the protesters’ diffuse messages came together: we want schools and hospitals as good as the stadiums FIFA demands for the World Cup.

In the wake of dictatorship, Brazilians have achieved hard-fought political and economic stability, as well as the country’s most extensive, effective and consolidated democratic government. But Brazilians still pay a high cost for the generals’ developmental ambitions: the military’s efforts to solve the problems of poverty and underdevelopment actually did lasting damage to the country’s ability to overcome these very problems.

Jerry Dávila is the Jorge Paulo Lemann Professor of Brazilian History at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He is the author of Hotel Trópico: Brazil and the Challenge of African Decolonization and Diploma of Whiteness: Race and Social Policy in Brazil, 1917-1945, and winner of the 2010 Latin Studies Association Brazil Section Book prize. His most recent book is Dictatorship in South America.

The Beautiful Game

By some measures, nearly half the planet—3.2 billion people in 204 countries—watched the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. Even more will tune in this year when the 2014 World Cup kicks off in São Paulo.

Such staggering numbers prove the cliché that football is the ‘world’s game.’ It is the simplest, most democratic of major team sports, boasting the lowest threshold for entry. No sport is as visible as football, played scrappily in public by people of all backgrounds from the beaches of Brazil to the paddy fields of southwestern India. Unlike cricket or baseball, football is largely uncluttered by rules and requires no special equipment. Unlike basketball or American gridiron, it does not discriminate by body type (Lionel Messi, the best player in the world, stands at a colossal 5’7”). No game moves so fluidly and remains as unbroken by repetitive stoppages and contrived commercial breaks. That seamlessness is the key to the joy of football as a spectacle; the game ebbs and flows, the din of the fans rises in pitch and urgency, the intensity builds and builds until it explodes in the ecstatic release of a goal.

But a better explanation for the power of football lies in its remarkable capacity to take on meaning. Used by anti-colonial rebels and right-wing dictators alike, football has channeled narratives both subversive and authoritarian. Societies can find a mirror for their hopes and anxieties in the collective striving of eleven men in shorts. This is true even in the era of globalization, of which the multi-billion dollar industry of football is an integral part; the sport can both leap across national borders and conjure them.

Identity—and national identity in particular—still drives interest in the sport and remains a powerful force in its quadrennial crowning showpiece, the finals of the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) World Cup. What the historian Eric Hobsbawm said of sport in the early twentieth century is true today: competition in the World Cup is an “expression of national conflict, and the sportsmen representing their nation or their state, primarily expressions of their imagined community.”

Football-playing countries often see in their teams a reflection of deeper national character: the organization of the Germans, the artistry and ferocity of the Hungarians, the samba of the Brazilians, the technicality of the Japanese, the muscular flair of the Argentinians, the diversity of the Americans. These descriptions may border perilously on stereotypes, but they are given substance in the form of the team. If the nation is an imagined community, then its football team is that community made flesh.

A Level Playing Field
Football has always been a powerful vehicle for the transmission and cohesion of identity. The origins of the sport remain contested—was it first conceived by the Chinese, the Egyptians, the English?—but from the outset it was a riotous, communal affair. In the British Isles, early forms of the game would hurl an unlimited number of players against each other in a mad, bludgeoning dash to the goal. Whole communities took part in these muddy struggles, scrapping across the fields between their villages, or in the thoroughfares of major towns. It was literally a sport of the masses, played by mobs, pitting hamlet against hamlet, neighborhood against neighborhood. Such was the disturbance caused by these skirmishes that a slew of medieval English and Scottish kings issued proclamations against football. Edward II banned the game in London in 1314, complaining of the “great noise in the city caused by hustling over large balls from which many evils may arise.”

The sport was disorderly and subversive, erupting like a carnival in the midst of the everyday. Even today, many fans are drawn to football for its raucous pageantry. When attending matches at both the club and national level, it is often far more entertaining to watch the antics of supporters massed in the terraces than the game itself. No other professional sport is supported as football is. In many parts of the world, fans organize enormous tifo displays of choreography, with streamers, fireworks, and flags as big as 15,000 square meters. Supporters heave together in the stands, singing coordinated hymns and anthems, their noise often totally oblivious to the proceedings on the pitch. Football fans are not passive consumers of the spectacle; they are its active participants.

This group frenzy is susceptible to darker turns, to the political violence or sporadic thuggery that still tarnish football. That difficult proximity to “hooliganism”—which remains a blight on the game almost everywhere, from South America to Eastern Europe to Egypt—is one of the consequences of football’s unparalleled ability to serve as a vehicle for collective meaning.

When modern football emerged in the United Kingdom in the nineteenth century, it sprung from communal roots. The first football clubs were formed around associations of workers and church groups. Unlike the franchises of contemporary American sports or Indian cricket’s Premier League, football clubs grew organically from communities. They were social institutions, often representing towns, ethnic groups, and vocations. The London-based football club Arsenal, for instance, may now boast a vast global brand, but it began modestly as the sporting club of the munitions workers of the Royal Arsenal, men who simply sought distraction from their industrial endeavors in those of the rolling ball.

The sport spread in large part on the coattails of the globe-trotting, imperial British. They brought it famously to its hotbeds in Argentina, Uruguay, and Brazil. The legacy of that introduction lives on in the names of storied South American clubs: Corinthians, Boca Juniors, Newell’s Old Boys, River Plate, Montevideo Wanderers. Football also blossomed in less familiar stretches of the global football map. Colonial agents in India (particularly in Bengal) encouraged its play. In Iran, football was taught to the European-educated children of the elite, while British operatives in the oil industry spread the game among the workers on the oil fields of Khuzestan. British telegraph workers made it popular in East Africa. Belgian missionaries in the Congo promoted the sport as a civilizing force, part of the muscular Christianity they wanted to inculcate in the natives.

Not surprisingly, football became a medium of anti-colonial resistance. Sport leveled the playing field, introducing a parity between colonized and colonizer that did not exist elsewhere in colonial society. The Cairo club Al Ahly—whose fans have played stirring and tragic roles in Egypt’s recent upheavals—was founded in 1907 by patriotic, anti-colonial students. In 1911, the Kolkata-based club Mohun Bagan ignited the imagination of a nascent country when it beat an English team in the final of British India’s top football tournament. According to the Indian scholar Kausik Bandyopadhyay, “football began to be identified with something very akin to fighting the colonial masters.” Not only did the Indian side win against the odds, they beat the British while playing barefoot.

When many societies groaned under the burden of Western domination, football helped restore a measure of dignity to subjugated peoples. Stirring tales of defeating the European at his own game cropped up around the world in the early twentieth century. In late 1925, a football club in Zanzibar called Caddies (formed by the employees of colonial golf courses) won an island-wide tournament after brushing aside a British team. Caddies’ players triumphed over the men whose bags they carried on the golf course; here football flattened the very real social hierarchy accentuated by golf. A year later in Tehran, Iran’s monarch Reza Shah was in the audience to watch a team of Iranians vanquish a side composed of European expats. The Shah threatened to leave after his countrymen conceded a goal, but was mollified when the Iranians replied with two of their own.

On the grand international stage, football offers great possibilities for perennial underdogs. In the Olympics, behemoth countries like the United States and China inevitably rack up the most medals. By contrast, anything can happen in the World Cup.

That hope can lead to poignant drama and bitter tragedy. During their match in the 1994 World Cup, it seemed tantalizingly possible that little, impoverished Bolivia might upset Germany, a football superpower. A Bolivian victory would not only have marked a sporting triumph, but an inversion of global hierarchies, of the European over the indigenous South American, of a fraught history of power and exploitation. It was not to be. Bolivia’s star player Marco Etcheverry was thrown out of the game for a tempestuous foul. His country slumped to defeat. The Uruguayan writer Eduardo Galeano described the debacle best: “Bolivia collapsed, wishing they had never sinned against the secret spell cast from the depths of centuries that obliges them to lose.”

Nation Versus Nation
Combative, nationalist politics surface frequently in the sport. With good reason, football is often described as a metaphor for war, the sublimation of politics into the contests of men scampering after a ball. Take, for instance, the battles of identity within the United Kingdom. Football in the UK is often freighted with the tension of its strained political union. Unlike the International Olympic Committee, FIFA—football’s gargantuan governing body—recognizes England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland as separate sporting entities. So nationalists in the Celtic fringe of the United Kingdom were in high dudgeon when Great Britain fielded a joint team in the 2012 London Olympic Games. Such a unified team threatened their sense of separation from overbearing England.

That pride in internal difference, however parochial, has long animated clashes between England and the other so-called “home nations.” Until the 1980s, Scottish fans would descend onto London every other year to attend matches against England. They would jam Trafalgar Square, waving Scottish flags and brandishing banners that evoked the memory of Bannockburn, the famous medieval battle in which the Scots repelled the invading English. British authorities grew so wary of the biannual Scottish “invasion” that they suspended the regular series of matches between the two teams. Now, as Scotland inches towards full independence, its football rivalry with England stands to only grow in intensity and significance.

The World Cup itself has witnessed the drama of hostile nations grappling with each other. Not only did the great Argentinian team of 1986 (led by the irresistible, dogged genius Maradona) win the tournament, but along the way they exacted revenge for the humiliation of the Falklands War, beating England in what remains one of the most memorable matches in World Cup history. In 1998, Iran took on the United States in a game loaded with all the animosity that defined U.S.-Iran relations since the toppling of the pro-American Shah in 1979. Iran triumphed, sending its people into delirious celebration and the United States trudging dejectedly out of the tournament.

Unlike in the Olympics, in which wealthy superpowers dominate, there is no direct relationship between the prosperity and status of a country and the success of its representatives on the football field. That is why the sport can galvanize such passion and common feeling even in the tiniest of nations.

Small countries often coalesce around football. Alongside the other trappings of statehood—passports, a postal system, a currency, and so on—a football team is just as essential a pillar of national identity. When South Sudan came into existence as an independent country in July 2011, it immediately staged a football match between its cobbled-together side and a Kenyan football club. “We are ready to tell the world that South Sudan is around,” the striker Khamis Leiluno proclaimed before the match. South Sudan lost, but the result was incidental to the fact of the game and its confirmation of the independence of South Sudan.

Football also serves nations that do not exist yet. At the onset of Franco’s dictatorship in Spain, a football team composed of the best players from the Basque Country toured Europe and then Latin America in 1937, raising awareness of the plight of the Basques. Today, Basque nationalists stage unofficial matches pitting their team, the Euskal Selekzioa, against other aspiring nations (like Catalonia) and full-fledged countries (the Basques thumped Peru 6-0 this past December).

FIFA may have more members (209) than the United Nations (193), but alternative tournaments outside of FIFA’s jurisdiction exist for peoples who have not yet found a place in the traditional community of nations. In these competitions, the likes of Northern Cyprus, Greenland, Chechnya, Zanzibar, Darfur, Occitania (southern France), Sápmi (representing the Sami people of Scandinavia), and Arameans Suryoye (a team for the global Aramean-Syriac diaspora) battle in earnest. Of course, what they do on the football pitch will never win them statehood. But through football, their claims to a unique identity gain, however fleetingly, a substance and meaning that geopolitics denies them.

Qatar in 2022
Just as football empowers the stateless, so too can it serve the iron interests of states. Edward II may have sought to ban football, but the modern game’s capacity to capture the popular imagination has made it a favorite of strongman rulers.

When Italy hosted the World Cup in 1934, Benito Mussolini turned the tournament into an exercise in propaganda, boasting of the virtues of fascist rule and the superiority of the Italian race. It helped Mussolini’s cause immensely that Italy emerged victors of the tournament (thanks in part to the dark arts of match-fixing). Two years after a military coup, Argentina hosted the 1978 World Cup. Like the Italians in 1934, Argentina was the eventual champion (also benefiting from insidious match-fixing). The tournament gave the ruling junta the opportunity to present a burnished image of the country to the world and to Argentinians. The glittering World Cup strengthened both regimes and distracted attention from their abuses.

Since it was first televised in 1966, the World Cup has become football’s crowning showpiece, a month-long exhibition of sporting brilliance and super-charged commercial muscle. For its hosts, the tournament is a public relations coup, a chance to project an image of the nation to the world. For FIFA, the tournament is the ultimate money-spinner. The 2010 World Cup earned FIFA upwards of $2 billion in profit, almost entirely on the back of the sale of TV and marketing rights. That astronomic sum is a measure of both football’s popularity and the extent to which money controls the direction of the game.

FIFA’s award of World Cups to countries has become an increasingly controversial and politicized subject. Activists in both South Africa and Brazil protested the arrival of the grand football jamboree, treating the World Cup as a glaring and unaffordable excess in societies riven by inequality and deprivation. Critics fear that governments will bask in the global good feeling that comes with the World Cup, spinning sport into a glittering spectacle while suppressing real problems and failures.

Competition for the right to host the World Cup is fierce and often vindictive. Some of the bile that arose in the West with the award of upcoming tournaments to Russia (2018) and Qatar (2022) can be attributed to resentment and jealousy (England and the United States both failed in their bids). But with the World Cup set to be played in two countries with limited political freedoms and dubious human rights records, it seems that FIFA’s quadrennial pageant will continue to serve the ends of authoritarian regimes.

The World Cup can also do a measure of good. The 2006 tournament held in Germany had the effect of inspiring an emboldened, warm love of country among the hosts. For decades, Germans had been understandably wary of displays of national pride, mindful of their role in the barbarity of World War II. Yet Germans thronged the squares of their country during that June, chanting and waving flags, embracing their youthful team in its quest for glory. These displays suggested to many that Germany had reconciled with and overcome the burden of its past. As one German told the Guardian newspaper, “I never put up a flag before because it felt strange. Now I have had one in my window for three weeks. It is going to feel too empty if I take it down, so I decided I am going to keep it up for good.”

Search for Identity
As much as the energies and passions produced by football engender hate and antagonism, so too does the sport force a mingling of differences. Iraq’s national team brings together the otherwise fractious Kurds, Sunni, and Shia sections of the country. The South Sudanese team unites players from various ethnic groups. Football can conjure a unity that reality otherwise makes elusive.

When France triumphed in the 1998 World Cup, its team embodied an unabashedly multicultural image of the country. African, Caribbean, and white players worked seamlessly together, all inspired by the cavalier talent of Zinedine Zidane, the son of Algerian immigrants. Other European teams reflect the growing diversity of their populations: England, for instance, has long selected players of African and Afro-Caribbean descent; the parents of Sweden’s best player, Zlatan Ibrahimović, are from Bosnia and Croatia.

At the same time, countries that lose immigrants abroad are turning to their diaspora to bolster their teams. Many West African teams pack their ranks with players from the exurban banlieues of France, men who have chosen to play for their countries of ancestry rather than the country of their upbringing. Similarly, Turkey has long called upon players raised and educated entirely in Germany, descendants of the “guest-workers” who migrated from Anatolia decades ago. Many of the stars of the Jamaican and Trinidadian national teams grew up on the streets of London, not along the beaches of the Caribbean. And in the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, two brothers from Berlin will face off against each other when Jérôme Boateng plays for Germany and Kevin-Prince Boateng for Ghana.

This scattered cartography of belonging may seem like some quirk of the shrinking twenty-first century world, but in the history of football it is nothing particularly new. Long before “globalization” entered our vocabulary, South Americans of Italian ancestry were playing for Italy, Hungarians represented Spain, and Eusébio, a young man from Mozambique, became the greatest Portuguese player of all time.

In the modern era of fast travel and faster information, football reaffirms the truth that identity is so often a choice, one made potentially out of convenience, but also out of genuine feeling. Afghanistan upset regional power India in September 2013 to win bragging rights in South Asia for the first time. Among the war-torn nation’s triumphant squad was twenty-six-year-old Yousef Mashriqi, a man born and raised in the Flushing neighborhood of New York City, who played his professional football in India. Victory meant as much to this itinerant, globe-trotting footballer as it did to his colleagues who grew up and lived in Afghanistan. “I would like to congratulate our country for winning the title,” he said. “Hopefully, it will bring unity there, if only a small percentage more. Soccer spreads love and peace.”

Kanishk Tharoor is a New York-based writer who has contributed to the Guardian, Independent, New Yorker, Foreign Policy, National, Sports Illustrated, and Times of India, among other publications. He previously served as associate editor of openDemocracy, an online magazine. On Twitter: @kanishktharoor.

FIFA Rules

Brazil is known around the world as a footballing nation. The Brazilian style of play is universally characterized, to the point of stereotyping, as virtuous, creative, simply amazing. Even Brazilians who have no interest in football whatsoever are compelled to talk about the sport when they go to social gatherings, travel abroad, or host foreign visitors. International broadcasts of tournaments such as the World Cup, organized by the Swiss-based Fédération Internationale de Football Association, or FIFA, have helped globalize the sport; in turn, given Brazil’s prowess in the game—it has won five FIFA World Cup trophies—this has made Brazilians and their country well known among the community of nations.

Football’s worldwide scale and influence has thus contributed to the rise of Brazil’s international stature. In 1958, when Brazil won its first world title in Sweden, television only partially covered the games. But by 1970, when Brazil won its third title in Mexico, international broadcasts were fully established. Since then, the FIFA tournament has progressively expanded, and today, is avidly watched by enthusiasts on five continents. Sports tourism now sends thousands of fans descending on the host country and hundreds of millions more tuning into live broadcasts.

It is certainly no longer a pastime primarily followed in Europe and South America. Up until 1978, only sixteen national teams participated in the finals of the World Cup; by 1982, the number had grown to twenty-four countries; and, since 1998, the finals have been expanded to include thirty-two teams. In 2002, when Brazil won the tournament for the fifth time, a third of the planet, more than two billion people, stopped to watch the final match between Brazil and Germany. FIFA has further spread the game by diversifying the selection of World Cup venues; in 2022, for example, the finals will be held in the Middle East for the first time, in the tiny country of Qatar.

Football is an indelible feature of the Brazil brand. Footballing prestige and tradition has contributed to democratic stability and economic growth—in recent years, Brazil has gone from being an “underdeveloped” nation to an “emerging” one, and has become a member of leading international blocs such as BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa). And there is little doubt that Brazil’s footballing tradition played a part in FIFA’s choice of the country to host a World Cup for the second time, and making Brazil the venue for this year’s tournament.

For all the glory that a sporting mega-event is meant to bring the host nation, the reality is that the World Cup has its costs, too. The street protests that erupted throughout Brazil in June 2013 expressed scathing social discontent with government spending on World Cup infrastructure—partly due to FIFA’s stringent requirements—at the expense of funding for necessities such as education and health care. FIFA rules mandating the modernization of arenas, as well as related upgrades of transportation and security infrastructure, have also prompted an important debate among Brazilians about the World Cup’s impact on the country’s football tradition and fan culture. FIFA’s requirements are intended to leave a positive legacy following the tournament, by driving the host country’s social commitment towards its population. But in Brazil, such an outcome is in question.

Brazilians are divided in their opinions concerning “traditionalism” versus “modernity” inside the stadiums. Not surprisingly, many Brazilians are angry that modernization has entailed a rise in ticket prices for attending football matches—a blow to the tradition of Brazilian football’s association with the working class. Inside the stadium, Brazilian fan culture has further been affected by FIFA’s requirement for multi-use arenas constructed on an international standard. The new and refurbished stadiums, for example, are fitted with customized, individual seats. This marginalizes fans who make up a significant portion of football audiences, linked to their respective clubs, who prefer to watch games standing on their feet—a practice that enables them to experience the thrill of the match and heighten their at times choreographed support of the team as part of an energized throng. FIFA’s requirements essentially involve a radical modification of the paying audience’s social physiognomy and, consequently, the dynamic of the sport as enjoyed by many Brazilians. The requirements may make sense for a World Cup, but they are not conducive to continuous year-round play for the enjoyment of club football fans.

Magic of the Maracanã
The formation of a sporting sector does not only depend on, as suggested by the late French sociologist Pierre Bourdieu, the process of empowering its three social actors: the professionals, being mainly the athletes; the experts, such as the press; and the amateurs, the spectators and sports fans in general. In Brazil another critical factor for the autonomy of modern sport in the second half of the nineteenth century was the creation of particular spaces for the running and support of competitions.

As the popularity of football grew in Brazil, in the early decades of the twentieth century, the makeshift outdoor fields and vacant land, so important for giving birth to talented players, gave way to the construction of stadiums. These were mostly built in a circular way, designed to host official competitions on several levels: local, national, and international. Fans then paid admission fees to watch the matches.

In Brazil, stadiums have a public and private tradition. They were built by the government and not, as in some countries, privately by local clubs. At the same time, typical spectators are followers of club football, and are interested in the national and regional championships in which their teams participate. Despite the fame of the Brazilian national team, it increasingly schedules its matches overseas; that is more financially attractive for the CBF—Confederação Brasileira de Futebol (Brazilian Soccer Federation)—and sponsoring companies.

Club football fueled the popularity of the sport in cities such as Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo, but it was the Brazilian national team, after 1910, that helped articulate the sense of national identity and made football a personification of Brazil. Following friendly matches against neighboring nations, the CBD—Confederação Brasileira de Desportos (Brazilian Sports Confederation)—was created in 1914 as a private entity with power to influence government, its role was to organize regular competitions with other nations.

Brazil, Argentina, Chile, and Uruguay played in one of the first such tournaments of that decade, the South American Championship. Rio de Janeiro, then the capital of the Brazilian Republic, hosted the third edition of the championship in 1919. The event was hosted by the Fluminense Football Club, the first club in Brazil, which opened in 1902 and had football as its core activity. The Fluminense stadium was upgraded for the tournament, and expanded to accommodate up to twenty thousand spectators in two types of stands: the grandstand, an area with seating; and general admission, where fans watched the matches while standing on their feet.

Admission policy also distinguished between club members and non-members. Tickets for the standing general admission area, for example, were cheaper. Club membership was a mark of the elite in the early twentieth century, a time when football was an amateur sport played by the sons of Rio de Janeiro’s bourgeoisie and aristocracy. Photographs from the period illustrate the social refinement of club members. Brazil went on to win the 1919 South American Championship, its first continental trophy, by defeating Uruguay in the second half of extra time. Frenzied crowds poured through the center and southern districts of Rio following the match.

The culture of Brazilian football began to change in the 1930s, as the sport became professional and increasingly played by athletes from the country’s lower social classes. The expanding number of large stadiums further popularized the sport, and it became more associated with the growing working class that thronged in major cities of the southeastern region of Brazil. The state became involved in regulating competitions, by creating a federal sports law and constructing state stadiums. The first public stadium in Brazil was built in São Paulo between 1938 and 1939, and was opened in 1940 by President Getúlio Vargas. The Pacaembu—inspired by the Olympiastadion, the arena built by Hitler for the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin—could accommodate up to seventy thousand fans.

FIFA created the World Cup in 1930, thus making transcontinental matches a regular feature of the sport. Brazil participated in the first three tournaments; the 1930 finals in Uruguay, the 1934 competition in Italy, and the 1938 event in France. Due to the Second World War, the FIFA tournament was suspended for twelve years and when it resumed for its fourth edition in 1950, Brazil won the right to be the host country.

One of the conditions imposed by Jules Rimet, president of FIFA at the time, was that the arenas match the grandeur of the event. This led to the construction of the Maracanã, built between 1948 and 1950 by Rio’s city council. Five other Brazilian cities—Porto Alegre, Curitiba, São Paulo, Belo Horizonte, and Recife—provided pre-existing stadiums, mostly belonging to local clubs, with only ad hoc modifications made in preparation for the World Cup.

The Maracanã was an ambitious structure: it was the largest stadium in the world, with a capacity of 150,000 fans. It is known that during the 1950 tournament, attendance figures actually reached 200,000. Of this number, also according to official figures, some thirty thousand places were reserved for standing fans, whose affordable tickets left them exposed to the sun and rain and provided only a partial view of the playing field. These fans became rather symbolic of the anonymous football supporter, typical of the Brazilians who inhabit Rio’s slums and the city’s periphery. The oval-shaped Maracanã was divided into two levels and six internal subdivisions; on the first level, standing general admission, ordinary seating, and season ticket places; on the second level, premium seating, the grandstand, and bleachers (popular with fan groups). The media had a press box on the second level as well.

The Brazilian team delivered an outstanding performance in the 1950 World Cup, leading to high expectations among the nation’s football fans; the country was therefore left in shock when the national squad fell to Uruguay in the final. Despite the surprise and disappointment, Brazilian fans remained well mannered, according to comments in newspaper accounts of the day.

The Maracanã became the standard for Brazilian stadiums, a source of pride for Brazilian fans as well as an international icon; it was considered democratic, and economically accessible to everyone, a space for all classes. Replicas appeared between 1965 and 1975 when the Brazilian military regime built about thirty sports centers in various cities around the country. In this way the popular characteristics of football became nationalized; Brazilian stadiums were physical spaces for fans from the urban masses to follow their teams.

Brazil hosted the South American Championship in 1919, 1922, and 1949—and again in 1989 when the competition had another name, Copa América. Ten teams took part in this cup, organized by CONMEBOL—Confederação Sul-Americana de Futebol (South American Football Confederation). No major work was done modernizing the stadiums in the four venue cities. The Brazilian hosts won the tournament, thanks to the brilliance of players like Romario and Bebeto.

Brazil has also hosted the Pan American Games on two occasions, in 1963 and in 2007. São Paulo was the venue for the 1963 games, which were played at club pitches and the city stadium, Pacaembu. A residential village was built to provide accommodation to the participating athletes, later to become housing for students at the University of São Paulo. The 2007 Pan American Games were held in Rio de Janeiro. The run-up witnessed a growing debate about the legacy that would be left by the event, such as parks, sporting centers, and stadiums. Brazil’s arenas mostly date from the 1970s. The hosting of major international tournaments has regularly presented architectural challenges.

With the Maracanã having aged with time, the city of Rio embarked on the construction of a modern sports center, inspired by European arena architecture. It was built with four sectors to compartmentalize the bleachers. One of the design features of Estádio Municipal João Havelange (João Havelange Municipal Stadium), better known by its nickname, Engenhão, after the neighborhood of Engenho de Dentro, was the abolition of areas for standing fans. Engenhão proved to be a dubious bequest; unable to administer the stadium, the city leased it to Botafogo, a traditional city club. But, after structural errors were identified, it closed, without plans to re-open.

Maracanãzinho
For many years, Brazil sought to host the FIFA World Cup for a second time. Few countries have had such an opportunity—France (1938 and 1998), Mexico (1970 and 1986), Italy (1930 and 1990), and Germany (1974 and 2006). Brazil’s triumph for a fifth World Cup title in 2002 strengthened its case for another chance.

However, it is clear that the sport was not the only factor influencing the decision. Choosing Brazil had a broader political and economic significance. Known in the 1980s for international debt, hyperinflation, and high rates of unemployment, Brazil in the first decade of the twenty-first century, despite its continuing and abysmal social disparities, gradually took a place on the world stage as a force in economics and international politics.

Brazilian diplomacy was a prominent feature of the presidency of Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, who took office in 2003. At times, in partnership with the United Nations, the international popularity of the Brazilian football team was used to ease problems in other countries. For example, in 2004, Haiti was on the verge of a civil war after a coup d’état overthrew President Jean-Bertrand Aristide. The Brazilian team was dispatched to play a friendly on the Caribbean island; the presence of Ronaldinho and other Brazilian football idols on Haitian soil provided a welcome diversion and at least a temporary respite from the political tensions.

FIFA announced the selection of Brazil as the host country for the 2014 World Cup in 2007, the same year that the Pan American Games were held in Rio de Janeiro. Since then, Brazilian federal, state, and municipal authorities have regularly engaged with FIFA officials on an array of matters in interactions that have been tense on occasion. The various issues include hotel accommodation for fans and airport and ground transportation networks, but FIFA’s guidelines for adequate stadiums have generated the most controversy.

A complicating factor was Brazil’s desire, for political reasons, to spread the FIFA finals around the country’s five regions, in twelve cities in all. The challenge varied from city to city. In some places, it was necessary to build an entirely new sports arena, since the existing ones did not meet the minimum conditions as required by FIFA. In other cities, club stadiums could be used, although with dramatic spatial transformations of interiors and exteriors.

Finally, there were the public stadiums such as the Maracanã, whose history and customs clashed with FIFA’s international specifications. It would be an understatement to say that the Maracanã has undergone a makeover as the result of FIFA’s rules; it has been virtually destroyed, and the re-opened stadium is vastly different from what had existed before in the same place. The change brings to mind the total destruction of Wembley, London’s traditional stadium, built in 1923 to hold 120,000 fans. In 2003 Wembley was bulldozed to make way for a new footballing arena, which opened in 2007.

One of the notable changes is the dramatic reduction of the Maracanã’s spectator area; initially, the refurbishment was meant to bring capacity down to 100,000 people, but the work reduced it to around fifty thousand, and with it came the loss of Maracanã’s monumental character. One of the physical changes was the demolition of the stadium’s roof, in violation of the code set forth by the Instituto Estadual do Patrimônio Cultural.

Another controversy swirled around the proposed removal from the sporting grounds of a school, an Olympic-size swimming pool, a track, and a basketball court: all spaces reserved for education, leisure, and the training of amateur athletes. In their place the modernizers sought to construct a large parking area and a shopping mall. The Rio state government eventually backed off the plan.

Finally, the high cost of the Maracanã project prompted headlines about whether the cost of hosting this sporting mega-event, paid for with the public funds, has been an investment or an expense. Sports managers and project organizers considered the public-private partnership model, known by the acronym PPP, as an ideal arrangement for bearing such costs. But the fact that the cost of refurbishing the Maracanã skyrocketed to $600 million, or three times the original estimates, certainly contributed to the discontent with the Brazilian government expressed in the countrywide street protests. Brazilians now refer to the storied Maracanã as Maracanãzinho, or “little Maracanã.”

View from the Terraces
After a closure of thirty-two months, the Maracanã was reopened and the old regulars filled the new terraces on April 27 last year. The debut match was a friendly against England, and the new stadium then resumed its role as the venue for national league matches by the four big clubs in Rio de Janeiro: Botafogo, Flamengo, Fluminense and Vasco da Gama.

How do Brazilian fans like the “new” Maracanã? How do the organized supporters of Brazilian football clubs evaluate and understand the stadium’s new physical structure and its impact on this passionate culture? Views are mixed. From August 1 to October 16 last year, we conducted a survey during twenty football matches of organized supporters of the four clubs—those who wore a shirt, hat, pants, or shorts with team emblems or were simply holding a flag or musical instrument. In this non-probabilistic sample, a total of 426 questionnaires posing sixty-six questions were collected in the Maracanã bleachers and in the São Januário stadium, the home ground of Vasco da Gama. The survey was conducted on the occasion of the Brazilian Championship and the Brazilian Cup, the two major professional nationwide tournaments, both organized by the CBF.

The survey was designed to measure information such as the organized fan’s socio-demographic profile, and produce quantitative indicators to understand their relationship with football. The questionnaire also sought to understand the way in which fans showed support to their team, as well as to learn a little more about organized fans’ habits and to assess the perception of these group about the Maracanã. It is these organized supporters who have been cited in media accounts as being responsible for belligerent, unsporting behavior and violence in the stadiums—an unfortunate phenomenon that the new arena design is meant to discourage.

The survey revealed perhaps a surprising degree of approval for the new Maracanã, with 68 percent of the respondents declaring themselves satisfied with the post-refurbishment stadium. Only 8 percent of the survey participants spoke about the stadium’s infrastructure for the World Cup in a negative way, referring to it as “bad” or “poor.”

The positive assessment is greatly due to the stadium’s apparent “modernization” in its adoption of the European arena model. For example, significant changes include new access ramps inside the stadium, the clean state of the corridors, the reconfiguration of bathrooms, the lighting, the new seats with backrests, the extensive amount of internal signage, and the availability of support staff who offer guidance both in and outside of the facilities.

The degree of satisfaction increased proportionally with the fan’s age group: satisfaction was expressed by 65 percent of respondents up to 19 years of age; by 68 percent of respondents aged 20-39 years old; by 77 percent of respondents aged 40-49; and by 78 percent of respondents aged 50-59. The survey recorded similar figures—an overall 71 percent approval—in fan assessment of the Maracanã infrastructure for the World Cup; according to the perceptions of club fans in Rio, the Maracanã is good to go for the 2014 World Cup.

The Rio football fans, however, were much less satisfied when it came to the question of the new Maracanã’s suitability for expressing collective support for their team; 66 percent of respondents said that the changes had undermined the ability of fans to become excited and demonstrate their enthusiasm. Fans complained about the architectural configuration of the stands, and the elimination of standing-only areas in favor of individual fixed-chair seating. Nineteen percent said they believed that the “party” aspect of the stadium experience would improve in the coming years; another 15 percent felt the new stadium design did not affect the party aspect. In general, respondents who complained about the stadium’s capacity for facilitating collective forms of excitement and support for their team tended to be less satisfied with the new Maracanã as a whole.

Football’s Future
Football has a popular appeal that can be seen in everyday life. Brazilians endlessly discuss the sport and the teams they follow. It is a mode of sociability that establishes a national ethos, but football is not the only cause for this consensus. Football indeed reflects the structure of contemporary conflicts present in Brazilian society. Hosting the World Cup is a special moment that allows us to view and explore such conflicts.

We live in a world of globalized football, in which the spectacle of the game has modified the function and nature of stadiums. If in the past sporting arenas were required to accommodate the largest possible number of people, then in the television age, stadium size is not as crucial. The television spectator has become more important than the people who watch the sport within the stadium. Those among the working masses who personified the twentieth century spectator are no longer relevant in the ultra-modern stadiums of today. The 2014 World Cup has put this social phenomenon into focus in Brazil; its legacy will affect the future of the physical spaces around the country’s playing fields. We are left with the question: In such a changing social environment, can Brazil continue to be represented as a footballing nation in the course of the twenty-first century?

Bernardo Buarque de Hollanda is an associate professor at the School of Social Sciences of the Fundação Getúlio Vargas in São Paulo and a researcher at the Center for Research and Documentation of Brazilian Contemporary History. He is the author of two books on football in Brazil, O descobrimento do futebol: modernismo, regionalismo e paixão esportiva em José Lins do Rego and O clube como vontade e representação: o jornalismo esportivo e a formação das torcidas organizadas de futebol do Rio de Janeiro.

Jimmy Medeiros is a professor at the School of Social Sciences of the Fundação Getúlio Vargas in Rio de Janeiro and a research assistant at the Center for Research and Documentation of Brazilian Contemporary History.

How to Host a World Cup

We have been witnessing a change in the geography of international sport. Increasingly, nations from the developing world are competing to stage sporting mega-events, such as the Olympic Games and the finals of the Fédération Internationale de Football Association, or FIFA World Cup.

Beijing’s 2008 Olympic Games inaugurated the new era. In 2010, South Africa hosted the FIFA World Cup and New Delhi was the venue for the Commonwealth Games. Now it is Brazil’s turn, as the South American nation hosts the world’s two premier sporting events back to back, the FIFA World Cup this year, and the Olympic Games, to be held in Rio de Janeiro in 2016. Countries from the former Communist bloc are part of the trend, as evidenced by Russia’s hosting of the Winter Olympic Games this year and the FIFA finals in 2018, and by Ukraine and Poland co-hosting the 2012 Euro football finals. Even the tiny state of Qatar is getting into the act, having won the bid to mount the FIFA World Cup in 2022.

To grasp this sporting shift to the Global South and East, consider the Olympic Games, for instance. In its near 120-year modern history, the Games have been staged in Asia only twice prior to the 2008 Games in Beijing: Tokyo hosted the 1964 Olympics and Seoul the 1988 Games. Mexico’s 1968 Summer Olympics marks the only time that the Games have been held in Latin America—Brazil’s hosting this year is a first for the continent of South America. Thus far, there has been only one African contender for the Olympics, when the South African city of Cape Town was shortlisted by the International Olympic Committee for the 2004 Games; the bid from Athens eventually succeeded.

Growing competition among industrializing states to host mega-events reflects, on one hand, dynamics in the world economy and in the international sport sector specifically, and on the other, greater awareness about the business potential of sport. The sporting corporate landscape has significantly expanded over the years and now includes major firms spanning the fields of media and branding, broadcast, event organizing, and apparel manufacturing. Mega-events draw corporations from these fields together, and attract those from ancillary economic sectors, such as construction, transport, accommodation, and tourism. Given this, mega-events are considered platforms for the generation of capital. These kinds of events have become highly commoditized and commercialized. They are mediatized or framed in certain ways by corporations and sporting federations to heighten their popular as well as commercial allure.

Thus there is usually a strong economic narrative that underpins and rationalizes government campaigns to host mega-events. This narrative stresses the catalytic potentials: their ability to attract foreign investments; to spark domestic investment in neglected or underdeveloped areas; to boost overall economic growth; and finally, to help position a country more favorably in a competitive international environment through the construction of a particular nation brand.

It is also typical that for hosts in the Global South there are other motives beyond economic ambitions in the staging of sporting mega-events. This has to do with the kinds of states that they are and their place in the international arena. These countries that successfully canvas to host sporting mega-events share a number of features: although not fully industrialized they display rapid levels of growth and related social change. Their status as middle-income countries means that they have an expansive and growing middle class, although they are often highly stratified societies, and the pace of their advance is often associated with greater income inequalities. Many of these states are home to large deposits of valued primary resources that enable commodity-driven export growth. This, coupled with swift economic change, gives them substantial and growing influence over trajectories in the world economy.

However, their political influence often fails to match their economic influence. Although many may be powerful actors in their immediate regional sphere (Brazil in South America, South Africa in Africa, India in South Asia, and so on), and may be viewed as leaders in the developing world, they usually lack the political leverage of the major states of the Global North (in particular the United States)—at least not in the domains of international politics associated with hard power (i.e., political authority and influence over the main pillars of world power backed up by strategic military capacities). In such circumstances, hosting sporting mega-events is often used as an instrument of soft power and as a means to gain greater influence and prominence in the world system.

There are also domestic elements that constitute important subsidiary motives in staging mega-events. More often than not, the societal make-up of these countries is highly heterogeneous as far as their ethnic, racial, and class composition is concerned, which can be sources for societal tensions and outright conflict. The nature of the relationship between the state—or governing authority—and society is frequently fragile, and the legitimacy of the state or dominant political classes is often questioned or challenged. New Delhi’s hosting of the 2010 Commonwealth Games, for example, occurred in a context of vulnerability of the Indian state towards domestic insurgencies. A significant part of the Brazilian authorities’ preparations for the 2014 FIFA World Cup and the 2016 Olympic Games, furthermore, centers on neutralizing domestic challenges to the government’s sovereignty emanating from organized and ‘disorganized’ crime, the latter mostly located in the country’s infamous favelas.

In such settings the staging of mega-events takes on a dual function: to highlight to the international community the capacities of the state—to underscore the state’s sovereignty and prowess—and to reinforce the idea of the state to its own domestic audiences. Mega-events are often linked to national ideologies of modernization and are viewed by governments as vehicles to achieve comprehensive national transformation.

Viva, South Africa, Viva!
These elements were all at play in South Africa’s bid for and build up to the 2010 FIFA World Cup. Though the FIFA World Cup was, because of its magnitude, the most important sporting event ever hosted by South Africa, it was by no means the first time that the country staged a major sporting tournament.

Indeed the trend over the past two decades has therefore been for South Africa to bid for both first- and second-order events and to successfully host some key gatherings. It is not only in the sporting domain where this has been the case. The country has also hosted large United Nations meetings in the past.

The sporting events have been of particular strategic significance for the country because it enables the attainment of both international and domestic objectives. South Africa’s successful hosting of the 1995 Rugby World Cup—capped by its remarkable victory in the tournament—is perhaps most illustrative in this regard. It signaled simultaneously the country’s re-entry into the international domain, its organizational capacities, certain achievements as far as economic development was concerned, and crucially, a semblance of racial unity. The latter was memorably captured when then President Nelson Mandela appeared on the pitch following the host country’s victory wearing the green and yellow Springbok jersey bearing the number of team captain Francois Pienaar. Throughout the liberation struggle, the Springbok jersey was considered by many as an emblem of apartheid’s racism; hence Mandela’s celebration with the mostly white team signaled a new era of national reconciliation in which all population groups should participate in the construction of a unified and prosperous South Africa poised to assume its place in the international community.

Indeed, South Africa’s engagement with sporting mega-events demonstrates the point that they are of instrumental value for political actors because of the audiences they reach and the way in which they do this. Events such as the Olympics and the FIFA World Cup are successful partly because of how they are staged as media festivals, but mostly because they are spectacles that capture the popular imagination and are on a scale greater than anything we encounter in our everyday lives. The triumph and political symbolism of the 1995 Rugby World Cup—portrayed in the 2009 film Invictus starring Morgan Freeman and Matt Damon—set the tone for how South Africa’s political authorities have viewed sporting mega-events over the last two decades; as instruments to achieve larger goals.

Against this backdrop, South Africa’s bid for the 2010 FIFA World Cup reflected to a significant degree the meshing of sport, politics, diplomatic ambition, and domestic developmental objectives. When Mandela’s successor as president, Thabo Mbeki, made the country’s final submission to FIFA in Zurich in June 2004, he characterized the bid as “an African journey of hope,” and linked it to major political tasks such as democratic consolidation and the advancement of South Africa and wider Africa’s populations.

Specific objectives for the FIFA World Cup were articulated in a range of documentation by the Local Organizing Committee (LOC) and later, the South African government. The LOC set out to use the tournament “to strengthen the African and South African image, [to] promote new partnerships with the world as we stage a unique and memorable event… [and to] be significant global players in all fields of human endeavor.” The national government placed emphasis on socio-economic development, the country’s image, and its ties with the rest of the African continent. For the government, the World Cup was an opportunity “to speed up development and growth in the country so that it leaves behind a proud legacy that will benefit generations of South Africans to come.”

Since the intention was to create benefit for the wider African continent, a couple of years before the tournament took place, it was rebranded the “African World Cup,” and its official slogan became “Ke Nako (It’s Time) Celebrate Africa’s Humanity.” An official Africa Legacy Programme was developed with several objectives, namely to “support the realization of African renaissance”; to ensure that all African countries participated in the event; to further the development of African football; and to improve the international image of the continent. Therefore the ambitions for the World Cup were lofty and much was anticipated in terms of the tournament’s potential symbolic, political, and economic legacies.

Costs Versus Benefits
In a context where so much is wagered politically on a sporting event, what are the costs, gains, and long-term impacts they could have? The case of South Africa is instructive. There were a number of significant challenges that the country’s authorities and planners faced during the tournament’s planning and preparation phases that cast into doubt whether the myriad expectations would be met. The first concerned the very critical question of whether South Africa had the required infrastructural, physical, and human resource capacity. In the years leading to the tournament, there was much skepticism in the international community over South Africa’s chances of successfully hosting the tournament and completing all preparations on time; on the potential effects of crime; and the possibility that political instability may jeopardize the event. There was some speculation that the event would be moved to another location.

Such skepticism was not fully unwarranted. In preparation for the World Cup, much emphasis was placed on the timely development of three types of infrastructure: the competition venues/stadiums; transportation; and tourist accommodation. Of the ten stadiums that were used for matches, six were newly built or refurbished, while four existing stadiums—used in the past mostly for rugby—were upgraded. All of the stadiums were completed on time, but this was often accompanied by excessive cost escalation and persistent allegations of corruption around tendering processes. The development of road and other transport infrastructure that was undertaken as part of the tournament—many host cities have used the World Cup as an opportunity to develop new urban commuter networks—also saw delays and increases in costs. Before the event, it was not certain whether the country’s tourist facilities would be sufficient to accommodate the expected overseas visitor flow.

The possibility that the tournament could be marred by social unrest constituted a second cluster of challenges. A growing tide of civic action questioned the real social benefit of hosting the World Cup and thereby threatened to derail the event. Authorities had to consider the potential repercussions for the country’s image as well as long-term political fallout from a failed tournament.

As such, the question of whether the World Cup could spark national pride and be the basis for social cohesion became all the more important. There were concerted efforts to re-create the euphoria and sense of national unity that came in the wake of South Africa’s victory in the 1995 Rugby World Cup. For instance, national promotion and loyalty campaigns led by the public sector—national and host city governments—tried to popularize the World Cup in the months before the tournament. Certain days of the week were declared national football days (“Football Fridays”). On these days, citizens were encouraged to wear the colors of the national football team, known as Bafana Bafana, and to brandish World Cup paraphernalia. Programs were held at schools to raise awareness of the event among youths. During the tournament itself, there was a noteworthy level of domestic support for the national and even other African football teams. The tribal horn known as the vuvuzela—reviled by foreign teams and fans but very popular among South Africans from all racial and class backgrounds—became a symbol of an ascendant and harmonious South Africa, another expression of the metaphoric “Rainbow Nation.”

From the perspective of the government, the World Cup successfully achieved the historical mission towards racial harmony. The incumbent president, Jacob Zuma, heralded the event as “one of post-apartheid South Africa’s greatest achievements,” and noted that “the wearing of Bafana Bafana jerseys and the display of the rainbow flag everywhere in our country by patriotic South Africans will forever be part of our heritage… [these national colors] unite us and strengthen solidarity.”

Yet, the durability or even authenticity of these expressions of unity, and what they mean in a country where racial divisions persist, are unclear. A critical view advanced by some of the country’s prominent civil society leaders and intellectuals sees the World Cup celebrations as a short-lived moment of “fake nationhood” without real substance or indications of real societal transformation. It is noteworthy that in the years since the tournament South Africa has been plagued by record levels of civil unrest and labor strikes related to demands for service delivery and higher wages. These protests have, worryingly, sometimes been met with violent responses by the police, as witnessed by the widely publicized killing of scores of striking miners at a platinum facility in late 2012. All this suggests a low sense of national cohesion, with race, along with class, constituting major factors of division. Indeed, expectations before the FIFA tournament that it could recreate the euphoria of the 1995 Rugby World Cup never seemed to have materialized.

The economic benefits of the tournament are also subject to question. Without a doubt, the 2010 FIFA World Cup was the largest spending occasion in South Africa’s modern history, with significant volumes of public and private capital mobilized. According to official sources, national authorities spent around $3 billion on the construction and upgrade of stadiums and event-related infrastructure. A further $1.7 billion was spent on policing, marketing, and on the opening and closing ceremonies. A few years before the tournament, the national government also launched a major infrastructure development program, which though linked to the World Cup, was meant to spearhead broad-based development. This program saw around $85 billion spent on the upgrade of ports, roads, railways, and energy sources. When one considers that the spending of capital on a range of hard and soft infrastructure was done not only by the national government, but also provincial and city governments, as well as local rural municipalities, and included private investments in a variety of sectors, the total cost of spending for the tournament is inestimable. Hence, it is important to ask what kinds of return the event has achieved, and whether the initial rationalizations used during the bid stage, in particular arguments concerning the event’s potential economic and employment benefits, have been justified.

Soon after the tournament drew to a close, it was clear that the event was a success as far as FIFA’s ambitions were concerned; that is, as a global media event and in terms of revenue created for the international sporting federation. The 2010 World Cup generated television receipts of $2.4 billion and total revenue of $3.6 billion, making it the most profitable FIFA finals so far.

Tourist arrivals for the World Cup, however, also considered a proxy for the success of the tournament, were one-third lower than predicted, and tourist receipts were about 20 percent below what was predicted. Thus, while the event had clear economic benefits for FIFA, the gains for South Africa’s economy were less apparent. In the short term, economic sectors such as construction benefited from lucrative tenders related to infrastructure development for the event. However, independent studies show that this does not seem to have led to widespread or permanent employment in that sector, nor does it appear that other economic sectors saw notable rises in employment or growth.

Instead, on measures of GDP output over the past five years, South Africa’s economy first contracted—it was in recession for the whole of 2009—and mustered fragile recovery with growth of 2-3 percent since the World Cup hosting. The major reason for this pattern is the impact of the global economic crisis, which South Africa primarily weathered through the export of mining commodities. This performance appears sclerotic when compared to the economic growth rates of other emerging powers. More significant is the fact that the South African economy shed around one million jobs during the recession, which it only partially recovered thereafter. The country’s official unemployment rate has remained at an unsustainable level of around 25 percent and has even marginally increased over the past two years. It would seem that rather than reversing South Africa’s fortunes, as was promised prior to the tournament, the World Cup had a negligible impact on the basic structure of the South African economy.

It is not surprising that competing narratives have arisen around the issue of the mega-event’s long-term benefits and costs. One narrative, advanced by the national government, persistently emphasizes the World Cup’s significance for the country’s agenda of socio-economic transformation. Another, looser narrative, arising from the ranks of civil society, questions the distributional benefits and possible debt implications. There have been striking similarities between South Africa’s FIFA World Cup experience and Brazil’s preparations for the 2014 finals. No doubt, Brazilians, too, will eventually find themselves debating the value of hosting mega-events.

Scarlett Cornelissen is a professor of political science at Stellenbosch University, where she teaches international relations. She is co-editor of Africa and International Relations in the 21st Century and Sport Past and Present in South Africa: (Trans)forming the Nation.

Boom or Bust

Darling of the new global economic order for much of the last decade, Brazil has fallen off the pedestal in the past few years. Broadly speaking, this bout of pessimism is partly due to the recurrent habit among international relations pundits and market commentators of viewing the world in terms of inexorable—and even faster—power transitions among major powers (or major markets). Until yesterday the countries of the BRICS grouping—Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa—were construed as the building blocks of a new global order and a good place to put your money. Now, following the ebb and flow of financial markets, BRICS appears to have lost much of its appeal, opening the way for other catchy acronyms, such as MIST (Mexico, Indonesia, South Korea, and Turkey) or MINT (Mexico, Indonesia, Nigeria, and Turkey), to have their fifteen minutes in the spotlight.

Beneath the ever-changing and tenuous layers of tea leaves used to foretell geostrategic scenarios or suggest promising investment opportunities, lies a much more complex story of a country that has had its share of boom-and-bust cycles. Whether Brazil is undergoing yet another one this time around begs a more insightful examination of recent political and economic events. Uncovering some factors behind these events may allow us to have a clearer view of the country’s trajectory.

The Middle Class Trap
Brazil’s rise in the last decade or so had much to do with the favorable winds of the global economy, powered mainly by a boom in commodities—Brazil is a leading exporter of beef, sugar, corn, and soy—and Chinese growth. This growth cycle led to years of sustainable expansion of Brazil’s economy and a material increase in the country’s standard of living. A political by-product of that growth cycle was years of strong presidential popularity, especially during President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva’s years in office from 2003 to 2011 and through much of President Dilma Rousseff’s term since then. The tantalizing curse of the perennial “country of the future” was broken and Brazil appeared to finally catch up with its promising destiny.

But now, as the global economy slows down, the tide appears to be shifting for Brazil, which risks putting an end to both of these promising economic and political gains. One telling incident that may serve to reinforce this assumption occurred last year. Protests that began in the city of São Paulo in June 2013 over a modest bus-fare hike unexpectedly swelled and took on new proportions to become Brazil’s largest demonstrations in nearly two decades. Much like the events in Tahrir Square in Egypt and Taksim Square in Turkey, millions of people went to the streets of Brazil’s major cities to voice their discontent with the country’s leaders.

There are many similarities between the urban movements in the Middle East and those in Brazil, but an important contrast needs to be clarified. While what generally became known as the Arab Spring consisted mainly of movements against government oppression, recent protests in Brazil were chiefly against corruption and what is perceived as government incompetence. The former usually targets the head of state and the ruling party while the latter is more diffuse, targeting all levels of government and blaming every major political party for many years of having disregarded the quality of public services.

It is difficult to pinpoint a single trigger for these demonstrations, but a demographic shift of major repercussions has been building over Brazil’s political landscape in the last several years. Nearly a decade of rapid economic expansion in Brazil—and the accompanying rise in consumption—played a role in worsening a few urban problems, such as traffic congestion and pollution, which have started to generate dissatisfaction in society as a whole toward government officials. But more importantly, years of sustainable economic growth in many emerging markets and in Brazil have also led to the rise of a new middle class, which has high political expectations and demands.

What may have prompted protests to erupt at this time is the fact that the people are finally coming to terms with the cost of hosting major international sporting events. The lead-up tournament to the World Cup, the Confederations Cup held last June, unveiled a contrast between beautiful and expensive stadiums and lacking urban infrastructure. But the backdrop to the story is that an increasing proportion of Brazil’s middle class is focusing on a quality of life agenda. Newly enfranchised Brazilians don’t just want cellphones—they need cellphones that work well. They don’t just want cars—they want cars that can ride on streets free of traffic jams and potholes. In other words, governing becomes less a matter of facilitating access to goods and more an issue of improving the services that make those goods more useful. It is not only about cash transfer programs and creating jobs, but also about providing better education, healthcare, and public transportation.

The protest movement has much more to do with a more comprehensive expression of discontent with the quality of public services and corruption that has slowly been building up from the recently enfranchised middle and upper urban middle classes than with the country’s current sluggish economic cycle. From a public opinion perspective, the protest movement looks to have been a catalyst to make latent discontent over these issues much more salient.

Presidential Popularity
From a political perspective, this revolution will translate into governance challenges for the years to come. Leaders who were broadly bolstered by a decade of unprecedented economic growth face new demands from a rapidly changing society, and have fewer resources with which to respond given the slowdown in global and domestic economic activity. In other words, looking forward, Brazil’s new leaders will have to keep delivering more to this new middle class, but with less.

This new political moment is already manifesting itself in terms of loss of popular support for President Rousseff and her administration—her approval ratings fell from the high 70s before June to somewhere in the low 40s after the protests, on a binary approve-disapprove scale. Pundits were quick to look at the dramatic drop in President Rousseff’s approval ratings and surmise that she was in real political trouble, with her prospects for re-election in this year’s October ballot looking increasingly dim. Nevertheless, while Brazil is headed to a more competitive electoral cycle this year, President Rousseff is still the frontrunner and likely to clinch a second term.

The reason stems from the fact that most people underappreciate how tremendously high Rousseff’s starting point was in the polls, and that from 2006 through 2013 Brazil has gone through a political “super-cycle” characterized by absurdly high presidential approval ratings. It is important to have some historical perspective. From 1994 through 2006, which encompassed President Fernando Henrique Cardoso’s two terms (1995−2003) in office and Lula’s first term in office (20032007), “strong” governments usually had approval ratings that fluctuated anywhere from 30 percent to 40 percent. Still, both presidents won re-election.

But from 2006 onward, Lula’s—and then Rousseff’s—approval ratings skyrocketed to 70 percent or 80 percent. The reason is well known—a phenomenal economic growth cycle and expansion of the size of the middle class, which lead to a material increase in the standards of living of a large swathe of the population. Growth slowed during Rousseff’s term—which started in 2011—but unemployment and wage growth remained robust. As a result President Rousseff’s numbers, although relatively lower, remained considerably high—above 60 percent—throughout much of her presidency until the June protests, when they dropped close to 40 percent. Since then her numbers have been rebounding slowly.

The big picture that emerges is that the political super-cycle that has characterized Brazilian politics since 2006 is over. Not only is Brazil’s economy going to continue to struggle with relatively low growth (not far from 2 percent GDP expansion in 2013 and 2014) and higher inflation (close to 6 percent in 2013 and 2014), but middle class demands and discontent will catch up to politicians. President Rousseff will probably not rebound to her prior levels of popular support before the election, and it looks like Brazil is returning to a more “normal” and competitive era of politics.

Demise of the Rest?
These economic, social, and political transformations of recent years spur broader questions on Brazil’s status and future role in global affairs. The problem has less to do with the idea of power transition itself, but with the excessive expectations that followed the global financial meltdown of 2008−09. While the U.S. and other developed economies were in a downward spiral, emerging countries such as the BRICS kept growing and shouldering the weight of the global economy with them. To many, this process was a harbinger of a tectonic shift in geopolitics, or the “rise of the rest”.

Brazil was never at the center of this process, at least from a geopolitical perspective, but several years of sustained economic growth gave more international visibility to the B in BRICS. Despite persistent social inequalities, the overall domestic situation (political, economic, and social) in the country has improved considerably, and Brazil, like other large emerging powers, became more assertive regionally and globally. As such, the country started to redefine its own national interests in ever-expanding terms. Brazilian multinationals conquered markets, more and more immigrants began flocking to Brazil for a better life, and decision-makers started to assertively flex their muscles on the global stage.

But three years of disappointing economic growth and questionable policymaking have sharply deteriorated expectations, not only towards Brazil but also with respect to other key emerging countries. As a result, broken BRICS or the “demise of the rest” have become the newest fads in pundit-land jargon to the point of being replaced by other opportunistic acronyms.

One of the many problems with these premature assessments is that they tend to view international relations fundamentally as a kind of a zero-sum game. If one country or market is down, the other has to be up. Not a lot of attention is given to the fact that some (but certainly not all) economic challenges that emerging markets endured in the past two years were influenced by ongoing difficulties in developed economies. Furthermore, part of the frustration has to do with misperception or excessive expectations. The BRICS never represented a new and emerging world order. What glued these countries together were not shared viewpoints of what the world should look like, but a slight overlapping of individual strategies aimed at better enhancing each country’s international standing.

The economic situation in Brazil today is unarguably less favorable than before and is likely to remain so for coming years—at least when compared to the first decade of the 2000s. And for a country with limited military resources situated in a relatively nonstrategic region (from a U.S. perspective), global power projection is predominantly a function of long term economic activity. As such, Japan of the 1980s and even Brazil of the early 1970s serve as cautionary tales of countries that unsuccessfully seek a path to great power.

But while it is always prudent to talk about rising powers with a grain of salt, there are reasons to believe that the current pessimism toward Brazil is overstated. Despite all the problems, Brazil continues to be a vibrant democracy. The country also has a very promising future when it comes to energy resources, both fossil fuel and renewable. Furthermore, while growth is lackluster for now, unemployment remains at very low levels and the majority of the population is better off than they were a decade ago. Finally, the growth of the middle class is a sign that demographics have structurally shifted, with many—and many yet unfelt—repercussions to Brazil’s political and public policy landscape.

Investing in the Future
As President Rousseff entered her fourth year in office, politicians in Brasília and across the country began focusing on the presidential elections in October. The candidates will be campaigning in a very different context than that of 2010, a year in which the economy grew 7.5 percent and the majority of Brazilians were optimistic about the future. Although the large demonstrations have diminished, the issues raised by protesters, including demands for higher-quality public services, will feature prominently in party platforms.

Moreover, the climate of plenty that prevailed during much of the last decade generated complacency about structural reforms while discouraging debate about the appropriate role for the state in the economy and where public resources would be best invested. The return of economic constraints, however, and the tradeoffs posed by limited resources—both in terms of money and political capital—promise to change that calculus in this year’s campaign. Much of the electoral debate will revolve around Brazil’s diminishing international credibility and the risk of the country retroceding to a not-so-distant past of discredit and instability.

The foundation of Brazil’s macroeconomic stability—and ensuing international credibility—was put in place in the mid-to-late 1990s under former President Cardoso. Since then, the economy’s stability has been based on three policies: an operationally autonomous central bank pursuing an inflation target, a floating exchange rate, and primary fiscal surpluses that are used to pay down public debt. These policies were maintained during Lula’s two terms, despite his having criticized them while in opposition to the Cardoso administration. Lula’s decision to maintain Cardoso’s policies reflects the maturation of the Brazilian left, which has come to understand that maintaining macroeconomic stability is a prerequisite for political success.

But the commodity and consumption booms of the years between 2004 and 2010—the economic super-cycle—had its effect on policymakers and their incentives. The “Era of Plenty” not only pushed Brazil’s structural reform agenda down the government’s ladder of priorities but also generated incentives for a more complacent macroeconomic management and greater state intervention in the economy. Public banks swelled in size, generous credit lines boosted consumption, and many sectors of the economy saw competition diminish as a result of protectionism and an industrial policy that favored domestic players over foreign ones. Rousseff’s critics in the opposition and elsewhere argue that these policy options—her tolerance for higher inflation and the deterioration of the government’s fiscal accounts—represent the abandonment of the Cardoso/Lula legacy.

While there are elements of truth in this, the broader political and economic context suggests that it would be wrong to project the trends of the last few years into the future. With both economic and political super-cycles coming to a close, Brazil’s policies are likely to move in a more constructive—and less statist—direction, regardless of who wins the election. The overarching hypothesis when it comes to economic policymaking in Brazil, is that when economic and political restrictions become more salient, the government tends to respond in a more constructive fashion. Under different administrations over at least the two last decades, the quality of policymaking has tended to improve when Brazil is faced with a harsher economic environment. Now this logic tends to be reinforced by the growing demands of a new middle class.

This is, however, a process that tends to be incremental and vary from sector to sector rather than being an immediate or even a perfectly direct correlation. After all, while it is safe to say that Brazil is entering a less promising phase under current forecasts for global and domestic economic growth, the country’s political and economic structures are nowhere near the brink of collapse. Recent popular demonstrations posed no threat to Brazil’s political institutions. And the economy, while overall in a less favorable situation, has not deteriorated into a recession or a default-prone environment. The risks, therefore, are not high enough to generate enough incentives for a more meaningful response.

Yet the Rousseff government has been able to implement a few market-friendly adjustments in order to respond to a deteriorating market sentiment over the past few years. This effort, however, has been mired by poor execution and low government credibility. Signs of this slow shift can be found in the government’s aggressive turn to attract the private sector to invest heavily in transportation infrastructure, with a multibillion-dollar concessions package to build and revamp roads, railways, ports, and airports. But much of the success of this incremental strategy will be predicated on Rousseff’s own political standing and the pace of economic activity. If the country’s economic recovery remains tepid, such slow shift toward more constructive policies will probably not be enough to stem growing pessimism toward Brazil.

In this sense, Brazil’s propensity to “correct the course” will most likely intensify as these challenges escalate. Changes will be driven by necessity rather than conviction. This process, however, is more likely to gain momentum after the presidential election and during the next administration that starts in 2015. Among the expected items of a new “adjustment agenda” will be more transparency to macroeconomic management, especially when it comes to fiscal policy; scaling down the government’s presence in some sectors of the economy; unwinding of trade protectionism and resuming trade negotiations with major economies; and engaging more with the private sector to boost investments. In addition to the problems aforementioned, a laundry list of other structural reforms is long overdue, such as energy reform and measures to lower and simplify the cost of doing business in Brazil.

Any outcome of the upcoming presidential election will produce significant changes in Brazil. A victory by any of the major opposition candidates would most likely accelerate this shift towards more constructive policies. If Rousseff wins re-election, this shift is still expected, but at a slower pace. Until then, and despite the visibility that will come from hosting the World Cup, Brazil is likely to remain relatively lackluster on the global stage, both from a market and geopolitical perspective. But if this shift is confirmed, it won’t be long until the B in BRICS is attached to another catchy acronym once again.

João Augusto de Castro Neves is senior analyst for Latin America at the Eurasia Group. He previously served as a legislative advisor in the Brazilian congress and as a senior analyst at Instituto Brasileiro de Estudos Políticos in Rio de Janeiro. He is a contributing editor of The Brazilian Economy. On Twitter: @BrazilPolitics.

Protests, Protests, Everywhere

On the morning of June 6 last year, thousands of Brazilians took to the streets to protest a rise in bus fares. Within a few days, the demonstrations encompassed other demands and grew in size, drawing more than a million people to the streets of Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo, and other large cities. Many of the issues raised by protesters are related to social inequality, current transformations in the country’s major cities, and the resilience of authoritarianism in Brazilian politics and society. It is also important to understand how the demonstrations may be related to globalization—that is, to the street protests that have occurred throughout the world since 2011, as well as to Brazil’s sprint on the international stage as host of the world’s premier sporting events, the football World Cup this year, and the Olympic Games in 2016.

The “June Journeys,” as Brazilians dubbed the demonstrations, started in the city of São Paulo, where the Movimento Passe Livre (MPL), or Free Ride Movement, called for a protest against a bus fare increase. The movement emerged in 1999 in the city of Florianópolis, but only in 2005 was the MPL officially created in a meeting in Porto Alegre. The movement had led mass protests against bus fare increases in Salvador in 2003 and Florianópolis in 2004 and 2005.

Between two and four thousand people participated in the demonstration in São Paulo, which ended in brutal police repression. On the same day, about two hundred people protested bus fares in Rio de Janeiro as well, also violently suppressed by police. The following days then witnessed an unprecedented escalation of demonstrations, which rapidly drew more popular support. Initially, media coverage treated the protesters harshly, but things changed when journalists became victims of the police action.

On June 10 and again on June 13, new demonstrations erupted in both cities. This time, the demands expressed a much broader agenda, which ranged from better public services (housing, education, and health care) to calls for political accountability. The latter soon became the main demand for the majority of protesters.

Another conspicuous focus was the 2014 Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) World Cup, with protesters criticizing the public spending on football stadiums for the showcase event. Brazilian federal and state administrations have been pouring a lot of money into stadiums and related infrastructural works, but many have questioned the large investments and whether they would bring real benefits for the majority of the population. The Confederations Cup, a key event organized by FIFA, was taking place in several Brazilian cities during the month of June, exactly a year before the kickoff of the World Cup in São Paulo.

The massive June Journeys were not led by any political party or social movement. They were organized through social networks, and the crowds were not following any distinguishable leadership. The political expression was random; there were no unified chants or banners. The escalation of police repression helped generate popular support for the protests. On June 17, hundreds of thousands of citizens took to the streets of many cities once again. More violence ensued, with some demonstrators trying to break into Rio de Janeiro’s city hall building. A wave of police brutality spread through different neighborhoods of Rio as policemen pursued protesters relentlessly, randomly throwing tear gas and attacking people who were not even involved in the demonstrations.

Yet another round of demonstrations surged through Brazil on June 20. Thousands of people hit the streets of cities in northern and southern Brazil, such as Manaus, Recife, Belém, Salvador, Florianópolis, and Porto Alegre. Protests took place even in medium-sized cities like Uberlândia and Campinas. The numbers were impressive: officially, 100,000 protesters in São Paulo and in Recife and 300,000 in Rio. Repressive measures were harsh in many of these cities, and in Rio de Janeiro the police used cavalry and rubber bullets against the protesters.

Where is Amarildo?
In Rio, a particular sequence of events began on June 21 when nearly five hundred people gathered in front of the private residence of Cabral Filho, the governor of the state of Rio de Janeiro. In Brazil, the police come under the authority of state governors, and Cabral was seen as supporting police repression and being dismissive of any criticism of police actions. Once again, police and protesters clashed, and some demonstrators proceeded to riot in the wealthy oceanfront neighborhoods of Ipanema and Leblon. Local residents and the media were sharply critical of the violence, but this reaction did not prevent the continuous demonstrations in front of the governor’s home, and a permanent camp was established there.

After the June events, contention and bitterness continued to hang in the air. On July 14, a resident disappeared in Rocinha, one of the biggest favelas, or slums, in Rio. Amarildo Gomes da Silva, a forty-three-year-old bricklayer, was stopped by policemen and taken to a police station in order to answer questions; the police say he was released but he has never been seen in public again. Some have pointed the finger at the Pacifying Police Units, or UPPs, part of a policy promoted by Cabral to end gang control of the favelas. The Amarildo case became a meme in social networks; graffiti artists sprawled “Where is Amarildo?” on walls all over the country.

In August, teachers in Rio took to the streets to demand better pay and more autonomy in the workplace. They rejected plans to impose a “meritocratic” system for evaluating the performance of instructors. The union strike drew popular support and new demonstrations took place in front of the headquarters of local government. Additionally, dozens of young people broke into the city council to call for an investigation of the transport system. A commission was formally established to investigate bus companies and their financial schemes, but the elected representatives who were in charge of the formal investigation were regarded as close allies of the mayor, Eduardo Paes, and of the bus companies. This drew criticism and triggered small but persistent demonstrations either within the premises of the city council or in front of its building.

The political fury of the June Journeys shocked the world and frightened the country’s political elite. On June 21, the day after the massive countrywide protests, President Dilma Rousseff finally addressed the nation in a televised speech. “The voice of the streets,” she said, would be heard. Rousseff proposed a package of reforms for upgrading education, health and transportation services, and also criticized what she called “a small minority of violent and authoritarian protesters.”

One can say that a second phase of the movement had begun, with three characteristics: a fragmentation of the demonstrations, which would be focused on more specific issues and organized by different groups; a decrease in the number of people participating in the demonstrations; and a regionalization of the protest agenda, especially in the city of Rio de Janeiro.

Right to the City
The rapid spread of civic anger is rooted in the very nature of the Brazilian political system and its relation to society. Between 1964 and 1985, Brazil was under authoritarian rule, established after a civil-military coup in April 1964.

Since 1985, Brazil has had six direct elections, but only in 2003 did one of the elected presidents, Fernando Henrique Cardoso, manage to finish his term and to peacefully hand over power. His successor was Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, the leader of the left-wing Workers’ Party. Despite having close political aides implicated in the vote-buying Mensalão scandal in 2005, he was re-elected in 2006. In 2010, at the height of his popularity, Lula chose Dilma Rousseff, his former chief of staff, as his successor within the party, and Rousseff eventually was elected president with 56 percent of the popular vote in a second round.

During Cardoso’s first administration from 1995 to 1999, Brazil managed to curb inflation and promote social and economic reforms. During Lula’s terms inequality was significantly diminished, the minimum wage grew and more people found employment. However, Brazil is still largely an unequal society, with very poor public services, high levels of urban violence and serious problems in housing and education. Democracy is a very recent feature of the Brazilian political system, and even twenty-five years after the adoption of a civilian constitution, a lack of basic rights and police violence is still the reality for most Brazilians. The party system showed remarkable stability by Latin American standards, but it has not been successful in tackling people’s dissatisfaction with the failures of democracy.

In this context, protests became part of Brazil’s political culture. In 1984, Brazilian citizens took to the streets to demand a direct election for president; in 1992, they marched for the impeachment of Fernando Collor de Mello, the first directly elected president after military rule, who was mired in an influence-peddling scandal; and in 1997, they protested Cardoso’s privatization program. Social movements have also been active in Brazil, in particular the Landless Workers’ Movement (MST), which managed to organize large demonstrations during the second half of the 1990s.

The June Journeys bear similarities to as well as differences from previous social and protest movements. From the beginning, the latest protests were attended mostly by young people who rejected political parties and were also not affiliated with social movements. Social movements and left-wing parties also took to the streets, but they were definitely not leading the way. Sometimes they were even targeted by the protesters—such as the leftists carrying red flags who were beaten by a mob on June 20. However, soon afterwards, political parties and social movements returned to the demonstrations, claiming their right to be in the streets. An adversarial dynamic among the protests pitted the new actors, using the slogan “the giant has awoken,” against the old actors who claimed to have “never slept.”

Rejection of organized politics is not new in Brazil. At the end of the 1970s, when civil society was slowly emerging after the peak of military regime oppression and violence, grassroots organizations criticized both the existing political parties and the state while struggling for basic public services and democracy. The “new unionism” movement, which came to life in the periphery of São Paulo, rejected old labor organizations in Brazil, which were seen as too close to state power. Autonomy from either the state or the political system was a major political goal for different organizations in civil society at that time, and though in the long run the democratization process helped institutionalize such concepts, this discourse of “newness” showed remarkable resilience in Brazilian political culture.

New protest tactics emerged during the June Journeys. While previous demonstrations led by the left involved chants, flags, and banners that mostly expressed the political agenda of the left, the young crowds in 2013 created their own slogans. “If the fares don’t drop, Rio will stop!” went one. Said another: “Call me World Cup and give me some money!” The protesters did not follow clear leaders, and the routes for the demonstrations could change according to the mood of people. Some argue that social media was the major reason for these innovations. Facebook and Twitter were indeed widely used for scheduling demonstrations, and pictures and videos captured during the events challenged mainstream media accounts. Moreover, social media was crucial for channeling dissatisfaction and exposing the protests for a larger audience.

One striking difference from previous forms of political protest was the emergence of the so-called Black Bloc tactics; groups of protesters covering their faces engaged in violent clashes with police. At first, these episodes of violence seemed to be random but as the demonstrations began to decrease, the role of small groups of people wearing black masks became more visible. With no apparent leadership, the so-called Black Blocs bore anarchist symbols and focused their acts of violence on targets such as banks and shops. Breaking windows and looting were predominant activities, as well as provoking the police.

Many features of the June Journeys were common to previous forms of political protest, however. For instance, mainstream media remained a relevant actor in framing the events and providing legitimacy to the demonstrations. During the month of June, media pundits tried their best to support the protests while at the same time condemning the violence. Finally, social movements were always present in the demonstrations. MPL itself is a social movement: it is a grassroots organization, with a specific agenda (public transport) and a political strategy based on mass demonstrations.

The crowds targeted corruption and the lack of accountability as two main issues owing in part to long-term disenchantment with the shortcomings of democracy and the political system. But in identifying new trends, it is evident that the urban question has come to the forefront. It is no coincidence that the protests were sparked by a rise in bus fares. Poor public transport, the high cost of living, police violence, and gentrification triggered the revolt and helped to draw millions of people to the streets.

Despite economic advances, inequality is still very deep in Brazilian society. Lula’s economic growth performance was strongly based on an urbanization process that made life in big cities very expensive. Workers commuting to their jobs spend from three to five hours in traffic every day. Gentrification of downtown districts is pushing poor people to distant areas that are not entirely urbanized. Preparations for the coming mega-events such as the World Cup are accelerating this process; many poor neighborhoods suffer high eviction rates. Researchers have been calling attention to the growing commodification of urban life in major cities, as people have been struggling with bad public services such as health and education and still can’t afford the rising costs of the real estate market.

This had sparked some isolated reactions, mostly by poor communities that were organizing even before the June demonstrations. However, in June many of these issues resonated with a bigger audience in the protests. By the same token, police violence, a common feature of Brazilian society, especially in regard to how authorities manage the use of public space and the rights of poor people to it, turned into one of the main grievances of the June protesters.

It is thus no surprise that the “right to the city” (as proposed by the French Marxist philosopher Henri Lefebvre, the right to build collectively a renewed urban life) and the “de-militarization of police” were issues addressed by the protesters. While the coming mega-events are increasing the commodification of city services, they are also providing a unique political opportunity for social movements and citizens who want public attention. The international press coverage of the June demonstrations was hailed as a victory by protesters in social networks and regarded with deep concern by authorities since it could “drive away tourists and investors.”

Global Revolution?
Researchers are beginning to present analyses to explain the wave of protests around the world, perhaps notably starting with the Arab Spring, which began in Tunisia in December 2010. Let us examine more closely the Indignants protests in Spain in 2011, and the Occupy Wall Street phenomenon, a series of demonstrations in the United States in that year. Is there a theory that links such events in such different countries, that explains this new cycle of global mobilizations?

The Indignants Movement, also known as 15-M Movement, is marked by a series of demonstrations against the austerity policy that followed the economic crisis in Spain. The crisis had severe effects such as high unemployment rates (especially among the youth), welfare cuts, and bank foreclosures. The Spanish media stated that between 6.5 million and eight million Spaniards have participated in these protests.

Occupy Wall Street was the name given to the two-month occupation of Zuccotti Park, in the heart of Manhattan’s Wall Street district, by citizens protesting economic inequalities in the capitalist system. After demonstrators were forced out of the park and subsequent attempts to re-occupy it failed, many of the people who were in Zuccotti started to occupy banks, corporate headquarters, board meetings, and college and university campuses.

Despite some differences, both movements are defined by similar repertoires of action: the strong presence of young protesters; the use of social networks to mobilize protesters and public opinion; the rejection of traditional political institutions; and the use of nonviolent strategies, such as the occupation of public spaces (that is the reason why some scholars proposed the term “occupy social movements” to label them and other demonstrations). Some of these characteristics could be found in the Brazilian demonstrations of 2013 (and in the protests that took place in Arab countries as well).

The political program of 15-M and Occupy is a subject of some debate. Sidney Tarrow, a social movement scholar, argues that Occupy Wall Street “had no specific political agenda.” However, the majority of analysts seem to agree that economic recession was a significant underlying cause. The decline in the standards of living, the poor quality of existing jobs and, most of all, the growing levels of social inequality and the erosion of the welfare state due to neoliberal deregulations of labor markets are pointed to as the structural reasons behind the global mobilizations. Other analysts, notably geographer David Harvey in his 2012 book Rebel Cities: From the Right to the City to the Urban Revolution, have spotlighted the urban crisis as a common factor.

Broad theories do not fully explain the June Journeys in Brazil. The main difference is a striking one: Brazil is not in recession and its current rate of unemployment is a relatively manageable 5 percent or so (compared to Spain’s 26 percent, for example). However, there are some similarities that make a good case for those who claim that the June Journeys are part of a global wave of unrest.

First, although inequality is diminishing and the median income is rising, the Brazilian protesters expressed their dissatisfaction with the lack of access to quality public goods and services, such as education, health care, and housing. Demonstrations in the Global North also addressed this problem, though from a different perspective (cuts in welfare). Living conditions in big Brazilian cities were also a driving force behind the demonstrations. People were angry about how their lives were not changing (or were changing for the worse) despite the huge investments made by all levels of the administration in great infrastructural works. As we know, commodification and gentrification are now global problems, affecting Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo as well as New York and Madrid. Finally, the demonstrations targeted the political system itself, which is widely regarded by Brazilian citizens as lacking accountability. This seems to us a key concern for protesters around the globe, which is (or could be?) a symptom of the shortcomings of liberal democracy. It remains to be seen whether this wave of global unrest will help improve the state of democracy in the world.

João Marcelo Ehlert Maia is an associate professor of sociology at the School of Social Sciences of the Fundação Getúlio Vargas in Rio de Janeiro. He has contributed to International Sociology,Global South Sephis, and Brazilian Journal of Social Sciences.

Lia de Mattos Rocha
is an associate professor of sociology at the State University of Rio de Janeiro. Her research concentrates on social movements, urban segregation, and violence.

From Syria to São Paulo

Official diplomatic discourse plays an important role in forging a national ésprit des corps among bureaucrats and consolidating an international image of the country. A dominant theme of Brazilian diplomatic discourse is the legacy of “ten peaceful borders that allowed a century of uninterrupted peace,” achieved by José Maria da Silva Paranhos Júnior, the Barão do Rio Branco, as foreign ministerin the period from 1902 to 1912. The Barão—or Baron— is an iconic figure; one of the main avenues of Rio de Janeiro and the prestigious school that trains Brazilian diplomats in Brasília are named after him, and his image is emblazoned on Brazilian currency. Other recurring themes include universalism and national dignity. And in recent years, the “Brazilian tradition” of coexistence has taken on increasing importance.

The notion that Brazil’s Arab and Jewish communities are fully integrated into society, and enjoy harmonious relations, has been commonplace in Brazilian official discourse for decades. Today, the coexistence narrative helps drive and justify a more active Brazilian foreign policy regarding the issues of the Middle East. But it is reasonable to question how much of the narrative is a myth, and in turn, whether it is a valid basis for pursuing a robust Brazilian foreign policy in the region.

Passage to the Americas
Arab and Jewish communities are in fact integrated into Brazilian society today. However, it is important to note that integration was not easy for either of them, particularly in the beginning. Empirical evidence contrasts with the idealized tale that Arab immigrants easily adapted to every corner of the country.

Middle Eastern immigrants began trickling into Brazil as early as the 1850s, and Arab descendants mark 1885 as the official beginning of their immigration from Palestine, Lebanon, and Syria. The 1890s witnessed the first large-scale arrival. The Rio newspaper Gazeta de Notícias reported that crowds of “strange tanned and bearded men” attracted much “admiration and distrust” on the part of Brazilians. Those first immigrants largely became peddlers, initially selling objects brought from the Holy Land, such as amulets, rosaries, and small religious images. They later began to sell matches, clothes, and haberdashery in remote places that did not have established trade, such as in the suburbs and regions far from urban centers. Arab peddlers spread throughout the country.

About 4.5 million immigrants entered Brazil between 1872 and 1949. Approximately 400,000 of these were Asians, Arabs, and Jews. Europeans, who made up the majority of the immigrants, were welcomed and could rely on large private or public programs to help them settle. The Brazilian government and the elites believed that Europeans were the “ideal immigrants,” able to work as farmers, settlers, and craftsmen; and they also assisted in “whitening” society after centuries of African slavery. Asians, Arabs, and Jews on the other hand, were considered by the government and elites as non-white or “imperfect white” and, with the exception of the Japanese arrivals in 1908, could not rely on official immigration programs at all.

The Arabs were Ottoman subjects leaving an empire that did not officially allow their departure, as they were needed for cultivating the land and serving in the army. The Sublime Porte also feared the poor image that some immigrants projected of the Ottoman Empire—as they begged on the streets of European cities such as Marseille and Genoa to afford passage to the Americas. The Brazilian government showed little interest in encouraging immigrants who had no intention of working in agriculture and were not seen as white and Western.

Arab immigrants and their descendants hold up the Arab peddler as an important symbolic figure who represented modernization in the country. They emphasize the “civilizing role” of Arab immigrants who overcame difficulties and dangers to bring the products of modernity and progress to the most remote ends of Brazil. They portray the Arab immigrants as pathfinders and pioneers in integrating national territory in the fashion of the São Paulo bandeirantes two centuries earlier.

Brazilian newspapers from the turn of the twentieth century, however, record another story. It is not difficult to find in these now-digitalized sources regular reports of hostilities, extortion, robberies, and even murders against small immigrant groups or solitary peddlers in communities throughout Brazil.

There were several incidents involving immigrants in small cities such as Tubarão, Patrocínio de Muriaé, Ponte Nova, Diamantino, and Campinas, especially in the 1890s. In 1898 a significant incident took place in Cachoeiro do Itapemirim, in the state of Espírito Santo. Arab shopkeepers were forced by locals to abandon the city and their goods were plundered. The case helped prompt the Sublime Porte to designate Othon Leonardos Filho as the Ottoman consul in Rio de Janeiro to deal with the growing number of crimes committed against Ottoman subjects in Brazil.

Over time, these immigrants and their descendants began to project varying identities. Some 85 percent of the Arabs in all the waves of immigration to Brazil were predominantly Christian; they included Roman Catholics, Maronites, Antiochene Orthodox, Melkites, and Protestants. As the anthropologist Paulo Pinto points out, some immigrants focused on ethnic issues, using the generic term “Arab” or the term “Syrian-Lebanese” common in Brazil. Others gave more importance to their places of origin, such as Beirut, Zahle, Bethlehem, Jerusalem, Homs, Aleppo, or Damascus. There was still an emphasis on “national” origin, including by Syrians, Lebanese, and Palestinians. Among the Muslim immigrants, membership in one of the various sects, such as Sunni, Shiite, Druze, and Alawite, also shaped their self-designation. Jews immigrating from the Middle East could have an Arab or Sephardic identity, as well as a deep connection to their hometowns, such as Sidon, Safed, Beirut, Istanbul, or Smyrna.

Saara Story
Until the 1940s, a relatively close relationship existed among Arab Christians, Arab Muslims, and Arab Jews in Brazil. In a series of popular essays on the religions of Rio de Janeiro published in 1904, the Brazilian writer João do Rio noted that the Arab Jews of the city center were more integrated with the rest of the Arab immigrants than with the Ashkenazi Jews of European background, who also had begun to settle in what was then capital of the country. The historian Rachel Mizrahi, in her 2003 book Jewish Immigrants of the Middle East: São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, highlights that the area of Rio where Arab Muslim, Christian and Jewish families lived was called Little Turkey—a reference to the Ottoman Arab territories—and that it was a space of “respect and cordiality.” There are some published memoirs and photographs that evoke the rounds of hookah and backgammon games that united the Arabs of different religions in downtown Rio in the first decades of the twentieth century. Something quite similar happened in São Paulo’s Mooca district.

A shopkeeper named Henrique Nigri, son of a Jewish immigrant from Lebanon, wrote a book in 2012 called Saara Story (after Rio’s Arab quarter), and reported that by the 1930s the direct and regular contact of the immigrants with Lebanon and Syria had diminished, although the food, music, and Arabic language were maintained by all “as a souvenir.” Nigri says that the only difference in marriages of Arab Jews, Christians, and Muslim Arabs at that time was who officiated: a rabbi, a priest, or an imam. The language, the music, the food, and dancing were basically the same. Sometimes Arabs and Jews even enjoyed commercial relationships, especially in the business districts around Rua da Alfândega in Rio and Rua 25 de Março in São Paulo.

The dynamic significantly changed during the 1940s, particularly due to the establishment of the State of Israel amid the 1948 Palestine war, and the conflicting views that the Arab and Jewish communities held about it. Arab leaders in the region as well as religious officials of the Christian churches of the East, issued statements opposing the partition of Palestine and calling for Arabsaround the world to help to prevent it. Brazilian newspapers published editorials, and reported on the impact that Israel’s War of Independence (Al Nakba, the Catastrophe, to the Arabs) was having particularly on Lebanon, with the flood of refugees into the country. A note signed by members of Brazil’s Arab community published in Estado de São Paulo newspaper in 1948 declared that “500,000 Arabs and their descendants [in Brazil] and more than seventy million Arabs worldwide” called on the Brazilian government to refuse recognition to the State of Israel.

Other factors, including fallout from the Palestine war, also played a part in cooling communal relations. For example, in 1943, Lebanon secured independence from France, and Syria did the same in 1946. These new states soon established formal relations with the Brazilian government and sought to establish closer ties with their countrymen in Brazil. Public diplomacy from Arab countries increased during the 1950s to “clarify” events in the Middle East for the Arab Brazilian community. Meanwhile, the Arab community itself created institutions that reshaped its relations with the Middle East, such as the Arab-Brazilian Chamber of Commerce, established in 1952 with the aim of strengthening economic ties between Brazil and Arab countries.

Within Brazil’s Jewish community, Rabbi Isaiah Raffalovich had attempted as early as the 1920s to bring together Ashkenazi, Sephardic, and Arab Jews in a Jewish Brazilian community. His efforts were not altogether successful, but a sense of unity gained momentum in the 1940s. First, there was the need to deal with the presence in Brazil of Holocaust survivors and, later, refugees from Arab countries. The foundation of the Israelite Federation of São Paulo in 1946, the Israelite Federation of Rio de Janeiro in 1947, and the Confederation of Brazilian Israelite Societies in 1948 are examples of the search for unity. The establishment of Jewish recreation clubs in the 1950s also gathered together Jews in São Paulo and Rio.

Meanwhile, the 1948 war, and subsequent conflicts including the Suez Crisis in 1956, the Six-Day War in 1967, and the Lebanese Civil War from 1975 to 1990 spurred the arrival of new immigrants, increasingly Muslims, from the region. These waves affected relations between Arabs and Jews as well as among the Arabs themselves. The Arabs spread all over Brazil, but Jews and Christians concentrated in Rio and São Paulo, and Sunni Muslims in Rio, São Paulo, Paraná, Rio Grande do Sul and Distrito Federal. Shiite Muslims, increasing in numbers since the 1980s, concentrated in Curitiba and Foz do Iguaçu, in southern Brazil. All the groups in general were quite careful to strengthen their connection and loyalty with Brazil, trying not to draw attention to their positions towards the politics of the Middle East. But the communities manifested divergences of views on Israeli policy in general and the Palestinian issue in particular, internal politics in Lebanon and its relations with Syria, the Iran-Iraq War between 1980-88, and about Islam.

Uses of Diplomacy
Brazil’s involvement in the diplomatic maneuvering around the United Nations Partition Plan of 1947 marked an important phase in the country’s policy toward the Middle East, perhaps representing its first proactive effort. During the earlier period of immigration, relations with the region were quite restricted and perfunctory, and largely related to the treatment of immigrants and consular issues including the handling of property left by deceased immigrants lacking heirs on Brazilian soil.

Then a Brazilian played a starring role during the partition debate, Oswaldo Aranha, who was head of Brazil’s UN delegation and president of the UN General Assembly in 1947. Aranha acted firmly in favor of the final position to divide Palestine into separate states for Jews and Arabs—a role that led Israeli cities to name squares and streets in his honor. According to diplomatic papers, Aranha’s posture had mainly to do with advice from his foreign ministry—in case of deadlock Brazil should follow the United States—than with a special Brazilian policy formulation for the Middle East. The official Brazilian vote was cast, however, by the delegate of Brazil in the General Assembly, Arthur Souza Costa. In his speech, he said that Brazil supported “a plan that would preserve the political unity in Palestine” through a process offering the “largest number of alternatives.” No mention was made ​​in the text to any “example” of coexistence.

It is interesting to note that just when relations between Arabs and Jews in Brazil were growing cold,the Brazilian government began giving more diplomatic attention to the Middle East. Beginning in the 1950s, references to the “harmonious relations” between Arabs and Jews in Brazil became increasingly commonplace in official discourse. Diplomats and public figures in speeches, public statements, or interviews highlighted the Brazilian position of “equidistance” towards the region asexpressed in the praise or criticism offered to Israelis and Arabs. The region became increasing important due to the oil and potential business opportunities, but the Brazilian interest was more theoretical than practical.

Whether during the years of Brazil’s dictatorship or during the democratic period, whatever the ruling party, there was, and still is, a discourse of “harmonious relations.” Between the years 1960 and 1980,it formed part of a broader discourse describing Brazil as a “racial democracy.” The Brazilian representative in the UN Security Council in 1967 said that “both Arabs and Jews played an important role in the history of Brazil, not only contributed to our social and economic development, but also helped shape the cultural and spiritual aspects of the Brazilian civilization.” In the last two decades, the discourse has focused primarily on “ethnic peace” between Arabs and Jews. Praising and willing to participate in the peace process between Israelis and Palestinians in the early 1990s, the then Foreign Minister Luiz Felipe Lampreia said: “The harmonic coexistence of Arabs and Jews in our country adds weight to our external discourse and gives substance to Brazilian diplomacy.”

The Fernando Henrique Cardoso government (1995–2003), which Lampreia served, began an interesting inflation in the number of Arab descendants in Brazil. During this period, the government said that between six and ten million Brazilians of Syrian and Lebanese origin lived in Brazil. During the Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva (2003–2011) and Dilma Rousseff (since 2011) governments, the official figure has risen to 12 million. It is not possible to check those official numbers, however, and they seem more like a Brazilian argument to support its “old” and friendly connection to the region. The Middle East conflict that most affected the Lebanese and Lebanese descendants directly was the 2006 war between Israel and Hezbollah. There were some cases of deaths of Brazilians in Lebanon and hundreds were helped by the foreign ministry to return to Brazil. Letters sent by Jews and Arabs to newspapers such as Jorno do Brasil passionately spoke of “Israel’s right to self-defence” or the “the Zionist invader.”

In this vein, both the government (to strengthen links with the Middle East as its peaceful tradition), and Arabs and Jews themselves (to strengthen their contribution to Brazil), promoted spaces such as the Saara in Rio and Rua 25 de Março in São Paulo as symbolic locations of coexistence, where Arab and Jewish shopkeepers fought merely a “war for a better price.” Good relations, however, were less evident in politics. Events in the Middle East or related events in Brazil generated some degree of tension between the groups especially from the 1970s. A notable example is the violence that erupted in 1980 when the Palestine Liberation Organization—at the time regarded by the Israeli government as a terrorist organization—was permitted to install a representative in Brazil. Another tense situation involved the return to Brazil of Lamia Maruf, a Brazilian woman accused by Israel of participating in the murder of a soldier in the 1980s; she had been jailed for many years and released in the context of the peace process.

In 1960, the honorary consul of Jordan in São Paulo, Tuffik Mattar, publicly talked about creating a movement among descendants of Arabs and Jews in Brazil with the aim of attenuating tension in the Middle East. Similar thinking was evident in July 2012 when then Foreign Minister Antonio Patriota organized a seminar in Brasília called “From Side to Side: In the Construction of Peace in the Middle East, a Role for the Diaspora.” Patriota said that he was inspired by Brazilian “diplomatic tradition” and by the book by Lebanese-French writer Amin Maalouf, Le Dérèglement du Monde: Quand nos Civilisations s’Epuisent. The minister hoped to engage Brazilian Jews and Arabs in a dialogue about peace in the Middle East. For instance, Maalouf argued in his book that there are cases of peaceful coexistence outside the Middle East and that immigrants could play an important role in uniting their countries of origin. Patriota wanted to convince the Brazilian Jewish and Arab communities to influence their counterparts overseas, suggesting that their relatively peaceful relationship in Brazil could serve as a model. The initiative received little attention from the press and appears to be dormant.

Many respected Brazilian analysts have highlighted the innovative proposals presented by Brazil to deal with the Middle East in the last decade. They noted that new actors in a profoundly intractable environment could bring new dynamics to negotiations. The Brazilian government under the Workers’ Party sensed a window of opportunity to act more assertively in the region. Brazil’s diplomacy appears to remain more of an ambition or a potential at this point, however. One reason is that traditional players such as the United States, although certainly weakened, still play an important role in the region. Another reason may be that Brazilian activism needs some improvement. A more mature and less wishful thinking understanding of Brazil’s Middle East immigrants should be part of that.

Monique Sochaczewski is a lecturer at the Fundação Getúlio Vargas in Rio de Janeiro, where she focuses on Ottoman history, Middle East politics, and Brazil-Middle East relations. She has contributed to the Brazilian newspaper Folha de São Paulo and Brasileiros magazine.

Smile, You’re in Rio

By the time we came from São Paulo to live in Rio de Janeiro, in 1995, the grubby apartments we looked at boasted wheezing psychedelic orange refrigerators. We noticed that people’s cars were older than those in São Paulo, the metropolis to which banks and businesses and even the stock market had fled in the 1980s. Trees grew out of crumbling façades.

“Buy an armored car,” advised our São Paulo friends, who thought we were crazy to move to a place at war with itself. Rio was divided between its informal and formal parts, between “hill” and “asphalt,” as the locals say. As the city developed, in the late nineteenth century, the poor were relegated to hills and swamps, to the shantytowns known here as favelas, with troublesome access both for people and infrastructure. Many favela residents worked for the upper classes, who happily squeezed into the South Zone flat areas between the hills and the ocean: Ipanema, Copacabana, and Leblon—names synonymous with Brazilian sun, surf, and sexiness.

We did buy an armored car, and hired a driver to do our errands and escort our children to and from a private school. Drug traffickers were taking over huge swathes of the informal city—often the hilltop favelas—in both the North and South Zones. In West Zone favelas, inhabited largely by construction workers who’d come from drought-stricken northern Brazil, paramilitary groups ran things. They assured Rio’s middle and upper classes that, in the absence of any actual on-duty police, they would keep drugs out of the area.

As was the case for so many middle- and upper-class Rio natives, or cariocas, our lives shrank: to our house on a gated street, the armored car, the guarded and walled homes of our friends, the shopping malls. We hugged our comfort zone, shying away from neighborhoods near favelas where stray bullets flew. You read in the papers about people who’d bricked up their windows; about motorcyclists riding up and down an Ipanema street ordering doctors’ offices, schools, and day care centers to shut down because the “owner of the hill” above said so; about a girl made a paraplegic by a stray bullet that flew into her college campus.

I think it was in 1999 that my hairdresser at a mall told me that police had kidnapped the drug lord of her favela for a day, demanding about $40,000 in ransom. Once this was arranged they let him go, and his cronies shot their weapons heavenward to celebrate. Accidently, they not only hit a transformer, putting out the lights in the favela; but they also managed to shoot a local girl—an only child and an athlete—who bled to death in the street because no one dared help her.

Another resident later repeated the story for me, but the Brazilian media didn’t carry the news. With police, politicians, and criminals in cahoots, complete and objective reporting was difficult. And after 2002, when a big-time TV reporter doing undercover work in a favela was tortured and killed by drug traffickers, Brazilian media banned their journalists from entering the city’s informal areas.

When shootings occurred, between gangs and the police or among gangs, headlines focused on the fear and suffering of those who lived on the asphalt. One didn’t think about the favela residents, who were missing school and work, losing daughters to drug lord polygamists, living daily trauma. Some 1.4 million people, or 22 percent of Rio’s residents, live in the favelas.

Gates of Barra da Tijuca
The shootings, the kidnappings, the fear—it not only limited our daily geography, it drove thousands of people out of the formal North and South Zones westward to Barra da Tijuca. Set between pristine beaches and lush mountains, and once a swampy area dotted with lagoons, Barra is a newer, exclusive district of high-rise condominiums and gated communities, elegant shopping malls, and tidy broad boulevards.

I used to drive my kids to the beach in Barra, which was cleaner than the ones in Ipanema or Copacabana, and where there was less chance of being separated from your valuables. “Smile, you’re in Barra,” a sign welcomed us as we emerged from a tunnel into this burgeoning modern suburbia. A local business association, determined to keep crime out, proposed setting up gates, medieval style, at the five entrances to Barra da Tijuca.

Not long ago, on the wall of an Ipanema construction site where workers are digging to extend the metro to Barra da Tijuca, a graffiti artist scrawled the words: “Smile, you’re not in Barra.”

I saw the graffiti and smiled indeed. My children were all grown up and I’d stopped driving to Barra, connected to the South Zone (where I live) by an eternally clogged highway. But one Friday night, I made an exception, to see a man I’d started dating who lived there. The two hours it took me to drive the nineteen kilometers from Ipanema to Barra indicated we’d begun a toilsome long-distance relationship.

By 2010, Barra was home to about 300,000 people, sparsely spread over some 166 square kilometers. In some ways, Barra’s very existence illustrates how difficult it is for people to face up to Rio’s deep social and economic inequality. When Barra started booming in the 1980s, it seemed easier to abandon the older, troubled parts of the city and recast Rio someplace else.

Asphalt residents who didn’t “Go West” put grilles on their windows, built walls and fences, installed cameras, hired guards. This became such a phenomenon that Raul Mourão, a Rio sculptor, began making installations out of window grilles—with the intent of rattling the cages of cariocas. In 2009, the window grilles gained movement, when an acrobatics company experimented with Mourão’s pieces, putting one on top of another and giving it a push. His work thus became kinetic, and to me has come to reflect Rio’s turnaround.

Pacificação
Just about everybody agrees that Luiz Inácio Lula de Silva’s election as president in 2002 began to undo centuries of socioeconomic inequality in Brazil. Some elites began to realize that inclusion was inevitable and maybe even desirable. And clearly, Lula represented the poor. In Rio, starting in 2008, another element of the turnaround was a new public safety policy called pacification—the Rio de Janeiro state government’s pacifição program focused on some key favelas. This was an experiment that contrasted sharply with years of ill-fated, periodic incursions and battles between a highly corrupt police force and drug traffickers.

Territoriality is the underlying concept—taking back territory in informal parts of the city long under criminal thumbs. The police announce the date of a planned invasion, and make sweeps to arrest known lawbreakers; a special squad then moves in, sets up bases, and secures the favela. Not a shot is fired. Journalists, no longer banned from favelas, are present and get the news out on a continuing basis. Some months later, the pacification police arrive and try to win over residents. The pacification police are meant to be fresh, unblemished recruits and specially trained in community policing. But given manpower difficulties, this hasn’t always been the case, and has led to serious problems.

By the end of 2013, Rio had pacified thirty-six territories, affecting more than a half million favela residents. The state public safety secretariat says the program has improved the lives of 1.5 million cariocas, if you count people who live either in or near pacified favelas. Pacification has halved the homicide rate, to 24 per 100,000 a year. Real estate prices and rents have risen significantly, both in and near favelas.

From 2010 to 2013, pacification was widely celebrated in the Brazilian media. Police officers held favela debutante balls, played soccer with residents, and let kids sit on their motorcycles. My manicurist said her elderly mother could walk safely in her favela’s alleys, without fear of being knocked down by a machine-gun-toting drug soldier riding a motorcycle. Standing in a top-floor play area, a public school principal told me what a difference it made for her students to know they wouldn’t have to be hiding under their desks from bullets anymore (and school performance statistics demonstrate this). Pointing to the top of the Borel favela hill, she said traffickers once watched her every move. Pointing used to be forbidden because drug lords didn’t want the attention of strangers. I took a picture of her, pointing. Taking pictures used to be forbidden, too.

Public opinion surveys in both the formal and informal parts of Rio showed overwhelming support for pacification. Middle- and upper-class cognoscenti began finding their way to favela dances, bars, and restaurants, now that it was safe. One day, after I’d been to a jazz school event at the top of a favela, I walked down twisting dim lanes, chatting with friends, skirting dog poop and trickles of sewage. Coming to the bottom of the hill, I blinked in the bright street light, realizing I was on a Copacabana street, just blocks from my apartment. The experience was eerily like those dreams one has, of a place that is familiar yet different. For years, like so many cariocas, I’d known that this favela was there, at the edge of my neighborhood. But I avoided the streets that bordered it, and marveled at the foreigners who had either the courage or the naiveté to buy apartments on them.

Lula’s socioeconomic policies achieved miracles—forty million Brazilians have been lifted out of poverty in the last decade or so. In Rio, with pacification, more trash is being picked up, more health clinics and day care centers are open, and more schools are operating as they ought to. Yet with expectations rising more people are complaining about the lack of adequate services. Basic sanitation remains horrific; residents grouse that the state installs fancy cable car systems while leaving them without proper water supply or sewage collection.

Last June, the frustration erupted into massive street demonstrations after the mayors of Rio and São Paulo approved increases in bus fares. With billions being spent on the city’s upcoming mega-events—the Fédération Internationale de Football Association, or FIFA World Cup, this year, and the 2016 Rio Olympic Games—people are publicly questioning why the country has two health care systems and two education systems. And why the underclass must use public transportation and live in favelas, while the better-off drive automobiles and live in proper houses and apartments.

Our comfort zones are expanding, even as we complain. Favela residents, when asked, will say where they actually live, instead of giving the name of the formal neighborhood nearest to home. And the names of the favelas, no longer vaguely conceived areas of extreme danger, mean something to outsiders. We now know that Complexo do Alemão, invaded by the Army in late 2010 and now pacified, is a North Zone complex of favelas where you can ride a cable car up for some astonishing views, then make your way downhill for a frosty microbrewery beer and some feijoada croquettes at Bistrô Estação R&R.

Insiders and outsiders alike know about Amarildo Gomes da Silva, the laborer and father of six who disappeared in the Rocinha favela at the hands of the police last July. Before pacification, police often shot favela residents dead, claiming self-defense. No questions were asked. But police are now rewarded with pay bonuses for reducing crime statistics, and the number of bullets they use has fallen off dramatically across the city.

For months, demonstrators carried banners demanding answers. An investigation eventually led to the indictment of twenty-five police officers and a change of command. The accused have been charged with torturing Amarildo to death, then hiding the body. Supposedly, the cops were prying Amarildo for information about local drug traffickers. The Amarildo investigation indicated that society is at last taking seriously the value of the lives of favela residents. On the other hand, his torture and death brought to light startling levels of police corruption, collusion, and incompetence.

Police violence during street demonstrations also revealed the difficulties the institution is having in transforming itself. Rio’s police corps is divided and riddled with conflicting allegiances. Off-duty and retired cops form the basis of the paramilitary groups that control West Zone favelas, known for extorting residents, running informal transportation services, and selling cooking gas. These groups have a dangerous presence on the city council and even in state legislature, giving Rio’s mayor a markedly strong (if not authoritarian) hand. Crime, in fact, has begun to make a comeback, with statistics on the rise as of mid-2013. Critics claim that criminals are migrating to non-pacified favelas and to other cities in the region.

Life of the Cariocas
A key program in Rio’s turnaround hasn’t yet got off the ground, despite enormous boosterism at the start, only three years ago. Part of the problem is that political alliances are coming unstitched; Rio’s municipal housing secretariat is run by a party preparing to oppose the mayor and governor’s party in elections this year. The program, Morar Carioca, or Carioca Life, is meant to upgrade all of Rio’s favelas by 2020. The city, in conjunction with the Brazilian Institute of Architects, held a historic competition, won by forty architectural firms, with pioneering proposals to make favela life more sustainable and integrate these areas into the formal city, encouraging interchange.

For now, Rio’s favelas—although some are safer and more accessible—mostly remain an underclass world. A foreign researcher who lives in a pacified favela that has seen considerable public investment tells me he can only escape the sewage smell when he shuts the door to his room. He fears both traffickers and police. The alleys are claustrophobic, he says. “I can see why it’s impossible to police,” he told me.

The government has been trying to meet demand for low-income housing, and has constructed federally funded homes and apartment blocks under the Minha Casa Minha Vida (My Home My Life) program. These are often poorly constructed and located at the edges of the city, with little regard for the strong community ties that favela life supports.

Pacification has shaken us all up, for better or worse. The retaking of informal territory implicitly requires urban integration, the recognition that those who live in favelas are just as human as those who don’t. That implies that everyone enjoys the same rights to the entire city, a concept still new to those whose families migrated to Barra da Tijuca, or put up gated fences in front of their North and South Zone apartment buildings.

As I seek to better understand the place that has been my home for so many years, I feel by turns thrilled, unnerved, and frustrated. Whether Rio’s elite like it or not, Brazilian society has begun to change in ways that can’t be undone. I suspect that a deep cultural shift will influence, along with the voices of young middle-class protestors, both politics and policy for years to come; even if a faltering economy sends people back into poverty, they will have had the experience of carrying formal work papers, of gaining some basic educational skills, of learning how to Google. Their social invisibility has come to an end. Increasing numbers of favela residents are enrolled in university, competing for spots there and later, for jobs. Elites who have traditionally depended on networking for professional success now have to contend with these newcomers.

Even the map of Rio is changing. Barra da Tijuca will be connected to the rest of the city after the extension of the metro and the addition of several dedicated bus lanes. The North Zone boasts a giant new park and, given the pacification of most of its favelas, is attracting real estate and commercial investment. The revitalization of the Guanabara Bay port area is significantly expanding Rio’s traditional downtown.

In 2011, during work around the port, the Cais do Valongo slave wharf was accidentally unearthed by laborers installing a new drainage system. A million or so slaves are thought to have trod its paving stones, before the wharf was covered over for the arrival of Brazil’s future empress Teresa Cristina in the mid-1800s. Its location and function were forgotten. Authorities and conservationists quickly understood the importance of the discovery for Rio’s African heritage. Already, the paving stones are uncovered. Cais do Valongo has become a tourist attraction.

Julia Michaels writes RioReal blog, a bilingual account of life in Rio de Janeiro. She is the author of Arpoador Tribute, a collection of photos and short essays in English and Portuguese about South Zone Rio beach. Her memoir, Solteira No Rio de Janeiro, was published in 2013. On Twitter:@riorealblog.

Shooting for a Century

Shooting for a Century: The India-Pakistan Conundrum. By Stephen P. Cohen. The Brookings Institution, Washington, DC, 2013. 237 pp.

In the summer of 1947, British Prime Minister Clement Attlee of the Labour Party and Lord Louis Mountbatten, India’s last Viceroy, handed an English barrister, Cyril Radcliffe, the unenviable task of determining the precise line of Partition between the soon-to-be independent nation-states of India and Pakistan. That Radcliffe knew nothing about South Asia was considered favorable to the cause. Within six weeks of his arrival in India, the reluctant cartographer had divided the provinces of Bengal and Punjab, and returned to England. Radcliffe’s sentiments toward the land he had partitioned would be captured in a poem by W.H. Auden some twenty years later: “Return he would not / Afraid…that he might get shot.”

The carnage and mass migration that followed Partition are well known. With Jawaharlal Nehru and Muhammad Ali Jinnah at the helms of the Indian National Congress and the Muslim League, respectively, the Radcliffe Line instantiated the two-nation theory that held that Hindus and Muslims could not co-exist within the same nation-state. The extent to which these Partition plans were preordained and pursued by Jinnah and Nehru has since been increasingly questioned and debated in public discourse.

In the nearly seventy years since independence, the calculus of India-Pakistan relations has mutated to present South Asia with continuing deleterious consequences. Not least among these: the violent secession of Bangladesh in 1971; the heightening of Sunni-Shiite fratricide and persecution of Christian and Ahmadiyya communities in Pakistan; and the emergence of right-wing Hindu ‘saffron’ politics, evidenced by the demolition of the Babri Masjid in Ayodhya in 1992. Then, there is the gaping matter of Kashmir, to which India, Pakistan and China all lay claim.

Compared to the numerous scholarly works which have probed the underlying logic and price of independence in 1947, analyses of failures and successes in reciprocity between India and Pakistan, as well as proposals for roadmaps for peaceable relations, are far less in vogue or considered naïve and idealistic. Shooting for a Century: The India-Pakistan Conundrum by Stephen P. Cohen, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and a veteran of South Asian security studies, is an unabashed exercise in futurology. What most would refer to as ‘peace,’ Cohen adamantly terms “normalization” and, in his view, India-Pakistan antipathy threatens to surpass its centennial mark in 2047. He is quick to disclaim that he would like to be proved wrong. However, Cohen’s title is also no accident. The book is both a nod to ‘cricket diplomacy’—whereby matches between the national cricket teams of India and Pakistan are used as a crutch to calibrate relations or make public displays of political intention—as well as an indictment of its limits.

But the author is no prophet of doom. He rubbishes Samuel Huntington’s “clash of civilizations” rhetoric with respect to the India-Pakistan border, dismisses ‘dead-end’ realist tools of assumption for hypothesizing about the future and assuredly explains away the possibility of war. Indeed, he acknowledges that the Indian army has come to treat Pakistan as if it were “a buffer to a large-scale Islamic militancy” and that, by turns, Pakistan’s military dictatorships have supported militants. But his belief that all-out conflict is unthinkable is derived solely from the fact that India and Pakistan have enough nuclear weapons to annihilate each other.

The case against war is bolstered by the existence of certain groups in both India and Pakistan wanting normalization to succeed, as well as the fact that there may be future opportunities to be seized. Owing in large part to India’s history of economic protectionism, South Asia is the least economically integrated region in the world. Yet, smuggling of goods between the borders of India and Pakistan is rife. Pointing to the evidence of a black market in cattle, amounting to between $200 million and $10 billion, being tunneled at the Rajasthan-Sindh border, Cohen asks the inconvenient question: “…if illegal trade is high, can it be assumed that there is unlocked potential for trade—a signal that the countries’ economies are complementary?” The business communities of each country would undoubtedly respond in the affirmative. In 2012, the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry and the Confederation of Indian Industry sent trade delegations to Pakistan. Notoriously stringent India-Pakistan visa controls have since been relaxed for businessmen and further petitions are in the works.

What emerges is hypocrisy, inconsistency and self-serving behavior on both sides. But unlike some of his contemporaries, Cohen opines that the crisis in Kashmir is not a cause of these ongoing tensions but a symptom, and recognizes that there have been major attempts to foster cold peace. Most notable among these include the Liaquat-Nehru Pact of 1950 and the Gujral Doctrine set out in 1996 which shut down India’s covert operations in Pakistan and reinstituted India-Pakistan hotlines. Again, in 1999, a major breakthrough came in the form of the Lahore Pact, a bilateral declaration in which India and Pakistan pledged to avoid using their nuclear capabilities and instead work together. But for every move toward normalization, there has been an inverse that has washed it away, namely the Kargil War in 1999, which was a conventional war conflict at Kashmir’s Line of Control, and the indiscriminate Mumbai terror attacks in 2008.

Cohen’s most far-reaching analysis, however, is left till the very end and reveals the grander intentions of the book. Unsurprisingly, he deems the United States as indispensable to the alleviation of the India-Pakistan conundrum. Critics wary of Washington think tank culture will no doubt caution that Cohen’s analysis portends to be in the interest of South Asia but is in reality a veil for U.S. policy. Certainly, normalization of India-Pakistan relations would reduce China’s influence on Pakistan and, therefore, its overall clout in South Asia, which can only be an advantage for the United States. Regardless, recognizing that delays in normalization prevent the two countries from realizing enormous gains, Cohen takes aim at U.S. policy shortcomings, claiming that it is segmented and incoherent with respect to South Asia. Case in point, the U.S. departments of state and defense lack coordination in that they actively foster more than one policy toward Pakistan at a particular time, albeit through different agencies. While the White House has yet to formulate a policy for Pakistan that is not simply an extension of its Afghanistan-Pakistan policy, it also has failed to develop a framework for South Asia as a whole. Given that bureaucratic disorganization and bad policy planning are so readily attributed to emerging or liberalizing economies, Cohen’s outspokenness about U.S. policy deficiencies is refreshing. He even goes so far as to state that Pakistan’s policy has more coherence than any outsiders give it credit for.

While Cohen’s message for the years ahead is loud and clear, it is weakened by a few contextualizing omissions. For instance, given that business and trade are elaborated upon as viable means to normalization, it is interesting that the problems surrounding the division of assets and “sterling” balances of India and Pakistan at Partition are not mentioned at all. Similarly, Cohen accounts for how each country’s official histories have been peddled in their respective classrooms, thereby exacerbating the enigma of the ‘other.’ But he does not account for the role of British Empire historians and the development of British Census-taking in demographic reinforcement of communalist identities. Lastly, though formally outside the remit of his analysis, India’s borders with Bangladesh are given little mention though resolution of disputes about two enclaves caught up in the Radcliffe Line have proven equally intractable.

Yet, Cohen’s analysis comes at an opportune moment for a return to the negotiating table by two governments equipped with fresh election mandates: last year, Nawaz Sharif of the Pakistan Muslim League staged an election comeback, ousting the Pakistan People’s Party, headed by then-President Asif Ali Zardari, the widower of assassinated former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto; and, this year, Indians will vote in a general election. As far as the United States is concerned, it cannot continue to make chimerical ultimatums or refuse to treat Pakistan with the respect it demands as a nuclear state while legitimizing India’s nuclear power by signing, as in 2005, the U.S.-India Civil Nuclear Agreement. Of course, not all is harmonious between India and the U.S., either, as the recent diplomatic standoff over the arrest and indictment of Indian diplomat, Devyani Khobragade, by authorities in New York shows. Yet if outside powers are at all to play a role in normalization, they should either refrain from playing geopolitical games or promote an overall coherent policy for South Asia. In the meantime, as Cohen advocates, top-down and bottom-up normalization actions must be advanced, both with a group of strategists on each side deciding that normalization is in their interest, as well as with the many active educators, public pressure groups, businessmen and peace groups. Cricket will continue to be played in India and Pakistan. But a rhetoric of a shared history and culture will only go so far.

Fawzia Mahmood is a writer based in London. She was previously an equity analyst for ITG, a New York-based global financial markets research firm. From 2007 to 2008, she was a rapporteur for the Watson Institute for International Studies at Brown University. On Twitter:@fawziamahmood.

Correction August 13, 2014: An earlier version of this article incorrectly referred to Asif Zardari as a former prime minister of Pakistan; he was president.