BrasiliaRiyadh

23/03/2016

Wednesday

The New Brazil

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Few places in the world have Brazil's readiness to accept new things, an attitude founded on the racial democracy built over the centuries. Concealed by racial prejudice on the part of the elite and only moderately apparent (compared with the example of the United States or Europe), this behavior has enabled the building of an effective political democracy in a nation where there were all the reasons not to have one.
 
On an initial basis of miscegenation was established a society in which slavery existed. However, despite slavery, it was never possible to do away with the custom that had already become a tradition - and which could be seen every day in the children of whites and Negroes, Negroes and Indians, mixed races with whites and whites with Indians. Condemned as being inferior, these people succeeded in transforming condemnation into identity with the arrival of Brazilian independence. This identity is so strong that there are no divisions within the territory or political disputes of great consequence. On the contrary, the nation has been built on the basis of agreements that often appeared nonsensical in European eyes - and also to many Brazilians - but which have worked until now in rather an unusual way.
 
Since the 1800's, the urge for democracy has translated into a deep-seated belief in the need to distribute power by means of devices of political representation. National elections have been held in Brazil since 1823 with a readiness to register electors that is unusual even by the standards of European democracies. Whatever may be said of the National Congress, it has been running like clockwork for 175 years. Only on three occasions during the entire history of the nation have elected representatives failed to fulfill their mandates. The power of Congress is such that not even the military dictatorship during the 1960's was able to renounce it. Even dictators know that a country is ungovernable without elected representatives.
 
The power of Congress exists because it is bound up with a great social force. The slave society managed to transform itself by absorbing a vast number of immigrants and even merging with them. The custom of considering attractive any matrimonial prospect, regardless of ethnic origin, prevailed over the tendency to remain closed that was a feature of most immigrant groups. In the same way that outsiders are absorbed without loss of identity, Brazil is able to absorb companies. The first foreign company was established in Brazil in 1825 and is still trading today. A foreign-owned company has never had its system of ownership modified beyond the strict terms of the law.
 
Those are just some of the consequences of the basically democratic structure of the nation. Brazil is one of the last of the earth's provinces where no-one is a foreigner and where it is possible to change destiny without loss of identity. It is precisely because of that feature that many call it the "country of the future": from being a Colony (1500-1822), becoming an Empire (1822-1889) and during the Republic (1889 to the present), globalization is part of the natural make-up of every Brazilian. Perhaps Brazil can now be seen as the seed of a cultural reality where group pride is not above the possibility of accepting anything new.
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