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The Reais Deal with Brazil

February 2007

Since Lula’s election as president, some progressives (at least outside of Brazil) have been somewhat complacent about “our guy” in Brasilia. Grassroots International’s partner the Landless Workers Movement (MST) and others of its allies in Brazil are making sure that they hold Lula accountable; and are presenting a real picture of what’s happening with Brazil’s economy, agriculture and enviroment, and its impacts on the vast majority of its citizens. Recently, one of the MST’s leading thinkers and activists, Joao Pedro Stedile (a member of Grassroots’ Resource Rights Advisory Group) wrote on Brazil’s neoliberal agrarian model for the February 2007 issue of the Monthly Review. The full article is available on Monthly Review‘s website but we have excerpted from the introduction below:

“Since Fernando Collor’s 1989 presidential victory, and most notably since Fernando Henrique Cardoso’s two terms in office (1995–98 and 1999–2002, respectively), economic policies have been enacted in Brazil that represent a subordinate alliance of the country’s dominant classes with international capital. Unfortunately, under President Lula these same sectors have remained in control, and economic policy caters to their interests.

The results are well-known. There has been denationalization, the Brazilian economy is even more dependent, and our best and most profitable companies have been handed over to transnationals. Banks have had fantastic profits—Brazil has offered the highest interest rates in the world. The role of government in the economy has been cut back. Policies have been enacted that privilege the transfer of wealth to the financial system through the state sector.

Under Lula’s government, the neoliberal model is now being applied to the agrarian sector. An alliance has been sealed between the major capitalist farmers and ranchers and the multinationals that control the international commodity trade, the seed trade, pesticide production, and agri-industry….”

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