Regarding the “Institution-building, Governance and Compliance in Brazil: Politics, Policy and Business” Event
An Open Letter from members of the New School Community
The Brazilian Federal Constitution speaks of a “free market” (Art. 170) and describes the state as a “normative and regulating agent of economic activity” (Art. 174). Unfortunately, reality is completely different. We have two worlds in Brazil: the first is the naïve utopia of the legislator; the other is the crude practice of political gangsters. Life as it is differs substantially from life as it should be.
As pointed out by Professor Douglass North, economic growth is directly linked to the quality of a nation’s institutions. Prosperous countries are buttressed by strong, serious and efficient institutions; poor countries are infected by weak, dishonest and exploitative ones.
The fact is that we do not have capitalism in Brazil. Our free market is state-directed, while our “free competition” favors powerful…
The latest political events in Brazil have caused perplexity around the globe. The country once deemed to be not only an emerging global power, but also a positive example of democracy and stability in a region with a long history of political turmoil and authoritarianism, has been engulfed by a deep political crisis. The most immediate result of this crisis has been the ousting of the center-left Workers’ Party government this past March, in power for thirteen years, having won the last four elections in a row. The secondary effects of the crisis have mostly affected minorities and poor people: the interim government, in less than a month, has already dismantled important social policies on cash transfers and housing, and shut down ministries dedicated to agrarian reform, human rights, women’s and racial issues.
Precarious citizenship against the militarized police
In Brazil, police officers are rarely held accountable for murderous attacks on citizens. Whenever a member of the police shoots someone, the agent responsible can easily claim that he was counteracting resistance. An “act of resistance” is then written and immediately filed. This institutional and legal justification — which needs only to be unilaterally asserted by the agent — automatically exempts the police from any kind of formal responsibility, ultimately limiting the possibility of an official investigation.The fact that these acts of resistance most often concern a specific population — black poor youth from peripheral areas who are nevertheless formally protected by civil rights — poses the question of how control and repression of different people within the homogenous category of citizenship can vary. Even though they are fully recognized as Brazilian citizens, and thus entitled to all rights formally guaranteed by the state, …