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Feb.22: John Clark discusses "Brazil"

John Clark returns to his first love of Latin American politics in this presentation about Brazil as part of the Church of the Saviour's Great Decisions series.

When: Wednesday February 22, 7:00 PM

Where: Church of the Saviour, 6205 Rucker Road Indianapolis

Here are the questions the Foreign Policy of America thinks should stimulate an engaging discussion of Brazil:

After decades of economic volatility, Brazil is finally enjoying steady growth, despite a political scandal surrounding the administration of President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva. Will Brazil continue on course toward stability? What impact will the scandal have on Brazil's economy, on its South American neighbors and on the U.S.?

Those are good questions, although perhaps too narrow. No matter what Lula's enemies are saying, in the bigger picture of Brazilian history his party has experienced only moderately sized scandals. So here are some other questions I plan to address. What to do about Brazil's poor? Most middle and upper class Brazilians -- like most Americans -- don't understand just how poor you have to be to be poor in Brazil, but thanks to TV every poor person knows exactly what it looks like not to be poor. Lula came to power on a wave of popular enthusiasm, riding a crest of supporters who thought that finally there would be someone in power who'd attack the powerful and chain the market. The reality is that most of the policies Lula articulated over the years would make things worse for the poor (the rich would quickly hop with their wealth to the US or Europe). And Lula has governed as a cautiously pro-market moderate. As a result he has many rivals on the Left who'd be eager to mobilize the prisoners of starvation and the wretched of the earth. With Hugo Chavez next door in Venezuela, reinventing a populism for the 21st century that shows no sign of being any better than the disastrous populisms of the 20th, the pressure to adopt particularly bad policies will increase. This puts enormous pressure on the US as well as Brazil: what to do about making the lives of the poor in Brazil less desperate?

More to follow about this question in IndyBuzz as the date of the talk approaches. If you want to learn more about Brazil, you can attend talks by Pedro Cardoso on March 7, or by Craig Auchter on May 24.

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