Last Wednesday evening, March 21, the IRC held an event on Brazil in 2018 from cultural, economic, and political perspectives. The event included four speakers: Drs. Chris Anderson and Luciano Tosta from the University of Kansas and Drs. Mona Lyne and Monica Mingucci from the University of Missouri – Kansas City. We started the night discussing the Brazil’s current circumstances. It has the eighth largest GDP in the world but has been in an economic decline for the past eight years. Brazil’s trade is heavily reliant on its natural resources. There is such an abundance of natural resources that the country does not need to import any petroleum. Brazil is the third largest democracy in the world and has been since 1989, though the transition to democracy only began in 1985.

Collor de Melo was the first president of Brazil and his impeachment began only after one year of his first term. Before being impeached, Collor de Melo resigned, and his vice president took over. Under the presidency of Cardoso, Brazil saw reforms in the shape of a federal benefits system through debit cards. After Cardoso, the two major political parties emerged. From here, a multitude of scandals were uncovered including the Lava Jato scandal which tainted the Workers’ Party.

Dr. Lyne explained that the uncovering of scandals in Brazil should not be seen as bad, but as an active process of making the government better. She also said it would be unfair for people of older democracies to look at Brazil, a relatively new democracy, and hold it to the same standards as their own country. Currently, Brazil’s government is facing troubles of a slow justice system, lack of transparency, and a lack of social participation.

Dr. Anderson explained that Brazil has the potential to head in a very positive direction, if the right steps are taken. For example, if health care efficiency is increased, the life expectancy in Brazil could increase by nearly six years. The presenters on Wednesday night may have discussed different perspectives on Brazil, but all of them agreed Brazil is moving in a hopeful direction.

Ellis is a freshman at Metropolitan Community College.