Can China help Brazil restart its global soft power?

Ten days of full immersion in Brazil are not for the faint-hearted. Even restricted to the top two megalopolises, Sao Paulo and Rio, watching live the impact of interlocking economic, political, social and environmental crises exacerbated by the Jair Bolsonaro project leaves one stunned.

The return of Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva for what will be his third presidential term, starting January 1, 2023, is an extraordinary story trespassed by Sisyphean tasks. All at the same time he will have to

  • fight poverty;
  • reconnect with economic development while redistributing wealth;
  • re-industrialize the nation; and
  • tame environmental pillage.

That will force his new government to summon unforeseen creative powers of political and financial persuasion.

Even a mediocre, conservative politician such as Geraldo Alckmin, former governor of the wealthiest state of the union, Sao Paulo, and coordinator of the presidential transition, was simply astonished at how four years of the Bolsonaro project let loose a cornucopia of vanished documents, a black hole concerning all sorts of data and inexplicable financial losses.

It’s impossible to ascertain the extent of corruption across the spectrum because simply nothing is in the books: Governmental systems have not been fed since 2020.

Alckmin summed it all up: “The Bolsonaro government happened in the Stone Age, where there were no words and numbers.”

Now every single public policy will have to be created, or re-created from scratch, and serious mistakes will be inevitable because of lack of data.

And we’re not talking about a banana republic – even though the country concerned features plenty of (delicious) bananas.