Is Brazil seen as a developing country

Brazil - Rise of a BRICS State

June 20th, Rio de Janeiro. The Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff opens the climate conference "Rio + 20". She welcomes heads of state, politicians and experts from all over the world. For a week, Brazil will be in the spotlight of the world again, as it was in October 2009; when IOC President Jacques Rogge declared Rio de Janeiro Olympic City in 2016.

The decision in favor of Rio was a triumph for all of Brazil - but especially for President Lula da Silva, who was still in office in 2009. He had massively promoted the prestige project and declared the decision of the International Olympic Committee to be a major political event:

"I think this is a day to celebrate. Brazil is no longer a second class country, we moved up to the club of the first class countries. Today we could feel the recognition for that."

At least on the sport-political level, Brazil is among the top international players: the Pan American Games in Rio in 2007, the World Cup in 2014, and the Sugar Loaf in 2016. It is balm for the soul of almost 200 million people. TV journalist Gudryan Neufert, known in Brazil, says it is good for her self-confidence:

"Brazil was already self-confident in the past. But this self-confidence was always fleeting, superficial. It only started when the national team won a football World Cup or when a racing driver won Formula 1. This self-confidence lasted for maybe a week I have the impression that this feeling will not go away again. "

Brazil's self-confidence can also be felt internationally. Brasilia is demanding a permanent seat on the UN Security Council, is now one of the donor countries of the International Monetary Fund and is increasingly playing a leading role in Latin America. US President Obama also demands that Brazil, as the largest country, must finally take the lead on the subcontinent. According to the sociologist and economic expert Demetrio Magnoli, the political strategic weight of Brazil will continue to increase, but:

"Brazil's political weight will never be as great as its economic weight. If only because of its geographical location, because Brazil and the entire continent are remote from the world's major centers of power. Furthermore, Brazil does not want to become a nuclear power. Therefore, the political weight of Brazil quickly reaches a limit . "

In the large Brazilian car factories - whether at VW or Brasil, Toyota or Fiat - the assembly lines run day and night. In car production, the country ranks fourth behind China, the USA and Japan. Brazil's industry is booming, regardless of whether it is in the cellular, computer or aircraft industries. In an international comparison, Brazil is always ahead. In the group of so-called "BRICS countries" Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, the country is in an excellent position. Claudio Roberto Amitrano, Director of the Institute for Macroeconomic Studies in Brasilia:

"Between 1930 and 1980, Brazil experienced accelerated industrialization. After that, a process of economic freedom took place; and today we have a production structure that, from an international perspective, is strongly linked to the export of raw materials, and there is a strong connection, an economic one Dialogue between Brazil and China - China needs a lot of raw materials. "

Just a few years ago, Brazil was considered an absolute developing country - a synonym for crime, poverty and underdevelopment. Today the largest country in Latin America with almost 200 million inhabitants is a role model. To understand the change in the new giant, one has to travel to the northeast, to the state of Pernambuco, the former poor house in Brazil.

Arrival in Castanhinho on the outskirts of Garanhuns. Castanhinho is one of the many former settlements where slaves used to flee. The descendants of the slaves still live here. They are called quilombolas. The people in Castaninho are very poor, says Eurenice, who works for the Catholic Church:

"In the beginning, many worked here as temporary workers and lived on cassava. Not anymore. Compared to the past, a lot has gotten better, there is government support such as 'Bolsa Familia', which helped a lot. In the past they even begged. It are poor families. But many go to school today, some go to university, the children now have a school. So if you compare that with the situation in the 1990s, it's a different reality today. "

Around 170 families live in an agricultural collective in Castanhinho. They plant cassava, beans, corn, and produce farinh, together they farm 198 hectares. That is not much, but the land belongs to them, even if the ownership situation has not yet been fully clarified, complains Jose Carlos da Silva, the head of the community:

"The community is in the process of getting the property rights, that is collective territory. We want to prevent someone from selling their piece of land again and falling back into poverty. That is why we work collectively here every day, so we are closer, that is the most important thing for us. "

The constitution of 1988 gives the so-called "landless", i.e. small farmers, the right to their own cultivation areas. They used to be dependent on large landowners. Brazil is probably the country with the most unfair distribution of land in the world: Few rich people own a large part of the area, millions of small farmers and agricultural workers hardly remain.

Under a canopy, women wash cassava in a plastic tub. Then the potato-like plants are chopped up, dried and made into flour. The income is not enough to survive, which is why three quarters of the families here are dependent on "Bolsa familia", the government's major social program. Only those who send their children to school and to health checks are entitled to Bolsa Familia. Joseni is in her mid-30s, she says her family, including the three children, are doing better now:

"Yes, much better. Here, where we work, we have expanded a lot, now we can also work in the rain. It used to be very complicated. I started working myself when I was five, my children are not allowed to. The authorities don't allow us that. They have to go to school. Child labor is definitely no longer possible. "

"Bolsa Familia" means something like "family grant". Over 12 million households receive support, a good 40 million people now make a living from it. Each mother receives - depending on the number of children - the equivalent of up to 80 euros per month. Jose Carlos would prefer it if the land issue was finally settled and social welfare would become superfluous:

"These programs only alleviate the hardship, and the question of survival must not depend on participation in the Bolsa programs. We know many families who are completely dependent on the Bolsas who have no land and no work, and at the end of it Month they get a little money and go to the supermarket. That's not freedom! "

The largest country in Latin America has to struggle with countless problems. Half of the population is still considered poor, education is poor, and the number of illiterates is high.

A major construction site in the middle of the Sertao, the heart of the Brazilian northeast. Here, in a bay of the Rio Sao Francisco, a gigantic project is growing. Shovel excavators tirelessly dig a canal bed, trucks pour sand onto the banks every minute. The Sao Francisco is a source of life for large parts of Brazil, it only steers clear of the Sertao. From the point of view of Joao Bosco Almeida, Secretary of the State of Water Management, this must change:

"The interior of Pernambuco is a very densely populated region, but there is very little water there. All the resources that exist there have already been developed. The project will distribute water to 63 cities in the interior of Pernambuco. The greatest benefit of the Transposicao is the stabilization of the water supply inland. "

Here at Floresta the river is being tapped, two canals are supposed to channel water over 600 kilometers deep into the drought areas. It's not just about water. The project should become the new livelihood for the Nortestinos. Dom Adriano Ciocca, Bishop of Floresta:

"Our population lives differently than the people in the rest of Brazil. Until recently, the north-east was clearly the most backward region in the country, economically and socially. It was seen more as a manpower reservoir for the development of the south and the central west the government to colonize the Amazon region, a region that had to be 'conquered' and colonized. "

The Rio Sao Francisco is the second largest river in Brazil, a good 2700 kilometers long. It supplies five states with its water, and it also feeds the gigantic hydropower plants Sobradinho and Paulo Afonso. They produce 95 percent of the energy in the northeast. But not everyone shares the euphoria. Many people in the area have become skeptical. The government had promised to quench their thirst, irrigate the fields, create jobs and improve the overall economic and social situation. At first most were in favor, says Marcelo Manoel dos Santos, spokesman for the residents, but the mood has now turned:

"In the beginning the people here in the village believed that it was a good project that would bring many benefits to the community here. But over time we saw that it was different from what we had imagined. There is always still people who believe that it is good, but the majority no longer believe in it as they did before. "

The Sao Francisco project is expected to cost around 2.6 billion euros. 8,000 workers toil on the construction site, many come - or rather, came from the region. You are now standing empty-handed, complains Manoel:

"In the beginning a lot of jobs were created. Today a lot of people are laid off again, so we are no longer so sure that many more jobs will be created. So many are returning to agriculture, but many others are no longer possible. They had theirs Land abandoned and have to start again from scratch. "

The Transposiciao is not the only major government project that has met with fierce popular opposition. Several hydropower projects are planned, such as Belo Monte, with gigantic dams, the third largest hydropower plant in the world is to be built on the Rio Xingu, 500 square kilometers of Amazon jungle would be destroyed as a result. Belo Monte is now mobilizing environmental and nature conservationists around the world as well as sympathizers of the indigenous people in the region.

In the cargo port of Suapé, a good 20 kilometers outside of Recife, the capital of the state of Pernambuco, the future has already begun. Since 2007, the government has invested a good 500 million euros here and added further funds to the region. Tens of thousands of jobs were created, the level of training has risen considerably and four more docks for large ships will be built in the next few years. Suape, says Sidnei Jose Aires, one of those responsible, is a symbol of the upswing in Brazil - and Pernambuco:

"It was President Lula's decision to give special support to Suape, for regional reasons. The Northeast is growing faster than other parts of Brazil, and Pernambuco is growing the fastest in the whole of the Northeast. Refineries, shipyards, new terminals - all of this goes hand in hand with the economic Growth."

Pernambuco is one boom zone. Suape, the Transposicao, the expansion of the cargo airport in Petrolina, a railway line across the northeast, all this should create blooming landscapes and happy people. That has already succeeded a little, says Father Juvenal, a Franciscan monk who looks after the rural population of Garanhuns:

"I think the situation is improving for everyone. Those who were already rich, however, have particularly benefited. The banks were granted many privileges while the agrarian reform was not implemented. In these eight years there has been some progress in education, too in health, and especially in terms of nutrition and the well-being of the population. Indeed, this is a country of many riches that holds great promise for the future. "

For the sociologist and economic expert Demetrio Magnoli from Sao Paulo, however, the economic success of Brazil is also related to the globalization of the world economy and especially to the development of China.

"Brazil is free rider in this development, but that is no coincidence, because Brazil has done its homework, Brazil has stabilized its currency and got its public finances under control. These developments laid the basis for Brazil to grow. Internationally However, Brazil has not grown excessively - not more than Latin America as a whole. "

From a global perspective, Brazil is still one of the countries in which prosperity is particularly unevenly distributed. Six million apartments are missing, half of the citizens have no sewage connection, and because of the enormous crime rate, Brazil is one of the most dangerous countries in Latin America. The biggest obstacle to the long-term economic goals is the completely outdated and inadequate infrastructure. Nevertheless, the economic expert Bolivar La Monjeu says:

"I think the Brazilian economy has very great potential, and that is the work of God, who has given us metal deposits, a good soil and a good climate.

On an oil rig off the Brazilian Atlantic coast, equipment is being made ready to search for new sources kilometers deep in the sea floor. This has been extremely successful in recent years. Huge oil reserves lie dormant off the coast between Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo, experts speak of up to 80 billion barrels. The project called "Pre Sal" is intended to catapult Brazil into a league with the major OPEC countries. However, there is a catch: the oil wells are located under a kilometer-thick layer of salt at a depth of at least 6,000 meters, and so far there is no corresponding technology to extract the oil. The state-owned oil company Petrobras is still investing $ 175 billion in oil rigs, ships and other equipment to make the springs bubble.
Basically, most international economic experts agree: Brazil can make it among the five largest economies in the world in the next ten, 15 or 20 years. Brazil has every chance, according to Demetrio Magnoli:

"Brazil will be one of the great economies in the world. In this new stage in the world economy, the productivity gap between the First World and the rest will shrink, the demographic factor of the emerging economies will gain in importance."