Interviewing Brazil on Latin America’s Economic Crisis

Vanessa Catenacci/ The New York Times

The Community of Latin American and Caribbean states (CELAC) has been debating since February 10th regarding the current economic crisis within their region. Formed in 2010, the goal of CELAC is to develop a representative regional body that excludes the influence of the United States. Yet, without a global superpower overseeing the committee, the Latin American countries are starkly in contrast to one another, debating from both extreme socialist and capitalist perspectives. The New York Times sat down with the delegate of Brazil, an important moderator of discourse between the two sides of the spectrum, to discuss the future of Latin America. 

Within CELAC there are a lot of different political and economic perspectives. Which economic stance does Brazil commit to?

Brazil: “There is definitely a mixture of both capitalist and socialist perspectives within Brazil’s economy. After eliminating the dictatorship there was a surge in the economy. However continuing to progress from a socialist to a neutral standpoint, Brazil is still seeing large economic problems. Brazil’s stance on economic policy is to find a healthy balance of capitalist and socialist structures.”

How stable is Brazil’s own economy at the moment? 

Brazil: “At the current moment, Brazil is at an economically instable, specifically due to the Rio Olympics that occurred last year. There were two main problems at the time of Rio that resulted in economic instability. First, there was a presidential transition near the time of Rio due to an extremely large corruption scandal. In addition, there was also an 8 million dollar over expenditure on the Rio Olympics. Overall this has shaped the instability of the economy of Brazil in recent months.”

Where does CELAC as a whole stand on the economic spectrum? 

Brazil: “ In the aftermath of the Pink Tide, an economic shift towards socialism in Latin America in the early 21st century, many Latin American economies are struggling. As a result, there are the beginnings of a transition from socialist policies to capitalist ones. At the moment, countries such as Cuba and Guyana are dedicated to socialism, whereas Paraguay and Peru insist capitalism is the only option. Most countries within CELAC are torn between these two perspectives.”

How does CELAC, as an international organization, plan to solve Latin America’s economic crisis?

Brazil: “Obviously, the economic crisis is a multi dimensional problem. Specifically, one big thing discussed within CELAC is making each country less dependent on the global powers of the world such as the USA and China. For example, Brazil was very dependent on coal as its main export to China, so when oil prices went down and China stopped importing, the economy took a hard hit. Increasing the amount of exports Latin America is reliant on and encouraging free trade within CELAC as well as globally will help build a more stable economy. In addition, another step forward would be to encourage both capitalist policies such as free trade and socialist policies such as minimum wage in order to boost our economy.”

What areas would Brazil wish to focus on for economic growth?

Brazil: “For Brazil, tourism is already a prominent source of income, whereas other countries such as Paraguay might still be able to explore that sector for economic growth. Overall, Brazil believes that CELAC should start focusing on an increase in manufacturing of goods and exports. The concept of renewable resources was also discussed.”

Should CELAC continue to rely on investment from the United States and China despite negative past experiences?

Brazil: “Going forward based on the past experiences of Brazil and other countries, CELAC should be aware to not put its eggs all in one basket. However, Brazil can safely say the majority of CELAC would still look forward toward trading with the USA and China to establish good relations with such dominant countries.” 

How would your relations with CELAC and the countries involved be affected if you could not reach a consensus? 

Brazil: “I believe that the point of CELAC is to try to appreciate everyone’s viewpoint and accommodate everyone for the most consensual solution. Although there are a lot of conflicting ideologies, I do not believe it would affect Brazil within the committee if there were disagreements. At the end of the day, a resolution passed for Latin America is a resolution passed for Brazil too.”