Over the last 20 years, Brazil has undergone a huge social and economic transformation that culminated with the country lifting tens of millions of people out of extreme poverty and reaching seventh place among the world’s largest economies. Such transformations began to take place during the government of former president Fernando Henrique Cardoso, who was elected in 1994 (and previously acted as Brazil’s Finance Minister) and is arguably credited with laying the groundwork that put Brazil’s hyperinflation to bed, though often at the neglect of social problems.
Cardoso was elected for a second term in 1998, during which he adopted a critical position to maintaining the fundamentals of monetary stability, especially after the 1997 crisis erupted. Then in 2002, former metalworker and trade unionist Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva was elected with the promise of governing for the people, but keeping the principles and achievements of his predecessor’s government, which earned him the confidence from investors and the global markets. Helped by a positive global economic scenario, Lula da Silva’s share in turning Brazil into a booming, world-class economy is unquestionable.
As Cardoso, he served two terms as president, and left office in 2010 after playing a major role in successfully electing his sidekick, Brazil’s current president Dilma Rousseff. A technocrat who had never before occupied elective office and with no impressive resume except a history of fighting against the dictatorship in Brazil’s so-called “Years of Lead,” Rousseff’s task was to continue and expand the achievements of both Cardoso’s and Lula da Silva’s governments, and keeping Brazil on track toward growth with income distribution.
Under Rousseff, though, Brazil went from booming to gloomy, with its economy stalling even as Latin America as a whole is growing. Investors from all the globe, who once lined up to buy a piece of the Brazilian Dream, are now looking to more attractive markets, such as Mexico (and celebrating every time she appears losing ground in polls). More recently, Brazil’s economy has slipped into a recession, the country’s annual inflation is accelerating and its outlook is deteriorating. It is as if Brazil is on its way to revisiting the past, due to a crisis of bad management that is already costing the achievements of its people since the country’s re-democratization in the 1980s.