Wednesday, October 12, 2005

"Brazil is not for amateurs"

At a seminar yesterday Leslie Bethell, Director of Oxford's Centre for Brazilian Studies, offered an analysis of the nature and extent of Brazil's political crisis (see also Arthur Ituassu).

He thinks the what has happened under the PT is of a different order from previous scandals. The party still has a massive grass roots support base, but it has been significantly weakened, and a defeat for Lula in the presidential election of 2006 - once unthinkable - is a real possibility now that "he has lost the urban middle class irrevocably".

It would be great to see a version of Bethell's talk published and easily accessible.

A Brazilian analyst whose name I didn't catch said she feared a turn by Lula towards populism. Bethell agreed that "on some days" Lula was deeply impressed by Hugo Chavez and that this was "worrying", as was the murder of [name?] that some had linked to Lula's private secretary.

So much to get to grips with here. What else helps towards understanding of background, context and present? How about, for example, Peter Robb's A Death in Brazil?

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