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Walking Blindfolded into the Abyss

October 30, 2018

Monica de Bolle, Director of Latin American Studies and Emerging Markets Specialization, Johns Hopkins SAIS
Peter Hakim, President Emeritus and Senior Fellow, Inter-American Dialogue
Riordan Roett, Professor and Director Emeritus, Latin American Studies, Johns Hopkins SAIS
Matthew Taylor, Professor, American University School of International Service
Clifford Young, Adjunct Professor, Johns Hopkins SAIS
Moderated by Claudia Trevisan, Correspondent for Estadao & Master of International Public Policy Candidate, Johns Hopkins SAIS

The Latin American Studies Program hosted esteemed scholars for an in-depth discussion of the current political, social and economic climate of Brazil in the wake of the recent presidential elections. Their collective expertise provided an opportunity to gain a holistic understanding of Brazil’s current state of affairs.

The event opened with a few remarks by Claudia Trevisan on the new Brazilian president, Jair Bolsonaro, his political views, and the heightened polarization during the election. She introduced some of the country’s most critical problems, namely, its poorly managed public finances, slow economic growth, and a high unemployment rate.

Clifford Young focused on the “hows” and “whys” of Bolsonaro’s rise despite controversial comments Bolsonaro made in the past. He mentioned that the driving factor motivating most Brazilian voters was to eradicate corruption. Bolsonaro’s anti-corruption and anti-crime messaging were effective during the campaign.

Panelists discussed the similarities and differences between Bolsonaro and US President Donald Trump while noting that unlike Brazil, the U.S. is not in an economic crisis.

Riordan Roett called attention to lagging education and productivity rankings that have long hobbled Brazil’s competitiveness. Monica de Bolle called on Bolsonaro to make real and substantial proposals on fixing Brazil’s economic crisis and expressed concern that Bolsonaro’s policy positions threaten to worsen the situation.

The event concluded with questions from the audience covering topics such as Brazil’s foreign policy and relations with the US and other nations.

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