This InFOCUS interview captures the scenario of Brazil from the perspective of a renowned journalist: Paulo Sotero.
is the Director of the Brazil Institute of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. An award winning journalist, from 1989 to 2006 he was the Washington correspondent for Estado de S.Paulo, a leading Brazilian daily newspaper. Sotero began his career at Veja in the late 1960s and worked for the magazine in São Paulo, Recife, Brasília, and Paris, until he was named its correspondent in Portugal after the democratic revolution of April 25, 1974. Sotero has been in Washington, D.C., since 1980, where he has been a correspondent for Istoé weekly magazine and the financial newspaper Gazeta Mecantil. He is a frequent guest commentator for the BBC, CNN, AlJazeera, Voice of America, National Public Radio, Globo News Television and the Brazilian Radio Network - CBN. He also contributes regularly to Brazilian and international newspapers, magazines, and scholarly journals. A native of the state of São Paulo, Sotero holds a Bachelor’s degree in History from the Catholic University of Pernambuco, and a Master’s in Journalism and Public Affairs from the American University, in Washington, D.C. He has been an adjunct lecturer at the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service, Georgetown University, and is currently on the adjunct faculty of the Elliott School of International Affairs, George Washington University.
BACC-SE: What is your opinion about the results of the World Cup and the impacts to the Brazilian development?
The World Cup was a surprise; Brazil did the unexpected in the World Cup — twice. First, by losing the soccer tournament in a historical way, and secondly hosting an excellent event, free of the logistical nightmares that were feared by most. Brazil showed that it has the capacity to host a big global event and sent a message to the world that Brazil is a welcoming country. As shown in surveys, 85% of the foreigners that were in Brazil during the World Cup said that they loved the experience and they intend to come back. It happen because they were in touch with the most important asset that Brazil has, the Brazilian.
In my opinion, every time that Brazil opens doors to the world, Brazil has an improvement. Historically, Brazil has grown in a very closed way, and that’s why I think the World Cup is really important to the Brazilian development. We have to take advantage of that and continue to progress, not because of the Olympics or other big event, but because of the well-being of Brazilians, the progress of Brazilian economy and development of Brazil.
BACC-SE: What are the socioeconomics’ impacts from the World Cup to Brazil?
The World Cup created the opportunity to improve the infra-structure and the pressure to conclude some buildings, renovations and improvements. A country such as Brazil, with the desire to attract investment, tourists must facilitate the logistics needs to build facilities and appropriate airports.
Brazil needs to have infra-structure, with better airports, ports and roads that are not only important because of the World Cup, but because of the Brazilian economy. In that sense, the World Cup gave an impetus that was important. What was least important was the stadiums; I would have preferred to build only 8 instead of 12 stadiums, because some of them will not be used, but overall it was a positive legacy.
What the World Cup showed is that we are competent and when we put our mind to do something, we deliver. So let’s concentrate in doing what is important, what is priority, what is relevant for Brazilian economy. I’m less worried about the political impact: Brazilians are very intelligent and separate very well what is soccer from what is politics, we don’t mix those two things.
BACC-SE: What changes do expect with the tragedy that happened with Eduardo Campos?
Well, almost everything changes. Although he was in the third place in electoral pools, people in Brazil are starting to realize the enormity of this lost.
Eduardo Campos was a very special politician; he was an example of a new generation of politicians in Brazil that grew up in democracy. He was able to combine his commitment with social justice with a capacity to develop and implement managerial decisions, especially in the economic field. He governed Pernambuco very well and was re-elected in 2010 with 82% of the votes. He proposed the non-polarization with democracy, economic stability and a more equal society. It is up to Marina, Aécio or Dilma to continue his legacy and apply his proposals.
Brazilians are completely disenchanted with politics, and this is the opportunity to have a new approach. Brazilian economy is barely growing, which also requires a new approach that brings people together, streamline bureaucracy and tax in a more intelligent way. We cannot go back to the times of inflation or tell this growing middle class that the future is going to be bleak. So there is only one solution, which is to negotiate, to compromise, and move forward.