June 30, 2002

MORE ON BRAZIL: Nelson Ascher (who’s Brazilian, even though he’s in Paris at the moment) writes:

As a Brazilian it may be somewhat suspect for me to say this, but it is time for the Americans to think harder about Brazil. Among all Latin American countries it is the one where nostalgia for the old world is weaker, and it is doubtlessly difficult to miss Portugal’s grandeur. While most Spanish Americans feel envy for and kind of admire Spain, we made of Portugal the target of our jokes, and they, the Portuguese, resent it deeply. If Brazil ever had a role model, after having been an operetta monarchy in the 19th century, it has been the USA, and up to some time ago the country’s official name was Estados Unidos do Brasil/ United States of Brazil. Now it is called the Federative Republic of Brazil, though it is still far from being a true fedeation in American terms. The overwhelming majority of Brazil’s population feel pretty close to the US, be it in its way of life, its aspirations or thoughts. There is, it is true, an intellectual elite that remains closer to Europe, but Americans have to take into consideration that for many years the Europeans have been doing their best to invite them over to their continent, publish their works, cover them with prizes etc. That is a job the US has not been doing well or at all, and consequently it has been losing points on the propaganda front. The battle for the hearts and souls of the Arabs and the Muslims in general is lost, and it is a waste of time to dwell on it. But I see no reason for the US to lose Latin America to the EU.

A lot of Americans seem to feel the same way.