With the World Cup in the offing and the 2016 Olympic Games on the horizon, the biggest country in South America is flexing its creative muscles.
"Brazil's increasing clout in the 21st century is doubtless one of the most surprising and unexpected events of the modern world." And political scientist Alain Rouquié knows what he's talking about, being an eminent Latin American observer, a former French ambassador to Brazil, the president of the Maison de l’Amérique Latine in Paris and the author of a referential book on the subject: Le Brésil au XXIe siècle (Editions Fayard). His statement echoes General de Gaulle's famous quote: "Brazil is the country of the future and will remain so." And it took this country of the future barely 30 years to make it. "Compare it with its continental rivals: until 1950 Argentina
was richer but now its GDP is only a fifth of Brazil's; 20 years ago Mexico's economy equalled Brazil's but is now only a half of it." Despite a slowdown in 2013 and social instability, there's no sign of a let-up either, in fact last year some forecasters predicted that between 2030 and 2050 Brazil would become the fourth-largest economic power (it's presently the sixth). Why? Judge for yourself:
Brazil is the biggest exporter of iron ore,
sugar, coffee, orange juice, maize and meat, and the third largest manufacturer of commercial planes; it has oil reserves totalling 50 billion barrels, 90,000 hectares of agricultural land and 20% of the planet's drinking-water resources. In short, a mining, farming and industrial giant to fire dreams.
An exuberant young nation
Cultural factors too play a part. Alain Rouquié believes: "The country's sheer size and luxuriant nature have become a subject of national pride. An ideology of grandeur constantly nourishes the conviction of a great destiny, even during catastrophic times. Not to mention an inveterate optimism. The "Fifty years of progress
in five" slogan of President Juscelino Kubitschek, who created Brasília in the 50s, is as present as ever in politicians' minds." A country where everything is possible because its history is still to be written, as Humberto Campana explains: "Brazil is building its history. It's still only an adolescent compared to Europe with its past of many centuries. Brazil is a young country with a different way of looking, not contaminated by the weight of its past." The unarguable star of Brazilian design (with brother Fernando) himself symbolises the creative exuberance that this youthfulness engenders. In design, architecture, contemporary art, photography, gastronomy, fashion and more, Brazilian creativity is in ferment and is projecting its excitement and codes – often with an ethical twist – onto the Old World. Viva Brasil!