Brazil neglecting culture in quest for power?
One of Brazil's greatest assets is its culture and people, and they'll be there no matter what happens to the economy or in international politics, writes guest blogger Rachel Glickhouse.
• A version of this post ran on the author's blog, Riogringa. The views expressed are the author's own.Skip to next paragraph
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With President Dilma Rousseff's Washington visit coming on Monday, everyone's talking about Brazil as a rising power with growing political and economic clout. Brazil has traditionally been a soft power country, given its history of diplomacy, a focus on non-intervention, and its role as a mediator. Now that it's a rising global power, some think it is neglecting cultural promotion, one of its greatest assets. But since Brazil is a champion of soft power, there's an important question: should Brazil work to expand its soft power, or focus on hard power?
BBC published a series of articles (in Portuguese) on the subject today, arguing that while Brazil already has a great deal of soft power, it could adopt a more coherent, streamlined approach to promoting culture abroad. It also posits that promoting Brazilian culture can help Brazil's economy. Tovar Nunes da Silva, the spokesperson for Itamaraty [Ministry of Foreign Affairs], said, "We consciously opted against militarization. We're one of few countries in the world where our national hero is a diplomat and not a general. We don't have a choice – our history is soft power." But singer Gilberto Gil, the former minister of culture, believes Brazil is neglecting culture (in Portuguese) as its international profile has grown. "Since Brazil is becoming more powerful and vocal, its soft power has to grow at the same proportion as hard power," he said.
With an eye on expanding the economy, trying to get a seat on the UN Security Council, and pushing for a greater say [in] international institutions, is it worth investing in music, literature, movies, fashion, and tourism? From my perspective, it is. First of all, Brazil's boom may not last; it wouldn't be the first time. Brazil's political power may hinge on its economic power, and though there's a lot of confidence that the country has finally reached a level of stability, it's also risky to depend on the commodity portion of its economic success. One of Brazil's greatest assets is its culture and people, and they'll be there no matter what happens to the economy or in international politics.