BRAZIL

BRASÍLIA-DF, BRAZIL  4th EDITION – OCTOBER, 2021

BRAZIL: BEYOND THE BAD NEWS

00

BRAZIL:BEYOND
THE BAD NEWS

Foreword.

AN accurate, unbiased information to provide a more complete snapshot of Brazil

Arko Advice has compiled the following report with the intent of providing readers with accurate, unbiased information to provide a more complete snapshot of Brazil and the current political and economic environment in the country. When the focus of attention is placed exclusively on areas that require improvement, the underlying pillars and their strength can often be overlooked. Readers of the report will understand why it is so difficult to understand political and social structures in Brazil and the unique political dynamics of our media institutions.

The political impact of zeitgeist-changing Car Wash Operation is woven into discussions of our political rebirth, electoral reforms and an explanation of the fundamental strength of our democracy. We also analyze key aspects of the Brazilian economy, highlighting sectors that are truly advanced and often forgotten. While Brazil is commonly portrayed as an underdeveloped country that pillages the environment, we will dispel some of these notions by showcasing the advances in digital inclusion and the undervalued efforts in the environmental field.

AUTHORS

MURILLO DE ARAGÃO is the CEO and founder of Arko Advice. He is a lawyer and holds an MA in Political Science and a PhD in Sociology (University of Brasília). Murillo is a columnist for several Brazilian newspapers and magazines, such as O Tempo, O Liberal, O Estado de S. Paulo and Veja, as well as author of dozens of articles and political studies published in Brazil and abroad. Murillo is an adjunct professor of Brazilian Politics at Columbia University in New York City.

MICHAEL LÓPEZ STEWART is a partner at Arko Advice. He studied Political Theory and Comparative Literature at the University of Pennsylvania. He served as an editor and columnist for the Sound Politicks Journal of Political Science. A dual citizen, natively fluent in English, Spanish and Portuguese, Michael has been developing and implementing public affairs strategies for Arko clients out of the Brasília HQ for the last ten years.

TABLE OF

CONTENTES

  • 01

    WHY IS IT SO DIFFICULT TO UNDERSTAND BRAZIL?
  • 02

    Key Aspects of the Political Environment
  • 2.1

    - ADVANCES IN THE POLITICAL SYSTEM
  • 2.2

    - POLITICAL IMPACT OF OPERATION CAR WASH
  • 2.3

    - FEDERALISM IN BRAZIL
  • 2.4

    - ELECTORAL SYSTEM
  • 2.5

    - THE STRENGTH OF DEMOCRACY
  • 03

    KEY ASPECTS OF THE ECONOMIC ENVIRONMENT
  • 3.1

    - STRENGTHENING COMPLIANCE
  • 3.2

    - BRAZILIAN ENERGY GRID
  • 3.3

    - THE STRENGTH OF AGRIBUSINESS
  • 3.4

    - REFORM AGENDA
  • 3.5

    - SPENDING CEILING
  • 3.6

    - INFRASTRUCTURE AND CONCESSIONS
  • 3.7

    - GOVERNANCE AND THE FINANCIAL SYSTEM
  • 3.8

    - CENTRAL BANK AUTONOMY
  • 3.9

    - THE NEW BANKRUPTCY LAW
  • 3.10

    - PUBLIC TENDERS
  • 04

    KEY ASPECTS OF THE SOCIAL ENVIRONMENT
  • 4.1

    - BRAZILIAN HEALTH SYSTEM
  • 4.2

    - COMBATTING THE PANDEMIC
  • 4.3

    - PLURAL AND ACTIVE PRESS
  • 4.4

    - DIGITAL INCLUSION
  • 05

    The Environmental Question
  • 5.1

    - GENERAL ASPECTS
  • 5.2

    - TERRITORIAL PRESERVATION
  • 5.3

    - PULP AND PAPER
  • 5.4

    - RECYCLING OF ALUMINUM
  • 5.5

    - MODERN CHEMISTRY
  • 5.6

    - RECYCLING OF TIRES
  • 06

    Conclusion
BRAZIL: BEYOND THE BAD NEWS

01

BRAZIL:BEYOND
THE BAD NEWS

Why is it so difficult
to understand Brazil?

Understanding Brazil is not an easy task.

There are several factors that make an accurate assessment of the country very difficult. Located on a peripheral continent and in the southern hemisphere of the world, Brazil is often on the periphery of major events. Many see Brazil as an opportunity, but not a clear and viable option.

Brazil also does not have much international access overall. Few Brazilians travel abroad and no more than 6 million foreigners visit Brazil each year. Brazil’s image overseas is that of a tropical paradise that is obsessed with soccer and Carnival and is plagued by violence and corruption.

However, the most important factor that influences Brazil’s image abroad is the amount of negative news it receives. As a developing country with a high level of inequality, Brazil presents serious distortions that end up feeding negative news. On the other hand, there is a clear lack of emphasis on the positive side, which ends up being “discovered” by those who go beyond the international news and have a real interest in the country’s potential.

If investors depended solely on their impressions about Brazil based on international news, the country would not be a preferred destination for FDIs, among the five largest in the world.

Direct and speculative investors have specific information channels that end up giving a more realistic picture of both the advantages and disadvantages of investing in and staying invested in Brazil.

Companies such as IBM, Volkswagen, SKF, Siemens, Ford, GM, Xerox, Unilever, Scania, Coca-Cola, John Deere, Shell, Procter-Gamble, MSD, Toyota, Astro-Zeneca, Pfizer, ABB, and Nestle, are among hundreds of multinationals that have been in Brazil for decades and, most of the time, maintain relevant profitability.

The purpose of this brief article is not to fully explain Brazil. Instead, the aim is to point out why, initially, it is difficult to understand Brazil, and to highlight its positive aspects that get lost in the vast sea of bad news and misinformation about the country.

Obviously, what is negative about Brazil should not be disregarded or taken lightly. However, there is a clear imbalance between what is said to be bad and what really is good about Brazil – in line with the well-known phrase in press: “good news is bad news.”

There are several factors that make an accurate assessment of the country very difficult. Located on a peripheral continent and in the southern hemisphere of the world, Brazil is often on the periphery of major events. Many see Brazil as an opportunity, but not a clear and viable option.

Brazil also does not have much international access overall. Few Brazilians travel abroad and no more than 6 million foreigners visit Brazil each year. Brazil’s image overseas is that of a tropical paradise that is obsessed with soccer and Carnival and is plagued by violence and corruption.

However, the most important factor that influences Brazil’s image abroad is the amount of negative news it receives. As a developing country with a high level of inequality, Brazil presents serious distortions that end up feeding negative news. On the other hand, there is a clear lack of emphasis on the positive side, which ends up being “discovered” by those who go beyond the international news and have a real interest in the country’s potential.

If investors depended solely on their impressions about Brazil based on international news, the country would not be a preferred destination for FDIs, among the five largest in the world.

Direct and speculative investors have specific information channels that end up giving a more realistic picture of both the advantages and disadvantages of investing in and staying invested in Brazil.

Companies such as IBM, Volkswagen, SKF, Siemens, Ford, GM, Xerox, Unilever, Scania, Coca-Cola, John Deere, Shell, Procter-Gamble, MSD, Toyota, Astro-Zeneca, Pfizer, ABB, and Nestle, are among hundreds of multinationals that have been in Brazil for decades and, most of the time, maintain relevant profitability.

The purpose of this brief article is not to fully explain Brazil. Instead, the aim is to point out why, initially, it is difficult to understand Brazil, and to highlight its positive aspects that get lost in the vast sea of bad news and misinformation about the country.

Obviously, what is negative about Brazil should not be disregarded or taken lightly. However, there is a clear imbalance between what is said to be bad and what really is good about Brazil – in line with the well-known phrase in press: “good news is bad news.”

BRAZIL: BEYOND THE BAD NEWS

02

Key Aspects of the
Political Environment.

2.1. Advances in the Political System

In 2010, based on a movement with broad participation from civil society, the National Congress approved the Clean Record Law that prohibits politicians convicted in higher court decisions to
run as candidates. Thousands of politicians were removed from public service. 

Before, through endless appeals, convicted politicians were postponing final sentence as a way to remain politically viable. In 2013, after protests against the government and against corruption, Congress passed the new Anti- Corruption Law that strengthened compliance in Brazil as well as the leniency agreements that were widely used in Operation Car Wash (OCW).

Politically, in addition to the arrests of corrupt politicians and businessmen, the OCW affected the political debate by determining relevant changes in electoral legislation. The Federal Supreme Court decided to ban corporate donations to electoral campaigns and political parties since many of the bribes were camouflaged as electoral and party donations.

The National Congress decided to set spending limits by type of candidacy, dramatically reducing the cost of election campaigns and eliminating financial doping in the dispute and the use of donations to obtain government sales benefits.

In 2010, based on a movement with broad participation from civil society, the National Congress approved the Clean Record Law that prohibits politicians convicted in higher court decisions to run as candidates. Thousands of politicians were removed from public service. Before, through endless appeals, convicted politicians were postponing final sentence as a way to remain politically viable. In 2013, after protests against the government and against corruption, Congress passed the new Anti- Corruption Law that strengthened compliance in Brazil as well as the leniency agreements that were widely used in Operation Car Wash (OCW).

Politically, in addition to the arrests of corrupt politicians and businessmen, the OCW affected the political debate by determining relevant changes in electoral legislation. The Federal Supreme Court decided to ban corporate donations to electoral campaigns and political parties since many of the bribes were camouflaged as electoral and party donations. The National Congress decided to set spending limits by type of candidacy, dramatically reducing the cost of election campaigns and eliminating financial doping in the dispute and the use of donations to obtain government sales benefits.

02

BRAZIL:BEYOND
THE BAD NEWS

2.2. Political impact of Operation Car Wash

One of the most relevant political aspects of national policy was Operation Car Wash (OCW). The OCW began in 2014 as an investigation of drug trafficking and money laundering and has revealed one of the biggest corruption scandals in the history of capitalist society. In addition to the economic repercussions, the operation shocked the political world. Both with the investigation and sentencing of important politicians, as well as with the change of electoral rules.

The OCW resulted in the arrest of former Presidents of the Republic, former President of the Lower House, several former ministers, as well as representatives and senators.

The OCW was marked by the cooperation of the Federal Public Ministry, the Federal Police, the Federal Revenue Service, the Federal Judiciary and the international cooperation of similar bodies in other countries.

Despite some allegations of excessive investigative tactics used by the task force employed by the OCW, for a large part of Brazilians, the operation refers to the fight against the biggest corruption scandal in the history of Brazil.

In addition to the various arrests, R$ 14.3 billion is estimated to be recovered and more than 1,000 requests for legal cooperation were received from 61 nations.

Recently, the methodology of the Car Wash Operation has been questioned in superior courts. The annulment of convictions of former president Luis Inácio Lula da Silva are seen by many as a step backwards.

However, looking at it broadly, the effects of the Car Wash Operation have brought greater awareness and care in the relationships between the private and public sectors in Brazil.

One of the most relevant political aspects of national policy was Operation Car Wash (OCW). The OCW began in 2014 as an investigation of drug trafficking and money laundering and has revealed one of the biggest corruption scandals in the history of capitalist society. In addition to the economic repercussions, the operation shocked the political world. Both with the investigation and sentencing of important politicians, as well as with the change of electoral rules. The OCW resulted in the arrest of former Presidents of the Republic, former President of the Lower House, several former ministers, as well as representatives and senators. The OCW was marked by the cooperation of the Federal Public Ministry, the Federal Police, the Federal Revenue Service, the Federal Judiciary and the international cooperation of similar bodies in other countries.

Despite some allegations of excessive investigative tactics used by the task force employed by the OCW, for a large part of Brazilians, the operation refers to the fight against the biggest corruption scandal in the history of Brazil. In addition to the various arrests, R$ 14.3 billion is estimated to be recovered and more than 1,000 requests for legal cooperation were received from 61 nations. Recently, the methodology of the Car Wash Operation has been questioned in superior courts. The annulment of convictions of former president Luis Inácio Lula da Silva are seen by many as a step backwards. However, looking at it broadly, the effects of the Car Wash Operation have brought greater awareness and care in the relationships between the private and public sectors in Brazil.

2.3. Federalism in Brazil

Federalism was introduced in Brazil at the beginning of the Republic in 1889. The simplest way of defining the federal state is to characterize it as a form of organization and distribution of state power in which the existence of a central government does not prevent the sharing of responsibilities and powers between it and the member states. The Brazilian Constitution determines the competencies of each of the parties that make up the Federation.

In summary, it says that the powers of the Union (federal government) include engaging inforeign policy and international relations; proposing and executing the national security and defense policy; managing the country’s economy
and finances, including issuing currency; organizing, regulating and providing telecommunication services; and maintaining nuclear services and facilities.

State’s responsibilities are those outside the federal government’s powers and that were not expressly prohibited by the Constitution such as the environment and public health. In the COVID-19 pandemic, despite public
opinion often holding the central government accountable, many key decisions, including imposing quarantine and lockdowns, were made by states and municipalities.

Responsibility for environmental issues is shared by three federative entities: the federal government, states and municipalities. At all levels of the federation there are three powers: executive, legislative and judicial. This fact explains how there is no centralization of decisions despite the evident role of the federal government in many issues.

Federalism was introduced in Brazil at the beginning of the Republic in 1889. The simplest way of defining the federal state is to characterize it as a form of organization and distribution of state power in which the existence of a central government does not prevent the sharing of responsibilities and powers between it and the member states. The Brazilian Constitution determines the competencies of each of the parties that make up the Federation. In summary, it says that the powers of the Union (federal government) include engaging inforeign policy and international relations; proposing and executing the national security and defense policy; managing the country’s economy and finances, including issuing currency; organizing, regulating and providing telecommunication services; and maintaining nuclear services and facilities.

State’s responsibilities are those outside the federal government’s powers and that were not expressly prohibited by the Constitution such as the environment and public health. In the COVID-19 pandemic, despite public opinion often holding the central government accountable, many key decisions, including imposing quarantine and lockdowns, were made by states and municipalities. Responsibility for environmental issues is shared by three federative entities: the federal government, states and municipalities. At all levels of the federation there are three powers: executive, legislative and judicial This fact explains how there is no centralization of decisions despite the evident role of the federal government in many issues.

2.4. Electoral SysteM

Politically, Brazil is one of the largest direct democracies in the world. There are more than 148 million voters who are obligated to vote in general and direct elections for presidents, governors, senators, federal representatives, state representatives and mayors and local councilmen.

The electoral system is computerized through electronic voting machines that reach more than 90% of the electorate. Since 1989, after almost three decades of military rule, Brazil has held direct Presidential elections, electing, by order of President-elects, a liberal-conservative, a social-democrat, two socialists and a conservative.

In spite of the chaotic character of the fragmented Brazilian party system, ideologically, an environment of plurality of tendencies that could come to power through democratic means was evidenced.

Thus, in addition to being one of the largest democracies on the planet, there is so much party plurality covering all ideological spectrums – from the extreme left to the right, the system has allowed different party identities to lead the country.

Politically, Brazil is one of the largest direct democracies in the world. There are more than 148 million voters who are obligated to vote in general and direct elections for presidents, governors, senators, federal representatives, state representatives and mayors and local councilmen. The electoral system is computerized through electronic voting machines that reach more than 90% of the electorate. Since 1989, after almost three decades of military rule, Brazil has held direct Presidential elections, electing, by order of President-elects, a liberal-conservative, a social-democrat, two socialists and a conservative

In spite of the chaotic character of the fragmented Brazilian party system, ideologically, an environment of plurality of tendencies that could come to power through democratic means was evidenced. Thus, in addition to being one of the largest democracies on the planet, there is so much party plurality covering all ideological spectrums – from the extreme left to the right, the system has allowed different party identities to lead the country.

2.5. The Strength of Democracy

Amid questions about the strength of democracy, stemming from statements of appreciation for the military regime made by supporters of President Bolsonaro, a poll carried out by Datafolha in June 2020 shows that support for democracy as the best form of government remains in the majority adult Brazilians, and in comparison with the previous survey, of December 2019, the results increased by 13%.

The results, according to Datafolha, are expressive: three out of four (75%) voters agree that a democracy is always the best form of government (it was 62% last December), 12% would like either a democracy or a dictatorship (it was 22%), 10% in certain circumstances would prefer a dictatorship (it was 12%) and 3% did not give their opinion (same previous index).

The rate of support for democracy is at a record high and surpassed the
rate recorded in October 2018, in the month of the presidential election, when it was at 69%. The lowest level of the series was in February 1992, at 42%.

Several Brazilian personalities, such as former President Michel Temer and STF minister Luiz Roberto Barroso, were emphatic in saying that there is no possibility of an institutional rupture in Brazil given the immense popular support for the democratic regime and the strength and independence of the branches.

Amid questions about the strength of democracy, stemming from statements of appreciation for the military regime made by supporters of President Bolsonaro, a poll carried out by Datafolha in June 2020 shows that support for democracy as the best form of government remains in the majority adult Brazilians, and in comparison with the previous survey, of December 2019, the results increased by 13%. The results, according to Datafolha, are expressive: three out of four (75%) voters agree that a democracy is always the best form of government (it was 62% last December), 12% would like either a democracy or a dictatorship (it was 22%), 10% in certain circumstances would prefer a dictatorship (it was 12%) and 3% did not give their opinion (same previous index).

The rate of support for democracy is at a record high and surpassed the rate recorded in October 2018, in the month of the presidential election, when it was at 69%. The lowest level of the series was in February 1992, at 42%. Several Brazilian personalities, such as former President Michel Temer and STF minister Luiz Roberto Barroso, were emphatic in saying that there is no possibility of an institutional rupture in Brazil given the immense popular support for the democratic regime and the strength and independence of the branches.

BRAZIL: BEYOND THE BAD NEWS

03

BRAZIL:BEYOND
THE BAD NEWS

Key Aspects of the Economic Environment.

3.1. Strengthening Compliance

Although it is a contemporary topic, the history of compliance in Brazil can be seen in the 1988 Constitution, as well as the subsequent international treaties to which Brazil has subscribed. Following protests in 2013, the Anti-Corruption Law (12,846/13) emerged and established the rules and norms to fight corruption. With this law, the concept of compliance gains more understanding and support in Brazil. Under the new law, there is strict liability regarding: the possibility of fines, expansion

of the concept of undue advantage payments, offer or performance of this act; suspicion or interdiction of activities, leniency as a means of negotiated solution, among others. After Law 12,846/13, compliance programs have multiplied in Brazil, especially in large companies and multinationals. Many corporations have hired professionals and consultants to set up policies, codes of ethics, establish processes and implement the other elementary steps to certify third parties that have integrity programmes.

3.2. Brazilian energy grid

Little is said about the Brazilian energy grid, which is one of the most renewable in the world. Data from the Ministry of Mines and Energy (MME) shows that, currently, 83% of Brazil’s electrical grid is renewable. The renewable sources are led by hydroelectric (63.8%), followed by wind (9.3%), biomass and biogas (8.9%) and centralized solar (1.4%).

There are many hydroelectric power plants (HPP) in Brazil because of the abundance of water resources, since there are more than 12,000 rivers. As a comparison, more than 50% of the world energy grid came from coal and oil in 2016. Only 2.5% came from hydroelectric plants.

In the environmental licensing processes of the energy sector, about 15% of the amount invested is directed to socio-environmental projects. At Belo Monte HPP, R$ 5 billion were invested in socio-environmental projects in the five years since its construction.

At Tapajos HPP, which has not yet been initiated, more than R$ 50 million was spent since 2018 on socio-environmental studies. For each MW installed in Brazil, an estimated R$ 1 million was invested in the environment.

Little is said about the Brazilian energy grid, which is one of the most renewable in the world. Data from the Ministry of Mines and Energy (MME) shows that, currently, 83% of Brazil’s electrical grid is renewable. The renewable sources are led by hydroelectric (63.8%), followed by wind (9.3%), biomass and biogas (8.9%) and centralized solar (1.4%). There are many hydroelectric power plants (HPP) in Brazil because of the abundance of water resources, since there are more than 12,000 rivers. As a comparison, more than 50% of the world energy grid came from coal and oil in 2016. Only 2.5% came from hydroelectric plants.

In the environmental licensing processes of the energy sector, about 15% of the amount invested is directed to socio-environmental projects. At Belo Monte HPP, R$ 5 billion were invested in socio-environmental projects in the five years since its construction. At Tapajos HPP, which has not yet been initiated, more than R$ 50 million was spent since 2018 on socio-environmental studies. For each MW installed in Brazil, an estimated R$ 1 million was invested in the environment.

3.3. The Strength of Agribusiness

In addition to being a strategic point for the country’s economic growth in recent years, agribusiness has very relevant social repercussions. Last year, the sum of goods and services generated in agribusiness totaled R$ 1.55 trillion – equivalent to 21.4% of Brazil’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). After the United States, Brazil is the second largest food producer in the world.

But the relevance of agribusiness also produces benefits to other sectors of the Brazilian economy, offering subsidies for producing paper, furniture, clothes, biofuels, medicine and personal hygiene materials. Without this, other pillars of the country’s economy would collapse, causing a major negative impact on national growth. It is also important to highlight that agribusiness is responsible for half of Brazilian exports, contributing to Brazil’s positive trade balance. 

The main contributions of the sector were exports of soybeans ($5.2 billion), beef ($780 million), sugar ($767 million) and green coffee ($468 million). Two points about agribusiness in Brazil that are poorly publicized, despite its worldwide relevance in food production, is that it occupies just over 20% of the Brazilian territorial extension and, by legal force, is obliged by law to maintain native forest reserves within rural properties.

The required protection index is 80% in the Amazon, 35% in the Cerrado and 20% in the other biomes. Another relevant point is that the majority of Brazilian agricultural production depends on rainfall, with only 5% of total production and 10% of grain production being irrigated.

In addition to being a strategic point for the country’s economic growth in recent years, agribusiness has very relevant social repercussions. Last year, the sum of goods and services generated in agribusiness totaled R$ 1.55 trillion – equivalent to 21.4% of Brazil’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). After the United States, Brazil is the second largest food producer in the world. But the relevance of agribusiness also produces benefits to other sectors of the Brazilian economy, offering subsidies for producing paper, furniture, clothes, biofuels, medicine and personal hygiene materials. Without this, other pillars of the country’s economy would collapse, causing a major negative impact on national growth. It is also important to highlight that agribusiness is responsible for half of Brazilian exports, contributing to Brazil’s positive trade balance.

The main contributions of the sector were exports of soybeans ($5.2 billion), beef ($780 million), sugar ($767 million) and green coffee ($468 million). Two points about agribusiness in Brazil that are poorly publicized, despite its worldwide relevance in food production, is that it occupies just over 20% of the Brazilian territorial extension and, by legal force, is obliged by law to maintain native forest reserves within rural properties. The required protection index is 80% in the Amazon, 35% in the Cerrado and 20% in the other biomes. Another relevant point is that the majority of Brazilian agricultural production depends on rainfall, with only 5% of total production and 10% of grain production being irrigated.

3.4. Reform Agenda

Since 2016, Brazil has been approving a significant agenda of constitutional and legal reforms with a wide impact on the economy and society. It is important to note that many countries have tried to approve labor and social security reforms and have failed because of their political environment. Brazil is in a democratic environment with an active opposition and has approved important reforms since 2016. The highlight of reform was the approval of the Pension Reform proposal approved by Congress, by an immense majority, after a broad and democratic debate. The main measure of the Pension Reform proposal was the establishment of a minimum retirement age (65 years for men and 62 years for women). An amount to be saved for retirement was also established from the average of all wages (instead of allowing the exclusion of the 20% lower contributions).

The reform raised the contribution rates for those who earn above
the National Institute of Social Security (INSS) highest tax bracket (currently at an income of R$ 5,839.00) and determined transition rules for active workers. In compliance with the age rule, retirement will be 60% of the amount received with a minimum contribution of 15 years. Each year of additional work increases the benefit by 2%, reaching 100% for women with 35 years of contribution and 40 years for men. In addition to Pension Reform, Brazil supported a labor reform proposal that reduced the immense complexity of the existing legislation. In 2017, the labor reform proposal was approved during Michel Temer’s administration. With the changes in the Consolidation of Labor Laws (CLT), vacation installments can be divided into up to three periods. The daily workdays were limited to 12 hours with 36 hours of rest, respecting the limit of 44 hours per week and 220 hours per month.

The big breakthrough was the fact that collective agreements may prevail over legislation. Thus, unions and companies can negotiate different working conditions than those provided for by law, but not necessarily
at a better level for workers. Another important reform carried out by the Michel
Temer government on the
labor issue was the law that allows outsourcing for core activities. As a result, unrestricted outsourcing is now allowed. However, the text also foresees that the outsourced workers must have the same working conditions as the employees, such as outpatient care, food, security, transportation, training and quality of equipment. The reform agenda continues under the Bolsonaro government, in addition to Pension Reform: in 2019 the new telecommunications law was approved, 

which is modernizing the sector and preparing for the arrival of 5G in the country, and in June 2020, the new sanitation law was approved, allowing private investments in the order of R$ 700 billion BRL. In 2021, despite the pandemic, Brazilian Congress approved the new Sanitation Law, creating immense opportunities for privatizations and concessions in the sector. The regulatory framework for railways was also approved. Additionally, the law that establishes the autonomy of the Central Bank was approved, giving the governor of the Central Bank a 4 year mandate that does not coincide with the presidential term. The pipeline of reforms contains promising items, like the new cabotage law, the regulatory framework for the gas sector and the two larger, structural reforms: Tax Reform and Administrative Reform.

Since 2016, Brazil has been approving a significant agenda of constitutional and legal reforms with a wide impact on the economy and society. It is important to note that many countries have tried to approve labor and social security reforms and have failed because of their political environment. Brazil is in a democratic environment with an active opposition and has approved important reforms since 2016. The highlight of reform was the approval of the Pension Reform proposal approved by Congress, by an immense majority, after a broad and democratic debate. The main measure of the Pension Reform proposal was the establishment of a minimum retirement age (65 years for men and 62 years for women). An amount to be saved for retirement was also established from the average of all wages (instead of allowing the exclusion of the 20% lower contributions). The reform raised the contribution rates for those who earn above the National Institute of Social Security (INSS) highest tax bracket (currently at an income of R$ 5,839.00) and determined transition rules for active workers. In compliance with the age rule, retirement will be 60% of the amount received with a minimum contribution of 15 years. Each year of additional work increases the benefit by 2%, reaching 100% for women with 35 years of contribution and 40 years for men. In addition to Pension Reform, Brazil supported a labor reform proposal that reduced the immense complexity of the existing legislation. In 2017, the labor reform proposal was approved during Michel Temer’s administration. With the changes in the Consolidation of Labor Laws (CLT), vacation installments can be divided into up to three periods. The daily workdays were limited to 12 hours with 36 hours of rest, respecting the limit of 44 hours per week and 220 hours per month.

The big breakthrough was the fact that collective agreements may prevail over legislation. Thus, unions and companies can negotiate different working conditions than those provided for by law, but not necessarily at a better level for workers. Another important reform carried out by the Michel Temer government on the labor issue was the law that allows outsourcing for core activities. As a result, unrestricted outsourcing is now allowed. However, the text also foresees that the outsourced workers must have the same working conditions as the employees, such as outpatient care, food, security, transportation, training and quality of equipment. The reform agenda continues under the Bolsonaro government, in addition to Pension Reform: in 2019 the new telecommunications law was approved, which is modernizing the sector and preparing for the arrival of 5G in the country, and in June 2020, the new sanitation law was approved, allowing private investments in the order of R$ 700 billion BRL. In 2021, despite the pandemic, Brazilian Congress approved the new Sanitation Law, creating immense opportunities for privatizations and concessions in the sector. The regulatory framework for railways was also approved. Additionally, the law that establishes the autonomy of the Central Bank was approved, giving the governor of the Central Bank a 4 year mandate that does not coincide with the presidential term. The pipeline of reforms contains promising items, like the new cabotage law, the regulatory framework for the gas sector and the two larger, structural reforms: Tax Reform and Administrative Reform.

3.5. Spending ceiling

In December 2016, during the Michel Temer administration, the National Congress approved a constitutional amendment establishing a rule to limit federal spending for the next twenty years. The rule was a huge step forward in consolidating Brazil’s fiscal credibility. Under this constitutional rule, budget expenditures for the following year can only be increased based on the correction of previous inflation. Even if there is an increase in tax collection, the spending ceiling must be respected so that the eventual surplus is used to reduce public debt.

In 2019, the spending ceiling limited the federal budget to 1.407 trillion Brazilian reais. In 2020, the ceiling established the spending limit at $1.454 trillion Brazilian reais. In other words, budgetary expenditures should evolve with the tax limitation, even with increased tax collection. This year because of the pandemic, some are discussing how to allow additional spending for emergency programs that would surpass the spending ceiling. But with the negative repercussions of the financial market, others are discussing formulas to finance the maintenance of programs related to COVID-19 within the spending ceiling.

3.6. Infrastructure and concessions

According to official data from the Ministry of Infrastructure, the results for the 2019-2021 have been impressive. A total of 74 assets have been included in the plan for concessions, renewals, leases, cross investments solutions and onerous assignments of ports, airports, railways and roadways. This has allowed the Ministry to guarantee R$ 73.89 billion in investments, with R$ 17.09 billion in concession fees alone. When we consider direct and indirect employment, as well as the income-effect of active contracts, a total of 1 million jobs have been created from the Ministry of Infrastructure efforts.

A total of 29 port terminal leases are currently held throughout
the country, which generated investments of R$ 3.22 billion. An additional R$ 9.73 billion were genereated from investments related to 99 private use terminals (TUPs). 34 airport concessions were held during this period, including the airports in important cities like Recife, Maceió, João Pessoa, Vitória, Curitiba, Manaus, São Luís and Goiânia. These concessions generated R$ 5.67 billion in concession fees and R$ 9.62 billion in investments.

The railways sector, which will benefit from the approval by the National Congress of the Framework for the Railways Sector, also showed impressive results in the 2019-2021 period, generating R$ 28.82 billion in investments from 6 railway projects: 2 concessions, 3 renewals and 1 cross-investment. The North-South Railway Concession (FNS) and the West-East Railway Concession (FIOL I) deserve highlight. Looking at roadways, 5 federal highway concessions were held, generating R$ 22.5 billion in investments and R$ 320 million in concession fees. It is also interesting to note that the results for the 2021 year are equally impressive, given the general situation in the pandemic-context.

33 assets were explored, with 29 private use terminals (TUPs), R$ 21.54 billion in investments and R$ 3.91 billion in concessions fees. In addition, a total of 19 assets are currently scheduled for transactions in the remainder of 2021, which will generate R$49 billion in investments and estimated concession fees of R$ 2.78 billion. The Ministry of Infrastructure has engaged in broad communication efforts and road shows to attract foreign investors to these large-scale infrastructure projects. The Ministry is also presenting detailed plans for 2022 and 2023, continuing important efforts to improve infrastructure in the country through modernizing partnerships that prioritize investment and services.

According to official data from the Ministry of Infrastructure, the results for the 2019-2021 have been impressive. A total of 74 assets have been included in the plan for concessions, renewals, leases, cross investments solutions and onerous assignments of ports, airports, railways and roadways. This has allowed the Ministry to guarantee R$ 73.89 billion in investments, with R$ 17.09 billion in concession fees alone. When we consider direct and indirect employment, as well as the income-effect of active contracts, a total of 1 million jobs have been created from the Ministry of Infrastructure efforts. A total of 29 port terminal leases are currently held throughout the country, which generated investments of R$ 3.22 billion. An additional R$ 9.73 billion were genereated from investments related to 99 private use terminals (TUPs). 34 airport concessions were held during this period, including the airports in important cities like Recife, Maceió, João Pessoa, Vitória, Curitiba, Manaus, São Luís and Goiânia. These concessions generated R$ 5.67 billion in concession fees and R$ 9.62 billion in investments. The railways sector, which will benefit from the approval by the National Congress of the Framework for the Railways Sector, also showed impressive results in the 2019-2021 period, generating R$ 28.82 billion in investments from 6 railway projects: 2 concessions, 3 renewals and 1 cross-investment.

The North-South Railway Concession (FNS) and the West-East Railway Concession (FIOL I) deserve highlight. Looking at roadways, 5 federal highway concessions were held, generating R$ 22.5 billion in investments and R$ 320 million in concession fees. It is also interesting to note that the results for the 2021 year are equally impressive, given the general situation in the pandemic-context. 33 assets were explored, with 29 private use terminals (TUPs), R$ 21.54 billion in investments and R$ 3.91 billion in concessions fees. In addition, a total of 19 assets are currently scheduled for transactions in the remainder of 2021, which will generate R$ 49 billion in investments and estimated concession fees of R$ 2.78 billion. The Ministry of Infrastructure has engaged in broad communication efforts and road shows to attract foreign investors to these large-scale infrastructure projects. The Ministry is also presenting detailed plans for 2022 and 2023, continuing important efforts to improve infrastructure in the country through modernizing partnerships that prioritize investment and services.

3.7. Governance and the Financial System

Brazil is recognized for having good governance and security of the financial system due to the following factors:

1. According to the Central Bank, Brazilian banks have a Basel Index of 17.1%, on average. This is higher than the recommended 11%, which shows that these institutions are at a secure level of leverage.

2. Brazil has around US$ 380 billion in international reserves. From this amount, more than 90% is already applied in sovereign bonds of countries like the US, Japan and Germany. Brazil is one of the 10 largest holders of US Treasuries in the world, with over US$ 200 billion invested.

3. The banks controlled by the government hold more than 35% of National Financial System, which represents an additional guarantee. The largest institutions are: Banco do Brasil, Caixa Econômica Federal, Banco do Nordeste, Banco da Amazônia and BNDES. They are solid state-owned institutions with a national presence.

4. The Brazilian Financial System has a guarantee for clients in case the banks go bust. It covers a substantial amount – up to R$ 250,000 – for the large majority of Brazilian account holders.

5. The country is going through a process of decentralization of the system via the introduction of fintechs, which has resulted in an increase in the offer of credit and in interest rate reductions. There are over 350 fintechs operating in Brazil.

6. According to the Central Bank, 98% of the funds in the banking system were held in bank balances with sufficient liquid assets to support a liquidity crisis.

7. Despite the reduction of the benchmark interest rate (the Central Bank’s Selic), the Return on Equity of the banking system reached 16.5% in December 2019.

3.8. Central Bank Autonomy

In February 2021, President Jair Bolsonaro sanctioned the law that formally establishes the Autonomy of the Central Bank (BC). The law, which secures a lack of political interference in the BC, was approved by Congress after years of legislative debate. With the new law, the current president of the Central Bank, Roberto Campos Neto, loses the status of cabinet minister. Campos Neto expressed his views thusly: “Today is a great day for the Central Bank and a great day for Brazil.

We are taking an important step with President Bolsonaro’s signing of the law. that guarantees autonomy of the Central Bank. This day will go down in history as a mark of the institutional development of our country.” The approved proposal establishes that the president of the Central Bank will serve for a four-year term, non-coinciding with the term of the President of the Republic.

Central Bank directors will also serve specific terms. The bill was included in a list of the government’s priority proposals early in 2021, delivered by President Bolsonaro to the new presidents of the Lower House, Arthur Lira (PP- AL) and Senate, Rodrigo Pacheco (DEM-MG). In practice, with this law the directors of the institution could not be fired for increasing interest rates, for example.

It secures a more technical performance, focused on fighting inflation. The president of the Central Bank is also tasked with presenting financial reports to the Senate every semester, using financial data on inflation and stability to explain decisions made during the previous semester. The law establishes that price stability is also a fundamental goal of the Central Bank, in addition to protecting
the stability and efficiency of the financial system, softening fluctuations in economic
activity and stimulating full employment.

In February 2021, President Jair Bolsonaro sanctioned the law that formally establishes the Autonomy of the Central Bank (BC). The law, which secures a lack of political interference in the BC, was approved by Congress after years of legislative debate. With the new law, the current president of the Central Bank, Roberto Campos Neto, loses the status of cabinet minister. Campos Neto expressed his views thusly: “Today is a great day for the Central Bank and a great day for Brazil. We are taking an important step with President Bolsonaro’s signing of the law that guarantees autonomy of the Central Bank. This day will go down in history as a mark of the institutional development of our country.” The approved proposal establishes that the president of the Central Bank will serve for a four-year term, non-coinciding with the term of the President of the Republic. Central Bank directors will also

serve specific terms. The bill was included in a list of the government’s priority proposals early in 2021, delivered by President Bolsonaro to the new presidents of the Lower House, Arthur Lira (PP- AL) and Senate, Rodrigo Pacheco (DEM-MG). In practice, with this law the directors of the institution could not be fired for increasing interest rates, for example. It secures a more technical performance, focused on fighting inflation. The president of the Central Bank is also tasked with presenting financial reports to the Senate every semester, using financial data on inflation and stability to explain decisions made during the previous semester. The law establishes that price stability is also a fundamental goal of the Central Bank, in addition to protecting the stability and efficiency of the financial system, softening fluctuations in economic activity and stimulating full employment.

3.9. The new Bankruptcy Law

In March 2021, Brazil’s national Congress approved a new Bankruptcy Law, which provides advantages to companies in judicial recovery and provides investors with greater legal security. The approved proposal in Congress was modified by partial vetoes by the Presidency of the Republic, however, a great number of those vetoes were overridden by Congress, therein preserving much of the original intent of the legislative proposal. According to specialists, one of the most important advantages was exempting acquirers of goods from companies in judicial recovery from the responsibilities and obligations of that company. If this were not in place, investors and interested parties would be driven away due

to legal insecurity and a lack of protection for the party that is making the acquisition in good faith. The new proposal also allows healthcare cooperatives to request judicial recovery. Lastly, among the most important measures that were overturned in the vote on the vetoes, the rule approved by Congress that fallows fiscal losses to be used to pay taxes on gains obtained with the sales of goods and rights was maintained. Overall, the overturning of the vetoes to the Bankruptcy Law allowed Congress to ensure advantages for companies that are undergoing a recovery process and also provides increased security to investors that are interested in acquiring goods of these companies.

3.10. Public Tenders

Another area that was revised in 2021 is the legal framework for Public Tenders. A new law that regulates the matter was approved in Congress in March 2021. The approval is the result of nearly 10 years of legislative debates over three different incarnations of the proposal. The previous law that regulated public tenders had been approved in 1993. The new public tender law creates different modalities for contracting, creates specific crimes related to malfeasance in public tenders and makes these changes effective throughout the three different spheres of government: federal, state and municipal.

Among other changes, the text allows for the securing of guarantee-insurance in public tenders, which will contribute to a decrease in the number of works that remain unfinished. The law also creates a national portal to centralize information on public contracts in a unified data base. Fundamentally, the proposal brings a series of new principals that will regulate administrative contracts and public tenders.

They include, planning, transparency, efficacy, separation of functions, motivation, legal security, reasonability, competitiveness, proportionality and sustainable development. The law makes sure that the contract secured is the best and most advantageous for the public administration, while also promoting sustainable national development within a context of fair competition.

The new legislation is immediately effective, without vacation legis, but the revoking of the previous norms on public tenders and contracts will occur over a 2-year period. The new law establishes these norms on the matter as applied to the Public Administration, however it does not apply to contracts signed by state-owned or mixed economy companies. These will continue to abide
to the legislation for these companies, approved in 2016.

Another area that was revised in 2021 is the legal framework for Public Tenders. A new law that regulates the matter was approved in Congress in March 2021. The approval is the result of nearly 10 years of legislative debates over three different incarnations of the proposal. The previous law that regulated public tenders had been approved in 1993. The new public tender law creates different modalities for contracting, creates specific crimes related to malfeasance in public tenders and makes these changes effective throughout the three different spheres of government: federal, state and municipal. Among other changes, the text allows for the securing of guarantee-insurance in public tenders, which will contribute to a decrease in the number of works that remain unfinished. The law also creates a national portal to centralize information on public contracts in a unified data base.

Fundamentally, the proposal brings a series of new principals that will regulate administrative contracts and public tenders. They include, planning, transparency, efficacy, separation of functions, motivation, legal security, reasonability, competitiveness, proportionality and sustainable development. The law makes sure that the contract secured is the best and most advantageous for the public administration, while also promoting sustainable national development within a context of fair competition. The new legislation is immediately effective, without vacation legis, but the revoking of the previous norms on public tenders and contracts will occur over a 2-year period. The new law establishes these norms on the matter as applied to the Public Administration, however it does not apply to contracts signed by state-owned or mixed economy companies. These will continue to abide to the legislation for these companies, approved in 2016.

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Key Aspects of the Social Environment

4.1. Brazilian Health System

In Brazil health expenditures made up 9.2% of the Gross Domestic Product in 2017. A large part of these expenditures are associated with the Unified Health System (SUS), which was created in 1988. It is one of the largest and most complex public health systems in the world, with services ranging from simple care for blood pressure assessments to primary care to organ transplantation, guaranteeing full, universal, and free access for the country’s entire population. The SUS was inspired by the United Kingdom’s National Health Service (NHS).

The SUS serves about 190 million people, 80% of whom depend exclusively on the public system for healthcare. The per capita cost of SUS is approximately US $300 per year. The importance of the SUS can be measured by the infant mortality rate. In 1970, the infant mortality rate (death before reaching one year of age) was 120.7 for every 1000 births and by 2019, the rate had decreased to 12.4 per 1000. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the SUS was recognized for preventing an even larger death toll.

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4.2. Combatting the Pandemic

The journalistic debate about the pandemic in Brazil focused more on the statements of the President of the Republic than on the government’s attitudes to minimize the economic effects of the pandemic. To prevent the country from going into economic depression, the government created an emergency aid package that will exceed US $100 billion by the end of the year.

Emergency assistance is provided in monthly installments for people in situations of economic vulnerability. It joins other existing social outreach initiatives including Seguro Defeso (for fishermen), Bolsa Família, Unemployment Assistance, and the Farmácia Popular low-cost medicine program.

4.3. Plural and Active Press

The press in Brazil plays a very important role in the inspection of public leaders and also in the discussion of topics of national interest. Social Communication has its own chapter in the Federal Constitution, which enshrines the right to information and ensures the press ample freedom and independence. Since the country’s re-democratization, the media has covered, free of restrictions, the main political events. Brazilian press was instrumental in the impeachment processes of former Presidents Fernando Collor (at the time affiliated to the PRN) in 1992, and Dilma Rousseff (PT) in 2016. It was also essential in the fulfillment of all the structural reforms that occurred since the return of civilians to the government of the country, starting in 1985.

Even in age of social media, the country’s traditional media continue to enjoy a high level of credibility with the population. There is a strong political and popular consensus to avoid any form of censorship or control of journalistic activity. It is important to note that without a free and active press there would not have been two impeachments of Presidents of the Republic and investigations – such as Mensalão and Operation Car Wash – that led to the arrest of powerful politicians. The vitality of the press has been essential for maintaining the democratic regime in the country.

4.4. Digital inclusion

In spite of its limitations, Brazil has advanced digital inclusion. Notably through mobile telephony. According to the National Agency of Telecommunications (Anatel), Brazil had 228.25 million active mobile lines in August 2019. 122.35 million of the mobile lines were prepaid (53.60% of the total) and 105.90 million were postpaid (46.40%). This allows the free use of social media platforms that are not censored in Brazil (unlike China, Russia, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, among other countries). During the COVID-19 pandemic the internet and technology in Brazil became essential means of communication,

both for working from home, online education and entertainment, as well as for security and fighting the virus, considerably increasing data consumption. Overall, there was an increase in engagement across all social media platforms. WhatsApp had a 40% increase in usage, while the overall use of Facebook increased by 37%. According to data from the company itself, Facebook currently has 127 million monthly users in Brazil and approximately 2.2 billion active users per month worldwide. WhatsApp currently has 120 million users in Brazil and 1.5 billion worldwide.

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The Environmental Question

5.1. General Aspects

Brazil has robust environmental legislation, at a global standard, that is more rigorous than in most countries. This fact is recognized, for example, in World Bank studies. Aside from a robust legislative framework, the three levels of the public administration – Federal, State and Municipal – are involved in the implementation of the environmental framework. Which, in a way, causes the application of the law with intensity and efficiency that varies according to the institutional and economic possibilities of states and municipalities.

For infrastructure works, all infrastructure projects are subject to rigorous analysis. Some take much longer than is reasonable (e.g. the Boa Vista – Manaus line, which has been waiting on environmental licenses for more than 10 years!). The licenses involve organs that are directly tied to the environment, but also entities tied to Historic Patrimony, the Palmares Foundation, among others.

5.2. Territorial Preservation

Brazil’s preservation policies assure that immense portions of land remain untouched. There are 722 areas of indigenous lands, totaling 117,427,323 hectares (1,174,273 km2). 13.8% of the land in the country are reserved for indigenous peoples. Federal environmental reserves (discounting state, municipal and private reserves) total 9% of the national territory.

5.3. Pulp and Paper

In Brazil, 100% of paper production, including containers, use planted trees, with an annual planting and collection cycle, in a renewable and sustainable process. No native forests are used for the production of paper. In Scandinavian countries and in Canada, the paper is obtained from native forests on state-owned land, which represents a significant deforestation problem of native forests. The planted tree sector is one of the most sustainable sectors in the world and has one of the highest rates of recycling in Brazil. In 2017, the paper recovery index was a record 66.2%, which is equivalent to 5 million tons that return to the productive process.

5.4. Recycling of Aluminum

The recycling index for aluminum cans in Brazil is 97.3% for cans produced in the country. This is one of the highest indexes in the world. For over 14 years, Brazil is presenting recycling rates over 90%. More than 50% of Brazilian municipalities have selective collection programs for aluminum cans and cooperatives of can collectors that mobilize more than 800 thousand families. The recycling of aluminum cans in Brazil, aside from the direct effects on preservation of the environment, has a positive impact on the reduction of electric energy consumption and on the reduction of dependence on bauxite exploration.

5.5. Modern Chemistry

In the search for a sustainable economy, Brazil has been, since 2010, the largest global producer of biopolymers produced by living beings or obtained from raw material from renewable sources, which can be found in products as varied as DNA structures through products used for the manufacturing of plastic containers. Brazilian companies in the sector continue to invest in the development of new chemical products produced from renewable sources. These products are a solution for greenhouse gas emissions because they remove CO2 from the atmosphere.

One of them, renewable polyethylene, removes more than 3 tons of CO2 per ton of product produced. Braskem was a pioneer in the development of Green Polyethylene, or “Green Plastic”, for industrial scale production. Combining innovation, technology and sustainability, green plastic is made from sugarcane ethanol, a 100% renewable raw material, the first resin of this type to be certified in the world. Green polyethylene has a wide range of applications in containers and consumer goods. The resin contributes to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, in line with growing consumer interest in sustainable solutions.

5.6. Recycling of tires

In the area of environmental public policies, Brazil has made considerable advances in the field of recycling of automobile tires. This is especially important given Brazil’s significant use of trucks and automobiles. In 2017, there were more than 65 million vehicles in the country. According to a CONAMA report – National Council for the Environment, the recycling of vehicle tires remained at over 90% in 2017. Manufacturers and importers of new tires reached 99.55% of the established goal. Analyzing the numbers of the last 5 years of Ibama reports (Brazilian Institute for the Environment), the recycling rates have been above 95% since 2014.

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Conclusion

Regardless of the short-term political outcomes, the foundation of Brazil’s democracy remains strong and will continue to remain so for the foreseeable future

As the situation in Brazil continues to move forward, with the public health crisis caused by the pandemic and the myriad of political and economic developments stemming from the current conjuncture, it is important to keep in mind the topics mentioned above. As previously outlined, there are very positive aspects to Brazil that are often overlooked in favor of a different, more biased approach, especially when the outlook is presented by the foreign press. In better understanding the nuances of press coverage in Brazil, the impact of the Car Wash Operation on the political landscape, as well as

the strong points of our economy, like the energy grid, agribusiness, sustainability, our commitment to an ambitious agenda of structural reforms, digital inclusion, a state-of-the-art financial system, among others, we can begin to get a full picture of the potential that the country represents. While these times have been trying, Brazil’s institutions, despite challenges and clashing, have functioned as they should, often strengthened by the duress endured. Regardless of the short-term political outcomes, the foundation of Brazil’s democracy remains strong and will continue to remain so for the foreseeable future.

As the situation in Brazil continues to move forward, with the public health crisis caused by the pandemic and the myriad of political and economic developments stemming from the current conjuncture, it is important to keep in mind the topics mentioned above.

As previously outlined, there are very positive aspects to Brazil that are often overlooked in favor of a different, more biased approach, especially when the outlook is presented by the foreign press. In better understanding the nuances of press coverage in Brazil, the impact of the Car Wash Operation on the political landscape, as well as the strong points of our economy, like the energy grid, agribusiness, sustainability, our commitment to an ambitious agenda of structural reforms, digital inclusion, a state-of-the-art financial system, among others, we can begin to get a full picture of the potential that the country represents.

While these times have been trying, Brazil’s institutions, despite challenges and clashing, have functioned as they should, often strengthened by the duress endured. Regardless of the short-term political outcomes, the foundation of Brazil’s democracy remains strong and will continue to remain so for the foreseeable future.

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