I have just finished reading a Pew Research Report about Brazil and I am convinced even more that I am lucky to go there at a particularly auspicious time. The issues I am most comfortable and competent in addressing, environment, energy and economics, are the ones that by far are the most important in Brazil and Brazilians are generally in a good mood.
According to Pew Research, 62% of Brazilians have a favorable opinion of the U.S and only 7% don’t like us. Not only that, more than 60% think foreign companies are having a good influence in their country and 75% think that people are better off in a market economy. This may seem to be no big deal, but I remember that when I was there last time it was our goal to encourage these kinds of attitudes, but we were not having much luck. It is amazing what a few years of prosperity will do. People’s attitude toward others often is closely related to what they think of themselves. The funny thing now is that Brazilians more often have favorable attitudes toward the market economy than Americans do.
On the foreign policy front, Hugo Chavez is the most unpopular foreign leader among Brazilians and 85% of Brazilians are against Iran getting nuclear weapons. Of those, 65% are willing to consider stronger sanctions and a surprising 54% might favor military action.
So the country I will be going to next year is very different from the country I left in 1988. I look forward to getting to know the country again – or maybe really for the first time. I remember last time I was there it seemed the most individuals were happy, but the country wasn’t. Maybe now everybody will join in.