Brazil’s President Rousseff faces geopolitical challenges


With the largest country in Latin America experiencing sluggish growth, many of President Dilma Rousseff’s challenges are expected to be on the domestic front over the next four years. But some are urging her to pay more attention to a range of pressing foreign policy issues. CCTV America’s Stephen Gibbs reported this story from Rio de Janeiro.

Over the last four years, Brazil’s ministry of foreign affairs saw its funding cut in half. Some said that was because President Rousseff is not interested in foreign policy.

Luiz Augusto de Castro Neves, a former Brazilian Ambassador to China, said that is a mistake.

“We want, actually, to have a louder voice in international affairs. We want to have a larger voice in the International Monetary Fund, in the U.N., the Security Council, but we haven’t been able, so far, to say or to make it more explicit what we would say with our eventual louder voice, ” de Castro Neves said.

Others argued that Brazil’s foreign policy objectives are not as vague as they might appear.

“To pursue a South-South diplomacy, to see the integration of the countries of South America through the political discourse of the center-left. To try to establish new platforms for world governance with emerging powers like China, India, Russia, South Africa,” BricLab director of Columbia University Marcos Troyjo said.

The BRICS grouping of those large developing powers have been championed by President Rousseff. Brazil was instrumental in the decision to set up a BRICS-funded development bank, an alternative to the U.S.-dominated World Bank.

But with Brazil and two other BRICS economies close to recession, one issue facing President Rousseff is whether the grouping is losing its relevance.

The formation in 2011 of the Latin American trade bloc, The Pacific Alliance, including the growing economies of Chile, Colombia, Mexico, and Peru was something that Brazil can’t ignore, Troyjo said.

There are other, even more immediate challenges. Brazil’s neighbor Venezuela is in the midst of a steep recession, worsened by the fall in oil prices. Brazil has been muted about the situation to date. There’s also the issue of Brazil’s relationship with the United States, which diplomats have described as distant.