Brazil President Dilma Rousseff
Planalto Palace – Brasilia – September 2015
Photo Credit: Reuters/Ueslei Marcelino
Since Brazil lost the 2014 FIFA World Cup, the country has endured even more woes that now threaten the upcoming Rio 2016 Olympics.
Fallout from ongoing investigations into the Petrobras graft scandal aggravated an already sputtering economy, partly due to a weak global commodity market. The government’s efforts to cut public spending hit workers hard, sending them into the streets in protest. Riding on the wave of public discontent, the right-wing opposition party called for the impeachment of President Dilma Rousseff. This has further increased the country’s political instability.
In September 2015 came another shock wave. The value of the Brazilian Real against the US Dollar dropped to less than 25 percent, fluctuating between R$3.80 and R$4.00. A nightmare for importers, Brazilian imports have since slumped, amounting to 25.2 percent when compared with 2014. On the bright side, it’s a heyday for Brazilian exporters and Americans planning to attend the Summer Olympics.
Then on December 16th came more bad news and mounting woes. Brazil’s credit ratings suffered another downgrade to junk status. “Brazil’s economy is contracting, lawmakers haven’t shown the will to shore up the budget and efforts to impeach the president are adding to political turmoil and distracting from efforts to fix the situation,” Fitch Ratings said in its statement. The Finance Minister, appointed less than a year ago to stabilize the public finances, quit days later.
But all is not bleak. Through the Black Women of Brazil Blog, I’ve learned that the African-oriented market is growing despite the economic crisis. The movement among blacks in Brazil for equality and recognition has led to a growth in Afro-Entrepreneurialism.
“There is a redemption of the meaning of being black. One doesn’t wait anymore for standardization, but the appreciation of differences. Blacks, historically excluded, want to be seen. They consume and are entrepreneurs,” says sociologist Felipe Rocha.
As demonstrated by the success of Afro-Brazilian entrepreneurs, Brazilians are resilient. Who knows? Come August 2016, the country’s athletes may take away several Olympic gold medals, lifting Brazilians out of their woes.