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Brazil: rising economic giant

by Eric Jude Cortes

Quick, name three of the world’s ten wealthiest countries…now. Ha! You cheated! You read the title of this article or saw the thumbnail photo that came along with it. So yes, you’re right, Brazil! Good job. Last week I wrote an article comparing the film Rise of the Planet of the Apes to the political and economic growth of Latin America. Reading your comments on Facebook, I noticed that some of you seemed to take umbrage at this. So today, I will oblige you, and promise to enlighten you on the Brazilian economy without referencing Rise of the Planet of the Apes.

Now let me ask you a question. What comes to your mind when you think of Brazil? Reading thousands of minds, I correctly assume that you said Carnival, attractive people, or the rainforest. That rainforest has been pretty important to Brazil. You see, it contains lots of nice natural resources, that can be exported and make Brazil lots of money. You know those nice Amazonian rainforest trees that environmentalists are always crying about? It turns out that they make really nice floors.

If you’ve ever heard a homeowner, talk lovingly about their hardwood floor, you’ve also heard a tree-killing sicko dance on the grave of a tree from the Brazilian rainforest[1]. Also, by cutting down said rainforest, land is cleared for the grazing of cattle, and the planting of sugar cane. With sugar cane being turned into ethanol, commodity prices rising, and more of the world’s population eating meat, you can bet your samba-loving self, that every time a tree from the Amazon rainforest falls, some Brazilian guy hears “Cha ching!”

Natural resources alone can’t guarantee economic success. Just take a look at Sub-Saharan Africa; it’s loaded with natural resources but is still full of poverty and nations that barely have GDPs. In the last two decades, Brazil has been blessed with presidents who have understood the need to root out corruption, create a diversified economy, and make smart economic decisions to curb inflation and stabilize the currency. Started by the President Fernando Cardoso and continued by the populist Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, these policies have been a resounding success, making Brazil the wealthiest country in Latin America.

Recently, Brazil became the seventh largest economy in the world, surpassing France and the U.K. It is also the leading producer/exporter of coffee, oranges, and sugar cane. While our country overspends money or under-taxes the rich, Brazil stands on a line behind only three other nations and loans us money [2]. With the United States economy in a prolonged recession, and Brazil’s current president, Dilma Rousseff, continuing the economic policies of her predecessors, look behind you America, Brazil is catching up.

[1] Just ask the mayor of Wildwood, New Jersey. He declined rebuilding the local boardwalk with wood from sustainable forests, in favor of that much nicer Amazonian hardwood.

[2] This is a serious footnote. Brazil owns over $156 Billion of our debt.

To learn more about Eric, randomly bump into him on the street and politely ask him some questions.


Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of
the author and should not be understood to be shared by Being Latino, Inc.


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About Adriana Villavicencio

Dr. Adriana Villavicencio is the youngest child of Ecuadorian immigrants. She has moved 29 times in her life, taking her on a journey from California to Bangalore, India, and New York City, where she recently earned a Ph.D. in Education Leadership and works as a Research Associate at New York University. An avid traveler, Adriana has collected experiences in four different continents and 16 different countries. But as a former high school English teacher, some of her fondest memories are those of her brilliant and brilliantly funny students in Brooklyn and Oakland. Adriana has contributed to several publications including the Daily News and, and is a managing editor for the Journal of Equity in Education. She earned a B.A. in English and an M.A. in English Education at Columbia University, and currently serves on the board of Columbia’s Latino Alumni Association (LAACU). She enjoys scary movies with red vines, Sauvignon Blanc, and her Maltese dog, Napoleon.

To learn more about Adriana’s education consulting company, please visit

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author and should not be understood to be shared by Being Latino, Inc.

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