Has the Future Arrived for Brazil?

Such attention as is paid to Latin America by the U.S. foreign policy establishment is almost invariably directed at Mexico or some trouble spot in the Caribbean Basin. But the nature and importance of the U.S. relationship with the whole of Latin America is changing significantly in the post–Cold War era, and that trend is likely to continue for the foreseeable future. Fully one-third of that vast, varied region, whether measured by territorial extent, population, or economic weight, is to be found in Brazil. This Portuguese-speaking giant of a country is physically larger than the contiguous forty-eight United States, has a rapidly expanding population of 165 million (exceeding Russia’s), and boasts a gross domestic product that is already the planet’s eighth largest. Moreover, Brazil is a world of its own— quite distinct from the other countries of the area and harboring very pronounced ideas about its present and future role on the regional and global stages.

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