Boa sorte, Brasil

We’ve been tempted to write about the rocky Presidential election in Brazil, but have held back due to how volatile it has been. One day a candidate dies in a plane crash, then we’re looking at an environmental activist and former housemaid being elected, and the next day we’re tempted to crow about sensible Aécio Neves as a sure-fire winner.capa-veja-23.10

This matters to us. A victory for Brazil’s opposition this coming Sunday would have enormous effects on regional politics, and Venezuela would lose a close and important ally in Rousseff and her party, the PT. Brazil provides Venezuela with important diplomatic backing, and Brazilian companies are knee-deep in business with Venezuela’s kleptocrats. It is not far-fetched to say that, putting rhetoric and ideological closeness aside, Brazil is Venezuela’s most important ally outside of Cuba.

Obviously, we at Caracas Chronicles hope Neves pulls out a win. That, however, is looking more and more like a pipe dream. The fact of the matter is that President Dilma Rousseff, a close ally of Nicolás Maduro, is favored to win. Late opinion polls have her opening a lead over Neves. This is not surprising.

As our friend Javier Corrales has written, it is practically impossible in Latin America for an incumbent to lose an election. Rousseff may scratch out an ugly, close, faint-inducing win, just like Juan Manuel Santos did in Colombia, but a win is a win.

Still, the election has been exciting to watch, The latest twist has come from serious allegations of corruption in state-owned companies, and even soccer star Neymar made a last-minute video endorsing Neves.

It ain’t over ’til it’s over, but … it’s sadly looking like Maduro will breathe easy come Sunday night. This article from another friend, Bloomberg’s Charlie Devereaux, puts it in context. The ponto alto:

“For Brazilian food companies, there isn’t that much delay in getting paid,” Portela said, adding that exports to Venezuela will total about $4.8 billion this year. “A big chunk of the imports is even paid in advance. Only about 15 percent of importers have payment arrears of over a year.”

Neves criticized Rousseff’s Venezuela policy, saying she ignored “flagrant repression” by President Nicolas Maduro’s government during street protests earlier this year that left at least 43 people dead.

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