Latin America’s New Turbulence: Crisis and Integrity in Brazil

Issue Date April 2016
Volume 27
Issue 2
Page Numbers 50-65
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For Brazil’s young democracy, this might seem to be the worst of times. The country’s once-booming economy has taken a nosedive along with global commodity prices; a monster public-corruption scandal is engulfing much of the political class and infuriating millions of ordinary Brazilians; and a president who barely won reelection only to abandon her basic fiscal-policy approach now teeters on the brink of impeachment and expulsion from office.

Yet these storm clouds have a silver lining. For, grave as they are, they have put on vivid display the strength, independence, and public trust enjoyed by the country’s web of judicial and public-accountability institutions and attested to the free and energetic nature of the media in a country that only three decades ago was held under lockdown by a military dictatorship. Politics and the economy are in a crisis, but looking beneath the turmoil we can glimpse the power of the rule of law and see Brazilian constitutional democracy’s institutional resilience and fortitude.