For some time now, Brazil has been enjoying a wave of good publicity across the globe. Seen as one of the next major economic players along with its BRICS partners (Brazil, Russia, India, China and now South Africa), its economic and social advances have made it a popular discussion topic in the media.
Accompanying this initial boost in image are two upcoming events: the 2014 World Cup, and the 2016 Summer Olympics. In them, the country’s planning ability and infrastructure are being put to the test, and that may be more of a curse than a blessing. Reports on state governments’ clearing of slums to secure ground for new constructions related to the World Cup in cities such as Rio de Janeiro have concerned human rights advocacy groups, including the UN.
In the midst of this, the Brazilian government has been expanding public diplomacy efforts on other fronts. Most recently, it announced an investment of $35 million on a campaign to promote Brazilian literature. Over an eight-year period the project will grant funding for works in translation and world book tours for authors. Considering the 2013 Frankfurt Book Fair, where Brazil is the guest of honor this year, the project has perfect timing. There is also a possibility of a partnership with Amazon to create a Brazilian Kindle Store.
Not only is Brazilian culture being exported, but so are its people. One of the biggest initiatives sponsored by the government is Science Without Borders, a program that within four years will send 100,000 Brazilian college students to study abroad for one year enjoying federal support. Up to half of them could study in the US, but so far Portugal hosts the highest number of students. The State Department embraced the program and is working closely with Brazilian authorities to ensure the partnership.
Brazil’s standing in the world from a decade ago has dramatically changed. So much that it may even become one of the countries that share a visa waiver program with the US, which the American ambassador to Brazil has said is in the works. Over a million Brazilians visited the US last year for tourism and shopping, a number that can increase substantially should the waiver program be put in place.
The world is intently watching for a possible ascension of the Latin American power. More emphasis on public diplomacy projects will help that goal, but it is up to Brazil to rise to the occasion by strengthening its economic and social policies.