Clinton St. Quarterly, Vol. 3 No. 2 Summer 1981

From the land of the bossa nova BRAZIL MIRACLE’ ONTHEBRINK BY DAVID MILHOLLAND (visited Brazil for 6 weeks in May-June, 1977. Speaking little Portuguese, traveling very light, my wanderings took me through many regions and gave me an eyeful. Though I knewsomething of her history and had always dreamed of spending a Carnaval in Rio, nothing had really prepared me for what I was to see. Everywhere I went, from the smog-bound megalopolis of Sao Paulo to the most distant reaches of the Amazon Basin, things were on the move. My entree was a bus ride fromthe Paraguay border to the coast, some 600 miles, a stretch I’d always understood to be largely unsettled. Our ultra-modern bus, driven whenever lossible at breakneck speed, passed literally hundreds of farm-to-market vehicles, and the raw red soil of newly broken land stretched to the horizon in every direction. WITH OVER half of South America’s land mass and population (at present, there are approximately 135 million Brazilians), and bordering every country but Ecuador and Chile, it is clear that events in Brazil will be decisive in determining the fate of the entire continent. Yet little appears in our media about this giant land. And what does appear is fragmentary. Our attention is serially focused on the momentary hot spot, the “newsworthy” locale we heard nothing about the day before. The nature of this crisis-oriented coverage is to arrive too late to understand or alter the course of events. This leaves political affairs in the hands of the “experts,” until we are all called in to pay the consequences with our taxes and 4 Clinton St. Quarterly our lives. As in El Salvador and Central America, U.S. government and corporate policy are major elements in the dramatic transformation happening in Brazil. But to understand the present reality and its awesome implications, we must examine the history and nature of the place itself. WAY BACK Water water everywhere. Rains that fall with shocking intensity, followed momentarily by ecstatic sunshine, ad infinitum. Most land is covered by a many tiered canopy of