The United States and Brazil: A Long Road of Unmet Expectations

By Monica Hirst | Go to book overview
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CHAPTER 3

U.S.-BRAZIL POLITICAL RELATIONS

THIS CHAPTER ADDRESSES A DIVERSE SET OF ISSUES THAT reflect the changing pattern of U.S.-Brazil political relations. Since the early 1990s, U.S.-Brazil political relations have undergone major transformations, influenced by simultaneous transformations in world politics and domestic Brazilian politics. As bilateral relations progressed, they involved new issues and complexities. U.S.-Brazil political relations are now shaped by a myriad of interests and pressures related to a diverse agenda consisting of issues that have become altogether more difficult to rank.

A possible, though not wholly satisfactory, hierarchy differentiates first-tier and second-tier political issues. The first is concerned with the state-to-state agenda, addressing world and regional politics and international security matters; the second encompasses the agenda of “global issues” set by societal movements, nongovernmental actors, and public opinion. The interaction between Brazilian democratization, on the one side, and the expanded community of nongovernmental actors attentive to world affairs in the United States, on the other, has had a major effect upon U.S.-Brazilian political relations. Though the erosion of the boundary between domestic and international pressures is a common trait in both first- and second-tier issues, it tends to be more visible in the latter.

The issues on the first-tier agenda deal with interstate relations. They include diplomatic affairs, as well as international, regional, and bilateral security matters, and evolve according to world events and crises in light of the permanent national security interests of both countries. Although the second-tier agenda also involves interstate interaction, it is essentially set by nongovernmental actors and interests. It is, by definition, an open and extensive agenda in which Brazilian and U.S. societal movements and organizations aim, in the first place, to broaden perceptions and approaches in bilateral relations and, second, to push for change in Brazilian state policies. The core issues of this agenda have been

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