Recently the Brazilian government has taken several measures to gain and uphold economic and cultural influence throughout Africa. Since it transitioned from a borrower state to a lender state in the second half of the twentieth century, Brazil has looked for ways in which to assert influence. It appears that Africa is the chosen place in which the nation has chosen to dedicate its energy. However, there remains a multitude of questions, two of which are: is Brazil domestically competent to dive into this endeavor both financially and socially? What can be said for the recent arms deals to African nations that are not revered for having stable domestic politics?
One of the ways in which Brazil has involved itself in Africa is by granting bursaries and other forms of scholarship to promising students so that they can study in Brazil. Whilst this seems like it is done with good intentions on behalf of the Brazilian government, it does not seem that the population of Brazil echoes the same support. Since the settlement of the Portuguese during the 18th century, a communal racist nature has been continuously growing within the population. Though the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as well as other international legislations states that racism is not tolerated, there are still apparent violations in the Brazilian society. Specifically within the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, article 2 states that “Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.” Though there have been strides to better the problems associated with racism, international students in Brazil from Africa have complained that they feel uncomfortable and prejudiced against in their classes. Additionally, a poll made in 2011 states that 63.7% of Brazilians feel that standards of living are affected by race. Therefore it appears that Brazil has launched into this task before its people were ready to take it on. It is also imperative to note that it is not just the general population that makes African students feel ostracized. Brazilian police forces have stopped African students on numerous occasions simply by racially profiling them. If Brazil wishes the influx of African students to continue, the government should perhaps look to stabilise the interracial dynamic.
Another issue which continues to concern Western nations is Brazil’s interactions with nations whose leaders are both questionable and whose history is rough in terms of military advances. For instance, in recent months, Angolan military personnel have been sent to train in Brazil and cluster bombs have been sent to Zimbabwe. It is important to note the involvement of nations such as Zimbabwe. Mugabe’s dictatorial rule in Zimbabwe has generated significant criticism from the international community. It seems contradictory to Brazil’s democratic and economic rise to militarily aid a nation in which there is noted corruption and absolutist tendencies. It is more concerning that military aid is arriving in the form of cluster bombs. Cluster bombs are some of the most deadly weapons that are known to hurt civilians and in 2008, nations sought to ban these bombs. This could also serve to harm ties that Brazil has with nations such as the United States who have heavily criticized the government of Zimbabwe.
Though it has not been heavily touched upon, Brazil’s influence in Africa is also beneficial to communities within the continent. Through the provision of medical and economic assistance to struggling nations, Brazil does serve to increase the quality of life in famine and poverty ridden sections of Africa. Additionally, Brazil’s trade with Africa rose from $4.3 billion in 2002 to $27.6 billion in 2011. Therefore, Brazil and the nations in which they provide aid are certainly benefitting economically. There does, however, remain the question of what arms deals will contribute to the future.