“We learn from history that we don’t learn from history.” Friedrick Hegel
Politics in most countries is difficult to slice up so that truth is seen and understood. May I suggest whatever I write about the present government and politics in Brazil you need to take it with a grain of salt. Still to be able to unravel anything about Brazil we must attempt to understand something of the present leader of this country, Dilma Rousseff.
Rousseff is important to Brazil for she is the first woman elected to be president—that was years after being tortured by the country’s dictatatorship back in the 70s. Then it was all because of her left-wing activities. She followed president Lula da Silva also of the same PT party; he was a man who promoted income equality and he made some progress in this immense task. Remember it is thought that up to 30% of the population of the major Brazilian cities lives in slums. I have seen some of it—the horror of it grips my heart.
In any case Rousseff’s economic policies are not growing the economic cake as did during the past few governments that carried Brazil to seventh place among world’s economies. Under her government illiteracy has increased for the first time in fifteen years, even though her PT party has declared itself as defending the poor and the socially excluded. Then add to that a huge scandal in the government oil company Petrobras that has led to a $20 billion deficit this last year.
All this weighs on Rousseff so that during the last few months, according to Time magazine, only 23% of Brazilians feel she is doing a good or excellent job. Voters feel sour about their government and especially Rousseff so that she may not succeed in being re-elected.
With our background as missionaries in Brazil we must ask two question, the first is what effect will this have on Brazil’s million of poor favelados? I suspect desperation and unrest will increase when roads, water mains and electricity are not extended to the neediest of society. Add to that the general unhappiness as the economy shrinks building discontent from decreasing salaries in most levels of society.
The second question is how a difficult economy will affect the Christian church. Obviously it will make it more difficult for churches of any stripe to be able to keep their schools and clinics open and to build churches in poor areas. There is one small bright spot in this—with the high inflation rate the value of foreign dollars goes up and that will strengthen groups that go to Brazil to lend a hand.
I quote Time, “It’s going to be a rough ride—for Rousseff and her country.” My conclusion is that it will be a rough ride for the church in Brazil especially as it attempts to minister to the poor. Still it always seems that the Christian church is able to grow when placed in difficult situations, even when there is persecution. As my dad used to say, “God is still on the throne” and I have faith that applies to the church of Christian believers around the world.