Socioeconomic Differences: Brazil vs. the United States

 that is larger than the lower 48 states of the United States. Thus, it is impossible to comprehend Brazil without understanding its dimensions. Brazil's land border, which it shares with ten South American neighbors, is five times larger than the boundary between the United States and Mexico. In terms of population, Brazil is the fifth largest country in the globe. (For the sake of context, Indonesia is ranked fourth.) It is endowed with an abundance of natural resources, including the world's largest freshwater reserves. It is the location of two-thirds of the iconic Amazon, the world's largest tropical rainforest. It is the seventh or eighth largest economy in the globe, and the second largest in the Western Hemisphere, depending on one's calculations. Only the State of Sao Paulo boasts an economy that surpasses that of Argentina. Brazil has a greater number of localities with a population exceeding one million than the United States. It is the second-largest exporter of agricultural goods in the globe, following the United States. Its current production of oil and gas places it among the top ten energy producers in the world, and it derives 75% of its energy requirements from hydroelectric sources, which are among the purest energy platforms among large nations. Brazil has the potential to become an even more significant global producer as its pre-salt oil reserves are developed. Brazil's Embraer is the third-largest aviation corporation in the world, following Boeing and Airbus. Additionally, Gerdau is the leading producer of long steel in the Americas. Additionally, this serves as an illustration. Keeping these fundamental facts about Brazil in mind can assist in putting surface events, such as the headlines of today, into perspective.

Brazil is a continent-sized country that occupies a landmass

It is also impossible to engage in a conversation about the relationship between the United States and Brazil without being struck by the numerous and frequently profound similarities. There may be no two large countries in the world that share as much in common, including a certain vastness that defies simple categorization. Brazil, like the United States, is frequently inward-looking and the center of its own universe, while also being open and hospitable to outsiders. Brazil has a unique national identity and character that transcends stereotypes. Its population is racially diverse and has a historically Portuguese core. However, it is feasible for anyone to attain the status of a Brazilian. Naturalized Brazilians are perceived as Brazilians, not as immigrants, as they are in the United States. They may be hyphenated, but they are still Brazilian. For example, Brazil is home to a greater number of ethnic Japanese than any other country outside of Japan, and the number of ethnic Lebanese is greater than any other country outside of the Middle East. (Brazil has received the highest number of Syrian migrants in the hemisphere over the past few years and is currently in the process of accepting additional refugees.)

Brazil's racial and ethnic composition

which encompasses African, Indigenous, Asian, and European, is recognizable to the majority of Americans. In addition, we share a history that is largely parallel, which includes the "discovery" of the continent by Europeans and the subsequent surges of immigration into a relatively uncharted "empty" continent. We both share a traumatic history of slavery, which has had a lasting impact on the social and cultural milieu of our respective countries. This legacy continues to present significant challenges in the societies of both countries to this day. It is also noteworthy that we are the two largest democracies in the Western Hemisphere, with a strong streak of self-criticism, free and open media, and a sincerely held conviction that we should be able to do better—by our own people and in the world. For these and other reasons, the majority of Brazilians maintain a unique admiration for the United States and generally hold favorable opinions of it, as evidenced by the majority of opinion polls.

The diplomatic notion that Brazil and the United States are "natural partners" is informed by the profound similarities between the two countries, including our shared democratic values. They are the shared blood, sinew, and bones of the bilateral partnership. However, we should not obscure our genuine differences with lofty sentiments. We have our own opinions on the relative importance of the state and market in the economy, the legitimacy of the use of force or other coercive measures in addressing challenges to international peace and security, and the effectiveness of multilateral fora, particularly the United Nations, as the be-all and end-all of diplomatic efforts, among other topics. US diplomats must also contend with Brazil's sometimes perplexing insistence on its natural sovereignty and its desire to establish its own path, free from perceived excessive dependence on one or another of its partners, including the United States, when interacting with our Brazilian counterparts. Occasionally, it appears that Brazil's symbolic defense of sovereignty, or strategic balancing, surpasses what we might perceive as the straightforwardly pragmatic pursuit of its own national interests, which is challenging for Americans.

Nevertheless, the majority of our differences are relatively inconsequential

in the context of the larger picture. They are disputes regarding strategies rather than objectives, regarding the method by which we arrive at our destination rather than the destination itself. We generally share the following, more expansive strategic objectives: a more representative democracy, increased prosperity for a greater number of our citizens, environmental sustainability, expanded social inclusion both within and outside of our own countries, and a more peaceful and equitable world order whose institutions more accurately reflect the realities of the 21st century. Although the perception that our bilateral relationship is somehow underperforming has been fueled by moments of strain between Brazil and the United States in recent years, this is now shifting. The official visit of President Rousseff to the United States from June 30 to July 2, as well as her meetings with President Obama in Washington, exceeded our expectations in terms of reestablishing a constructive, forward-thinking relationship. We are now in a position to bring the actuality of enhanced Brazil-US cooperation into closer alignment with its profound, extensive potential. If one thing is evident, it is that Brazil and the United States are capable of accomplishing significantly more by collaborating on a wide range of issues, including regional, global, and multilateral challenges, than either of us could independently.


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