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  • Writer's pictureColombia Risk Analysis

Bolsonaro Effect - Brasil

The election of Jair Bolsonaro in Brazil suggests important geopolitical changes in Latin America that will have serious repercussions for Colombia. In the first place it implies the hardening of collective action against Venezuela. Bolsonaro and his hardline policy against the socialist and communist movements suggest that Brazil, like Colombia, could move away from the so-called Lima Group and seek along with Trump and Duque to tighten the diplomatic fence that the region is making against the Nicolás Maduro regime. Although it is too soon to think of a joint military action (something that the region for the moment rejects unanimously), the flows of Venezuelan migrants to Colombia and Brazil will not stop in the medium term as the Venezuelan economy continues its elongated deterioration.

With permission from the author: Juana Medina

Additionally, Brazil's participation in the regional integration processes will be put into question. First, this could seriously threaten the continuity of UNASUR, whose existence is in limbo after the departure of Colombia on August 27 and the suspension of the membership from five more countries in April of this year. Likewise, Brazil, the cornerstone of Mercosur, could seek a policy of commercial alliance with the United States, which would seriously harm the integrity of the bloc, since it would break the condition of negotiating trade agreements collectively, furthermore Bolsonaro favors the expulsion of Venezuela of the commercial block (Venezuela was officially suspended from the block on August 2017). Moreover, the erratic policy making style of Bolsonaro will increase the political uncertainty in the short and medium term.

Bolsonaro also promised important economic changes to Brazil. The country still has not recovered from the 2015-16 recession and has failed to create enough jobs to restart the economy. Additionally, the soaring fiscal deficits could push the country’s debt over 100% of GDP in the next two years, something that will surely affect levels of foreign direct investment and growth. A crisis in Brazil is likely to have a contagion effect for the region, driving away investors and affecting other emerging markets. Finally, Bolsonaro’s policies on anti-corruption and security will likely generate greater commitment in the region and strengthen regional cooperation to prosecute corruption and transnational crime, particularly drug trafficking and illegal mining.

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