No, Brazil is not ready for war

Economy Minister Paulo Guedes is undoubtedly someone who knows what to do with his own money. Despite being somewhat ostracized by the financial markets in Brazil for some time, he is an economist with a large fortune coming from his own investments. The problem, however, is when it comes to the money of the Brazilian population. Ever since he took office as Jair Bolsonaro’s head finance official, Mr. Guedes has spent more time talking himself in and out of trouble than actually carrying out successful economic measures. 

In the middle of another salvo of empty promises of a better economic future, Paulo Guedes this week quipped that Brazil is “ready for World War II” — suggesting that he is simultaneously unaware of the country’s current ailments, and living some 90 years in the past. 

Needless to say, Brazil is not ready for any conflict. Indeed, Brazil has plenty of conflict to deal with already, what with growing hunger figures, spiraling inflation, hefty unemployment, sky-high fuel prices, and the tail end of a deadly pandemic. 

Mr. Guedes later said it was a figure of speech, that “World War I” in this metaphor was the Covid-19 pandemic. But even this use of imagery was inappropriate: the UN has said that the number of refugees from the Russo-Ukrainian war has already surpassed 3 million people. So, we should ask Mr. Guedes how Brazil, a country already facing socio-economic troubles, would be ready for more of that? 

Speaking of war, it is also important to remember that there are several wars happening in Brazil as we speak. Several major cities are stuck amid violent conflict between the police, drug gangs, and paramilitary police mafias. In the countryside, indigenous people and environmental activists try to hold their own against the charge of land grabbers and illegal miners. So, once again, Brazil is not ready for war. And, perhaps, from some people’s point of view, “close to a civil war” may be more accurate. 

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