The day Brazil was given the right to host the summer Olympic games of 2016 was truly an important milestone for South America. Never before in history had a city in this vast region given the opportunity to host such an important event. Alex Swiec analyses what this means for leaders
For Brazil this was a high honour and responsibility, and Brazil’s president, Lula da Silva, could not contain his emotions and started to cry as many others that day for sure also did in from of their Televisions at home.
This was a way in which the world started to give a voice to a region and a country, which has been exploited and ignored since beginning of times. And if there is any doubt of the degree of exploitation we should then do an exercise of revision through Brazilian history.
We could start Brazilian history with the treaty of Tordesillas. This treaty, signed in 1494, allowed Portugal to occupy territories beyond the line drawn by the Pope. Obviously nobody knew that such a rich country, as Brazil would be on the west line of the imaginary line on a land only discovered two years before.
Not soon after, in 1530, Martim Alfonso de Sousa founded the first Portuguese populations in Brazil, subjecting native citizens to forced work in order to obtain natural resources such as gold, silver, chocolate and corn, which were send back to Portugal to commerce throughout Europe.
But not only were natural resources exploited. The richness of the local cultures was abolished and catholic institutions were imposed. America was the vast empire of the devil, and fanatical missions against native heresy blended with fever created by the brightness of the treasures of the New World, which ended up destroying local culture and customs.
Later on 1703 Portugal would sign the Methuen treaty with England. This was the start of a series of privileges gained by British traders in the region. While Portuguese wines had many privileges in Britain, Portugal opened its market and its colonies markets to British manufacturers, making local manufacturers obsolete and uncompetitive. On top of the destruction of local manufacturing in Brazil, we could also add that British fabric was not paid with wine, but with Brazilian gold.
The twentieth century did not change the trend of foreign domination on the region. Due to communist threads in South American, United States of America through its CIA agency supported Operation Condor.
Operation Condor (known as Plan Condor in Portuguese) was a campaign of political repression and terror involving intelligence operations and assassination of opponents officially implemented by the right-wing dictatorships of Southern America Cone.
The Brazilian military government went from March 1964 until March 1985. It started with the coup t´etat led my armed forces against left-wing president Joao Goulart and ended when Jose Sarney Sarney took power as first democratic president after 21 years of dictatorship.
It was on the last years of the dictatorship, on February 1980, that a group of academics, intellectual and union leaders founded the Partido dos Trabalhadores (PT) or Worker’s Party, a left-wing party with progressive ideas.
After dictatorship ended, Lula ran for president three times unsuccessfully, first in 1989 election, then again in 1994 and 1998. Lula achieved victory in the 2002 election, and was inaugurated as president on 1 January 2003. In the 2006 election he was elected for a second term as president, which ended on 1 January 2011.
On his first four years of government he created a political model which took more than 20 million people out of extreme poverty and into middle class, and boosted Brazilian´s economy to the 8th most richest country in the world ranking.
So we could openly say that the Olympic award for Brazil was not only recognition to the region for its influence in world politics, but also recognition to Brazilian president´s new leadership model. A political model that had been silenced many times before through imposition of foreign politics.
But looking back in time was this way of recognition truly useful for Brazil?
What are the people in Brazil saying about this responsibility placed on their shoulders? From the latest protests it seems that Brazilians don´t feel honoured with the Olympics and world cup, but rather quite the contrary.
Maybe the recognition for Lula was in a way also an imposition to create an event in the first world modern society way. This places expectations that Brazil should be at the same level of infrastructure, financial and organization capabilities as countries like United Kingdom, China or Australia, to mention three of the countries that were hosting the four editions of the modern Olympic games.
And going deeper into analysis, maybe the real imposition and expectation is that Brazil will make usage of management and leadership roles from a developed society perspective, which in many ways may not be correct model for Brazil.
So in true nature, the World Football Cup and Olympic Games may truly corrupt the original idea of president Lula da Silva to honour the poorest people in the country with education and basic health infrastructure.
Along side the spectrum of Lula’s world leadership originated from South America is the recent Pope nomination of Francisco I, who responds to the secular name of Jorge Mario Bergoglio.
In his leadership we see similarities with the Brazil’s president Lula da Silva. He too has been the first in his field, as never before in history had a Pope been originally from South American. In him we also see symbolic changes of leadership shifts in an occidental first world organization like the Catholic Church.
Some could have passed without notice like his choice to wear an iron cross instead of the golden cross which previous popes used.
But other changes in his leadership have been very explicit. He has openly reclaimed that the Catholic Church should be an institution that gives priority to the poorest in society. Also in his first apostolic exhortation, “Gaudium Evangelii” (“The joy of the Gospel”), Francisco has an opening signal to the claim “a conversion of the papacy” for the exercise of his ministry is “more faithful to the sense Jesus Christ and wanted to bring the current needs of evangelization. ” In this document, among other claims, he proposed essentially moving from a model of bureaucratic and doctrinaire church to a “missionary”, sociable, open to the laity and youth church.
From our brief analysis of the World Cup and Olympic Games in Brazil related with Leadership in Latin America we could say that the modern societies should not only learn but enable South American leaders to influence world politics with their new different ideas, while also make a conscious effort not to impose responsibilities and ultimately ways of management and leadership through events that could not be aligned with the local principles and leadership in the region.