Sunday, April 03, 2011

Everyone Wanting

In recent days I had the opportunity to interact with several public and private officers and leaders in Brazil. People from the academic and research sectors, publicly elected officials, leaders of industry chambers, directors of private agencies of public interest, and corporate executives from the airplane and biofuel industries.

All of these encounters had a common thread: all those leaders of the Brazilian society share the conviction that it is possible to have a more prosperous and developed country. This is not only an illusion that exists since the 1950s about this country: Brazil, the country of the future, although that future never seemed to arrive.

Today it is also a reality that the country is in fact more prosperous and more developed. The last 16 years have seen 8-year stints in office by Fernando Henrique Cardoso and Luiz Inácio Lula Da Silva, and have resulted in a very steep growth that is admired by the entire world and that stands out among the remaining Latin American neighborhood. How did they do it?

Thirty years ago, Brazil was a military dictatorship. Less than twenty years ago they were swamped in an endless economic crisis with three- and four-digit inflation figures, as incredible as it may seem.

Then came the macroeconomic legal reforms of Fernando Henrique to stabilize the economy and to make it sustainable, and Lula’s policies to put 100 million poor people at the top of national political priorities. The result is a country that is legally organized and where everyone shares a feeling of belonging about the challenges and achievements.

There is still a long way to go. Domestic security, deforestation, staggering poverty levels. We shall see in another 16 years how Brazil has managed to deal with such complicated challenges.

For now, the feeling I get is that, at least at a leadership level, all the people I have interacted with share the desire of the country’s progress. This is reflected in their behavior: serious, formal, highly qualified, and committed to excellence in the service they provide.

I imagine the following analogy: if there are 22 players and none of them wants to play, there is no way they will manage. If only four or five want to play, it would still be difficult to perform with efficacy. If at least eleven are in, then there is a football team, although with no substitutions, and perhaps with high opposition from those on the bench. But when all 22 want, then the coach can choose the best ones to perform at the highest level, and not only a few. It sounds so familiar.

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