200 Years of Independence and the Challenges for the Brazil of 2022

Maj Cezar Augusto Rodrigues Lima Junior

200 years ago, José Bonifácio orchestrated the movement that would emancipate Brazil from the Portuguese metropolis. Our patriarch knew that the easiest way to achieve this goal would be through a smooth transition. We would remain a monarchy, but with colossal dimensions – an empire. Breaking with the old regime in a republican manner, as some advocated, could generate greater resistance from the Portuguese. Nevertheless, there was resistance, as Bahians can attest.

We were Empire and it was good. We owe the Monarchy, the two emperors, and the illustrious figures of the Marquis of Olinda, Paraná and Rio Branco, among others, the consolidation of this continental country as a nation, whether in internal and external wars, or in the diplomatic field. The figure of Caxias, the only Duke of non-royal blood, who with his sword was the true champion of national integrity, stands out.

With the advent of the Republic, the country’s political maturity reached a new level. Freedoms were won, and the political class was gradually reconstituted after the change in the form of government. It is true that these were difficult times, with revolts and internal struggles, but little by little Brazil was overcoming the challenges that were presented to it, ceasing to be an agrarian country and beginning its industrialization.

A relevant role should also be given to Catholicism and miscegenation in the sui generis construction of the Brazilian ethos. The first activity on Brazilian soil, in the presence of the coastal Tupi peoples, was a mass. Under the sermons of the Jesuits and the sign of the Cross, the values of our western tradition were amalgamated in the Brazilian blood. As for miscegenation, Gilberto Freyre, in his magnum opus, gave us a remarkable description of the fusion of races that forged the Brazilian people by the end of the 18th century. Later, in the 19th and 20th centuries, immigrants from all over the world constituted the cultural genesis we are so proud of. If there is a country where racial differences are irrelevant, it is Brazil.

Going back to the last century, we went to Europe and fought against totalitarianism. We returned and continued the political construction of the nation, no longer with oligarchies, but with a focus on national problems. Oil; steelworks; automobiles; roads; colonization of the interior, with the displacement of the capital to the Central Plateau; mechanization; and modernization of agriculture and cattle-raising: challenges that were gradually overcome and that brought us to the last years of the 20th century, when we experienced exchange rate stability and low inflation.

In these 200 years, Brazilians’ life expectancy has more than doubled. The number of people with literacy surpassed 90%. We are among the largest economies in the world and we feed millions of people with our farming and cattle raising. We have kept our territory intact and our people united. A great part of this effort has the hands of the Brazilian Army, an institution that has always been present in the History of Brazil.

We can say that, despite the problems, for such a young country, we have trodden a path of success. But what about the future? What are the challenges that we face and will face to promote the “good of all and the general happiness of the Nation”? Are we really independent? We will approach the economic, scientific-technological and military expressions to answer this problem.

In the economic field, Brazil has assured its role as a global food supplier. However, we cannot do without a base and technological industry that guarantees the production of everything from computer chips to railway tracks. Speaking of railroads, the development of the transportation sector presents itself as a bottleneck for economic growth. It is of no use to be an agricultural powerhouse that does not drain its food, which lacks agricultural implements and fertilizers. We are rich in potash, but we import it. Back to industry, we have iron ore, but we export to China and Europe, and we import steel coils that could perfectly well be produced here. As for energy, we are champions of clean production, but we can do much more. Our wind and solar potential is very large, not to mention just the hydraulic one.

The scientific-technological expression, on the other hand, needs more concern. Our Argentine brothers have already had Nobel Prize winners, and we still have none, even though we have five times the population of that country. Our universities produce less than ideal knowledge, and our basic education still needs improvement. We have islands of excellence, such as some federal and private institutes and universities, renowned private schools, military colleges, etc., but the great mass of the population still doesn’t have access to the minimum. Research and the promotion of research are still in their infancy, often dependent only on the State, with a small role played by industry. An incipient turnaround can be seen regarding the defense industry in its association with academia, but it is still dependent on public resources.

Finally, the military expression also demands actions that allow the country to move in the direction of progress. Defense is a subject that still requires discussion at the national level. There are initiatives coming mainly from the Armed Forces, but discussing the subject should be the obligation of all Brazilians. The Armed Forces exist for the Nation, they are national and permanent institutions with a clear mission set forth in the Federal Constitution. As if National Defense were not enough, they must also guarantee law and order, execute subsidiary attributions and cooperate with national development, all foreseen by law. The meager budget allocated to them allows them to fulfill these missions, but it is not worthy of the importance of a regional and global geopolitical actor that Brazil occupies. Our Forces have one of the lowest budgets/GDP of South America. It is urgent that the Nation discuss its importance and its tasks, and be concerned with the dissuasion of external threats. If we are at peace it is because the military is fulfilling its role, but we cannot forget that history punishes the unprepared.

Thus, having remembered the great challenges that we have overcome in these 200 years to build our beloved country, we cannot stop working on the present so that we do not always remain with the epithet of “country of the future”. We are truly independent, but it is urgent to unify a national discourse that allows us to develop the economy, science and technology, and the military field, thus conquering true external independence. Brazil’s natural vocation is to be the “Colossus of the South. We cannot afford to remain resisting our destiny. In the 200 years since the cry of Dom Pedro, let us be as astute as José Bonifácio and continue to trace our history toward “Order and Progress.

About the author:

Maj Cezar Augusto Rodrigues Lima Junior – Master in Military Operations by ESAO. He was an instructor of the Artillery Course of AMAN and of the School for Training and Improvement of Officers of the Oriental Republic of Uruguay. He integrated the Development Team of the Fire Support Simulator. Specialist in Missile and Rocket Artillery, at Fort Santa Barbara he was Subunit Commander and Doctrine Officer of the 6th GMF and Instructor and Chief of the Teaching Division of the Missile and Rocket Artillery Training Center. He held the Command of the Army Artillery Command Battery at that same location. He is currently a student of the Command and General Staff Course at ECEME.

*** Translated by the DEFCONPress FYI Team ***

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