Click amount to donate direct to CounterPunch
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $500
  • $other
  • use PayPal
Keep CounterPunch ad free. Support our annual fund drive today!

Obama in Brazil


For the first time since John F. Kennedy, the USA has a charismatic leader to the point of being popular in other lands, becoming a reference for the electorates of different countries. And, because of his path and ethnic culture, Obama through that his image has an obvious penetration in the Brazilian public opinion.

The American diplomacy strategists operate with this certainty. They are manipulating that symbolic projection with coherence to their interests. There are two axioms in politics that may explain this modus operandi. One of them is to “divide to reign or to conquer”, and the other is the “going deep to grass roots popularity of a politician’s” image, accentuating an imaginary representation and not the real or factual projection.

In the action of dividing to reign, the Department of State focus is the rapprochement of the Brazilian diplomatic agenda to the western hemisphere. This obviously implicates a slow removal from Latin America centered theories. It can be explained with an analysis of President Obama’s speech, eulogizing our country in the discursive actions and projecting Brazilian leadership in the Continent. At the same time, the United States has a shy position about recommending the seventh larger economy in the world for a permanent United Nations Security Council seat. In this subject, Washington acted in an identical way, dividing G 20 leaders and specially BRIC countries, putting India and Brazil in opposite positions.

Going back to Obama’s tour, his imaginary penetration in Brazil can be explained by a special combination of an upper class super education basis (as a political scientist and lawyer with very good oratory skills) with the image of an experienced community organizer in Chicago ghettos. The mirror effect works. While he enchanted the Brazilians in Rio and Brasília, the coalition (with NATO leadership) attacked loyalist Muammar El-Khadafi targets in the Libyan territory. It is possible to build a popular character in other societies without passing through media gatekeepers and their way of manufacturing consent. This administration has the know-how to speak directly with the people of other countries without “paying taxes” to local media conglomerate. That’s why Obama has given little or any attention for the Latin-American media (leaders in media business) and put all the emphasis in White House propaganda apparatus, including live blogs and the broadcast through internet, diffusing a big part of President’s public agenda.

A possible characterization of the passage of Obama for Brazil is the exercise of the diplomacy through putting emphasis in people and exalting similarities in both countries path. Barack Hussein said that USA and Brazil are huge “new” western countries with powerful states, composed for a multi-ethnic population and with a slavery common past. This seems very sympathetic and pleased residents of the world largest afro-descending nation. Brazilians self-esteem arose in the heights after that. Here comes the second characterization, which analyzes Obama as the great Imperial Power public relationships, attracting the attentions for this inclination. This tactical maneuver created a game of mirrors among what audiences are seeing: a nice and high educated USA president, and the typical Imperialist way, promoting a “humanitarian bombing”, attacking a dictator until recently tolerated.

In George W. Bush times, anti-imperialist positions were easy to spread and to be explained. The son of Reagan’s former vice-president is less qualified and worse as political operator. When Bush Jr. has come to São Paulo to accomplish a calendar with Lula, in November of 2005, the chaos was formed in the largest Brazilian city. Jeb Bush’s brother’s cortege interrupted Down Town traffic in a working day and had against itself a protest action with great proportions. For Latin America social fighters, 11/05/2005 was an unforgettable day. Now, in the last summer days at the southern hemisphere, the couple Michele and Obama, two former students of Ivy League universities like Bush Jr., generated a different sensation with the visit of a US President. Sunday, March 20 begun with a visit to City of God (Cidade de Deus, a huge mix of slum and project in Rio’s west zone) and ended with a creative speech to a VIP audience in the Theatro Municipal. After that, in Brazil, Obama became a brilliant star.

Barack Hussein Obama II is capable of many feats. A well trained Public Relations and propagandist professional, he could execute a typical hearts and minds operation, enchanting all kind of audiences, from the bottom to the top of social pyramid. The “old school” psychological operation was so well done that almost nobody in Brazil noticed the maneuver.

BRUNO LIMA ROCHA is a political scientist, professional journalist and university professor. He is also the editor of Estratégia & Análise website (in Portuguese, Spanish and English) where is concentrated the majority of his papers, articles, radio programs and analysis.



More articles by:

2016 Fund Drive
Smart. Fierce. Uncompromised. Support CounterPunch Now!

  • cp-store
  • donate paypal

CounterPunch Magazine


Weekend Edition
October 21, 2016
Friday - Sunday
John Wight
Hillary Clinton and the Brutal Murder of Gaddafi
Diana Johnstone
Hillary Clinton’s Strategic Ambition in a Nutshell
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Trump’s Naked and Hillary’s Dead
John W. Whitehead
American Psycho: Sex, Lies and Politics Add Up to a Terrifying Election Season
Stephen Cooper
Hell on Earth in Alabama: Inside Holman Prison
Patrick Cockburn
13 Years of War: Mosul’s Frightening and Uncertain Future
Rob Urie
Name the Dangerous Candidate
Pepe Escobar
The Aleppo / Mosul Riddle
David Rosen
The War on Drugs is a Racket
Sami Siegelbaum
Once More, the Value of the Humanities
Cathy Breen
“Today Is One of the Heaviest Days of My Life”
Neve Gordon
Israel’s Boycott Hypocrisy
Mark Hand
Of Pipelines and Protest Pens: When the Press Loses Its Shield
Victor Wallis
On the Stealing of U.S. Elections
Michael Hudson
The Return of the Repressed Critique of Rentiers: Veblen in the 21st century Rentier Capitalism
Brian Cloughley
Drumbeats of Anti-Russia Confrontation From Washington to London
Howard Lisnoff
Still Licking Our Wounds and Hoping for Change
Brian Gruber
Iraq: There Is No State
Peter Lee
Trump: We Wish the Problem Was Fascism
Stanley L. Cohen
Equality and Justice for All, It Seems, But Palestinians
Steve Early
In Bay Area Refinery Town: Berniecrats & Clintonites Clash Over Rent Control
Kristine Mattis
All Solutions are Inadequate: Why It Doesn’t Matter If Politicians Mention Climate Change
Peter Linebaugh
Ron Suny and the Marxist Commune: a Note
Andre Vltchek
Sudan, Africa and the Mosaic of Horrors
Keith Binkly
The Russians Have Been Hacking Us For Years, Why Is It a Crisis Now?
Jonathan Cook
Adam Curtis: Another Manager of Perceptions
Ted Dace
The Fall
Sheldon Richman
Come and See the Anarchy Inherent in the System
Susana Hurlich
Hurricane Matthew: an Overview of the Damages in Cuba
Dave Lindorff
Screwing With and Screwing the Elderly and Disabled
Chandra Muzaffar
Cuba: Rejecting Sanctions, Sending a Message
Dennis Kucinich
War or Peace?
Joseph Natoli
Seething Anger in the Post-2016 Election Season
Jack Rasmus
Behind The 3rd US Presidential Debate—What’s Coming in 2017
Ron Jacobs
A Theory of Despair?
Gilbert Mercier
Globalist Clinton: Clear and Present Danger to World Peace
James A Haught
Many Struggles Won Religious Freedom
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
Dear Fellow Gen Xers: Let’s Step Aside for the Millennials
Uri Avnery
The Peres Funeral Ruckus
Tom Clifford
Duterte’s Gambit: the Philippines’s Pivot to China
Reyes Mata III
Scaling Camelot’s Walls: an Essay Regarding Donald Trump
Raouf Halaby
Away from the Fray: From Election Frenzy to an Interlude in Paradise
James McEnteer
Art of the Feel
David Yearsley
Trump and Hitchcock in the Age of Conspiracies
Charles R. Larson
Review: Sjón’s “Moonstone: the Boy Who Never Was”