22:21 GMT26 January 2021
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    Brazil: BRICS on the Brink of Dismantlement?

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    The landslide election of right-wing firebrand Jair Bolsonaro as Brazil’s next president has caused some to wonder whether the pro-American China-bashing leader will retain his country’s membership in BRICS or if he’ll gradually begin to disengage from the bloc as he decisively pivots towards the US.

    The former military officer regularly lambasted China on the campaign trail for allegedly taking advantage of his country and spoke out very fiercely against its growing investments in Brazil's energy and mining industries. There are concerns that he might even seek to scrap China's ambitious Bi-Oceanic Railroad project to connect the Atlantic port of Santos near Sao Paolo to the Pacific one of Ilo in southern Peru via landlocked Bolivia, which could rightly be described as a "South American Silk Road" if it was ever built.

    Bolsonaro raised eyebrows all throughout the BRICS countries when he pledged on election night that Brazil will prioritize its relations with advanced economies, which suggested that it might begin neglecting its notional BRICS partners in favor of a newfound relationship with the US and EU. Brazil was already leading the formerly socialist Mercosur integrational bloc's free trade talks with the EU, and there's a conceivable chance that it might revive the floundered Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) project for pioneering a similar deal with the reformed NAFTA and eventually the rest of the Western Hemisphere too. On a more regional level, it's possible that Mercosur might partner or even merge with the neoliberal Pacific Alliance considering that most of the continent is now run by US-backed leaders with a similar geo-economic outlook anyhow.

    BRICS was most appealing in Brazil during the heyday of the so-called "Pink Tide" in the mid-2000s when the country was run by a socialist government just like many others in Latin America at that time as well, but the subsequent chain of suspected US-facilitated regime changes that occurred throughout the region since then seem to have irreversibly changed the strategic dynamics there. Bolsonaro's unexpected rise from a little-known fringe politician to the country's president-elect was made possible by the far-reaching "Operation Car Wash" anti-corruption probe that was aided by the NSA, so it makes sense that the US has an interest in seeing him move away from BRICS and towards his role model, Donald Trump, especially given their shared animosity against China.

    Andrew Korybko is joined by Sebastian Tapia, international political analyst from Argentina, and João Aroldo, independent translator from Brazil.

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    BRICS, Jair Bolsonaro, Brazil
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