Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff is a precarious position, as opinion polls released earlier this week showed. Her disapproval rating was measured at 65 percent, numbers not seen since former Brazilian President Fernando Collor de Mello received a disapproval rating of 68 percent, shortly before being impeached in 1992. Meanwhile, the corruption investigation into the activities of state-run energy company Petrobras during Rousseff’s tenure as its chairwoman continues to implicate prominent Brazilian executives.
Last month, Rousseff hosted Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and brokered a series of trade deals with Beijing worth about $50 billion. Now, she is turning toward Washington for help—two years after turning her back on the Obama Administration following the Snowden leaks. Financial Times:
The meeting with her US counterpart, Barack Obama, is the first attempt at rebuilding a relationship that was hit hard in 2013 when Ms Rousseff cancelled a planned state visit to Washington after former US National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden revealed his country had spied on Brazil.
At the time, Ms Rousseff was near the peak of her popularity, but she will now be coming to the US keen for foreign policy successes to make up for plummeting approval ratings at home with Brazil’s economy contracting and corruption scandals mounting.
“She will be making this visit at a very tough moment for her,” said Carlos Melo, political scientist at Insper in São Paulo. “She needs somehow to recover some of her support base, above all in the middle class.”
A lot has changed since 2013. Just two years ago President Rousseff was in her prime, leading Brazil in its ascendance as a world-conquering BRIC—and her poll numbers looked good. The times were so good that Dilma was even able to can her scheduled trip to DC.
Then things went awry. Now Dilma is coming back to Washington, hoping to boost her battered brand at home. DC should be polite—Brazil is an important country—but the message should be clear: Brazil’s latest troubles come from a failure of reform, and the corruption firestorm at Petrobras and connected companies is a serious problem for foreign investors, especially in the US.