Tariffs and barriers in other countries--Mercosur in this case--are called barriers to free trade. Meanwhile, the U.S. pretends not to recognize its own barriers ("Brazil's new look," Cover Story, May 4).
Today, the U.S. has the most protective system of any country in the Americas if we consider that a quota is like an infinite tax on imports. The U.S. should allow more than 33% of imported tobacco in its cigarettes--possibly 100% if Virginia producers are not competitive. Oranges from Florida should compete with Brazil's without subsidies from the local government disguised as technical assistance. If U.S. producers cannot compete, they should stop cultivating. Other sectors--rice, sugarcane, meat--use these same practices. Courage and conviction are missing in the North, not in the South.
The free market does not mean giving in to those who can manipulate market conditions but ensuring the conditions for a competitive market.
Juan Carlos Iglesias Perez
Brazilians have suddenly realized that their paychecks are for more than merely surviving, and I believe most people are doing everything they can so that things won't go back to the way they were. We can only hope that Fernando Henrique Cardoso, having lost both his right hand (Sergio Motta) and his left hand (Luis Eduardo Magalhaes), will be able to make his way to a second term.
Congratulations for your excellent story about Brazil and President Cardoso's policy. The international community should view Brazil as a potential market in finance, production, operations management--and, more important, as a country where all things are predictable. Now, the country has an honest, capable, and flexible man in the presidency.
For clamping down on inflation and keeping the economy on the right track, credit is due not only to President Cardoso but also to the "sheriff" of the Brazilian economy, Finance Minister Pedro Malan. Also, Mercosur does not lack the courage to enter the global arena. Sometimes, it is better to be cautious and efficient than courageous and rash.
Fernando de Magalhaes Furlan
Brazil is the world champion of inequality: The 20% annual interest rate is only an interbank rate (the real interest rate for enterprises and other borrowers ranges from 5% to 18% per month), the state oil monopoly is untouchable, the education and health systems were dismantled by the plutocracy, cartels control important sectors such as media and cement, the minimum wage is only $100 per month, corruption is at the core of public and private administration, and the illiteracy level is high.
In such an environment, can democracy work? Certainly not. The media cartel keeps people misinformed: Only after I could read English did I learn the truth about my own country.