‘Privatization’ Is No Longer a Dirty Word in Brazil, Even in an Election Year

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In one of the most iconic photo moments of his presidency, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva waves a pair of hands slicked with crude oil from a petroleum platform operated by Brazil’s government-run oil company, Petrobras. The country’s state-heavy economy was roaring, buoyed by the global commodity boom, prompting Lula to later declare, “God is Brazilian.” Twelve years later, Lula is in jail, Petrobras is reeling from a massive corruption scandal, and Brazil’s era of undisputed resource nationalism has reached an ignominious end. As presidential elections in October approach, the long-unthinkable is now being openly debated: Should public assets be sold off?

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