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HIST115- Latin American Hist & Culture

MODULE 12: *Referencing specific examples from the Brazil Documentary & Articles*, what patterns do you see that make Corruption such a huge problem across Latin America? Why might it be so difficult to stop?


This week, we will focus on Corruption, a chronic disease that continues to paralyze both developing and advanced economies across Latin America.

This week, we’ll mostly be watching a DOCUMENTARY about extreme corruption in Brazil. One of the world’s largest and fastest-growing economies, Brazil has become a major player in international finance due to its immense resources ranging from oil to biofuels to lumber. But with this often comes corruption: many of the previous leaders have been accused of embezzling millions of dollars, accepting bribes, or giving international companies like PETROBRAS or ODEBRECHT unethical influence over the political system. For Brazil’s case, this is especially bad because BOTH “Conservatives” and Socialists have been accused of extreme corruption, including former Brazilian Presidents Rousseff and Lula da Silva, as well as Peru’s last 3 presidents (one of whom shot himself to avoid trial).

Bringing Brazil’s international scorn to the present, we’ll see how Brazil’s “Trump of the Tropics” President Bolsonaro was accused of consciously letting the Amazon rainforest burn down to promote development and growth both at home and internationally. This is a hugely controversial topic, so do keep in mind most news articles are biased on this (with Leftist media usually blaming Bolsonaro for promoting deforestation in the name of Capitalism, and with Conservative media usually blaming illegal loggers or natural forest fires).

In other countries like SURINAME, Honduras, and even Mexico, prominent politicians and even former Presidents are accused of participating in drug smuggling or working with Drug Cartels, giving them the reputation of being “NARCO-STATES”.

We’ll also look at ECUADOR, where politicians like President Lenin Moreno who market themselves as “Environmentally Conscious” are accused of making deals with global oil corporations to “plunder” protected Rainforests and dispossess the Indigenous people living there.

Ask yourself this week: what makes Corruption flourish in Latin America? Why is it often so difficult to stop?

Why Should I give a Crap?:

  • because corruption is a global problem
  • because this shows how both developing and advanced countries in Latin America can easily become involved in international financial schemes
  • because corruption affects all states and levels of economic development
  • because corruption fundamentally undermines our personal influence over the political system

Concepts & Issues to Focus on:

  • what is causing this extreme corruption?
  • how might this make average Brazilian voters feel if BOTH Left and Right seem so corrupt?
  • what social, cultural, political, or economic problems make corruption flourish?
  • to what extent do outside powers or factors make corruption worse?
  • why do people look the other way with such corruption?

Required Readings/Videos:

(these countries are complex! Don’t worry about Names & Dates. Focus on what factors make Corruption such a problem in Latin America, and why it’s so difficult to stop.)

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