Brazil: Nation Adrift

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More than two months have passed since the dramatic abdication of Brazil's President Janio Quadros, and the country is still in a quandary, its politics confused and its economy in worsening shape. The new parliamentary system, installed to limit the powers of Quadros' demagogic successor, Vice President Joao ("Jango") Goulart, has limited the government's ability to govern. Laws go unpassed because there are rarely enough members of Parliament on hand to form a quorum. Both Goulart and his Prime Minister, who is supposed to hold administrative power, issue decrees as the mood suits them.

Worst of all, inflation continues unchecked. Beans (No. 1 staple of Brazilian diets) are up 27%, rice 108%, bread 55%, meat 43%. Chasing the prices, bus drivers and bank workers struck for—and won—40% pay increases. A national maritime strike is scheduled to begin this week; government employees, metal, paper, coffee and sugar-processing-plant workers call for 45% to 60% pay boosts.

Brazil is also adrift in foreign affairs.

Goulart is trying to play the old Quadros game of international "independence," which means wooing the East while panhandling from the West. He has been angling for an invitation to Washington ever since he moved into the presidential palace. Last week, when incoming U.S. Ambassador Lincoln Gordon presented his credentials, he brought with him an invitation from President Kennedy. The same day, Goulart called in Communist Poland's visiting Foreign Minister, Adam Rapacki, awarded him the Order of the Southern Cross—the same decoration that Quadros hung on Cuba's Marxist mastermind, Che Guevara, setting off the furor that in time toppled Quadros. To be sure that no one missed the point, Brazil's Foreign Minister announced that his nation no longer considered itself a member of the Western bloc, and was going to stop "playing with marked cards in the U.N." For example, he said. Brazil favors the immediate admission of Red China.