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Brazil neglecting culture in quest for power?

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Ueslei Marcelino/Reuters

(Read caption) In this photo taken on April 3, Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff participates in a ceremony of announcement for new measures of the Plan 'Brasil Maior' and the installation of Sector Councils for competitiveness in Brazil.

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• A version of this post ran on the author's blog, Riogringa. The views expressed are the author's own.

With President Dilma Rousseff's Washington visit coming on Monday, everyone's talking about Brazil as a rising power with growing political and economic clout. Brazil has traditionally been a soft power country, given its history of diplomacy, a focus on non-intervention, and its role as a mediator. Now that it's a rising global power, some think it is neglecting cultural promotion, one of its greatest assets. But since Brazil is a champion of soft power, there's an important question: should Brazil work to expand its soft power, or focus on hard power?

BBC published a series of articles (in Portuguese) on the subject today, arguing that while Brazil already has a great deal of soft power, it could adopt a more coherent, streamlined approach to promoting culture abroad. It also posits that promoting Brazilian culture can help Brazil's economy. Tovar Nunes da Silva, the spokesperson for Itamaraty [Ministry of Foreign Affairs], said, "We consciously opted against militarization. We're one of few countries in the world where our national hero is a diplomat and not a general. We don't have a choice – our history is soft power." But singer Gilberto Gil, the former minister of culture, believes Brazil is neglecting culture (in Portuguese) as its international profile has grown. "Since Brazil is becoming more powerful and vocal, its soft power has to grow at the same proportion as hard power," he said.

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