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Richard Lapper

Chapter 3 looks at the impressive economic achievements of Brazil under President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, particularly in the midst of the 2008–09 global financial crisis that Brazil weathered well. The decade to 2010 saw Lula surprise many with an openness to capital, and an export boom particularly to China meant economic stability as the reward. New approaches to social policy, a wave of job creation and the expansion of credit lifted millions of Brazilians out of poverty, creating a new consumer class.

in Beef, Bible and Bullets
Abstract only
Richard Lapper

Chapter 1 looks at the rise of Bolsonaro and explores the relationship between his military and political careers. While Brazil’s democratic politicians kept their distance from the military dictatorship that had run Brazil between 1964 and 1985, Bolsonaro had served as an army captain in the 1970s and 1980s and extolled the virtues of military life. The army, particularly his relationships with lower ranks, had shaped Bolsonaro’s personality, and as a politician he lobbied in favour of military interests. But whereas politicians and the media tended to dismiss Bolsonaro as an eccentric irrelevance, his pro-military views were not so unpopular among ordinary Brazilians who were overall less opposed to the armed forces than their elected representatives.

in Beef, Bible and Bullets
Richard Lapper

Chapter 6 continues to chart the fall of the ruling Workers’ Party, with the Lava Jato corruption scandal meaning that many Brazilians now saw Rousseff at the centre of a corrupt administration. The president was impeached and Michel Temer installed as her replacement. Former president Lula was convicted and imprisoned in 2018 for his apparent role in the corruption. The political stage was now set for the entrance of the outsider, Jair Bolsonaro.

in Beef, Bible and Bullets
Richard Lapper

Chapter 13 looks at the divisions within the Bolsonaro administration during its first year and a half in office. Tensions between ideological extreme right-wing activists and the movement’s socially conservative base, and more pragmatic conservatives from the private sector and within the armed forces, were a constant feature of Brazilian politics throughout 2019, and became even more serious as a result of the pandemic. Bolsonaro underplayed the seriousness of the disease and opposed local leaders who sought to impose quarantines in order to diminish its impact. Conservative politicians such as Joao Doria, the governor of São Paulo, Wilson Witzel, the suspended governor of Rio de Janeiro, Luiz Henrique Mandetta, the government’s first health minister, and Sergio Moro, the justice minister, all supported Bolsonaro in 2018 but will almost certainly oppose him in 2022. Bolsonaro’s idiosyncratic approach to the pandemic also brought him and his supporters into acute conflict with the Supreme Court. In May 2020 these battles threatened to lead to an institutional crisis.

in Beef, Bible and Bullets
Richard Lapper

Chapter 8 focuses on the growing importance of paramilitary militias, particularly in the state of Rio de Janeiro. Over the past twenty years these militias have controlled a growing number of poor neighbourhoods, and for many poorer Cariocas (residents of Rio de Janeiro) they are a cause of greater concern than the drug traffickers they were set up to combat. Their links with the police and local politicians make reform a complex challenge. Rio also highlights a broader national problem: the rise in the number of killings by police officers and growing support among police officers for the repressive public security strategies advocated by Bolsonaro. In 2018 more than twice as many police officers were elected to the Brazilian Congress as in 2014, increasing the political weight of the so-called bullet lobby in Brazilian politics. At the grass roots, substantial numbers of military police provide firm support for Bolsonaro, constituting in the words of one writer the president’s “shock troops”.

in Beef, Bible and Bullets
Richard Lapper

Chapter 12 takes a look at another divisive issue: China. Over the last twenty years, Brazil has become increasingly dependent on the Chinese market. Bolsonaro’s more radical supporters want to reduce or even break links with China, arguing that Brazil’s national sovereignty is at risk. But China is comfortably Brazil’s biggest trading partner, and the agribusiness and mining interests worry that they could lose markets. At the same time, China’s investments in energy and telecommunications are strategically important for Brazil. Unwinding these connections would carry a heavy economic cost and would be politically controversial. During the coronavirus pandemic, tensions with China grew. Bolsonaro’s supporters blamed China for the virus and opposed the use of the vaccines developed by Chinese companies, but during 2020 China’s rapid recovery meant that it has become an even more important market for Brazil’s commodity exports.

in Beef, Bible and Bullets
Richard Lapper

Chapter 14 examines the sudden and unexpected rise in Bolsonaro’s popularity during the second half of 2020 and assesses his prospects for the rest of his four-year term and beyond. The temporary emergency grant paid to 67 million Brazilians dramatically increased the spending power of the poorest Brazilians. At the end of 2020, opinion polls suggested that Bolsonaro’s popularity in the north, north-east and centre-west of the country had increased, even though his COVID-19 denialism and shoddy management of the pandemic alarmed many private-sector and middle-class supporters. A new political alliance with a group of conservative parties known as the big centre or the Centrão has helped shore up the president’s support in the legislature and headed off the risk of impeachment. These advances, however, were not based on solid ground. As this book went to press – in late March 2021 – the rapid rise in coronavirus cases and deaths brought the conflicts between Bolsonaro’s radical right-wing base and more mainstream conservatives out into the open. Bolsonaro came under fierce pressure from Brazil’s powerful business elite and his new congressional allies to change his stance on the country’s health crisis. Impeachment was yet again in the air. Bolsonaro’s political future seemed far from assured.

in Beef, Bible and Bullets
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To be independent, or not to be independent? That is the question1
Christopher Snedden

The conclusion briefly summarises the roles of Maharaja Hari Singh and Sheikh Abdullah, and their respective impacts. It discusses some mistakes made by India in 1947, which instigated the Kashmir dispute – and some desires by people for an independent J&K or an independent Kashmir – and the possibility that either may occur, including as a result of a ‘black swan’ event or the inevitable border changes that have long occurred in South Asia. Ultimately, the book concludes that India is most likely to retain Kashmir, partly because of its strengths, and Pakistan’s inability to force India out, but also mainly because of some weaknesses that the disgruntled Kashmiris have, particularly their disunity and inability to decide what status they actually want for Kashmir. Meanwhile, India has suppressed the Kashmiri identity, but it will again re-emerge. Also, independence might be a good thing for Kashmir as it would end the India–Pakistan struggle over it, with the result that this region could then become a bridge between both nations, not an object of contestation.

in Independent Kashmir
Christopher Snedden

This chapter examines the British Indian Empire, relevant aspects of its administrative structure, and the positions of India’s politicians and princes in the hasty and purgative – for the British, at least – decolonisation processes of 1947. It explains that, during 1947, there were differing ideas about the Indian princes’ legal positions and post-British options, including in relation to independence or otherwise, considerable politicking by politicians – all of whom were Indians until 15 August 1947 – and much uncertainty and upheaval for many subcontinetals, including J&K-ites. One of the most significant of these J&K-ites was Maharaja Hari Singh, the person charged, and empowered, to decide J&K’s post-British future by making an accession. As this chapter explains, the British decolonisation of their substantial Indian Empire in 1947 enabled him to seriously contemplate and envisage independence for J&K.

in Independent Kashmir
Abstract only
An incomplete aspiration

This book examines the topic of an independent ‘Kashmir’ and why this political aspiration to be self-governing and free from coerced subordination to another nation remains unsatisfied. It focuses on how Maharaja Hari Singh, Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah and Muslim Kashmiris have envisioned or sought independence for Jammu and Kashmir (J&K), or for their particular region within this disputed entity. Hari Singh and Sheikh Abdullah were the two most significant figures in J&K in the twentieth century. They also were political rivals, united briefly in 1947 by not wanting J&K to join Pakistan and by an indecisive desire for an independent J&K. After acceding to India, Singh quickly became redundant. Through a tumultuous political career, Abdullah strove for independence or maximum autonomy for J&K. In 1988, disenchanted Muslim Kashmiris surprisingly began a violent anti-India uprising seeking azadi (independence, freedom) for their region or for it to join Pakistan. Kashmiris remain severely disgruntled and this insurgency continues to pose challenges for India. By concentrating on these two men and this insurgency, the book provides a focused, in-depth history of J&K from the mid-1920s, when Hari Singh became J&K’s ruler, to the present time, when many Kashmiris still crave azadi from India. While an ‘independent Kashmir’ is a long envisioned aspiration, the book concludes that it is likely to remain incomplete while India and Pakistan exist in their current structures, while India is strong and unified, and while Kashmiris are disunified and uncertain about what status they want for their homelands.