Courtesy Reuters

Brazil's penchant in this century for bursts of reformist zeal followed by relapses into political chaos and authoritarianism has kept alive the wry observation that "it is the country of tomorrow--and always will be." Through the years, the spasms of reform could claim specific accomplishments but never a full turnaround. Thus the potential of South America's largest country, occupying half the continent, remains to be realized. Its resources for greatness are plentiful: 155 million people, a $500 billion gross domestic product, the continent's biggest industrial infrastructure, and a productive agricultural sector. Brazil also has gigantic problems--20 percent of its population living in

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