Sao Paulo / Santiago / Buenos Aires (London)

This blog could be subtitled: the failure of politics (with an exception)

A fact-finding / relationship building visit across LatAm was in some ways an object lesson in a seemingly global failure or polarization of politics.

The rise of Bolsonaro in Brazil was greeted by those who I met as terrifying, where the rejection of a previous corrupt administration has somehow opened the door to an ideology which is disturbingly far to the right. Maybe its because I tend to meet liberal creatives, but the scale of his support and seemingly likely success in the run off appears extraordinary given the extreme positions and toxic pronouncements of his campaign – or so you’d hope.

In Argentina, a comment on their cultural “pessimism” was borne out in an argument on which was the worst crisis in their living memory – and despite the rapid devaluation of the peso it wasn’t this one… Businesses in Buenos Aires ascribed an agility and flexibility to this factor, always expecting that things could go wrong.

And our own failure of politics still resonates in South America. Sao Paulo and Buenos Aires are particularly European cities, with strong cultural links to Portugal, Spain, Italy and Germany. Brexit is raised consistently and whilst they understand the strengths of UK creativity and marketplace that I was presenting, the tone of the negotiations and existing alternative EU links immediately raise a barrier. This negative perception, regardless of final granular detail, is already embedded – the view of chaotic positioning, compromised leadership and empty posturing has already delivered an international message of an isolated and conflicted country.

But a bright spot (and matching my Raindance experience). Despite its own challenging political history, well targeted Government policy in Chile aimed at developing an entrepreneurial tech economy is succeeding in accelerating business growth, and attracting new businesses to the country to help build out a new ecosystem.

The picture above is the noize chair by a designer I’d worked with previously, Guto Requena – a classic chair design altered in response to the sound of a Sao Paulo neighborhood and 3D printed. Guto saw his most recent public artwork systematically vandalized by Bolsonaro supporters due to its explicit inclusion of a gay perspective. Whilst horrified, his response was “I will fight them with love”.

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