Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Sao Paulo Separatists Buoyed by Brexit Vote

The June 23rd referendum showing a slim majority backed the United Kingdom leaving the European Union has led to increased talk of similar types of withdrawals. Some plans, such as Scotland and Northern Ireland possibly breaking away from the U.K., could easily become a reality. Others, however, seem to be not as serious and are more a pipe dream for their supporters. The campaign by a group of Sao Paulo separatists in Brazil fits into this latter category.

Calling themselves the Sampa Libre (SPL) movement, backers of the campaign have called on a plebiscite to be held on October 2nd to decide if Brazil’s wealthiest and highest populated state should become its own independent country.

“With the victory of those who defended the withdrawal of Great Britain from the European Union, it has become clear that times have changed and what appeared impossible can soon be realized. That will be the case for Paulista independence,” read a post on the SPL’s Facebook page that has been shared at least 12,000 times.

The SPL justifies their cause by claiming that Sao Paulo wanted to become its own country but was rejected by the “traitor” emperor Dom Pedro I who instead declared Brazil as its own country in 1822. The group further cited alleged “historical documents from the Portuguese crown where the king is warned to be alert against the Paulistas due to their “excessive love of liberty.’”

While the SPL’s move towards independence may be seen as a laughing matter, what isn’t is the potential effect the Brexit action could have on the Brazilian economy under recession.

Leandro Secunho, coordinator of public debt operations for Brazil’s finance ministry, tried to downplay the effects of the Brexit and claimed the country will wait until market volatility subsides before selling bonds. Nevertheless, the finance minister for neighboring Argentina claimed the Brexit ordeal could remove 1.0% to 1.5% of Brazil’s gross domestic product.

“Brazil is the difference between growing and not growing for the first year of our administration. It’s really critical,” Minister Alfonzo Prat-Gay said earlier this week. “We removed trade barriers so we would really appreciate if they followed our example and did the same.”

Speaking of Argentina, the impact of Brexit on that country may not be as much economic as it may affect a long-standing sovereignty dispute with Britain:
The so-called Brexit has also left another overseas British territory in a jeopardy as leaders on the Falkland Islands – located in the Southern Atlantic Ocean off the coast off the coast of Argentina – have predicted “catastrophic consequences” when the U.K. leaves the European Union.
The Falklands, whose sovereignty is a major point of contention between the U.K. and Argentina and even caused a war between the two nations in the early 1980s, relies on the European single market for much of their exports.
Aside from Brazil and Argentina, the Brexit brouhaha will have a ripple effect across Latin America in the economic sphere as well as, according to columnist Andres Oppenheimer, embolden “anti-globalization, protectionist demagogues everywhere.”

YouTube Source – Financial Times (It’s worth noting that the already weakened Mexican peso debilitated to record low levels against the U.S. dollar in the days following the Brexit vote).

Online Sources (English) - Vice News, Fox News Latino, Reuters, MercoPress, Miami Herald

Online Source (Spanish) –

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