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Letter from Brasilia

Will the Brazilian domino fall? The country's federal system may push it over

By Fred Halliday   February 1999

There can be few places on earth which exhibit more vividly the tensions of modernity than Brasilia at Christmas time. Under tropical sun, giant models of Santa Claus drape over the tower blocks. Brasilia was carved out of the red earth of the planaltoas in the late 1950s, as the dream of then President Kubitschek. The capital of the fifth most populous country in the world is now approaching 40 in tentative mood.

The city, shaped like a huge bird or plane with its head pointing into Lake Parano, has to some degree “worked,” attaining a kind of actually existing…

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