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“Brazil . . . it’s the country of the future, and it always will be!” The exact provenance of this old joke is unclear. Typically, it is attributed either to the Austrian writer Stefan Zweig, who wrote of his adopted homeland with admiration in his 1941 book, Brazil: A Land of the Future, or to the French statesman Charles de Gaulle, who is widely credited with coining the exact phrase, with its more sarcastic and derisive tone. Regardless, at its origin it reflected an outsider’s perspective. Since then, however, it has morphed into a kind of self-deprecating admission by Brazilians that every time their nation finally seems to be on the verge of breaking through, something bad happens.