"As its economy has grown to be the sixth largest in the world, Brazil has consolidated its power in South America, extended its influence to the broader region, and become increasingly prominent on the world stage. The Obama Administration regards Brazil as an emerging center of influence, whose leadership it welcomes 'to pursue progress on bilateral, hemispheric, and global issues.' In recent years, U.S.-Brazil relations have generally been positive despite Brazil's prioritization of strengthening relations with neighboring countries and expanding ties with nontraditional partners in the 'developing South.' Although some disagreements have emerged, Brazil and the United States continue to engage on a number of issues, including security, energy, trade, human rights, and the environment. Dilma Rousseff of the ruling center-left Workers' Party was inaugurated to a four-year presidential term on January 1, 2011. She is Brazil's first female president. Rousseff inherited a country that has benefited from what many analysts consider 16 years of stable and capable governance under Presidents Cardoso (1995-2002) and Lula (2003-2010). Her multiparty coalition holds significant majorities in both houses of Brazil's legislature; however, keeping the unwieldy coalition together to advance her policy agenda has proven challenging. She has won approval for a truth commission to investigate abuses during the military regime but other important initiatives have yet to advance. Rousseff has lost six cabinet ministers to corruption scandals but remains popular. In January 2012, 59% of Brazilians approved of her Administration, the highest approval rating for an administration after one year in office since the return to democracy."
CRS Report for Congress, RL33456