The Guardian • Issue #1970

Brazil: Caught between hope and despair

Brazil’s next general election is scheduled to be held next year, on the 2nd October. Former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva of the Workers’ Party is leading current polls; a 7th July poll conducted by Poder Data showed a fifty-five per cent intent to vote for Lula among the Brazilian voting population, versus thirty-two per cent for the incumbent Jair Bolsonaro.

The far-right, fascist-adjacent government of Bolsonaro has governed with hateful negligence toward the workers and impoverished people of Brazil, and has committed massive violations against Indigenous peoples. Bolsonaro’s rise emboldened fascists to commit violence and intimidation against leftists, unionists, and disadvantaged groups. The Bolsonaro regime’s criminally incompetent mishandling (perhaps even mishandling is too generous a word!) of the pandemic has resulted in one of the highest death rates in the world, with over half a million victims and counting.

Lula’s 2003-2010 presidency was one of the most successful in Brazil’s history, from the perspective of the welfare of the people. He initiated massive social programs, and made Brazil one of the few major poverty alleviation success stories in the world of the period, other than China and Vietnam. Simultaneously he managed to bring the country out of a decades-long debt crisis – demonstrating, in real practice, that the neoliberal claims about a trade-off between national debt and welfare programs are pure fiction!

Lula had attempted to run in the 2018 election, but was not permitted to, as in 2017 he had been arrested and jailed on corruption charges. He spent 580 days in prison. The presiding judge, Sergio Moro, was then chosen by Bolsonaro as his Minister of Justice and Public Security!

Earlier this year, the convictions were overturned, confirming the suspicions of many that the charges had been politically motivated. Lula is now free to run in 2022.

In early July, Bolsonaro made public comments attacking the electronic voting system of Brazil, and expressed the intention to return to paper voting. His comments reveal themselves to be nothing but an extremely flimsy pretext to preemptively dispute the outcome of the election, and undermine democracy. In his own words:

“If that method continues, we are going to have problems because one side may not accept the result. And that side, obviously, will be our side.”

Sometimes they say the quiet part out loud!

Claims of electoral fraud have become a habitual way to disrupt the election of leftist candidates, around the world and particularly in Latin America. The habits of US-backed puppets have become almost comically stereotyped.

The rising wave of support for Lula occurs in the context of what might be a new “pink tide” in Latin America, this time perhaps a deeper shade of pink. The recent electoral victory of Bolivia’s Movement Toward Socialism, President Maduro’s overwhelming re-election in Venezuela, the election of President Pedro Castillo in Peru, the huge protests against neoliberalism in Colombia, and the lead which the Communist Party of Chile holds for Chile’s November election, all point to bold new possibilities for the peoples of Latin America.

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