During their addresses to the UN General Assembly, both Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva and Honduran President Xiomara Castro called for Assange to be freed. Lula stated, “It is essential to preserve the freedom of the press. A journalist like Julian Assange cannot be punished for informing society in a transparent and legitimate way.” Castro struck a similar chord, calling Assange a “faithful defender of free expression.” Both Lula and Castro are left-wing leaders who were elected as part of what’s been dubbed in Latin America as a second or resurgent “Pink Tide." Lula had previously served as Brazil’s president during the original Pink Tide.
The Amazon rainforest is the largest tropical rainforest on the planet. It is home to more animal and plant species than any terrestrial ecosystem, including one-third of the world’s tropical trees. This diverse sanctuary is also one of the last refuges for jaguars, pink river dolphins and harpy eagles, according to WWF. Brazil has an Action Plan for the Prevention and Control of Deforestation in the Amazon by 2030, and since President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva took office at the start of this year, deforestation has fallen dramatically. The country’s Minister of the Environment and Climate Change Marina Silva said that deforestation in Brazil’s Amazon in Brazil dropped 66.11 percent in August.
On Thursday Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva presented an ambitious plan to take the South American country off of the world hunger map. “The problem is not a lack of food, it is not a lack of crops, the problem is that the people do not have enough to buy food,” Lula said in a public event in the city of Teresina. In his speech he reminded that his program to fight poverty has as a connecting axis to address the structural causes of hunger that it is not limited to just economic aid but also must have an articulated policy. For this reason, he stressed that the Bolsa Familia program is not enough and does not represent a definitive solution, but a necessary step to ensure that the wealth produced in the country is distributed more equitably.
In its summit in Johannesburg, South Africa this August, BRICS invited six new members: Argentina, Egypt, Ethiopia, Iran, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates. The bloc now represents 37% of global GDP (measured at purchasing power parity, or PPP), as well as 40% of global oil production and roughly 1/3rd of global gas production. The inclusion of top oil producers like Saudi Arabia and the UAE, which have long priced their crude in dollars, is a direct challenge to the US petrodollar system. All of the invited nations have indicated that they will officially join the extended BRICS+ bloc on 1 January 2024.
From April 1964 to March 1985, a military junta ruled Brazil with an iron fist. Its crimes against humanity throughout this period were extensive, including institutionalized torture, imprisonment, forced disappearances and mass murder. Typically, the victims were political opponents of the regime, although the country’s indigenous population was a specific, dedicated target. In most cases, their crime was objecting to economic “reform” projects that destroyed their homes or simply living in the wrong place at the wrong time. With the backing and direction of the World Bank, the junta forcibly displaced indigenous people and desecrated their lands to extract valuable natural resources for Western capital.
In late July, I visited two settlements of the Landless Rural Workers (MST) on the outskirts of São Paulo (Brazil). Both settlements are named for brave women, the Brazilian lawmaker Marielle Franco – who was assassinated in 2018 – and Irmã Alberta – an Italian Catholic nun who died in 2018. The lands where the MST has built the Marielle Vive camp and the Irmã Alberta Land Commune were slated for a gated community with a golf course, and a garbage dump, respectively. Based on the social obligations for land use in the Brazilian Constitution of 1988, the MST mobilised landless workers to occupy these areas, build their own homes, schoolhouses and community kitchens, and grow organic food.
In September 2006, at the UN General Assembly, the foreign ministers of Brazil, China, Russia and India began to outline what would become a major trade and monetary support agreement. In 2010, during a meeting of the presidents of these countries in Brasilia and a year later in China, what is now known as the BRICS was ratified and began to take shape, with South Africa joining the group. Initially the BRICS countries showed their willingness to engage in closer dialogue with each other, but over the years the agenda began to include broader international cooperation and, above all, economic and financial partnerships in strategic sectors such as energy, agriculture, and scientific and technological development.
The London newspaper Financial Times ran with the following headline last week: “The discreet U.S. campaign to defend Brazil’s election.” The report, written by Michael Stott, Michael Pooler and Bryan Harris, deals with a “pressure campaign” carried out by US officials throughout 2022, in order to prevent the thesis of fraud in the 2022 Brazilian elections from unfolding into a coup d’état. Translated and published in Brazil by the Folha de S. Paulo newspaper under the title “U.S. campaigned to defend Brazil from a possible coup by Bolsonaro,” the article in the Financial Times quotes a series of sources in the US government that agreed to talk about the movements carried out.
Surrounded by thousands of supporters, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva (known simply as “Lula”) was sworn into office on Jan. 1, 2023, at a colorful inauguration ceremony held at the Planalto Palace in Brasilia, the capital of Brazil. It was not Lula’s first time assuming the highest office of Latin America’s largest country. He was first sworn in two decades ago and served two terms as Brazil’s president from 2003 to 2010. The 67-year-old is a true veteran of Brazilian politics: He was the presidential candidate of the leftist Workers’ Party in 1989, 1994 and 1998, losing each time. In the October 2022 elections, he narrowly defeated the right-wing populist incumbent Jair Bolsonaro, with 50.9% of the vote.
During the 76th World Health Assembly, members of the World Health Organization (WHO) adopted an unprecedented resolution on the health of Indigenous peoples. The drafting process of the resolution was primarily driven by Brazil, with support from other countries in Latin America. The adoption of the resolution could pave the way for combating the health inequities that Indigenous communities have been exposed to for centuries, and open the doors to greater participation from Indigenous movements. Mariana Lopes Simões, who took part in the World Health Assembly as part of the People’s Health Movement’s WHO Watch team, spoke to Ricardo Weibe Nascimento Costa, Vice-minister for the Health of Indigenous Peoples in Brazil, on the significance of this step.
From May 29 to June 8, 19 Brazilian Black movement leaders traveled to the US to meet with major international organizations to fight for an end to racist violence. These leaders, all of whom are women or people with diverse gender identities, have over 30 years of experience in Brazilian social movements. The delegates are all part of various groups within the Black Women Alliance to End Violence (Aliança Negra Pelo Fim da Violência), which aims to support “the strengthening of the national and international actions of cis and transgender Black women in their fight to end violence towards Black people.”
The government of leftist Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva will launch a social program with economic aid to vulnerable families working in the conservation of the Amazon rainforest that is a similar program that was repealed by the previous president, the far-right Jair Bolsonaro (2019-2022). The program, called ‘Bolsa Verde’, an environmental version of the popular ‘Bolsa Familia’, will be implemented in 30,000 families in the Brazilian Amazon, but the government’s intention is to expand it to other biomes, such as the Cerrado (the Brazilian savannah) or the Atlantic Forest, all threatened by deforestation and other environmental crimes.
The BRICS bloc of Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa is expanding, as its members grow in economic and political influence. Together, the five BRICS members represent more than 40% of the global population, and their share of the world economy (when measured in purchasing power parity) is larger than that of the G7. The foreign ministers of the BRICS states met in South Africa on June 1 and 2. There, they discussed a series of issues, including plans to create a new global reserve currency to challenge the dominance of the US dollar. Also present at the meeting in South Africa was a group of top diplomats from countries described as “friends of BRICS”, including Egypt, Iran, Kazakhstan, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates.
Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro traveled to Brazil as part of an official visit to meet with his counterpart Luiz Inácio “Lula” da Silva where the pair discussed regional and international cooperation, including the potential entry of Venezuela into the BRICS bloc. The high-level meeting comes as part of joint efforts to strengthen their bilateral ties following the restoration of diplomatic and economic relations after years of tension under Lula’s predecessor Jair Bolsonaro, who embraced Washington regime change plots against Maduro, backing the so-called “interim” government of opposition figure Juan Guaidó.