Brazil went to the polls yesterday under unusual political circumstances: Lula, the Workers’ Party (PT) candidate and champion of the poor, confronted an extreme right-winger, racist, misogynist, homophobic, and pro-dictatorship ex-army captain Jair Bolsonaro. Lula won the first round with 48.42% of the vote and looks set to win in the second round. But Bolsonaro, defying polls’ predictions, performed better than expected, scoring 43.2%. The background is important here. Brazil’s elite managed both to impeach PT president Dilma Rousseff in 2016 on false charges of fiscal improprieties (now fully exonerated) and to jail former president Lula, thus eliminating him from the 2018 presidential race. This emboldened Brazil’s establishment, who turned these successes into a push to ostracise the PT. In many places PT supporters were physically attacked. Bolsonaro’s supporters and extreme right-wing organisations went on the rampage.
The results of the first round of the presidential election in Brazil are coming and without a doubt it is the most anticipated news in Brazil, Latin America and the world too for that matter. Eleven candidates ran, but as everyone knew it was really a battle between the former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva and the current president Jair Bolsonaro. The pre-election atmosphere was very tense including several attacks on Lula’s campaign organizers this past week reflecting the extreme level of politicization and polarization of Brazilian society at this moment. And in the background is Bolsonaro’s threats of a possible coup d’état if he lost in the first round, that also contributed to the growing tension.
This Sunday October 2, Brazil, Latin America’s largest economy, will elect its president. This election is decisive not only for the South American country but also for the entire region, since its outcome will heavily influence the correlation of forces. Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva (progressive candidate of the Workers’ Party)’s predicted victory would be a boost for the Latin America left and the rejection of neo liberalism, which has strengthened in the last 3 years. Meanwhile, if Jair Bolsonaro (ultra-right and Trump supporter) wins, it would mean a retrenching for the right-wing to resist. Regarding this election that carries such weight, Resumen Latinoamericano in English interviewed Micaela Ovelar Marquez, who is in Brazil directing a documentary on the current political electoral process of that country.
João Pedro Stedile of the national leadership of the Landless Workers Movement (MST) talks about the current crisis in the agrarian sector and the way forward. He explains how the presidency of Jair Bolsonaro has wrecked agriculture, leading to a rise in hunger. He also talks about the MST’s proposals for reviving the sector which include both immediate steps to alleviate hunger and structural solutions to long-term problems. These include the key role cooperatives must play in the country.
When you arrive in another country, there is nothing more precious than new friends who adopt you, protect you, and teach you about their language, music, culture, and traditions. For an open-minded traveler, ethnographer and anti-imperialist organizer, this new family is more valuable than any air-conditioned hotel, amount of comfort or money. When I moved to Brazil in May of 2003, Binho, Mateuszinho, Thiago and their family and neighborhood crew took me in and put me up in O Morro do Santo Cristo and O Complexo da Penha, the heart of Río de Janeiro’s favelas and drug war. They walked me through the complex landscape of Rio’s corrupt brutal police who shoot first and rarely ask questions later, their violent blitzes (Río slang for stop and frisks), and a maze of morros (ghettos spread across hills) divided between two major paramilitary drug gangs: O Comando Vermelho and O Terceiro Comando (The Red Command and The Third Command).
Both the US and British governments supported the rise of Brazil’s far-right President Jair Bolsonaro. Future Prime Minister Liz Truss had secret meetings with the future president in 2018 to discuss “free trade, free markets and post-Brexit opportunities” (BrasilWire, 3/25/20). The US Department of Justice was a crucial partner in the Lava Jato (“Car Wash”) investigation, which resulted in the prosecution and jailing of Brazil’s left-leaning former president Luiz Inácio “Lula” da Silva. The politically motivated legal campaign against Lula served to prevent his participation in the 2018 presidential election, in what Gaspard Estrada calls “the biggest judicial scandal in Brazilian history.” Because of this history, and because Brazil is a hard country to explain concisely, I was weary to learn that the British and US state-affiliated media outlets BBC and PBS had co-released a documentary about Jair Bolsonaro only a few weeks before this year’s Brazilian presidential election (10/2–30/22). It didn’t fail to disappoint.
Brazil is less than a month away from historic elections. Over 156 million Brazilians will go to the polls on October 2 to cast their vote for the president of the republic, State governors, 27 senators, 513 federal deputies, and State and district deputies. The elections take place amid an acute political, economic, and social crisis in the country. The past several years have seen a dramatic increase in hunger, homelessness, unemployment, and the prices of basic commodities. The currency, the Real, has tumbled. Above all, the colossal number of deaths due to COVID-19 continues to cast a shadow on the lives of millions. Despite this moment of national crisis, the far-right candidate in the elections, President Jair Bolsonaro, has dedicated much of his campaign to sowing divisive, angry, and hateful rhetoric.
Folha de São Paulo reports that the YouTube algorithm has found to be giving prominence to videos in favor of President Jair Bolsonaro (PL) in its recommendations. The findings were published by NetLab, a special unit at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ). According to opinion polls, Bolsonaro is on course to lose the coming election, after a catastrophic first term, and the far-right president and his military dominated government has attempted to cast doubt on the electoral process itself, as a means to remain in power. The UFRG study finds he is being aided in this by YouTube, owned by US tech giant Google. It is not the first time the company has faced criticism for apparent political interference in Brazil.
After four years of a right-wing Bolsonaro government, Brazilians will vote for a new president on 2 October 2022. Former president Lula—currently high in the polls—is confronting an increasingly delirious incumbent, who appears to have threatened violent unconstitutional action should he lose. Bolsonaro’s victory came two years after the impeachment of Workers’ Party president Dilma Rousseff in 2016, the first woman to be president. The Workers’ Party (aka Partido dos Trabalhadores, or PT) had held office since 2003. The period 2010-2016 was dominated by the ‘credit crunch’ crisis that sent the world into turmoil, with a generalised economic contraction, huge indebtedness in the advanced economies, and a considerable reduction in the consumption of raw materials. Brazil was badly hit.
Hundreds of health activists participated at the Free, Democratic and Popular Health Conference, organized by Frente pela Vida (Front for Life) on August 5 in São Paulo. Health workers, managers, social and political leaders, researchers and public health experts from various parts of the country discussed a health agenda for Brazil. The nation is currently facing challenges including the lack of funding for the Unified Health System (Sistema Único de Saúde, SUS) and accumulated problems due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The event was attended by former president and current presidential candidate Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. In his speech, Lula reaffirmed that he intends to revoke the spending cap in the federal budget, which has been in force in Brazil since 2016. “Between 2018 and 2022, the spending cap—which takes from the poor to give to the rich—has already taken R$36.9 billion (approximately USD$7.2 billion) from the federal health budget.
The frequency and extent of wildfires are increasing all over the world. In South America, Brazil has had the highest incidence of forest fires in recent years. In 2019, during the first year of Jair Bolsonaro’s government, fires in the Amazon made headlines around the world. For the first time on record, the smoke from the forest fires in the Amazon reached São Paulo, the largest city in South America, more than 1,600 miles to the southeast of the burned regions. And in 2020, one third of the Pantanal wetlands biome was burned (11 million acres), leaving an estimated wildlife death toll of over 17 million animals. Despite the large fires of 2019 and 2020 associated with higher deforestation rates in the Amazon, the Brazilian government has not instituted any additional public policy to fight forest fires.
Hundreds joined international guests, solidarity campaigners and elected representatives for ¡Viva la solidaridad! Latin America’s Left Leads the Way: a session organised by Labour Friends of Progressive Latin America as part of this year’s Arise Festival. Chairing the event, Arise’s Sam Browse went through examples of electoral successes and resilience in the face of aggression by the region’s left, and emphasised the importance of international co-operation amongst progressive forces: “those winning gains in the fight for a better future are an inspiration to us all”. Secretary of the Presidency in Honduras Rodolfo Pastor outlined how the country faced “a dark period of history” following the coup against elected President Manuel Zelaya in 2009, with those who took power implementing “repression to benefit a small elite at the expense of our natural resources and the rights of the majority”.
It is no secret that, since the 2016 legislative coup against President Dilma Rousseff and 2018 arbitrary imprisonment of front-running presidential candidate Lula da Silva, multinational corporations have made billions of dollars from environmental deregulation, dismantlement of labor rights and privatization of Brazil’s natural resources. It’s also now known that corporate media outlets like the New York Times and Washington Post normalized the breakdown of Brazil’s rule of law and rise of fascism by ignoring crimes committed by high-profile Judge Sergio Moro that were widely publicized in Brazilian media. Some people in the US even know how Anglo media outlets like the Washington Post and Guardian misrepresented Lula’s conviction for receiving a nonexistent apartment upgrade by unethically associating it with an alleged multi-million dollar graft scheme in state oil company, Petrobras.
Brazilian presidential frontrunner Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva on Tuesday accused President Jair Bolsonaro of lying 20 times during a meeting with international diplomats in which the far-right incumbent repeated his baseless attacks on the integrity of the nation's election system. While offering no credible evidence to support his claim, Bolsonaro told dozens of diplomats from countries including the United States and members of the European Union that the Brazilian electoral system is "completely vulnerable" to fraud in the run-up to this October's presidential election. According to Folha de São Paulo, two of the diplomats present for Bolsonaro's 50-minute presentation at the Palácio da Alvorada, the executive residence, accused the president of using "Trumpist tactics," a reference to former U.S. President Donald Trump's failed efforts to delegitimize and ultimately overturn the 2020 election.
Despite the persistent hegemony of capitalism and its ruling neoliberal ideology, various forms of resistance, social struggle, and proposals for an emancipated future continue to emerge. This is taking place in the face of economic, political, social, and environmental crises as well as a continuing lack of vision of how to overcome the health crisis. Our intellectuals must put their hearts and souls precisely into this orientation toward the future, one based on the possibility of change and hope for human emancipation, as we argued in Tricontinental: Institute for Social Research dossier no. 13, The New Intellectual. We must create innovative proposals on how to use our social wealth to resolve the immediate problems faced by humanity, such as hunger, poverty, disease, and climate catastrophes, and study and familiarise ourselves with the resistance and struggles that emerge in all corners of the world.