Under Bolsonaro, Brazil and Europe have drifted apart. However, the fate of the planet depends on the Amazon rainforest.
In the first year of Bolsonaro’s mandate, 2019, the eyes of the world were focused on the Amazon, when the annual fire season began there. In Europe at that time, the climate debate was in the center of attention. Journalists from all over the world traveled to Brazil and reported on the destruction of the rainforest. “Our house is on fire,” said French President Emmanuel Macron.
And yet, fires were nothing new. The news was only the fact that the Brazilian president minimized the problem so much. Instead of taking action against illegal deforestation and land theft, Bolsonaro has downsized regulatory bodies and reduced penalties for environmental crimes. Her first foreign minister even sniffed, behind the fight against climate change, a conspiracy of “cultural Marxism”. At the time, the government was even considering withdrawing from the Paris climate agreement.
The president has isolated the country internationally. Also in the White House, since Donald Trump left office, Bolsonaro has no more friends. Diplomatic relations with several countries, mainly in Europe, suffered badly under his rule. This also triggered the free trade agreement between the European Union and Mercosur, which, along with Brazil, includes Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay.
“The growing number of deforestation and Brazil’s lack of engagement against illegal logging are decisive for the fact that the agreement has not been ratified to date,” points out Ignácio Ybáñez, EU ambassador to Brazil. The Green Deal is central to the EU, he says. The Brazilian government even adheres to the Paris Agreement, but delays in forest protection and actions against the indigenous population have caused a lack of trust.
Lula da Silva has already hinted that under his government the protection of the rainforest will have more weight. Although the topic has almost no importance in domestic politics, and candidates with a green program fared relatively poorly in the congressional elections, the former president admitted that climate change could be the key to Brazil’s international relations. Lula also intends to implement the Mercosur agreement in the first six months of his term.
Despite its foreign policy neutrality, Brazil has long been a reliable partner of the West. That has changed. “Bolsonaro distanced himself from the West, just after Trump lost the election,” comments political scientist Oliver Stuenkel, [professor da Fundação Getúlio Vargas]. Therefore, his re-election would be bad news for the bloc. Considering China’s influence, he emphasizes: “We have to keep Brazil on our side.”
European Ambassador Ybáñez shares this view: “Diplomatic relations go beyond current governments.” Dialogue has suffered a lot, which is also visible in relation to the Russian war in Ukraine, in which Brazil does not have a clear position. “It would be much easier if there was a direct line to Brasilia, but in recent years that has not been the case.” It is precisely in the fight against climate change that Brazil is needed. “We have to overcome our differences,” says Ybáñez. For this, however, both parties must be willing.
La Repubblica (Italy) – Lula in front of Bolsonaro: Brazil on the eve of elections with the specter of violence (October 27)
São Paulo exudes wealth and ostentatiousness, but it is also plagued by poverty and hunger. Two extreme worlds, opposites, as well as the 216 million men and women who will return to the polls on Sunday to elect the new president of Brazil. Surveys provide massive data.
But they are careful: they failed in the first round. Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva didn’t lose, but he didn’t win either, as all public opinion polling institutes were convinced. Jair Messias Bolsonaro is completely in the race, the difference percentages vary, the gap between the two challengers widens and narrows.
Lula’s victory would be experienced as liberation. The management of covid-19, 640,000 deaths, attacks on the Supreme Court, harsh and contemptuous language, attacks on women’s world, intolerance towards the media, the devastation of the Amazon have suffocated and exhausted the joyful land. , strong, imaginative, productive. They sowed hatred, divisions, malice. But if Lula loses, the hope of a turnaround, the illusion of a renaissance, would also be defeated.
The final challenge is played in Minas Gerais, the second most populous and fourth largest state. It’s like Ohio for the US: whoever wins it wins the election. It’s always been that way. To achieve this, Bolsonaro is counting on evangelicals (65 million), the army, the police, the wealthier class, gun lovers (4.4 million among pistols and rifles that are regularly in circulation).
Lula has women (the majority of voters), the poor (20 million), the hungry (33 million). Everyone in unison is asking for free public transport on Sundays. There were also demonstrations and rallies in the northeast. Getting to the polling station often means a whole day’s travel.
The former metal worker unionist managed to create a wedge between Catholics and evangelicals, saying he was against abortion, explaining that it was up to Congress to decide whether to legalize it; preached in temples, received blessing, protection from the pastor. But you know the harvest is poor. The sectarians of the Gospel are poor and very conservative, tied to the traditional family, opponents of everything that smells like socialism.
Success is uncertain. How uncertain it is that Jair Bolsonaro’s reaction will be narrowly lost. He has already contested the electronic vote, once again releasing the fraud hypothesis, he has never officially declared that he will accept the verdict of the polls – he has previously hinted that he will contest in case of defeat.
Everyone remembers what happened in Washington when Donald Trump incited his supporters to storm the Capitol. The former captain might be tempted to emulate him. Reaction to the arrest of his most faithful [Roberto Jefferson] last Monday, in Rio de Janeiro, is a dangerous precedent. Just one spark and Brazil catches fire.
El País (Spain) – In Brazil, Lula will win the elections, not the left or the PT (October 26)
It is most certain that the former trade unionist and charismatic Lula da Silva will win the Brazilian elections on Sunday, for the third time, and not the right-wing and former soldier Jair Bolsonaro. Abroad, and above all in the rest of Latin America, these elections are rather seen as a struggle between the neo-fascist extreme right and the left symbolized by the Workers’ Party, PT.
This is a half-truth because, if it was a conflict between the right and the left, the Bolsonarian extreme right would certainly be re-elected, because the difference in votes will be very small.
In order to understand why Lula and not the PT will surely win, it is necessary to remember that the captain was expelled from the army, accused of terrorism, elected in 2018 only to punish the PT, again under serious charges of political corruption. More than a “yes” to Bolsonaro, it was a “no” to the PT.
Lula realized this later, when, freed and able to run again in the elections, since the Supreme Court annulled all his corruption cases, this time he did not present himself as the leader of the PT, but of a coalition that includes from the center to the democratic right. Therefore, Sunday will be more than a victory for the left, a triumph for Lula and a memory of his past governments.
The real hope is that the gloomy Bolsonaro government, united by weapons and hatred, sexist language, the absence of feelings in the face of pain and misery, opens the way not only to mirages, but also to a future with [Lula] always dreamed and that it will only be possible if he manages to turn those hellish years of Bolsonaro into that image of Don Quixote, “a bad night spent in a bad inn”.
Libération (France) – Fairytale (25/10)
Ahead of the second round on October 30, the Supreme Electoral Court (TSE) is trying to limit the spread of fake news and defamation on social media.
Supporters of Bolsonaro consider the decisions of the TSE “censorship” and an obstacle to freedom of expression.
This habit of disinformation, widespread in Brazil, where the majority of the population is informed, above all, through WhatsApp groups, represents “the corrosion of democracy”, judged Judge Alexandre de Moraes, president of the TSE. On October 20, he met with campaign leaders Lula and Bolsonaro, and a day earlier with representatives of Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, Google, TikTok, Telegram and YouTube.
Some of this false information has been circulating for several months. Lula is regularly accused of wanting to legalize the sale of drugs or to liberalize abortion (currently only allowed in cases of rape, danger to the mother’s life or serious malformation of the fetus).
The lie that is most successful among the leftist candidate’s opponents, especially among the 30% of Brazilians who support evangelical cults, is that he plans to close churches if elected. In Lula’s camp, the far-right president is regularly associated with cannibalism and pedophilia.
On its YouTube channel, TSE also publishes fact-checking videos, entitled Fact or Rumor. Some examples: no, the TSE did not censor the Bolsonarian radio station Jovem Pan, it simply demanded that the right of reply be granted to the left-wing coalition Brasil da Esperança, after the defamation on air.
No, Russian secret service hackers never warned the Brazilian military about the hacking of the election system (only the Ministry of Defense denied this rumor). No, in no city did the total number of votes for Lulu exceed the number of subscribers.