Dear President Lula,
When I visited you (Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva) in prison on August 30, 2018, in the brief time that the visit lasted, I experienced a whirlwind of ideas and emotions that remain as vivid today as they were then. A short time before, we had been together at the World Social Forum in Salvador da Bahia. In the penthouse of the hotel where you were staying, we exchanged ideas with Brazilian politician Jacques Wagner about your imprisonment. You still had some hope that the judicial system would suspend the persecutory vertigo that had descended upon you. I, perhaps because I am a legal sociologist, was convinced that this would not happen, but I did not insist. At one point, I had the feeling that you and I were actually thinking and fearing the same thing. A short time later, they were arresting you with the same arrogant and compulsive indifference with which they had been treating you up to that point. Judge Sergio Moro, who hadlinkswith the U.S. (it is too late to be naive), had accomplished the first part of his mission by putting you behind bars. The second part would be to keep you locked up and isolated until “his” candidate (Jair Bolsonaro) was elected, one who would give Moro a platform to get to the presidency of the republic later on. This is the third phase of the mission, still underway.
When I entered the premises of Brazil’s federal police, I felt a chill when I read the plaque marking that President Lula da Silva had inaugurated those facilities 11 years earlier as part of his vast program to upgrade the federal police and criminal investigation system in the country. A whirlwind of questions assaulted me. Had the plaque remained there out of oblivion? Out of cruelty? Or to show that the spell had turned against the sorcerer? That a bona fide president had handed the gold to the bandit?
I was accompanied by a pleasant young federal police officer who turned to me and said, “We read your books a lot.” I was shocked. If my books were read and the message understood, neither Lula nor I would be there. I babbled something to this effect, and the answer was instantaneous: “We are following orders.” Suddenly, the Nazi legal theorist Carl Schmitt came to my mind. To be a sovereign is to have the prerogative to declare that something is legal even if is not, and to impose your will bureaucratically with the normality of functional obedience and the consequent trivialization of state terror.
This is how I arrived at your cell, and surely you did not even suspect the storm that was going on inside me. Upon seeing you, I calmed down. I was faced with dignity and humanity that gave me hope for mankind. Everything was normal within the totalitarian abnormality that had enclosed you there: The windows, the gym apparatus, the books, and the television. Our conversation was as normal as everything around us, including your lawyers and Gleisi Hoffmann, who was then the general secretary of the Workers’ Party. We talked about the situation in Latin America, the new (old) aggressiveness of the empire, and the judicial system that had converted into an ersatz military coup.
When the door closed behind me, the weight of the illegal will of a state held hostage by criminals armed with legal manipulations fell back on me once again. I braced myself between revolt and anger and the well-behaved performance expected of a public intellectual who on his way out has to make statements to the press. I did everything, but what I truly felt was that I had left behind Brazil’s freedom and dignity imprisoned so that the empire and the elites in its service could fulfill their objectives of guaranteeing access to Brazil’s immense natural resources, privatization of social security, and unconditional alignment with the geopolitics of rivalry with China.
The serenity and dignity with which you faced a year of confinement is proof that empires, especially decadent ones, often miscalculate, precisely because they only think in the short term. The immense and growing national and international solidarity, which would make you the most famous political prisoner in the world, showed that the Brazilian people were beginning to believe that at least part of what was destroyed in the short term might be rebuilt in the medium and long term. Your imprisonment was the price of the credibility of this conviction; your subsequent freedom was proof that the conviction has become reality.
I am writing to you today first to congratulate you on your victory in the October 30 election. It is an extraordinary achievement without precedent in the history of democracy. I often say that sociologists are good at predicting the past, not the future, but this time I was not wrong. That does not make me feel any more certain about what I must tell you today. Take these considerations as an expression of my best wishes for you personally and for the office you are about to take on as the president of Brazil.
1. It would be a serious mistake to think that with your victory in Brazil’s presidential election everything is back to normal in the country. First, the normal situation prior to former President Jair Bolsonaro was very precarious for the most vulnerable populations, even if it was less so than it is now. Second, Bolsonaro inflicted such damage on Brazilian society that is difficult to repair. He has produced a civilizational regression by rekindling the embers of violence typical of a society that was subjected to European colonialism: the idolatry of individual property and the consequent social exclusion, racism, and sexism; the privatization of the state so that the rule of law coexists with the rule of illegality; and an excluding of religion this time in the form of neo-Pentecostal evangelism. The colonial divide is reactivated in the pattern of friend/enemy, us/them polarization, typical of the extreme right. With this, Bolsonaro has created a radical rupture that makes educational and democratic mediation difficult. Recovery will take years.
2. If the previous note points to the medium term, the truth is that your presidency will be dominated by the short term. Bolsonaro has brought back hunger, broken the state financially, deindustrialized the country, let hundreds of thousands of COVID victims die needlessly, and promised to put an end to the Amazon. The emergency camp is the one in which you move best and in which I am sure you will be most successful. Just two caveats. You will no doubt return to the policies you have successfully spearheaded, but mind you, the conditions are now vastly different and more adverse. On the other hand, everything has to be done without expecting political gratitude from the social classes benefiting from the emergency measures. The impersonal way of benefiting, which is proper to the state, makes people see their personal merit or right in the benefits, and not the merit or benevolence of those who make them possible. There is only one way of showing that such measures result neither from personal merit nor from the benevolence of donors but are rather the product of political alternatives: ensuring education for citizenship.
3. One of the most harmful aspects of the backlash brought about by Bolsonaro is the anti-rights ideology ingrained in the social fabric, targeting previously marginalized social groups (poor, Black, Indigenous, Roma, and LGBTQI+ people). Holding on firmly to a policy of social, economic, and cultural rights as a guarantee of ample dignity in a very unequal society should be the basic principle of democratic governments today.
4. The international context is dominated by three mega-threats: recurring pandemics, ecological collapse, and a possible third world war. Each of these threats is global in scope, but political solutions remain predominantly limited to the national scale. Brazilian diplomacy has traditionally been exemplary in the search for agreements, whether regional (Latin American cooperation) or global (BRICS). We live in a time of interregnum between a unipolar world dominated by the United States that has not yet fully disappeared and a multipolar world that has not yet been fully born. The interregnum is seen, for example, in the deceleration of globalization and the return of protectionism, the partial replacement of free trade with trade by friendly partners. All states remain formally independent, but only a few are sovereign. And among the latter, not even the countries of the European Union are to be counted. You left the government when China was the great partner of the United States and return when China is the great rival of the United States. You have always been a supporter of the multipolar world and China cannot but be today a partner of Brazil. Given the growing cold war between the United States and China, I predict that the honeymoon period between U.S. President Joe Biden and yourself will not last long.
5. You today have a world credibility that enables you to be an effective mediator in a world mined by increasingly tense conflicts. You can be a mediator in the Russia/Ukraine conflict, two countries whose people urgently need peace, at a time when the countries of the European Union have embraced the U.S. version of the conflict without a Plan B; they have therefore condemned themselves to the same fate as the U.S.-dominated unipolar world. You will also be a credible mediator in the case of Venezuela’s isolation and in bringing the shameful embargo against Cuba to an end. To accomplish all this, you must have the internal front pacified, and here lies the greatest difficulty.
6. You will have to live with the permanent threat of destabilization. This is the mark of the extreme right. It is a global movement that corresponds to the inability of neoliberal capitalism to coexist in the next period in a minimal democratic way. Although global, it takes on specific characteristics in each country. The general aim is to convert cultural or ethnic diversity into political or religious polarization. In Brazil, as in India, there is the risk of attributing to such polarization the character of a religious war, be it between Catholics and Evangelicals, or between fundamentalist Christians and religions of African origin (Brazil), or between Hindus and Muslims (India). In religious wars, conciliation is almost impossible. The extreme right creates a parallel reality immune to any confrontation with the actual reality. On that basis, it can justify the cruelest violence. Its main objective is to prevent you, President Lula, from peacefully finishing your term.
7. You currently have the support of the United States in your favor. It is well known that all U.S. foreign policy is determined by domestic political reasons. President Biden knows that, by defending you, he is defending himself against former President Trump, his possible rival in 2024. It so happens that the United States today is the most fractured society in the world, where the democratic game coexists with a plutocratic far right strong enough to make about 25 percent of the U.S. population still believe that Joe Biden’s victory in the 2020 presidential election was the result of an electoral fraud. This far right is willing to do anything. Their aggressiveness is demonstrated by the attempt by one of their followers to kidnap and torture Nancy Pelosi, leader of the Democrats in the House of Representatives. Furthermore, right after the attack, a battery of fake news was put into circulation to justify the act—something that can very well happen in Brazil as well. So, today the United States is a dual country: the official country that promises to defend Brazilian democracy, and the unofficial country that promises to subvert it in order to rehearse what it wants to achieve in the United States. Let us remember that the extreme right started as the official policy of the country. Hyper-conservative evangelicalism started as an American project (see the Rockefeller report of 1969) to combat “the insurrectionary potential” of liberation theology. And let it be said, in fairness, that for a long time its main ally was former Pope John Paul II.
8. Since 2014, Brazil has been living through a continued coup process, the elites’ response to the progress that the popular classes achieved with your governments. That coup process did not end with your victory. It only changed rhythm and tactics. Throughout these years and especially in the last electoral period we have witnessed multiple illegalities and even political crimes committed with an almost naturalized impunity. Besides the many committed by the head of the government, we have seen, for example, senior members of the armed forces and security forces calling for a coup d’état and publicly siding with a presidential candidate while in office. Such behavior should be punished by the judiciary or by compulsory retirement. Any idea of amnesty, no matter how noble its motives may be, will be a trap in the path of your presidency. The consequences could be fatal.
9. It is well known that you do not place a high priority on characterizing your politics as being left or right. Curiously, shortly before being elected president of Colombia, Gustavo Petro stated that the important distinction for him was not between left and right, but between politics of life and politics of death. The politics of life today in Brazil is sincere ecological politics, the continuation and deepening of policies of racial and sexual justice, labor rights, investment in public health care and education, respect for the demarcated lands of Indigenous peoples, and the enactment of pending demarcations. A gradual but firm transition is needed from agrarian monoculture and natural resource extractivism to a diversified economy that allows respect for different socioeconomic logics and virtuous articulations between the capitalist economy and the peasant, family, cooperative, social-solidarity, Indigenous, riverine, andquilombolaeconomies that have so much vitality in Brazil.
10. The state of grace is short. It does not even last 100 days (see President Gabriel Boric in Chile). You have to do everything not to lose the people that elected you. Symbolic politics is fundamental in the early days. One suggestion: immediately reinstate the national conferences (built on bottom-up participatory democracy) to give an unequivocal sign that there is another, more democratic, and more participative way of doing politics.
Boaventura de Sousa Santos is the emeritus professor of sociology at the University of Coimbra in Portugal. His most recent book is Decolonizing the University: The Challenge of Deep Cognitive Justice.
This article was produced by Globetrotter.
Lula put social programs at the top of his agenda during the campaigns and after election. From very early on his leading program was to eradicate hunger, following the lead of projects already put into practice by the Fernando Henrique Cardoso administration, but expanded by the new Fome Zero ("Zero Hunger") program.What did Jair bolsonaro do? ›
From 1991 to 2018, Bolsonaro served in Brazil's Chamber of Deputies, representing the state of Rio de Janeiro. Bolsonaro was born in Glicério, in the state of São Paulo. He graduated from the Agulhas Negras Military Academy in 1977 and served in the Brazilian Army's field artillery and parachutist units.How did Jair bolsonaro come to power? ›
He was elected the president of Brazil on October 28, 2018, by obtaining 55.1% of the valid votes in the 2018 Brazilian general election, defeating Fernando Haddad. On October 30, 2022, Bolsonaro was defeated by Lula da Silva.How old is Lula in Brazil? › What's a Lula? ›
Lula kebab (Armenian: լուլա քյաբաբ, romanized: lula kʿyabab, Azerbaijani: lülə kabab) is a type of kebab cooked on skewers. It is made from minced meat. It is a specialty of Armenian, Azerbaijani, and other cuisines of countries in South Caucasus, the Middle East, and Central Asia.How is the president in Brazil? ›
Jair Bolsonaro is the 38th and current president. He was sworn in on 1 January 2019 following the 2018 presidential election.What problems is Brazil facing? ›
President Jair Bolsonaro has threatened democratic rule in Brazil by attempting to undermine trust in the electoral system, free speech, and judicial independence. In a forceful response, the Supreme Court in 2021 rejected “threats to its independence and intimidation.”Why is Brazil destroying the rainforest? ›
In the last 40 years, the Brazilian Amazon has lost more than 18 percent of its rainforest — an area about the size of California — to illegal logging, soy agriculture, and cattle ranching.Why are people destroying the rainforest of Brazil? ›
The clearing of land for cattle ranching accounts for 80 percent of deforestation in the Amazon. In one Brazilian state 400 square miles of forest has been cleared for soy farming in the last 10 years. In 2021 deforestation of the Amazon in Brazil rose to its highest level in 15 years.Why Will Brazil become a superpower? ›
After 200 years of Independence, Brazil is an economic superpower. With high growth and low inflation, we are a safe haven for investments. The Brazilian govt launched the largest privatization and concession program in its history.
Brazil largely relies on hydropower for electricity generation; in 2020, hydropower supplied 66% of its electricity demand. Wind and solar generation have grown quickly in recent years and had a combined 11% share of the country's electricity generation in 2020. Biomass accounted for an 8% share.Is Brazil a growing power? ›
Brazil wields considerable economic and political influence as the largest and most populous country in Latin America. An emerging global power, it is a staunch defender of multilateralism and maintains robust ties with China, the United States, and the European Union.Who succeeded Lula in Brazil? ›
|Her Excellency Dilma Rousseff|
|Vice President||Michel Temer|
|Preceded by||Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva|
|Succeeded by||Michel Temer|
|Chief of Staff of the Presidency|
|Candidate||Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva||Jair Bolsonaro|
|Alliance||Brazil of Hope||For the Good of Brazil|
|Running mate||Geraldo Alckmin||Braga Netto|
A LULA is an ideal elevator for adding accessibility to churches, small office buildings, and other public buildings up to three levels. It's smaller in size than commercial passenger elevators and much easier to integrate into a building.What does Lula mean in text? ›
LULAS means "Love You Like A Sister." The abbreviation LULAS can be considered a huge compliment between two female friends or a diplomatic way for a boy way to make it clear that he has no interest in a romantic relationship with one of his female friends.What is Brazil known for? ›
Brazil is famous for its stunning beaches, rainforests, and diverse cities. It is known as the country of football with world-renowned footballers such as Pelé and Neymar born there.Who was the first Brazilian president? ›
|1||Deodoro da Fonseca (1827–1892)||1891|
|2||Floriano Peixoto (1839–1895)||—|
|3||Prudente de Morais (1841–1902)||1894|
|4||Campos Sales (1841–1913)||1898|
Related Links. To boost growth and create more jobs, Brazil needs to vigorously pursue pension and tax reforms, trade openness, investment in infrastructure, and key financial reforms, the IMF stated in its latest annual economic assessment.Is Brazil rich or poor? ›
Economy of Brazil.
|Inflation (CPI)||5.27% (2022)|
|Population below poverty line||1.9% (2020)|
|Gini coefficient||53.4 high (2021)|
|Human Development Index||0.754 high (2021) (88th)|
- Hydroelectric dams.
- Endangered species.
- Production of first-generation biofuels.
- Climate change.
- Solutions and policies.
- Eliminate Deforestation From Your Diet. ...
- Buy Responsibly Sourced Products. ...
- Choose Products That Give Back. ...
- Support Indigenous Communities. ...
- Reduce Your Carbon Footprint. ...
- Email Your Preferred News Outlet. ...
- Inform Yourself and Others. ...
- Get Political.
- Plant a Tree where you can.
- Go paperless at home and in the office.
- Buy recycled products and then recycle them again.
- Buy certified wood products. ...
- Support the products of companies that are committed to reducing deforestation. ...
- Raise awareness in your circle and in your community.
Direct human causes of deforestation include logging, agriculture, cattle ranching, mining, oil extraction and dam-building.Why should we stop destroying the rainforest? ›
Trees absorb and store carbon dioxide. If forests are cleared, or even disturbed, they release carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. Forest loss and damage is the cause of around 10% of global warming. There's simply no way we can fight the climate crisis if we don't stop deforestation.What are the three biggest threats to rainforests? ›
Logging interests cut down rain forest trees for timber used in flooring, furniture, and other items. Power plants and other industries cut and burn trees to generate electricity. The paper industry turns huge tracts of rain forest trees into pulp.Who are the 5 superpowers in the world? ›
- United States. #1 in Power. ...
- China. #2 in Power. ...
- Russia. #3 in Power. ...
- Germany. #4 in Power. ...
- United Kingdom. #5 in Power. ...
- South Korea. #6 in Power. ...
- France. #7 in Power. ...
With more than a hint of fatalistic resignation, Brazilians have long observed that theirs is the country of the future … and always will be. Geographically immense, with an economy and a population almost twice as large as any other in Latin America, Brazil is also endowed with enviable natural resources.What makes Brazil a developing country? ›
Why Brazil is not a developed country? It has several characteristics, such as the fact that it is the largest economy in South America, but it is still considered as developing due to its low GDP per capita, low living standards, high infant mortality rate, and other issues.Is Brazil's economy improving? ›
Brazil's Economy Ministry predicts 2023 GDP growth between 1.4% to 2.9% BRASILIA, Nov 9 (Reuters) - Brazil's Economy Ministry predicted on Wednesday a GDP growth range in 2023 between 1.4% to 2.9%, arguing that the economy's structural growth is now higher than seen in the recent past.
Brazil's economic freedom score is 53.3, making its economy the 133rd freest in the 2022 Index. Brazil is ranked 26th among 32 countries in the Americas region, and its overall score is below the regional and world averages. Brazil's economic growth slowed in 2019, turned negative in 2020, and rebounded in 2021.Why is Brazil's economy doing so well? ›
Brazil has grown to become one of the largest economies in the world. Still, Brazilian citizens rank quite low in income per capita. In recent decades, a rise in the service economy, foreign investment, and exports have helped grow Brazil's GDP.Is Brazil the most powerful country? ›
Most Powerful Countries 2022.
|GDP per Capita||$8,897|
Brazil has one of the world's larger economies. Its economy is mixed and based largely on a free-market (capitalist) system but with some government controls—for example, taxes and limitations on trade and on industrial pollution.Where is Lula? ›
Lula is a city in Hall and Banks counties in the U.S. state of Georgia. Most of the city is in Hall County, with a small eastern portion of the city located in Banks County. The population was 2,758 at the 2010 census. The Hall County portion of Lula is part of the Gainesville, GA Metropolitan Statistical Area.When was Lula born? › What is the Workers party in Brazil? ›
The Workers' Party (Brazilian Portuguese: Partido dos Trabalhadores, PT) is a centre-left to left-wing political party in Brazil. Some scholars classify its ideology in the 21st century as social democracy, with the party shifting from a broadly socialist ideology in the 1990s.Who ended slavery in Brazil? ›
On May 13, 1888, Brazilian Princess Isabel of Bragança signed Imperial Law number 3,353. Although it contained just 18 words, it is one of the most important pieces of legislation in Brazilian history. Called the “Golden Law,” it abolished slavery in all its forms.Who helped lead Brazil to independence? ›
However, September 7th is the anniversary of the date in 1822 that prince regent Dom Pedro declared Brazil's independence from his royal family in Portugal and the former United Kingdom of Portugal, Brazil and Algarves.Who conquered Brazil first? ›
In 1500, Pedro Alvares Cabral disembarked in Brazil with 1,200 Portuguese adventurers after badly missing his destination in Southern Africa. Immediately, the colony became a Portuguese claim and quickly earned a unique identity.
The president is elected to a four-year term by absolute majority vote through a two-round system. The National Congress (Congresso Nacional) has two chambers. The Chamber of Deputies (Câmara dos Deputados) has 513 members, elected to a four-year term by proportional representation.What are the top 3 political parties in Brazil? ›
As of May 2017, 16,668,589 Brazilians were affiliated with a political party. The largest parties are MDB (which accounts for 14.4% of affiliated voters), the PT (9.5% of affiliated voters), and PSDB (8.7% of affiliated voters).What companies were at the center of the political scandal that enveloped Brazilian politicians? ›
According to the Operation Car Wash task force, investigations implicate administrative members of the state-owned oil company Petrobras, politicians from Brazil's largest parties (including presidents of the Republic), presidents of the Chamber of Deputies and the Federal Senate, state governors, and businessmen from ...Who was the first president of Brazil? ›
|1||Deodoro da Fonseca (1827–1892)||1891|
|2||Floriano Peixoto (1839–1895)||—|
|3||Prudente de Morais (1841–1902)||1894|
|4||Campos Sales (1841–1913)||1898|
- Threats to Democratic Rule.
- Freedom of Expression and Access to Information.
- Detention Conditions.
- Public Security and Police Conduct.
- Military-Era Abuses.
- Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity.
- Women's and Girls' Rights.
Generally, corruption occurs through resources from the public budgets of the union, states, and municipalities destined to health, education, social security and social and infrastructure programs, which are siphoned off to fund election campaigns, corrupt public officials, or even into personal bank accounts abroad.What are the political risks of doing business in Brazil? ›
With so many regulatory agencies in the political system, it comes as no surprise that corruption and bribery are the main issues when doing business in Brazil.
211,715,973 (July 2020 est.) Ethnic groups: White 47.7%, Mulatto (mixed white and black) 43.1%, Black 7.6%, Asian 1.1%, indigenous 0.4% (2010 est.)How many hours do Brazil work? ›
The Brazilian working hours are typically 8:00 a.m. or 9 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. or 6 p.m., with one hour of an unpaid break for lunch. The number of weekly working hours is 40–44 (8 hours per day five days a week plus an additional 4 hours for those working on a Saturday).What city in Brazil is known for nightlife? ›
The Lapa district of Rio de Janeiro is renowned for its buzzing nightlife and live music scene.
Civil engineers Joel Hurt and his brother Fletcher named the town in honor of Miss Lula Phinizy, later Mrs. Abner W. Calhoun, whom they both admired. The Georgia General Assembly incorporated Lula as a town in 1905.When was Lula elementary school built? ›
In 1911, citizens of Lula and its neighbor town of Belton, built a brick facility consisting of eight classrooms and an auditorium.