Metamorphosis in Brazil, by Rafael Vilasanjuan

The greatness of democracies is that be able to expel their autocrats before they can take down the system. It has happened in Brazil Just like what happened in the US before. A triumph of democracy, which does not avoid the risk of a return, but sends signs of hope after deep concern. In the battle for the White House, everything indicates that the shower of Democratic votes was more for the rejection of Donald Trump than by the conviction of the alternative project. In Brazil, the macho Bolsonaro has been expelled perhaps more motivated by fear of another four years of autocratic drift than by confidence in Lula da Silva, an imprisoned candidate, leader of a party, that of the workers, who was only four years ago on the verge of disappearing. The two countries have achieved the miracle of recovering the democratic path, but they are broken by the axis. The losers are close range, they are revanchists and they fit the defeats badly. In the division, his shadow looms like that of a stalker at a dead end. The radicalization with which they have exercised power generates hatred and that prevails. However, in comparison, unlike Donald Trump, who managed to implant an authoritarian doctrine by kidnapping the Republican Party and threatening unruly congressmen, Bolsonaro, on the other hand, has failed the springs of the Brazilian Liberal Party. Many of the positions of responsibility accepted defeat while the leader played ambiguity with his supporters by closing roadswho knows if in an attempt similar to the one that led to the siege of the White House. Jair Bolsonaro has looked at himself so much in Trump’s mirror that he has ended up suffering the same fate.

The question is, now what? There are many reasons to think that what happens in Brazil affects us all. To begin with, and although it will be very difficult to sew up the damaged fabrics of a broken society, the result in Brazil sheds some oxygen. It is not rhetorical: as soon as he was elected, Lula confirmed that it will end the deforestation of the Amazon. Bolsonaro, a climate change denier out of interest, handed over the Amazon forest to speculation, deforestation, logging, illegal mining and the extension of cattle land. Only so far this year the fleeced territory is equivalent to seven times the New York metropolitan area. Not even the worst fires of the decade and the offer of the G-7 to offer help to stop them generated the slightest interest on the part of Bolsonaro. Lula can reverse the situation. It will not be easy, because even if he announces restrictive legislation, after four years of permissive government, the clans that control the lungs of the world have become strong, they kill with impunity and threaten the local population. It will take much more police and army to prevent further progress. But that is where Lula can start looking for complicity, some even among those who until now were more elusive. The Amazon jungle generates almost 10% of the oxygen of the entire planet. It is a good reason for leaders like Joe Biden or the European Union, who have always had misgivings about Lula drifting towards a radical left, to lend intelligence and support to stop the bleeding and establish an alliance for the climate, investing so that the Amazon continues to be a clean lung, not only for the good of Brazil, but for everyone. The election of Marina Silva, a respected environmental politician as minister, is a guarantee to continue breathing.

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Back on the international scene, at a time when Latin America has veered to the left, the new Lula government can also become the main interlocutor of the West in the region. Far, very far, from the dictatorial models of Nicaragua or Venezuela, Lula may be the best representative of a Latin American multilateralism, where the left governs in historical fiefdoms of the right such as Chile, Colombia or Mexico.

However, the great challenge will be within. With more than 200 million inhabitants in a deeply divided country Lula’s third term appears to be the most difficult. Brazil is broken. The cracks are visible between the rural and urban population, between the middle or upper classes and the poor –who number in the millions–; between north and south or between evangelicals and catholics. Wherever we look, the flaw that separates affections and hates breaks into almost equal halves. The writer Stefan Zweig, depressed by the Nazi drift and the war in Europe, wrote in 1941 that Brazil was the country of the future. The problem is that except for rare parentheses during the government of Henrique Cardoso and Lula’s first term, Brazil has not been able to build a stable democracy today. That is the challenge. After four years of predatory politics, a radical change is needed that recovers respect for diversity, social justice and support for the most disadvantaged, in addition to betting on innovative capacity, business momentum and regional leadership. More than a change, a metamorphosis, if not, it is possible that the triumph of democracy to expel its impostors will be short-lived.

Metamorphosis in Brazil, by Rafael Vilasanjuan