Lula has reappeared, identified with a national project, waving a message of peace, hope and political agreement.


The Lula who spoke to the country today is the Luis Inácio Lula of Brazil. He is, at the same time, the immigrant from the Northeast who arrived to be a worker in São Paulo. The same Lula who fought hard against the dictatorship’s wage slashing and the dictatorship itself. The same Lula who founded the PT (Workers’ Party) and helped found the CUT (Central Unified Workers’ Union) and the MST (Landless Workers’ Movement).


The same Lula who dared to run for president of Brazil in 1989 and almost won, were it not for the dirty machinations of the Globo media group. The same Lula who led the opposition to the neoliberalism of (former presidents) Collor and Cardoso.


It is the same Lula who led the left finally to win the presidential elections in Brazil in 2002. It is the Lula who was the best president that Brazil has ever had, who tackled the inequalities that mark the country, who got the Brazilian economy moving again, who took Brazil’s name to its highest level globally.


He is the Lula who chose the first woman president of Brazil, the same Lula who fought for her re-election. The Lula who led the resistance to the coup against Dilma and to the neoliberal governments that reassumed control of the country by fraud.


It is the Lula who, with his dignity intact, suffered unjust imprisonment and an absurd conviction. It is the Lula who resisted, proving his innocence, until he regained his freedom.


The Lula who spoke is Lula in his entirety. He began with his trajectory, with how he walked out of the metalworkers’ union office, to present himself, begrudgingly, to the federal police, because he knew he was innocent. As if he were waiting for that moment when his innocence would be recognized and he could return to the same union from which he had departed.


Today Lula returned to the São Bernardo union, – where I was also – he related everything that he had gone through since then, until yesterday, a historic day, for the Jornal Nacional too (Globo daily news outlet), as Lula pointed out. It closed a period that included Lula’s arrest and his survival in prison in Curitiba.


Thus, Brazil is moving away from the process of judicialisation or lawfare, the new strategy of the right, which made the coup against Dilma, without any basis, arrested, convicted and prevented Lula from being a candidate, also with no basis, to end up in the monstrous electoral manoeuvre that led to the election of Bolsonaro. Argentina circumvented lawfare by the election of Alberto Fernandez, Bolivia, by the election of Luis Arce, Ecuador, by moving towards the election of Andres Arauz.


In Brazil, the process has yet to culminate in the elections of October 2022. It is now clear that Lula is the candidate. Last week’s poll shows Lula with 50% support and the lowest level of rejection among all the pre-candidates, with an upward trend, while Bolsonaro has 38%, a high level of rejection and a downward trend.


Added to this, the measures favourable to Lula, tending to restore his full political rights, together with his discourse, which repositions him as the great leader of the opposition, project the dispute between Lula and Bolsonaro for 2022. The latter means a hard blow for the other right-wing candidates, while in the left-wing camp, the disproportion between Lula and the others strongly disfavours them all.


Lula’s position not only displaces the other left-wing pre-candidates, but also the attempts to win votes from the centre for their own candidacies are weakened by Lula’s appeals to the business community and other political forces, to build a government that will resume economic growth with income distribution.


The political scenario is now more defined, but it remains to be seen how Brazil will survive until 2022. Because we are living through the worst moment of the economic and social crisis, as well as the pandemic. The deterioration of the pandemic and the slow progress of vaccination project the economic recession also into 2022. The right expresses its fear that the concessions that Bolsonaro will be forced to make will be innocuous, because Lula is much better at articulating state policies for social policies, as well as breaking the spending cap.


What is certain is that this week marks a milestone in the contemporary political situation in the country. Lula, without saying so, unleashed the electoral campaign. Bolsonaro has already prioritized his behavior and his discourse adapted to his major objective, reelection.


The projection, made as of today, is largely favourable to Lula. The eventual defeat of Bolsonaro will also represent the defeat of the adventure in which the military got involved, occupying thousands of positions in the government. The overcoming of lawfare will also have this particular aspect of the Brazilian experience.


Lula has reappeared, identified with a national project, waving a message of peace, hope and political agreement. The new challenge in Lula’s life is projected as yet another dispute, which has characterised his life. His disposition, his political strength and his charisma demonstrate that he has the full conditions to be victorious once again


March 10th, 2021


(Translation ALAI)


– Emir Sader, columnist for 247, is one of Brazil’s leading sociologists and political scientists.


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