Lula, savior or gravedigger of the left and Brazil?

The former president of Brazil, recently released from prison, was the leader of the opposition to Jair Bolsonaro. At 74, can he still embody the future?

Time to Reading 4 min.

Former Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, with the flag of the State of Pernambuco, Recife, November 17, 2019.
Former Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, with the flag of the State of Pernambuco, Recife, November 17, 2019. LEO MALAFAIA / AFP

Analysis. "Save this country"it was the imperious mission that Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva gave himself. Fresh out of prison, November 8, the former president of Brazil, neither innocent nor eligible, has however immediately put himself in opposition to Jair Bolsonaro and as an alternative to the far right in power. His followers believe in it, as if in a sweet dream or a plank of salvation. Because, among his family, Lula is more than a leader. It's a passion. An incarnation. The ex-metallo, born among the poor of the poor of the Nordeste, is just as much the child darling as the father of the excluded. Moreover, the " son of Brazil », as it has been nicknamed, would dream today as grandfather of this shaky democracy of South America, like a Mandela out of apartheid or a Victor Hugo under the IIIe Nascent Republic.

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Lula claims to leave prison without hatred or revenge. " Love will win in this country! "he said to his comrades. Should we believe him on his word? At 74, eight in power and forty in politics, can he still embody the future? Can he be the "savior" of Brazil? Has he learned from the past? The questions are jostling. But one thing is certain: Lula has changed. He has matured. He lost weight. Smiles less. Dress in black. Clearly, he is no longer this "smiling president," that " Lulinha " ("Little Lula") generous and sometimes tenderly naive. This Lula out of prison is a different man, humiliated and angry. More accomplished but also more complex, more stormy, more suspicious than before.

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As a program, the leader of the left has promised to " distribute books (…), jobs (…) and access to culture ". According to him, it would be enough to increase wages, a good package of social assistance and a revival by consumption for this sleeping Brazil to rise from the ashes. But would it be enough to warm the good soups of the 2000s? Not so sure. Because what is it possible to "Distribute" ? The credit unions of Brazil, indebted, discredited, plunged for years in the economic slump, are empty. In case of return to power, Lula and his family will inherit neither strong growth nor sound finances.

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Especially since, like Lula, Brazil too has changed. Far from the unanimity and confidence of the 2000s, a ruling Workers' Party (PT) would stand up against the powerful "system" of evangelical, ruralist and military lobbies, once accommodating, but now grouped into turtles. Roman around Jair Bolsonaro. Worse: it should also govern against a good part of the population, radicalized and adhering thoroughly to the far-right ideas, vomiting the left just as much as Lula, synonyms of " corruption " and D'"Insecurity".


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