Brazil’s Political Samba

President Jair Bolsonaro and president-elect Lula da Silva

By Javier Herrera

HAVANA TIMES – Luis Inacio Lula da Silva was elected President of Brazil in the country’s runoff elections on Sunday October 30th. Winning by a narrow margin of just 1.8%, the former Brazilian president will now enter his third term.

Once his victory was announced, the consequences came rolling in. The US and EU hastily offered their congratulations to the new president-elect, thereby recognizing the legitimacy of these elections. Meanwhile, Leftist leaders in the Americas, and across the world, celebrated the victory and were quick to congratulate Lula too. Apparently, the result reflected what the Brazilian people wanted, who had opted for Leftist policies.

But despite any of the International Left’s triumphalism, Lula knows that governing the South American giant will be no easy task.

On the one hand, we should remember that Brazil is a country with a relatively young democracy, which has been interrupted on more than one occasion, and the longest democratic period in its history has been since 1985 up until the present day.

One thing you really have to take into account in Brazilian politics is what party the military supports or what action they take, as there’s a very good reason why they are known as the reserve power in Brazilian Law. Given the above, the world is anxiously waiting for the Ministry of Defense’s statement that will come on Monday November 7th.

On the other hand, it’s worth pointing out that Lula will take office with a hostile Parliament, with a majority of far-right seats in the Senate and Chamber of Deputies. Most of the country’s states will also be in the hands of the Bolsonaro Right.

This is a general representation of the political situation that is unfolding today in the green and yellow country. The social situation is just as convulsive and polarized as it was before the election, and we could even say more dangerous for the next president.

Protests in Brazil

Ever since the preliminary results of the election were announced, people against Lula took to the streets claiming that the voting and vote counting processes were fraudulent. The Truck Drivers’ Union have cut off roads and large groups of people gathered outside military bases and are asking for them to intervene.

Even though Bolsonaro has already begun the democratic transition process and has called upon protesters to respect the Law with their actions, protests and calls for military intervention were still going on Sunday November 6th.

Making the post-election climate even more foggy, the group “Brazil Was Stolen” has reported, from Argentina, anomalies in the machines used during the election, with different systems of electronic ballot boxes being used, as well as some that were never audited.

While these statements are not evidence of fraud, they have at least planted some questions in the Supreme Electoral Court’s head, which has now eliminated the results from its official website and is saying that they are still counting votes. It’s interesting that neither Lula or Bolsonaro have made any comment about this.

Meanwhile, the judiciary has ordered censorship of Bolsonaro’s chief deputies, as well as of mass media.  Even Judge Alexandre de Moraes, a loyal Lula da Silva supporter, said that anyone who “engage in criminal behavior and do not accept the result will be treated as criminals and held responsible.”

Protests have already become violent, the most harmful incident being when a car ran down a dozen protestors after it wasn’t allowed to pass.

We are talking about approximately half of the population clashing against the other half. We are talking about a country that holds huge influence over the region, not to say a determining influence.

What happens today and in the upcoming days will determine the future of the Brazilian people and that of most of South America, which is now swaying between far-right and left governments. But it’s not only Brazil, the entire world is waiting for statements from Bolsonaro, Lula and the Brazilian Ministry of Defense.

It’s important that institutionalism runs its course in Brazil.  If the elections were fraudulent, then the damage needs to be repaired. But if the Left won by legal means, then the majority vote needs to be respected, no matter how hard it is for many people to accept. What’s happening in Brazil today isn’t only what the Brazilian want, but it’s a matter of respecting institutions and the Law, and this could even set an example for the rest of Latin America.

Members of the Brazilian Military (credit: La Nacion newspaper)

Beyond the Left and the Right, it’s normally the general population that end up paying when constitutional rule is broken. A military government isn’t desirable in any context.

Lea más desde Cuba aquí en Havana Times