This Sunday, all of Brazil will go to the polls to determine the next state governors, state and federal deputies, senators and the president of the republic. Voting is mandatory and there are several people vying for the presidency. However, two candidates polarize the vast majority of voting intentions. On the one hand, current President Jair Bolsonaro of the Liberal Party and on the other, former President Lula of the Labor Party (PT).
Lula is the greatest popular leader in the history of Brazil and for two terms he was the president who developed basic public policies for the poorest, most of whom are black. In education, for example, he was responsible for the expansion of federal universities, racial quota policies, and programs to give the poor access to higher education, all of which were truly transformative. When he left office in 2010, he had an 83% approval rating, a record that still stands.
Lula would have been the ideal candidate for the position in 2018, the election that Bolsonaro emerged victorious from, but during the election campaign he was arrested by Operation Lava Jato under the command of Sergio Moro, a former magistrate and current senator candidate. from the state of Parana. In 2018, Moro took over the Justice Department from Bolsonaro, helped by his court decisions against Lula and the PT. It was another of the many scandals of the operation that was eventually annulled – belatedly, it must be said – by the Supreme Court due to the judge’s apparent bias.
Now free of all fees, this weekend is the meeting that should have taken place in 2018 for which hopes are rising. Various polls have consistently indicated a good lead for Lula. In recent polls, Lula is 48, 49, 50% sometime. If no candidate achieves 50% of the valid votes in the first ballot, a second ballot takes place according to the electoral law.
For this reason, great efforts are being made to ensure that the election is decided on the first ballot in Brazil. Political alliances in a broad (very broad) front against Bolsonaro, public declarations of vote on television, radio and social networks by people from different parts of society, and public actions on the streets try to ensure that the minimum margin for turning one of the saddest pages is guaranteed in the country’s history and Bolsonaro loses his re-election in what would be an unprecedented event in the country’s short presidential history.
The reasons for disliking Bolsonaro are extensive. Brazil is a country of continental proportions, with more than 220 million inhabitants from different regions and multiple identities. So, according to the latest Datafolha poll, it’s not just a lie that leads 51% of Brazilians to say they never trust anything they say. Bolsonaro has horrified at different times, in different areas and in different regions, but the consensus seems to be that his unspeakably terrible performance in the pandemic makes his popularity crunch understandable.
As countries scramble to develop a vaccine, the government spent billions on chlorquine, a drug used to treat malaria but in this case was intended to treat Covid-19. He was one of the main propagators of fake news on the internet, systematically defying the advice of the international scientific community.
One by one, health ministers resigned because they did not want to take responsibility for policies decided at the request of “Captain Chloriquine,” a nickname by which he was known, himself the current minister, an obedient army general. As for the vaccine, given the forthcoming production of millions of Chinese doses by the São Paulo state government, which he opposes, all he could say was that he didn’t trust the products from China either. Pleased his example from the north, ex-president donald trump On social media, the Bolsonarists’ digital militias supported their rejection of VaChina.
And it wasn’t enough to promote misinformation about drug use, leading to numerous hospitalizations and deaths; To delay vaccines and boycott those that are manufactured, Bolsonaro put on a depressing show of unfortunate pronouncements during the pandemic. Phrases like “it’s just a little flu”, “I’m not an undertaker” (refusing to answer the number of deaths in the country), “we feel sorry for all the dead, but it’s everyone’s fate”, among others . Add to that his attitude of going out of the house without a mask in the middle of the pandemic and not even having visited a hospital.
Brazil was already pursuing a policy of economic, environmental and political backlash before the pandemic; The coup that ousted President Dilma Rousseff in 2016 was the turning point of obscurantism. Unthinkable labor and social reforms were carried out in the countries of the Global North with the promise of many jobs that never came. The section of society that suffered the most from this change was the poor, who in Brazil are mostly black, who make up the majority of the population.
But in the pandemic, the bad got even worse. The increase in cases of domestic violence in Brazil has provided a catalyst for the drastic reduction and even elimination of funds allocated to public measures to welcome women victims of violence, such as integrated shelters, denunciation and treatment centers. The country occupies a prominent place on the podium of femicide, child sexual abuse, rape and domestic violence.
Data from 2019, in a pre-pandemic scenario, from the Anuário Brasileiro de Segurança Pública (Brazilian Yearbook of Public Safety) shows that a woman, youth or child is raped every 8 minutes in Brazil. According to the report, 57.9% of the victims were aged 13 or older. In 84.1% of cases, the rapist is someone known to the victim: a family member or a trusted person. According to the same yearbook, a woman is attacked every two minutes. There were 266,310 records of domestic violence injuries in the country. In this chaotic context, the Bolsonaro government’s 94% cut in the budget for women’s protections is atrocious and responsible for the deaths and misery of countless women and girls across the country.
I could spend a whole day recounting the absurdities we have endured over the past four years and it still wouldn’t do. I could talk about the disinvestment of 34% in the annual science and technology budget, which has led to a scenario of chaos in higher education, with the end of exchange programs, the precarious research in the country and the lack of budget for public universities to continue operate. I could talk about what Bolsonaro’s policies on death have meant for indigenous peoples, with encouragement of the war sparked by illegal mining on protected lands, and policies of environmental destruction. I could talk about many things but the truth is Brazil can’t take it anymore. A profound change is necessary and fundamental.
Djamila Ribeiro is a Brazilian political philosopher, journalist and feminist activist
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