The challenges facing Brazil’s left
For those who follow Brazilian politics, even superficially, it should not be news that the country is living through its biggest crisis since the civic-military dictatorship ended in the 1980s, or even – according to some–in the entire history of the Brazilian Republic since the deposition of Emperor Pedro II in 1889. Brazil is facing tremendous political and social setbacks led by its far-right president, Jair Bolsonaro, who has not been formally affiliated with a political party since 2019 but still relies on the social support and approval of the country’s ruling classes and Armed Forces.
If the social consequences of adopting an ultra-neoliberal project weren’t enough already, the emergence of the coronavirus pandemic in 2020 and the gross mismanagement and negligence in combatting the virus have led to the worst-case social, economic, and health scenarios.
A Country Gasping for Air
Indians Pay the Price of Government Inaction as COVID-19 Surges
It feels like the end times in New Delhi. Ambulance sirens blare through the night, a constant reminder of the unbelievable tragedy unfolding in the city. India is currently experiencing a devastating, record-breaking second wave of COVID-19, with the capital especially hard hit. Every night ushers in a now sadly familiar ordeal. Desperately sick patients go from hospital to hospital, begging for oxygen. The hospitals, with only hours of oxygen to spare for their own patients, turn the afflicted away. Relatives and friends post urgent pleas on social media, trying in vain to source the third most abundant element in the universe. But not for love of God or money is there any oxygen to be had in the city.
Why Brazil Still Matters
While many in the West lamented Jair Bolsonaro’s stunning ascension to the presidency of the world’s fifth most populous country in 2018, the election outcome was sealed roughly a year earlier. That was when Brazil’s two-term center-left president, Lula da Silva, who had been legally barred from a third consecutive term in 2010 despite an 86 percent approval rating—and who was leading in all the polls for a comeback in the 2018 presidential race—was convicted on dubious corruption charges and then declared ineligible to run. With his primary obstacle out of the way, Bolsonaro cruised to victory.
The stench of those events intensified greatly when Bolsonaro appointed the judge who’d found Lula guilty, Sergio Moro, to the newly enhanced position of minister of justice and public security. Even Moro’s closest allies in the sprawling anti-corruption probe known as Operation Car Wash (Lava Jato in Portuguese) were outraged by this blatant quid pro quo, which they realized would forever tarnish their legacy.