Brazil's international comeback
Nov. 4, 2022
Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva’s return to power will likely put Brazil back in an international leadership role, after years of quasi-pariah status under incumbent Jair Bolsonaro.
“Brazil is back,” he said in his victory speech on Sunday. “Brazil is too great to be relegated to the status of a pariah in the world.” Lula’s words “conjured up the activist global diplomacy he practised in office between 2003 and 2010,” though he will be challenged by a much changed global context, argues the Economist’s Bello column.
Lula’s victory speech included a focus on his previous international agenda, including efforts to integrate South America and create the BRICS grouping of Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa, writes Catherine Osborn in the Latin America Brief. Moving forward, Lula promised to focus on fairer international trade, climate action and to campaign for including more countries as permanent members of the U.N. Security Council, a longtime Brazil diplomatic demand. Nonetheless, a much changed world will make Brazil’s multipolar diplomatic approach difficult to maintain, she warns.
Expect a revived focus on regional integration, and for Brazil to push out U.S. influence in Latin America, argues Evan Ellis in Global Americans.
Lula has also promised to repair Brazil’s damaged international brand, and to “reposition the country into the hearts of international investors.” And expectations are high regarding Brazil’s climate diplomacy, though complex congressional dynamics will be a significant obstacle, writes Bruna Santos in the Wilson Center’s Weekly Asado.
International recognition for Lula’s victory on Sunday was swift and overwhelming, at least partially aimed at staving off potential challenges from Bolsonaro. Minutes after his victory was confirmed, Lula received congratulations leaders around the world, including U.S. President Joe Biden and French President Emmanuel Macron.
Lula’s return to power is also fortuitous for the U.S. Biden administration, argues Andre Pagliarini in the Guardian. The change in government offers and opportunity to reset relations between the two giants, and to challenge “popular conceptions in Latin America of how the United States views progressive governments in the region generally and Brazil’s hemispheric aspirations in particular.
Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro met with Vice President-Elect Geraldo Alckmin, who is heading the transition team for Lula. “It was positive,” Alckmin told journalists after the meeting. He refused to answer whether the incumbent had congratulated him for Sunday’s victory, reports the Associated Press.
Protests against Bolsonaro’s electoral loss began to fizzle yesterday, as supporters dismantled roadblocks around the country, reports Reuters.
While Bolsonaro lost the election, the “forces that empowered him retain considerable economic, political, and cultural influence” and will, in many ways, make or break Lula’s tenure, argues Camila Villard Duran in Project Syndicate.
Brazil could have a major impact on the worldwide fight against climate change, if Lula keeps his campaign promises to safeguard the Amazon rainforest, reports the Washington Post. But his efforts could by stymied by lawmakers with ties to agriculture, who could try to block Lula’s environmental policies and pass legislation to facilitate land-grabbing and illegal mining.
“Lula will struggle to govern a country that is deeply divided,” reports the Economist. “In order to get laws passed, Lula will have to build alliances with centrist parties.”
Congressional support will be the incoming president’s first major challenge to ensure governing stability — Americas Quarterly analyzes the magic numbers the new administration will have to keep in mind.
A Guardian analysis delves into the geographic detail of Sunday’s vote. Among other tidbits: “Bolsonaro gained support in deforested areas while municipalities with high Indigenous population voted overwhelmingly for Lula.” And “although his stronghold is the north, Lula had numerous pockets of support in the south.”
Haitian police regained control of the country’s main oil terminal and seaports, which have been under gang control for two months, reports Reuters.
Specialized police units that carried out the operation have been equipped with new tactical training and recently acquired Canadian-made armored vehicles, reports the Miami Herald.
A U.N. Security Council resolution that would create a multinational force to help police take back control of the ports and the roads from gangs and create “a humanitarian corridor” to get fuel, food and water flowing again was put on hold this week at the request of Canada, according to the Miami Herald.
More Regional Relations
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The United Nations General Assembly delivered its yearly rebuke of the U.S. embargo on Cuba. Yesterday, 185 countries voted in favour of a non-binding resolution condemning the embargo, with the US and Israel voting against and Brazil and Ukraine abstaining. (Al Jazeera)
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Chilean President Gabriel Boric presented a pension reform plan that would create a public social security system. Chile has a private pension system that has been a major feature of the country’s economy for forty years, but which has come under fire for failing to provide a viable retirement for large swathes of Chile’s population. Pension reform was a key demand of the mass protest movement in 2019. (Bloomberg)
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A major Bolivian civic group has threatened to hold a national strike calling for the government to carry out a census next year. The move would escalate protests which have paralyzed the Santa Cruz department, an opposition strong-hold. The tension is over the timing of a census, which regional and opposition groups say would result in them being allotted more seats in Congress and more state resources, reports Reuters.
“Immigration figures have long driven heated political debate in U.S. politics – even worse in recent years – but the data often exaggerate the problem because the responsible government agencies are double-counting and media reports are analyzing the numbers incorrectly,” writes Ernesto Castañeda at the AULA blog.
At least 45 people suspected of ties to organized crime have been freed in the last year in Honduras, following a controversial reform to Honduras' Special Law Against Asset Laundering. There is mounting speculation that it is an attempt at protecting those in power, reports InSight Crime.
Honduras will authorize the use of the morning-after pill for rape victims, though the total ban on abortions remains. (Reuters)
Survivors of a notorious massacre carried out by Paraguay’s dictatorship in 1980 have returned to aid an effort to recover the bodies of murdered farmers, reports the Guardian.
Mexico and the U.S. are working to create a clean energy hub along their shared border, including plans for solar and wind plants, lithium mining and electric vehicle factories, according to Mexican President Andrés Manuel Lopez Obrador. (Bloomberg)
Increasing global demand for lithium could be a boon for Argentina, Boliva and Chile, the countries with the largest reserves of the mineral. Whether the three countries will collaborate or compete remains unclear, writes David Feliba in Americas Quarterly.
FinTech startups in Latin America and Africa are nimbler, more digitized, and potentially better at serving underserved people, reports Wired.