▲ Supporters of Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, the candidate of the leftist Workers’ Party (PT), celebrate yesterday as they watch the counting of votes in the second round of the presidential election on Paulista Avenue, in Sao Paulo, Brazil.Afp Photo Photo
If history is ours and is made by the peoples, as Salvador Allende said in his last speech before he killed himself, Brazil has just explained what happens when peoples join a leader as unique as Lula: they return.
Part of the people (by the way, not all, because Jair Bolsonaro received a gigantic base of electoral support) returned to their footsteps. He recovered the past. He stopped demonizing someone who, like Lula, led one of the fastest and most massive processes out of poverty in world history.
There were 36 million people who, since 2003, when the Workers’ Party (PT) started its first government, started eating three times a day, or had a job, or got electricity and household appliances for the first time, and even bought their own house or went on vacation. And if a significant group adored the bully who with great efficiency invented scapegoats for them to channel their hatred of the economic and social crisis – scapegoats like Lula, the PT, the beneficiaries of the Bolsa Familia plan – a share consecrated their defeat.
After a long process of judicial and political persecution, with 500 days in prison, Lula looks like the resurrected Christ. Bolsonaro comes out of these presidential elections with a very important popular and parliamentary base, but he lost. And Lula will have the presidency of the federal state, which represents power and international projection. But he is also Lula, with that unsurpassed energy that he never let down.
Where did this strong will come from, for this man who turned 77 last October 27? From Mrs. Linda, his mother, who 70 years ago carried him and his brothers on their way to Sao Paulo to escape the hunger that would be their only future in Pernambuco sertao?
Childhood and escape, in the wave of thousands and thousands of internal migrants in the early 50s, is presented in an invaluable book, Lula, son of Brazil, Denise Parana. It’s there twobut the book is better.
Or was the will forged in Sao Bernardo do Campo? When talking about Lula, it is always convenient to keep this name. He lived and still lives there, on the outskirts of Sao Paulo. There is a union of metal workers of which he became president. There, in the late 70s, he held increasingly frequent meetings with other colleagues from the guild, with left-wing intellectuals and with priests and laymen of Liberation Theology, until they realized that without a new party they would neither defeat the dictatorship nor reform Brazil.
And there the idea of PT was born, which will materialize in 1980 in the center of Sao Paulo. In that collective discipline sprinkled with cachaça or cognac (you choose), Lula began his career to become what he could be today: the person who hugged the most people in universal history. Unverifiable, by the way. However, it is enough to spend two minutes with him to imagine that this record is perfectly plausible.
Lula has a word she likes: ” companion (associate)”. He often uses it in confidence. It can be assimilated to friends, comrades, those who fight for the same ideal. As in Argentina, on companion otherwise he likes to discuss reality in a churrasco, or barbecue. Relationship between companion and social sensitivity—translated into action, yes, because will is not the same as desire—was always essential to Lulu. It seems like you don’t even have to think about it. Exits automatically.
In one of the latest biographies of Lula, written by Fernando Morais, there is an anecdote that describes him well. While Tarso Genro was one of his ministers, a then unknown economist named Fernando Haddad had the idea of creating a University for All program. It would provide scholarships to underprivileged students and provide two million new students with access to higher education.
One day Lula said to Genro: “That Haddad looks like a Tucano, he has a Tucano face, but he’s not a Tucano. That guy loves the poor, he loves black people… That boy is ours.” The Tucanos are from the Brazilian Social Democratic Party of Fernando Henrique Cardoso. The center-right who, after competing with the PT in 1994, 1998, 2002, 2006, 2010 and 2014, ended up supporting it in 2022.
It turned out that this boy was the next Minister of Education, Mayor of Sao Paulo between 2013 and 2017 and Lula’s candidate against Bolsonaro in 2018.
Lula is a turner, a craft that metallurgists have always respected and practice. The turner not only shapes the piece. Sometimes he also designs a machine that will help him in this. He is someone who projects the whole process in his head, to the end, and works until he achieves it.
The PT nominated Lulu for president three times until he won a fourth, just 20 years ago, in October 2002. Concern for the poor and black, for the poor and black women, resulted in the Zero Hunger Plan, social programs, steady increases in the minimum wage and, before above all, in giving up the naturalization of poverty.
Mass misery was considered a phenomenon as natural as a snout rising from the sea. Slavery was abolished in Brazil in 1888. Brazil was the largest destination in the entire slave cycle, outnumbering even slaves going to American plantations.
That policy change about what to do with the poor was based on the key: by integrating the millions, not only would those millions be given dignity (
citizenshipin Lula’s words), but would drastically expand the internal market.
Once again the slaves in Brazil lost, and now the challenges will be enormous. There is no simple future, but it is, as it is, as the character says Irish. Things are as they are. The victory was narrow, but would the future be better with Bolsonaro re-elected as president? Is the melancholy of defeat better than the problems of triumph? The challenges are endless. Overcome poverty, recreate employment, try to prevent Bolsonarism from becoming the final element of the Brazilian political landscape, return Brazil to the table of industrial powers.
Recreate the alliance with Argentina, Mercosur, South America and the region. Avoid the idea that a European-style Third Way policy is better, which is also failing in Europe.
And for Lullism to take on the character of a plebeian movement once and for all, the word that was so loved by Marco Aurélio García, Lula’s adviser who did not experience the incredible resurrection of his friend, the reformer of Latin America.