The fall of Lula: a symbol of the situation of the Latin American left?

Although he probably will not be able to participate as a candidate in the elections, Lula still has 34% of the voting intention in his favor, compared to the 17% of his closest opponent

The fall of Lula: a symbol of the situation of the Latin American left?

The images of the last 24 hours of freedom of ex-president Luiz Inácio Lula Da Silva, and of the hundreds of followers who have decided to camp outside the prison in which the former president will be held in Curitiba, are a clear demonstration of the support that a part of the Brazilian people still offers to the exmandatario. The sympathizers not only have entrenched themselves in front of the prison, but also sought to prevent the delivery of the popular leader, when he was preparing to travel from São Paulo to the place of imprisonment.

Leer en español: La caída de Lula: ¿un símbolo de la situación de la izquierda latinoamericana?

The sentence of Lula represents a harsh lesson for the Brazilian working class that has witnessed first-hand the political fall of the left in the country and one of its most popular leaders. The discouraging message that the people of Brazil are receiving may have harsh consequences for future generations of young people who will surely study the failure of leftist movements in Latin America. The dream of continental socialism seems to fade with the entry into jail of who was considered by Obama in 2009 as "the most popular politician on the planet".

Leja em português: A queda de Lula: um símbolo da situação da esquerda latino-americana?

The former president's favorability, explained by the combination of an economic boom, strong social policies and a historical context that allowed Brazil to become one of the powers of the developing South, persists above accusations of corruption and embezzlement. According to the survey carried out by Datafolha at the end of last year, even with the judicial process open, Luiz Inácio Lula Da Silva is the first option for the next elections in October. While the chances of the Brazilian courts preventing him from participating in the elections as a candidate are high, Lula has a 34% of the voting intention compared to 17% of his closest opponent, Bolsonaro. A popular support that was recorded this weekend, when his supporters were entrenched at the exit of the Metalworkers Union of São Bernardo do Campo, in São Paulo.

As Alberto Carlos Almeida, Brazil's public opinion expert at BBC World, pointed out, Brazil's intention to vote does not ignore the accusations against the former president, but "because they believe that all politicians are corrupt, they continue to vote for Lula because Lula, despite being corrupt, improved their lives". The disenchantment of citizens towards the Brazilian ruling class, associated in recent years with serious cases of corruption such as Lava Jato and Odebrecht, has had obvious consequences on the perception and political trust of the voters.

For those of us who witnessed the years of Lula's term and the results of his social policies - more than 29 million people crossed the poverty line between 2003 and 2010 - the fall of his figure in the corruption networks that seem to trap to all the governments of South America, represents a low blow to political idealism. In a continent that for decades of social movements and guerrilla warfare had not witnessed as many leaders of the left in power as it did during the first years of the 21st century, accusations of corruption undoubtedly represent a setback to the continent's social future.

In the case of Brazil, the trial against Lula and the dismissal of Dilma Rousseff call into question the Workers' Party (PT) and its achievements during the last decades. Accusations of corruption and misappropriation of funds against these leaders stain the image of a political movement born in the 1980s with the firm intention of representing the organized labor movement. Today more than ever, the pressure on the popular leaders seems to collapse the socialist dream. To this is added the strong social tensions that are experienced daily in Brazil, exemplified by the recent murder of activist Marielle Franco. The police repression against young people in the favelas and the murder of the activist and political leader who had denounced these practices, increase the atmosphere of tension in the working class.


Latin American Post | Laura Delgado

Translated from "La caída de Lula: ¿un símbolo de la situación de la izquierda latinoamericana?"