Opinion: Brazil's Left Could Not Reinvent Itself

The candidacy of Lula da Silva shows that the Brazilian left could not reinvent itself.

Luis Inacio Lula da Silva

Is Lula, the Biden of the Tropics, the one necessary to win the Trump of the tropics? Only time and the Brazilians will tell. Photo: LatinAmerican Post

LatinAmerican Post | Santiago Gómez Hernández

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Leer en español: Opinión: La izquierda de Brasil no se pudo reinventar

After many failed attempts, the main candidate from Brazil's left appears to be former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. The great Lula, who was in charge of taking Brazil to the category of emerging power, the one in charge of lifting 30 million Brazilians out of poverty, the one who was the most powerful face on the left, above Chávez, Kirchner, Ortega, and even Castro; and who was capable of uniting the region regardless of the political inclination of the leaders.

But he is also the same Lula who was imprisoned for serious ties to corruption; the same politician who is both popular and unpopular. It is surprising that he is running, despite the accusations of corruption, his period in prison and his links to the Odebrecht case, the largest corruption scandal in the history of Latin America.

It seems to have been yesterday that Luiz Ignacio Lula Da Silva was elected president of Brazil. But this was in 2003, almost 20 years ago. And within these 20 years, no other possible candidate for the Workers' Party has appeared. 20 years that have demonstrated only the inability of the Brazilian left to renew itself.

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Another question that arises is if a mestizo (or white) man can be the solution in a country where the majority of citizens do not identify as white and have a history of racism. Twenty years ago this was the case, but today's Brazil is different. 

This shows that socialism and the Brazilian left have not been able to reinvent themselves. It is not possible that the only hope to defeat a populist with authoritarian pretenses is a 76-year-old politician, with serious corruption scandals and who could not leave a path prepared for the young. 

In addition, it was Lula himself who was primarily responsible for letting a figure like Bolsonaro come to power. He himself was implicated in the Lava Jato case, which ended up being a severe blow, not only for his successor, Dilma Rousseff, but for the entire party. Lula is still being investigated for 9 more cases for corruption, influence peddling and money laundering. Even if he is found innocent, it is not unreasonable to think that he may suffer a move like the one 4 years ago, and be imprisoned in the middle of the electoral contest.

Renewal had already been attempted when the former president went to prison for the Lava Jato case. Despite the fact that it turned out to be a frustrated renewal given the former president's inability to compete, the Workers' Party had the opportunity to launch what was Lula's vice-presidential formula to the presidency: Fernando Haddad.

Haddad, who had been mayor of the city of São Paulo (the most populated) and Minister of Education in the presidency of Dilma Rousseff. The São Paulo economist competed against Bolsonaro and was defeated in the second round with 44.87% of the votes, while the current president of the country achieved 55.13%. But  Haddad never had the charisma that was needed and did not arouse the enthusiasm that Lula did. Now, if we see faces from the previous elections, even Haddad's vice-presidential formula could turn out to be a figure closer to the youth:

Another more favorable option for the Workers' Party would have been Fatima Bezerra, the only current female governor. Bezerra is an experienced politician and pedagogue born in Nova Palmeira, and is the governor of Río Grande del Norte, one of the electoral strongholds of the PT. Fatima has already served as deputy and senator

But hey, in a deeply Christian country, 88.23% between Catholics and Protestants. Maybe it's too much to ask. Maybe today, getting Bolsonaro out of Palo Alto is priority number 1. Since with him in power, he continues to perpetuate a macho, racist, far-right society that at any moment could end with a coup. Desperate moments call for desperate measures and using Lula's beloved image is the safest option for the left in Brazil.

It will also be important to remind the top socialist political leaders of the South American giant the feminist maxim: "the revolution will be feminist or it will not be." Let us remember that since 2008, the then Brazilian president had already stated that he was not in favor of feminism . Also his closeness to the evangelical vote creates doubts as to how progressive his new government will be.

Is Lula, the Biden of the Tropics, the one necessary to beat the Trump of the tropics? Only time and the Brazilians will tell.