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Brazil: Elections, Lula and the Palestinian cause

Brazil needs Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. Brazil needs to resume alignment with international law, putting the cause of Palestine’s liberation at the forefront of Brazil’s international political scene.

Brazil: Elections, Lula and the Palestinian cause

Sayid Marcos Tenório


Brazil failed to elect the president of the republic on October 2, which will lead us to a second vote on October 30. The result of the first round of voting gave former President Lula da Silva first place with an advantage of 6 million votes over current President Jair Bolsonaro.

However, the competition in the second round should not be underestimated. Bolsonaro gathers around his candidacy a wide range of extreme right-wing forces, which mixes millionaire pastors of evangelical churches, the great agribusiness entrepreneurs in Brazil, and the mainstream press, which has always been on the side of the interests of the Brazilian elite. In common, they have a privatisation project of handing over national sovereignty to large foreign corporations, clearly excluding and threatening the democracy and institutions of the country.

In contrast, Lula heads a project historically committed to the country’s development and social justice, valuing the diversity of Brazilian society, and proposing public policies to promote the country’s national and social development. Lula leads a broad national united front against the implementation of the far-right project that would drag Brazil into a disastrous scenario in every way.

Acting in foreign policy is another aspect that differentiates the two candidates. Bolsonaro allies himself with ideas defended by politicians such as former US President Donald Trump, former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and Viktor Orbán, the Hungarian fascist premier, among others that share antidemocratic and fascist ideas in essence.

From the beginning of his term, Bolsonaro established strong ties with Zionists and fascists, and without any constraint, he declared his subservience to the United States. On the other hand, he has removed the role of protagonist that Brazil had conquered in forums such as MERCOSUR and BRICS and dismantled Brazil’s positive rapprochement with Africa and the Middle East.

The experience of President Lula’s government built another scenario, guided by diplomacy linked to respect for international law and permeated by pragmatism and multilateralism. The balance posture that the former president presented at UN meetings, for example, attracted the attention and respect of world leaders.

Former President Barak Obama said in a circle of world leaders during the 2009 G20 summit that Lula was the “most popular politician on earth” for his role in the negotiations that resulted in the “Tehran Declaration,” the agreement signed in 2010 by Brazil, Turkey, Iran, and the UN Security Council, reaffirming Iran’s commitment to the Non-Proliferation of Arms Treaty and the Persian Republic’s right to research, produce and use nuclear energy for peaceful purposes.

There is a fact that definitely marks the difference in the posture of the two candidates for the presidency of the republic when it comes to international diplomacy. Annually, on the opening of the General Assembly of the United Nations (UN), the Brazilian Head of State is the first to speak. Brazilian representatives have always addressed the Palestinian issue, offering support for the solution to the occupation and the reparation of the rights of the Palestinian people.

This tradition was broken by President Jair Bolsonaro, who on the four occasions he spoke at the UN did not say a single word about the conflict in Palestine. But the direction that the president gives to Brazilian diplomacy is evident: He began to vote against the rights of the Palestinian people in international multilateral organizations.

During his two terms (2003-2010), President Lula maintained a line of defence of the right to self-determination of the Palestinian people and the two-state solution with the internationally recognized borders of 1967. In the several times he occupied the tribune in international forums, Lula took a position of demand for greater participation of the international community – the UN in particular – in the solution of the occupation and the constant violations of the rights of the Palestinian people.

The same position was adopted by President Dilma Rousseff. In her first speech at the opening of the UN General Assembly on 21 September 2011, she said she regretted still not being able to welcome the full entry of Palestine into the UN. She stated that “The recognition of the legitimate right of the Palestinian people to sovereignty and self-determination expands the possibilities for lasting peace in the Middle East.”

Bolsonaro’s attitude of subservience to the interests of the US State Department and Israel is not surprising. Nothing he has said and done is outside his political profile, which is disconnected from international debates. On several occasions, he was ridiculed by international analysts and diplomats at the UN, which caused a reduction in Brazil’s confidence rates and diminished our reputation in the concert of nations and contributed decisively to the isolation of the country.

One of the few Heads of State present at the presidential inauguration was war criminal Benjamin Netanyahu, decorated by Bolsonaro with the medal of the National Order of the Southern Cross, a command granted to Heads of State, Heads of Government, and other personalities of equivalent hierarchy. In return, Bolsonaro’s first international trip was precisely to the Zionist entity.

The global and regional geopolitics of Latin America and the reintegration of Brazil in the concert of nations are themes and postures that need to be taken to the polls on October 30. It is unacceptable that people who claim to fight for peace, for a world of justice, and who support the just struggle of the Palestinian people for their self-determination and sovereignty from their territory from the River to the Sea vote for a far-right politician. The democrats and progressives cannot allow the continued association of Brazil with the macabre forces of the ultra-right, imperialism, and supremacist Zionism.

Brazil needs Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. Brazil needs to resume alignment with international law, putting the cause of Palestine’s liberation at the forefront of Brazil’s international political scene.


Sayid Marcos Tenório is a historian and specialist in International Relations. He is vice president of the Brazil-Palestine Institute (Ibraspal). Is author of the book Palestina: do mito da terra prometida à terra da resistência [Palestine: From the myth of the promised land to the land of resistance] (Anita Garibaldi/Ibraspal, 2019) and Imalês: Fragmentos da presença de muçulmanos nas revoltas contra a escravidão no Brasil (appris, 2022) [Imalês: fragments of Muslim participation in the uprisings against slavery in Brazil (Appris, 2022). Twitter/Instagram: @sayidtenorio.



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