Voters of Latin America’s biggest country and economy, Brazil, go to the polls on October 30, 2022 in a hotly contested presidential election whose outcome according to reliable sources is more or less a foregone conclusion. In popular imagination Brazil is famous for football or soccer, the vast Amazon tropical rainforest, carnival, salsa and samba.
The election is a runoff of presidential elections held four weeks ago on October 2 in which none of the candidates won outright. The two leading candidates who are contesting today are the charismatic former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, affectionately and popularly called “Lula” of the left wing Workers Party (PT) and the arrogant, cantankerous incumbent Jair Bolsonaro of the reactionary Liberal party.
Bolsonaro is a close friend and duplicate of former US President Donald Trump. Many observers fear he could emulate Trump and refuse to accept and respect the results of the elections if he is not declared winner at the end of the polls.
Issues of concern
The main issues of concern to the Brazilian electorate include the dire economic situation, endemic corruption by the political class, public health, education, lack of affordable housing, rampant and violent crime. Brazil’s economy is recovering slowly from recession and the effects of Covid-19 pandemic which hit the country hard due to the reckless policies of Bolsonaro who, like Trump, dismissed coronavirus as fake news. As a result of mismanagement, almost 700, 000 Brazilians died of Covid-19, many of these deaths could have been avoided if Brazil had implemented SOPs, such as wearing masks.
The challenges which face Brazilians, especially the wananchi are similar to the daunting challenges and problems which Ugandans, Kenyans and Tanzanians which should not come as a surprise because Brazil has a large population of marginalized people of African origin who are descendants of millions of slaves grabbed and taken there by force across the Atlantic Ocean during the evil, ignominious, notorious, wicked and totally unacceptable slave trade.
Brazil and Africa have historical relations born out of the slave trade and as developing countries belong to the Group of 77. As a relatively developed member of the group, Brazil has promoted beneficial bilateral relations with many African countries, such as Angola, Cape Verde, Guinea Bissau, Mozambique and South Africa. Brazil and South Africa, in addition, belong to a group called “BRICS” which includes India and Russia.
Brazil is famous for football and has produced many of the greatest and legendary soccer players of the world, such as, Pele, Romario, Ronaldo, Ronaldinho, Neymar, Lionel Messi and Tostao, to mention but a few. These Brazilian players have inspired many African soccer players. Brazil has won the soccer world cup 5 times, more than any other country.
If opinion polls are a fairly accurate guide, one can predict a clear victory for Lula whose progressive manifesto focused on addressing the problems of low growth, inequality, poverty and hunger. Lula has promised to increase direct cash flow to poor Brazilians, expand housing, stop deforestation and strengthen conservation efforts of Amazon forest which was depleted at an alarming and indefensible rate during the tenure of Bolsonaro. Lula’s election will provide a much needed hope for Amazon forest which is often referred to as the lungs of our planet.
Victory for Lula is good for Brazil, Africa, the global South and for the world. If Lula wins, Brazil will join Colombia and Chile which have this year elected left wing and progressive candidates. I wish Lula every success in today’s crucial elections for Brazil and Latin America.