Lula

During a meeting with the French President Emmanuel Macron held in Paris on Wednesday, Brazil’s former President Lula da Silva denounced that malnutrition, hunger, and poverty have increased in Brazil since rightist Jair Bolsonaro came to power in January 2019.

“A few weeks ago, Bolsonaro was ignored because the French president refused to receive him at the government headquarters. Today, Lula was received with the honors granted to a Head of State, as if he were the President of Brazil!,” Luiz Sumac, a citizen touched by the images, said.

The reception of the Workers’ Party (PT) leader in the Elysee Palace was also interpreted by local media as an “especially significant” event due to the disagreements between Macron and Bolsonaro. Among them are concerns about environmental degradation in the Amazon basin, an issue that has put the ratification of the free trade agreement between the European Union (EU) and the Southern Common Market (MERCOSUR) on hold.

At the Paris Institute of Political Studies on Tuesday, Lula pointed out he is ready to prevent Bolsonaro’s re-election in 2022, which is something highly probable. All the polls of Brazilian electoral preferences indicate that the Socialist leader Lula is the most likely candidate to win in the next elections.

“For Brazilians, Lula represents our hope to return to the path of development, science, humanism, and the fight against inequality. For the world, Lula is also a hope of peace against hunger and in favor of union between peoples,” PT lawmaker Jose Guimaraes said, as reported by outlet O Povo.

Referring to his international trips, Lula clarified that he is not looking for electoral support but “trying to reestablish the credibility that Brazil lost.” Among the politicians with whom he has met are European Union High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell, Spain’s President Pedro Sánchez, Paris’s Mayor Anne Hidalgo, and former President Francois Hollande.

In Nov. 2019, the Brazilian Supreme Court overturned two corruption convictions against Lula which arbitrarily held him 580 days in prison. Once the PT leader regained his political rights, he traveled abroad to denounce the consequences of Bolsonaro’s mismanagement of the pandemic. Lula’s current European tour also includes meetings with German and Belgian politicians and social leaders.

News agency AFP reported that Lula, during a press conference at the premises of the European Parliament in Brussels, expressed that the PT will have a strong candidate for the presidency, be it him or someone else.

He also described Bolsonaro as a bad copy of Donald Trump. He pointed out that the ruler does not think or have ideas, spreads fake news and destroys what the Brazilian people consume, saying that Brazil did not deserve to go through what it is experiencing.

During the meeting with the media, Lula recalled the “permanent solidarity” he received from the European Parliament during the period in which he was detained for a corruption trial that ended up being annulled due to multiple irregularities.

Luis Inácio Lula da Silva was president of Brazil twice between 2003 and 2010. Nowadays, he is circulating as the favorite in all scenarios to return to the Planalto Palace in 2022.

Lula, a former union leader, is expected to challenge rightist President Jair Bolsonaro, though neither has officially declared their candidacy.

In an official statement after the meeting at the French presidential palace, Macron’s office said Lula had “shared his vision of Brazil’s role in the world, noting how, over the past three years, Brazil has set itself aside of the multilateral system and major international agreements.”

The statement appeared as a thinly-veiled dig at Bolsonaro, with whom Macron has been on the opposite side of many arguments, including enforcement of the Paris climate accord and the EU-Mercosur trade negotiations.

In Rome last month, videos from G20 events showed Bolsonaro as an isolated figure, who was not part of the photo taken at the Trevi fountain with other world leaders.

Since taking office, Bolsonaro has railed against the enforcement of environmental regulations in Brazil, announced intentions to develop the Amazon region, questioned the severity of the coronavirus, shunned lockdowns, sowed vaccine doubts and pushed unproven cures.

In 2019, Bolsonaro mocked Macron’s wife and accused him of disrespecting Brazil’s sovereignty because of the French leader’s criticism of deforestation. Macron called Bolsonaro a liar, adding Brazilian women were “probably ashamed” of him.

Lula holds a commanding double-digit lead in opinion polls over Bolsonaro, whose popularity has plummeted over his handling of the world’s second-deadliest COVID-19 outbreak, high unemployment and rising inflation.


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