Amazon: River, Rainforest & Wars…
When the BRICS leaders will attend the next summit of the five major emerging national economies in Brazil, Russian President Vladimir Putin, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Chinese President Xi Jinping and South African President Cyril Ramaphosa will get an opportunity to meet their ‘far right populist’ friend, Jair Messias Bolsonaro. Bolsonaro – a proudly homophobic and openly misogynistic who swears by family and religious values – has recently been elected as the president of Brazil.
Ahead of the Presidential Polls, the entire Latin American country was divided into two camps: Lefts and non-Lefts. The two main rivals were Workers’ Party (PT) candidate Fernando Haddad and Social Liberal Party (PSL) leader Bolsonaro. The 63-year-old former Army captain performed brilliantly, as he bagged 55.13% of votes to become the president. Immediately after the announcement of poll results on October 30, the president-elect – sometimes nicknamed ‘Trump of the Tropics’ – vowed to cleanse Brazil of corruption!
Bolsonaro’s 10 percentage-point margin of victory is a clear mandate for sweeping change, as the stock markets reacted positively to his victory. However, the PSL had managed to win just 52 seats in the Legislative Election earlier in October, while the PT bagged 56 seats in the Congress. As a result, the president-elect will have to work with as many as 28 other parties in the House. The scenario makes it difficult for Bolsonaro to implement his radical agenda. (Well, does that, in any way, remind one of Captain Suresh Biswas who was perhaps the first Indian to migrate to Brazil and fought valiantly in the Brazilian Army in late 19th century).
Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva’s PT ruled Brazil for nearly 12 years (from 2003 to 2016). However, the voters rejected the PT for its alleged involvement in corruption. Although Lula – the devoted Leftist – was a frontrunner in the election, he was sent to jail for 12 years and ruled out of the contest. In his absence, the Brazilians decided to elect a person – who is vocally pro-torture and wants to physically eliminate his rivals, give the police more powers to kill, put military leaders in top government positions and allow every “honest citizen” to have a gun – as their president.
But, why they did so?
Perhaps, the Brazilians have learnt nothing from the current situation in neighbouring Venezuela! Brazil had experienced the military dictatorship in the 1960s. We get an idea about the character of the Brazilian military ruler from Paulo Coelho or Caetano Veloso’s novels. Furthermore, it is said that mentioning educator Paulo Freire and his work ‘Pedagogy of the Oppressed’ may be considered relevant, too…. It’s surprising that the Brazilians have decided to turn the clock back in a way…
Lula’s leadership quality had helped the PT come to power in 2002. The Lula government worked really hard, as it managed to reduce the poverty level, implemented the labour laws in corporate sector and factories, and also provided benefits to the people working in unorganised sector. That’s why around 45% of Brazilians voted for Haddad, despite the PT’s alleged involvement in corruption.
The Brazilians don’t accept anything for long. And possibly, this attitude helped Bolsonaro win the elections. The current state of national economy is another crucial factor that determined the outcome of the polls. Bolsonaro had claimed that a change in the government would certainly attract investments and boost the economy.
However, economists have expressed a different view. They are of the opinion that the change in government will have a positive impact on the share markets, but in the short-term and not in the long-term. As majority of the Brazilians are not at all worried about the long-term development, they have changed the government.
Ahead of the election, Bolsonaro had promised that he would cut down large swaths of the Amazon in order to boost the agribusiness. He made clear that his government wouldn’t bother to industrialise the world’s largest tropical rainforest that helps keep the global environment cool. Critics fear that Bolsonaro will institutionalise genocide in the Amazon. Talking to the media, Paulo Artaxo – a climate change researcher at the University of São Paulo – said: “I think we are headed for a very dark period in the history of Brazil. There is no point sugar-coating it. Bolsonaro is the worst thing that could happen for the environment.”
Brazilian Economy; Source: scalar.usc.edu
It is to be noted that the president-elect had claimed that he would follow US President Donald Trump’s lead and quit the Paris Agreement. Later, Bolsonaro hinted that he could change his mind, if the climate deal is seen to infringe on Brazilian sovereignty over indigenous lands. It’s still not clear what impact the rise of Bolsonaro might have on Brazil’s commitment under the Paris Agreement to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 37% by 2025, in part because it doesn’t count emissions from deforestation. The president-elect is expected to be an ally of carbon-rich economic activity, including the country’s oil and gas industry.
Meanwhile, clashes between the supporters of the two parties have rocked different Brazilian cities since the results were declared. It’s a fact that the victory of the divisive firebrand raises serious anxieties about the future of Brazil. But, it’s also important for the 44% Brazilians – who voted for the Leftist candidate – to accept the mandate, show patience and maintain peace.
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