Wednesday 1st of February 2023

a little step forward....

The results are in for Brazil’s presidential election, which has drawn serious international attention. Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, known mononymously as Lula, won the contest with 50.9% of the vote, to incumbent President Jair Bolsonaro’s 49.1%, which is in line with what polls suggested would happen. My best friend, who I mentioned in my last column on this topic for RT, thankfully was not left in tears this time, but was shrieking over the phone in glee. 


BY Bradley Blankenship


And that’s because Lula’s victory, as I outlined, represents a massive step forward for Brazil. It means that the rich-poor divide has a chance of shrinking, that the South American country has a shot at getting off the world hunger map, that people might enjoy expanded social services, and that Brazil might return to its rightful place as a major power player on the world political stage. It also means, hopefully, the preservation of Brazil’s nature, namely the Amazon rainforest, commonly referred to as the ‘lungs of the planet’ for its role in pumping oxygen into the atmosphere and expelling carbon. 

As I noted weeks ago in my piece, this has serious implications for Latin America and the world writ large. It means a serious blow to American imperialism, given Bolsonaro’s status as a running dog for the Yankee empire and its projects in the region such as the destabilization of Venezuela and expansion of the so-called War on Drugs. It could also mean more business dealings for Beijing on the South American continent, for example, if Brazil joins the China-led Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

If you’re someone like me that values multilateralism, peaceful human development, and global stability, then this is all reason enough to rejoice. But we should pump the brakes on our expectations to maintain a realistic perspective on the situation and understand the limitations of a Lula presidency. As my friend and former colleague Camila Escalante, who is now Press TV’s Latin America correspondent, noted quite rightly prior to these results, “Socialism is not on the ballot in Brazil.” 

To paraphrase her observation, not only were Brazilians not seeking a fundamental re-draw of their social order, they wouldn’t even have voted for it had it been an option. The term ‘imperialism’, as she described, was not even in usage during this latest presidential campaign, and people are not demanding fundamental overhauls of the class order of their country, let alone Latin America as a whole. Indeed, social movements that use this sort of language exist – but they are not forming governments in Brazil or anywhere else in Latin America aside from four countries. 

As polling data indicates, she noted, a lot of people wouldn’t even pledge their support for the Workers’ Party (PT) beyond Lula, which suggests that his victory required connecting with people that don’t consider themselves traditionally ‘left’ or ‘right’. And this was indeed reflected by the way he campaigned on some issues, such as abortion, where he made overtures to the Catholic Church while alienating out-and-out leftists by saying, for instance, “nobody wants regulation like Cuba.”

Of course, if you didn’t think that Lula was tolerable to the broad masses outside of leftist book clubs, then look no further than the fact that US President Joe Biden quickly congratulated Lula on his victory. While it’s easy to overlook these sorts of things, and indeed they are quite typical, the speed with which this statement was issued fulfilled a key role – legitimizing Lula. That’s important because Bolsonaro’s camp was reportedly planting the seeds for a voter fraud scandal, much like the strategy used by former US President Donald Trump in the lead-up to the January 6 Capitol riot. 

Somehow, Brazil’s election transported us into an alternate reality where the US and its associated intelligence agencies, like the CIA, aren’t trying to sponsor a right-wing coup in a Latin American government. Actually, the White House’s reaction suggests the opposite. The US is, if anything, trying to stop that before it could even potentially occur – and that’s quite a 180 given the suspected US role in Lula’s jail sentence over trumped-up corruption charges and the ouster of his ally, Dilma Rousseff, from the office of the presidency in what was a clear soft coup.

It begs the question of why the US would go from being hostile to a Lula government to ostensibly supporting it. That’s because, first of all, as I’ve already mentioned, Lula did not campaign on any platform that would revolutionize Brazilian society, nor did he point the finger at the US empire. He is not that radical, especially taken together with his center-left running mate. 

Second of all, Lula won a lot of votes by meeting people in the center – but those people did not vote for the PT beyond him. This means that he will be very limited in what he can do from a legislative perspective, given the fact that Bolsonaro’s Liberal Party (PL) is the largest in both chambers of the Brazilian Congress, controls key governorships across the country, and enjoys wide support. Bolsonarismo apparently has wider support than the polls even accounted for. 

So, from Washington’s perspective, this makes sense. Would they have rather seen South America’s largest country descend into chaos and perhaps push more migrants to their border? Or would they be content with their former enemy winning an election but being neutered when it comes to governing? Clearly, the latter is a more desirable scenario. The fact is that Lula’s victory is a step forward for Brazil – but a very, very limited one. 





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UK "aid" rob people....



A major UK aid project in Brazil under its far-right president focused on “opening up” Brazil’s energy markets to provide “opportunities” for British business.


  • Bolsonaro has promised to sell-off more state-owned companies if re-elected this weekend
  • Priority of UK aid was “gas market liberalisation” and “removing specific market barriers” in Brazilian energy
  • UK praised Bolsonaro’s “push on liberal economic reforms” and “drive to reform energy sector”
  • Britain used “strong links” with Bolsonaro government to promote privatisation 
  • Project aimed to “increase business opportunities in Brazil” for UK firms and resulted in “specific business wins” for British companies in Brazilian energy


The UK began its £56m aid project in 2018 with the stated aim of supporting “Brazil’s economic openness and sustainable infrastructure”.

Jair Bolsonaro, a former army captain with fascist politics, has been Brazil’s president since the start of 2019. 

He is running for re-election this Sunday against former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva who was in jail for the last election after a politically-motivated prosecution.

The UK aid project was divided into four parts but the “energy” plank was budgeted at £25m, close to half the total. It runs until early next year.

Its aim was “opening up Brazil’s energy markets”, project documents note, with a focus on oil and gas. “Opening up” is a euphemism often used to describe privatisation. 

The UK money was designed to create a “more competitive and efficient energy market” in Brazil, and push for “gas market liberalisation”, again euphemisms for privatisation. 

“The UK is well-placed to respond to the expanded opportunities that are likely to emerge if reforms in these sectors in Brazil are successful,” the British documents note


Benefits of Bolsonaro

The UK saw the advent of Bolsonaro’s government soon after the programme started as a boon for British goals.

It said the programme had “experienced considerable change in the political context, as a result of changes in government in Brazil”.

“The Brazilian government’s policies have changed or become clearer,” it added. Under Bolsonaro “there has been a greater push on liberal economic reforms,” and the far-right president had begun “a drive to reform the energy sector,” it continued.

The UK team in Brazil was “able to respond effectively to this change as a result of…strong links” with Bolsonaro’s government.

Programme managers concluded that “critical areas of Brazil’s reform agenda can be amplified by targeted support from its partners, including the UK.”

The UK’s Brazil programme is run through the Prosperity Fund, which began as a cross-government pot of money with the stated aim to “remove barriers to economic growth” and “promote economic reform”. Its programmes are now run by the UK Foreign Office.

Declassified previously revealed how another UK aid programme, this time in Mexico, was set up in 2017 to take advantage of the historic privatisation of state-owned oil giant Pemex. 








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