At the end of a real battle, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva (better known as Squid) ousted the outgoing president Jair Bolsonaro. It was one of the most significant elections in Latin American history, and it will have long aftermath.
For most Brazilians (just over 50%, to be honest) Bolsonaro's defeat stems from the repudiation of his policies towards indigenous peoples and the environment. Often referred to as the "Trump of the tropics" due to "similarities" with the American tycoon, Bolsonaro has weakened environmental safeguards against pollution and speculation, eventually favoring the deforestation and exploitation of the Amazon rainforest.
Although Bolsonaro has not yet admitted defeat (his allegations of fraud are feared) many of Lula's opponents seem to accept the results. According to conservationists, however, Lula's victory represents an opportunity to reduce deforestation in the Amazon, which increased rapidly during Bolsonaro's presidency, and to improve Brazil's reputation for climate change. However, it won't be an easy process.
The challenges that Lula will have to face
In fact, Bolsonaro has only two months in office "for current affairs" (we would say in Italy), but he is trying to pass at least seven bills. Measures that, for example, would allow people to keep the land they took illegally and would make it more difficult to regulate pesticides. Lula's supporters say she's just trying to destroy as much of things as possible before she leaves.
Second Suely Araujo, who headed the Brazilian environmental agency Ibama from 2016 to 2018, "right now there is a dangerous abuse of the law by Congress."
We have been fighting against the Bolsonaro government for four years and we are in the final act, but we must be vigilant. They can still violate indigenous peoples' rights and harm the environment.
Lula also takes office at a time when agribusiness, miners and organized crime in the Amazon have been reinvigorated: in many Amazonian regions, local elections have elected pro-agribusiness leaders, and Bolsonaro has won a majority in more than half of the Amazon states. This is why Lula's assignment is more like a swamp to be crossed than a field to be plowed.
Starting with the first, complicated task: updating Brazil's climate objectives to bring them back in line with the Paris agreements.
In Paris we will see two "Brazilians"
In his first speech as president-elect on Sunday evening, Lula reiterated his strong support for zero deforestation in the Amazon. "Brazil is ready to resume its leading role in the fight against the climate crisis," he told a crowd of supporters in Sao Paulo, "and will protect all our biomes, especially the Amazon rainforest".
Fulfillment of this commitment would likely lead to the restoration of cooperation with Norway and Germany on Amazon Fund: More than $ 3 billion for forest protection frozen by Bolsonaro in 2019. It would also imply the restoration of the Deforestation Prevention and Control Action Plan, which includes not only monitoring and law enforcement, but also economic incentives to provide alternatives to deforestation.
The problem is that the Bolsonaro government in transition will go to the UN climate summit, COP27. And it is likely to emphasize the country's low-carbon energy sector, which relies primarily on hydroelectricity. Deviating from any questions about Amazon deforestation (which makes Brazil one of the top six global carbon emitters). Lula said she will send one of her own unofficial delegation, and this says it all about the current state of confusion.
An active record
In his previous tenure, from 2003 to 2010, Lula boasts the record for the largest decrease in deforestation. 12 years later, indigenous leaders and environmental groups are calling for a range of actions, from removing invaders from Yanomami indigenous lands to withdrawing PL 191, a bill that allows mining in Indigenous Territories.
The Bolsonaro government has implemented a kind of manual to dismantle environmental policy. The first task will be to rebuild, then move forward.Suely Araujo
As said: it will be very difficult. Lula will have to deal with an extreme political division. And with a Brazilian national congress with a strong conservative component (which has links with producers and agribusiness). In his victory speech, Lula talked about how to improve the problem of inequality and how to unite Brazil in a time of political turmoil. He said: "It is not in anyone's interest to live in two separate countries. We cannot continue like this ... with a huge wall dividing us into such unequal parts."
He seized the moment perfectly: we hope that this ideal wall will go down, because the alternative is a civil war.