Brazil’s Leftist Socialists Achieve Victories for Minorities, Support Lula to Defeat Bolsonaro

Photo: Manuel Ortiz Escámez

“As a transsexual these elections are very important. President Bolsonaro has attacked us violently- we don’t want him to stay. He is not an inclusive president for All. For him, Blacks and minorities do not count. I will vote for Lula, a person closer to all Brazilians rather than just a few.” Sol de Maria (26). Salvador de Bahia, Brazil.

By Témoris Grecko / Terra 360 – Global Exchange 

The electoral results of October 2nd felt like a continental shock among Democratic, Progressive, and Leftist Brazilians and Latin Americans. It was probably felt worst in President Jair Bolsonaro’s camp as he received 43% of votes after promising a 60% victory. Lulism had opinion polls that predicted their candidate jumping to the higher end of the margin, above 50%. Voters had false hopes as he actually only received a moderate 48%. 

Despite a likely victory for Lula in October 30ths second round, pessimists point out that Bolsonarism and allies have secured too many seats in Congress, State assemblies, governorships and mayoralties to be defeated. It is here to stay. 

Nevertheless, those looking at the bright side of life underlined the growth of politicians that represent underserved cultures and communities. They identify as Black female, Indigenous female, trans-gender and from other LGBTI groups. Optimists insist that supporting Lula’s bid for presidency, in a pragmatic manner, is the way to consolidate this healthy trend. Fighting Bolsonarism is a marathon, beyond this election’s final outcome. 

Sônia Guajajara and Célia Xakriabá, two female leaders of the Indigenous Peoples of Brazil Organization (APIB), became the first indigenous female federal deputies for their states of São Paulo and Minas Gerais. Alongside them as a national first are also trans activists Erika Hilton from Sâo Paulo, Robeyoncé from Pernambuco and Duda Salabert from Belo Horizonte.

Fábio Félix, gay activist, was re-elected as state deputy in the most densely voted parliament of Brasilia, the capital city. 

An interesting innovation led to a victory for the whole within the victory of the five-member Bancada Feminista, Feminist Seats – the only succesful one of a total of 213 “collective candidates”. Feminist Seats are people who join as a single official candidate but present themselves before the electorate as a group who will share representation and responsibilities. Their punchline was, “Give one vote, take five Black women” defining their Feminism as, “Popular, Antiracist, Ecosocialist, of the working people’s majority”. 


Lula’s supporters. Salvador de Bahía, Brazil.

The Socialism and Liberty Party (PSOL) is an organization that split from Lula’s Labor Party (PT) during his presidency in 2005.  PSOL felt that ideological principles were broken in his pension reform and by his alliance with Centrist and Conservative figures. Duda Salabert of the Democratic Labor Party remained in support of PT.

Seventeen years later they find themselves in support of Lula once again. “PSOL identifies itself as a Socialist Left and PT is more and more aligned to a Left-to-Center (stance),” says Rio de Janeiro State deputy Dani Monteiro, a young, Black female, while at her downtown office. A constant bell ringing from nearby Rio Branco Avenue’s tramways runs like a soundtrack for our conversation. 

Monteiro continues, “…but exceptionally, today we walk shoulder to shoulder to elect Lula, to defeat Bolsonaro. It’s hard, but after four year under Bolsonaro, with this pandemic, with our people dying of hunger… This is not a naive belief in PT. I don’t think Lula will have a more Leftist government than his two previous ones, but we will have the chance to fight for some things. Bolsonaro’s Brazil reminded us that we haven’t prevailed yet, the people didn’t defeat the military dictatorship (1964-1985); you only need to see the power the Armed Forces keep even in our Civic Constitution. (The dictatorship) ended because it was  a horror, but we didn’t break it – the rupture never happened.”

PSOL has suffered Bolsonarist violence towards their most prominent figure, Marielle Franco, a city council member who proudly identified as a Black lesbian, a favelada (from the poor favelas), and like so many families, a single mother. Marielle Franco was fatally shot alongside her driver, Anderson Gomes, by two former police agents linked to milicias (paramilitary criminal right-wing gangs in control of large portions of Rio among other cities), Bolsonaro, and his sons. The tragedy which took place on March 14, 2018 near Monteiro’s downtown office remains unsolved for, “the investigations are exposing the Bolsonaro family relationship with the Rio de Janeiro State’s milicias.” Obscure powers have worked to keep the intellectual authors out of sight. 

Mônica Benício, a well-articulated and fast talking woman who was Franco’s love partner at the time of the murder, was elected to occupy Franco’s seat in Rio’s council.  Benício believes that the system, under protest by [inter]national opinion, kept the case open as a political crime rather than a random hate crime, as prosecutors tried to enclose it. She says, “Justice to Marielle and Anderson is one of the ways to defeat Bolsonarism.”

 Benício understands Lula’s victory next week is only one of the ways to end the struggle. Bolsonaro’s defeat wouldn’t be Bolsonarism’s demise. She shares, “What’s at stake now is, democracy vs. barbarism. What we have now as president of the Republic is a Barbarian… this is a long-term duty (as) it’s different to defeat Bolsonaro at the polls than defeating Bolsonarism as a political project. The people will unfortunately need a few generations to defeat it and pull Brazil out of this bin Bolsonaro threw it to.”

“This is their main goal.” Benício adds. Hence, “…the importance of joining the Progressive parties is to make a front. To join a position seriously committed to democracy, not just an opposition for the sake of opposition, but an opposition committed to society and to the Democratic camp. It’s important to understand that Lula is the only possible way to have a government with which the people can have a dialogue. Bolsonaro’s government won’t have a dialogue with society, won’t have a dialogue with other parties, won’t have a dialogue with democracy.”

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