“There are not two Brazils. We are one country, one people, one great nation.” With these words, Brazil’s president-elect Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, known simply as Lula, started his first speech after his victory over far-right incumbent Jair Bolsonaro with 50.8 per cent of the vote in the election runoff yesterday. This was a hugely important comeback for a president who was jailed on corruption charges (which were later annulled) at the time of the previous election.
Lula tweeted a photo of his hand touching the Brazilian flag with the word “democracy” written above. The 77-year-old’s victory represents a major revival for Brazil’s progressive left, joining the left-wing across Latin America in Chile, Peru, Mexico, Argentina and Colombia.
In occupied Palestine, Lula got the most votes cast at the polling station inside Brazil’s Consulate in Ramallah by Brazilian citizens living and working in the occupied West Bank. He polled 584 votes, whereas Bolsonaro got just 61.
Lula’s victory prompted celebrations within the Palestinian community in Brazil and other parts of Latin America. The community rushed to congratulate the president-elect: “The world is grateful for this victory, especially the Palestinian people who live under apartheid at the present time imposed by the criminal regime in Israel,” said the Palestinian Arab Federation of Brazil (FEPAL). “O President Lula, every Palestinian thanks you for everything you did for us [before] and we hope for more.”
According to the Palestinians, a victory for Lula is going to make a significant difference to the status of the Palestinian cause in Brazil and international forums; they will have a supportive Brazilian friend at the UN once again. Lula is known to be a staunch supporter of the cause and a defender of human rights. In his earlier time in office, he implemented many measures in favour of Palestine, including raising diplomatic representation between the two countries and allocating a plot of land near the Brazilian presidential palace for the Palestinian embassy.
Internationally, leaders from the United States, Canada, France and other western and Latin American nations were quick to offer congratulations following his runoff victory. In Colombia, where some 13,000 Palestinians live, the leftist candidate Gustavo Petro tweeted simply: “Long live Lula”. Mexico’s President Andrés Manuel López Obrador tweeted: “Lula won, blessed people of Brazil. There will be equality and humanism.” President Alberto Fernandez of neighbouring Argentina said that Lula’s win opens a new era for the history of Latin America. “A time of hope and future that begins today. After so many injustices you lived through, the people of Brazil have elected you and democracy has triumphed.”
🌎 Las cinco principales economías de América Latina estarán gobernadas por primera vez por la izquierda
🇨🇴 🇲🇽 🇦🇷 🇨🇱 🇧🇷 El triunfo de Lula se suma al de Petro en Colombia; López Obrador en México; Fernández en Argentina y Boric en Chile https://t.co/xSy6HapHN0
— EL PAÍS (@el_pais) October 31, 2022
Chile has the largest population of Palestinians in Latin America. The leftist candidate there Gabriel Boric rushed to congratulate Lula by tweeting “Lula, Happiness”.
As many as 15,000 Palestinians live in the first country in Latin America to recognise the State of Palestine on the 1967 borders, Venezuela. President Nicolas Maduro offered a “big hug” to Lula, saying in a tweet: “Long live the peoples determined to be free, sovereign and independent! Today in Brazil democracy triumphed.”
Meanwhile, the far-right Bolsonaro and his family did not concede defeat on Sunday night. His list of supporters includes the state of Israel. Bolsonaro´s wife Michelle turned up at the polling station to cast her vote wearing a T-shirt emblazoned with an Israeli flag. “May the blessings of our God be upon Brazil and Israel,” she wrote on Instagram. “God, homeland, family and freedom.” At a time when Brazilians were voting in one of their most pivotal elections in recent history, Bolsonaro´s family showed that the priority does not lie in the interests of the Brazilian people, but in support for an alien state.
Expectations are rising that Lula’s victory will lead to a deeper change in the political field in Latin America. Brazil has now become the largest country in Latin America to shift to the left, and the new Latin American governments will constitute a real threat to US hegemony in the region. The Palestinian community in Brazil is also sure that Lula´s victory will be fundamentally different compared with what they had to endure during the Bolsonaro era.
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.