Connect with us

Global Affairs

Elections in Brazil: Lula scents power as Brazil heads to the polls | International

Avatar

Published

on

Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva made history two decades ago, when he became the first president of Brazil without a university degree. It was a historic milestone. Lula – as he is popularly known – was the first worker to reach the summit of power in one of the most unequal and classist countries in the world. Now the 76-year-old has the opportunity to return to power and rewrite the last chapter of his political history. The leftist leader of the Workers’ Party (PT) is poised to the first round of the Brazilian presidential election on Sunday. If the polls are correct, Lula will defeat Brazil’s President Jair Messias Bolsonaro by a wide margin – a victory that could heal the trauma caused by the 2016 impeachment of former PT president Dilma Rousseff and consolidate the leftist shift in Latin America, where the left has made gains in Colombia, Chile, Argentina and Mexico.

The main question is whether Lula will win more than 50% of valid votes (not counting blank or invalid votes) on Sunday. If he achieves this, he will win the election outright and avoid a runoff vote against Bolsonaro on October 30. According to the last voter intention poll on Saturday, Lula is predicted to win 50% of the vote and Bolsonaro 36%.

While Bolsonaro won the support of Brazilian soccer player Neymar da Silva Santos Júnior, who encouraged his followers on TikTok to vote for the former military general, Lula has been backed by iconic singer-songwriter Chico Buarque. On Saturday, the Brazilian performer shared a message on Instagram, in which he called on his followers to vote for Lula – even if they didn’t like him – because Brazil’s democracy was in danger. According to Buarque, whose parents helped found the PT during the military dictatorship, Sunday’s vote, was about “saving democracy.”

Another question hanging over the election is whether Bolsonaro will accept the results. The far-right leader has raised doubts about the credibility of Brazil’s electronic voting system, even though it has been working without incident for 25 years. Many Bolsonaro supporters – who make up a third of the electorate – believe the system is rigged against Bolsonaro. And they also question the polls, which for months have given Lula a clear lead. Bolsonaro’s constant attacks against the justice system, the free press and anyone he considers an opponent have slowly eroded Brazil’s democracy. In the lead-up to the October vote, many in Brazil have expressed concerns that Bolsonaro will falsely claim the election has been stolen, which could lead to a constitutional breakdown.

For Lula, the vote is a dispute between democracy and barbarism. For Bolsonaro, it is a fight between good and evil. Around 156 million people are eligible to vote on Sunday. Voters will cast their ballot for president, and also vote for Congress deputies, a third of the Senate, as well as the governors and state legislatures of Brazil’s 27 states.

Under Brazil’s convoluted electoral regulations, political rallies are not allowed the day before an election, but candidates are allowed to parade in public. On Saturday, Lula appeared in a kind of Pope mobile on São Paulo’s main avenue, while Bolsonaro led a group of bikers through the north of the city.

Lula’s rise to power is an incredible story, but his image was tarnished by the Car Wash (Lava Jato) corruption scandal. In 2018, he was convicted of corruption and imprisoned for 20 months. The convictions against him – which have since been overturned – prevented him from contesting the last presidential election in 2018, in which he was also the favorite. Lula has always defended his innocence.

Lula supporters in São Paulo.
Lula supporters in São Paulo.CRIS FAGA / ZUMA PRESS / CONTACTOPHOTO (CRIS FAGA / ZUMA PRESS / CONTACT)

Lula is the son of illiterate parents and the youngest of seven children. Born in the interior of Pernambuco state, a land ravaged by drought, he was seven when he traveled with his mother and siblings in a van for 13 days to the booming city of São Paulo as part of an exodus of northeasterners to the south in 1952. His father, Aristides, was a longshoreman who struggled to feed all his offspring while treating them with a cruelty bordering on sadism, as recounted in his biography, Lula, Volume 1. Life was hard, but there were opportunities. Lula took advantage of them. He worked as a shoeshine and errand boy before entering a vocational school, his springboard to a job as a lathe operator in which he lost a finger; Bolsonaro often calls him “nine fingers.”

Lula became a union leader, and after the military seized power in 1964, he led major strikes against the dictatorship. The PT leader first ran for president in 1989. He was defeated three times before he was finally elected in 2003. His two terms in office (2003-2010) were a time of prosperity for Brazil, thanks to Chinese demand for raw materials. Lula was able to implement ambitious social programs for the historically marginalized. “We put the poor in the budget,” he likes to say. The lives of millions of people greatly improved under his administration. Electricity and appliances that once seemed like luxuries reached the homes of Brazil’s poor. Thanks to that prosperity, many poor people flew in an airplane for the first time. The children of domestic workers were able to go to university – to the ire of the elites, who argued that they had displaced their children.

Lula’s Brazil won over the world and former US president Barack Obama, who, in 2009, described Lula as “the most popular politician on Earth.” The following year, Lula left office with an 87% approval rating.

Lula’s 2022 presidential is focused on bringing back that Brazil – not the Brazil that was seen later, under Rousseff, who he appointed to continue his legacy. Rousseff’s Brazil is linked with systemic corruption, recession and an impeachment that ended 14 years of progressive governments. This context fostered in Brazil a deep hatred of the political class, particularly of the PT. Bolsonaro was able to skillfully ride this wave of discontent to his shock win at the 2018 election.

A Lula supporter at a political rally at the city of Salvador, Bahia state, Brazil, on September 30, 2022.
A Lula supporter at a political rally at the city of Salvador, Bahia state, Brazil, on September 30, 2022. ARISSON MARINHO (AFP)

Today, Brazil is facing another economic crisis. More than 33 million Brazilians are going hungry, unemployment is around 9%, inflation has reached 8.7% and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) estimates that gross domestic product (GDP) will only increase this year by a marginal 1.7%.

If he loses, Bolsonaro will be the first president not to be re-elected so far this century. His inhumane and disastrous management of the Covid-19 pandemic, which has killed 670,000 Brazilians, is the main reason why many former supporters now oppose him. To survive in office, Bolsonaro turned to political parties that offer parliamentary support to the highest bidder, and launched a generous economic aid program to help 20 million poor people. The economy survived the Covid-19 pandemic, but it is still flailing.

Upon coming to power, the ultra-conservative leader, who has expressed his admiration for Brazil’s military dictatorship, set about fulfilling his pledges to dismantle environmental policy, facilitate the sale of arms and place a “terribly evangelical” judge on the Supreme Court. Under Bolsonaro, deforestation has accelerated, the environment has been devastated and the country is more diplomatically isolated than ever.

For many, Lula is seen as a savior. For others, he is the lesser evil and the only politician capable of defeating Bolsonaro. To improve his chances, Lula picked Geraldo Alckmin, a former center-right figure and staunch supporter of Rousseff’s impeachment, as his vice-presidential candidate. The PT leader is promising to bring back prosperity to Brazil, but has not detailed how he intends to resurrect an economy that been stagnating for decades. Nor has he explained how he plans to fund his ambitious programs to lift Brazilians out of poverty.

Lula’s team has reserved Paulista Avenue for Sunday night, but Lula will only make an appearance if he wins the 50% plus one needed to win the election in the first round. Bolsonaro supporters also wanted to gather at the central avenue, but will only be able to do so in the unlikely event that Bolsonsaro wins the election in the first round. A quick count is expected thanks to the electronic voting system, which now – thanks to Bolsonaro – is only a source of pride for half of the country.

Source link

Global Affairs

‘Destitution is almost inevitable’: Afghan refugees in Greece left homeless by failed system | Migration and development

Avatar

Published

on

Mohammad Ashraf Rasooli, 70, looks at his five-year-old granddaughter, sitting on the floor next to him watching cartoons on a phone. They live in a two-bedroom flat in a suburb of Athens. “Even tomorrow, we don’t know what will happen to us,” he says.

The former judge and legal adviser to the Afghan Ministry of Justice, who had a role in putting together the 2004 Afghan constitution, is facing eviction with his family, including his three grandchildren. This is in line with regulations in Greece, which state that once someone has obtained refugee status, they must leave the accommodation provided for them within 30 days.

Since being evacuated to Greece last October, the family have been in limbo, hoping to join relatives in the UK and grieving for lives left behind in Kabul. Due to Rasooli’s high-profile work, as well as that of his daughter, a former journalist, and his son-in-law Fazel Sultani, a prosecutor at the Ministry of Justice, the family had gone into hiding after the Taliban stormed Kabul.

“We had a lot of problems, because the Taliban were saying if somebody had worked with NGOs or international organisations we’d be killed. It was very difficult for me to be there; we went to hide in a few places until we got evacuated,” says Rasooli. He scrolls through his phone to show photos of his home, pointing out books on the shelves, including legal texts he wrote, which he has been told have since been destroyed by Taliban soldiers.

The family has tried to make the best of things and the children are in Greek schools, but until recently, Rasooli feared to go outside in case his papers were checked. They had to wait until this month to receive asylum seeker ID cards.

They struggled to navigate a catch-22 system whereby access to rent subsides requires having a rental contract, while landlords will not rent without proof of the subsidies.

Rasooli and his family are not alone, says Minos Mouzourakis, an advocacy officer at Refugee Support Aegean (RSA). “Destitution is almost inevitable for refugees recognised in Greece. Expecting them to promptly leave accommodation despite exclusion from social welfare and protracted, often year-long, delays in renewing documents is a policy choice breaching the country’s legal obligations according to jurisdictions across the continent,” he says.

Mohammad Ashraf Rasooli (second left), sits with Fazel Sultani, his son-in-law, granddaughter and daughter in their flat in Athens, Greece.
Mohammad Ashraf Rasooli (second left), sits with Fazel Sultani, his son-in-law, granddaughter and daughter in their flat in Athens. Photograph: Anna Pantelia/The Guardian

RSA has gathered more than 100 testimonies of recognised refugees in Greece who have turned to jobs such as collecting waste cardboard around Athens to sell to recycling companies. For such work they may earn between €10 and €20 a day.

RSA has recorded cases where refugees returned to Greece have faced destitution, such as Soraya* and Somaya* from Afghanistan who were sent back from Sweden in June this year. They are now reliant on soup kitchens and solidarity networks and must wait until January 2023 to get identification documents. Some courts, in countries such as Germany, have halted returns of refugees to Greece judging that they are likely to face inhumane or degrading treatment.

“The situation for recognised refugees in Greece is dire. It is commonplace that people granted protection status in Greece face destitution and homelessness following their positive asylum decision,” says Lucy Alper, a legal coordinator with Refugee Legal Support in Athens.

“The only integration programme, Helios, funded by the EU and implemented by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) is not fit for purpose. Many people enrolled in the Helios programme cannot access the limited rental subsidies offered, as they must first open a Greek bank account, pay a deposit on a flat and sign a house contract via the government’s online platform. Barriers are at every turn, exacerbated by the bureaucracy of the Greek asylum system.

“Notwithstanding these failures, people are being evicted from their accommodation. There is no safety net,” says Alper.

The IOM says 19,000 people had leased an apartment so far, which spoke to the “feasibility of the requirements”. They added there are, “all the necessary services to support recognised refugees in finding and leasing apartments … IOM in coordination with its partners ensures support and interpretation in issuing all required documents … whenever obstacles are encountered, targeted support is provided to solve possible problems.” It says it had no “recorded cases” of difficulties from those who applied within the appropriate time frame due to bureaucracy.

Rasooli hopes to go to the UK under the Afghan relocations and assistance policy (Arap) but has a rejection that is under review. His initial rejection letter, seen by the Guardian, states that since he has asylum in Greece, he will have access to medical care and is in relative safety – facts disputed by NGOs who have documented the precariousness of life for refugees in the country.

For now, the family remains in Athens, hopeful for an offer of an apartment for the short term. Nothing about the future is certain.

The Greek Migration Ministry did not respond to a request for comment.

* Names have been changed to protect identities

Source link

Continue Reading

Global Affairs

Europe Lost Russia as Energy Supplier, Russian Envoy Says

Avatar

Published

on

https://sputniknews.com/20221130/europe-lost-russia-as-energy-supplier-russian-envoy-says-1104846298.html

feedback@sputniknews.com

+74956456601

MIA „Rosiya Segodnya“

2022

Sputnik International

feedback@sputniknews.com

+74956456601

MIA „Rosiya Segodnya“

News

en_EN

Sputnik International

feedback@sputniknews.com

+74956456601

MIA „Rosiya Segodnya“

https://cdnn1.img.sputniknews.com/img/07e6/0b/15/1104507900_252:0:2981:2047_1920x0_80_0_0_0a4993de5254e30f835339011b72a629.jpg

Sputnik International

feedback@sputniknews.com

+74956456601

MIA „Rosiya Segodnya“

russia, international energy agency (iea), mikhail ulyanov, envoy, energy supplies

russia, international energy agency (iea), mikhail ulyanov, envoy, energy supplies

VIENNA (Sputnik) – Russia’s Permanent Representative to International Organizations in Vienna Mikhail Ulyanov said Europe has lost Russia as its largest energy supplier.

“Isn’t it vice versa: Europe has lost Russia as its largest energy supplier to get the opportunity to buy the US LNG at a much higher price? Great achievement!” Ulyanov wrote on Twitter.

It was his response to a user post that quoted the head of the International Energy Agency (IEA) saying Russia had lost Europe as its largest energy client “forever.”

IEA chief Fatih Birol said in October that Russia had lost the European oil and gas market forever and would face a drop in production. The West stepped up sanctions pressure on Russia over Ukraine, which led to higher prices for electricity, fuel and food in Europe and the United States.

A view shows gas metering units at the Gazprom's Amur Gas Processing Plant near the town of Svobodny, Amur Region, Russia. The plant was launched on June 9, 2021 - Sputnik International, 1920, 27.11.2022

Russia Determined Not to Sell Energy Resources to Those Who Set Price Caps: Kremlin

Russian President Vladimir Putin said cheap and reliable Russian energy resources were Europe’s competitive advantage, and even a partial rejection of them already had a negative impact on its economy and residents. The US, pushing through the EU’s complete rejection of Russian energy carriers and other resources, is leading to the de-industrialization of Europe, he said.

Putin, commenting on the West’s idea to limit prices for Russian energy resources, said Russia would not supply anything abroad if this was contrary to its own interests.

Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak said Russia would not supply oil to countries that set any price cap. He added that such restrictions were interference in market tools, and Moscow was prepared to work with consumers ready for market conditions.



Source link

Continue Reading

Global Affairs

Kirchner: Argentina’s vice-president blasts ‘firing squad’ overseeing her corruption trial | International

Avatar

Published

on

“Last words…” said Cristina Fernández de Kirchner from her office in the Senate, staring at the camera. She paused for a second, smiled and delivered the line she had already envisaged as a headline. “Never has a judicial term been so appropriate to define what this court is: it is a firing squad.”

Her words were aimed at three federal judges who on December 6 will decide whether she is guilty of leading an alleged scheme to divert state funds through public works contracts. The prosecution wants Fernández de Kirchner to spend 12 years behind bars and be permanently barred from holding public office.

Fernández de Kirchner, 69, has been charged with “illicit association” and “aggravated fraudulent administration” in connection with a corruption case involving 12 other defendants and known in Argentina as the Vialidad Case. The 51 contracts under scrutiny were awarded in the province of Santa Cruz, the political cradle of Kirchnerism, to companies owned by a friend of the Kirchners, Lázaro Baez, over a 12-year period (Baez has since been sentenced to 12 years in prison for money laundering). Prosecutors said many contracts were inflated and some were never carried out. They have estimated that the scheme cost the state around $1 billion. The defendants include officials accused of collecting bribes and businesspeople suspected of paying them.

But the vice-president claims to be a victim of political persecution.

“A government that was democratically elected three times is not an ‘illicit association’,” she said, alluding to the government of her late husband Néstor Kirchner (2003 -2007) and her own two terms in the president’s office between 2007 and 2015.

On Tuesday, the vice-president spoke for less than 20 minutes, a far cry from the long speeches she has given in the past in court. At her first hearing on December 2, 2019, she claimed to be the victim of a case in which the sentence had been decided ahead of time. The ultimate goal of the trial, according to the vice-president, is to remove her from politics and erode Peronism, the movement she represents.

“The sentence is written, but I never thought it would be so badly written,” said Fernández de Kirchner, accusing the two lead prosecutors in the case, Diego Luciani and Sergio Mola, of spreading lies about her. To reinforce the idea of the firing squad, she recalled the assassination attempt against her outside her house in early September.

Kirchner has maintained throughout the trial that the entire investigation against her is a set-up by the opposition to imprison her. Her lawyers have uploaded a document entitled “The Twenty Lies of the Vialidad Case” to social media.

Sign up for our weekly newsletter to get more English-language news coverage from EL PAÍS USA Edition

Source link

Continue Reading

Trending

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Join our mailing list to receive the latest news and updates 
directly on your inbox.

You have Successfully Subscribed!