IT’S been a week since Brazil announced that its former president Luiz a Lula da Silva won the election over his rival Jair Bolsonaro. Da Silva will come to power on January 1, 2023, and faces an uphill battle to unite a nation divided by the far-right policies of the Bolsonaro reign.

The president-elect must solve issues which include 33 million people facing hunger and 100m living in poverty as well as his promises to build more affordable housing and better manage energy and water.

READ MORE: Alyn Smith: Lula’s victory in Brazilian election is a win for us all and the planet

Halting the de-forestation of the Amazon rainforest is also among his top priorities. Following his victory, Da Silva said in his speech: “Instead of being world leaders in deforestation, we want to be world champions in facing up to the climate crisis and in socio-economic development.”

The National has spoken with various voices to garner what their reaction to the result was and their hopes for the future.


IF there’s one word which sums up the feeling of two Brazilians living in Scotland, it’s “relief”. That’s the view of both Camilla Baier, originally from Sao Paulo, and Mariana Duarte, who hails from Rio. Baier told us: “I mean I’m just quite relieved. I watched the numbers come in with my husband and followed it state by state. He said it was like watching the penalties at the world cup, we just had that constant up and down feeling.”

Although Duarte echoes those sentiments, she admits she isn’t da Silva’s (below) “biggest fan”, simply that he was a much better option than the alternative.

“At this stage, he’s so much better than Bolsonaro and it gives you hope for Brazil, particularly when it comes to the rainforest and the Amazon. It gives you more relief because you don’t have a horrible person with so much power anymore,” she said.

The National: Former Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva embraces his wife Rosangela, after defeating incumbent Jair Bolsonaro in a presidential run-off to become the country’s next president, in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Sunday, Oct. 30, 2022

Baier hopes Bolsonaro’s departure will give more hope to the country’s vibrant arts sector following years of de-funding under his reign.

She explained: “There was a destruction of our cultural heritage. It was devastating seeing what was happening.

“Just hearing we now have some kind of plan to re-fund and rehabilitate the cultural sector is probably one of the things I’m most relieved about.”


DEFORESTATION increased year-on-year under Bolsonaro – a problem which Da Silva has vowed to fix as president. Statistics showed that, in September alone, the number of Amazon fires rose by 147% compared with the year previous. Government satellites showed a 1455-sq kilometre area of rainforest was destroyed last month, an area almost equivalent to the size of Greater London.

Maria Leusa Kaba Munduruku, a leader of the Munduruku peoples of the Amazon, said: “The election was a victory for us because we couldn’t take any more violence.

“We had to face a lot of violence during this Bolsonaro government, we suffered a lot. We had to always resist to guarantee the life of our children, the life of our people, the right for the forest.”

A report released earlier this year showed that, under Bolsonaro, there had been a 180% increase in illegal invasions of indigenous lands. Munduruku’s aldeia (collective village) has previously been attacked and she experienced death threats having increasingly become a voice for championing the rights of indigenous people.

For example, she has highlighted how six out of 10 indigenous peoples in mining areas have higher mercury levels in their blood than what is considered safe owing to all the mining operations which have taken place.

She also visited Skye last year to participate in a programme relating to land reform which touched on issues such as sustainable food production and community access to land. In spite of all the hardship though, she is hopeful for the future. She added: “We are very happy and want to continue with this strength, with this hope, with this victory. Let’s keep fighting and say that now we can go forward.”


MARCELA Vecchione, an academic and activist in Belem, Amazonia told The National that whilst she was pleased by the democratic outcome of the result, Da Silva is facing a Senate and House of Representatives which aren’t in his favour.

She said: “Democracy won and I think this is huge in every possible sense. I think for the social, environmental and political situation of the country, there’s now a huge possibility of trying to rebuild things, rebuild democratic values and dialogue in the democratic sense with different views and positions.

“We can’t be naive though because this situation isn’t going to be easy. Neither the Federal Senate nor the National Congress is favourable to Lula. We have the most Conservative Senate since democratisation so it’s important to remember this.”


ALTHOUGH the change from one government’s policies to another may be drastic, Da Silva is someone Brazilians are familiar with. He previously served as president from 2003 to 2010 and was found guilty of receiving a bribe from a construction firm in return for contracts with Brazil’s state oil company Petrobras. Da Silva spent 580 days in jail before his conviction was annulled and he returned to politics.

Joana Ramiro, a freelance Anglo-Portuguese journalist, told The National: “Whilst on the one hand it feels momentous given the bipolarity of this election, in terms of a grand change for the country it might not be seismic.

“The truth is these characters are all well known in the Brazilian political ecosystem, the politics that they push through exist and are very much alive.”

For Ramiro, what is most interesting is the wider impact the result could have on geopolitics.

The world has seen a surge in victories for right-wing governments – could this mark a change in that trend? She added: “In South America, there have been several right to far-right governments which are now further to the left including those in Chile and Peru.

“I think it’s the most interesting question beyond local issues in the Amazon and indigenous peoples.

“Will Lula represent Lula and vote for those who wanted him or for those who simply didn’t want Bolsonaro? I don’t think there’s a right or wrong answer but it’s something which will come up.”

The National: Jair Bolsonaro

The future remains uncertain for Brazil. Scenes of those protesting the result last week highlight a nation which remains deeply divided. Brian Garvey, a lecturer and researcher at the University of Strathclyde who regularly collaborates with Brazilian academics, says there is at least a feeling of greater optimism.

He told The National: “Even for democracy this was such a relief after Trump, Bolsonaro (above) and the Tory politics we’re living under here. I recently got back from Geneva with the UN, speaking to the people who work for human rights and toxins and water.

“What was so important is that when you speak to them, I’m not assuming to know if they’re left or right in the classical sense, but there was a real hope. Just for humanity.”