Days before new president, old divisions tearing at Brazil

Dec 23, 2022, 6:04 PM | Updated: Dec 24, 2022, 9:38 pm
Brazilian President-elect Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva gives a press conference in Brasilia, Brazil, T...

Brazilian President-elect Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva gives a press conference in Brasilia, Brazil, Tuesday, Dec. 13, 2022. Da Silva will be sworn-in on Jan. 1, 2023. (AP Photo/Eraldo Peres)

(AP Photo/Eraldo Peres)

              A moving truck is parked outside Planalto presidential palace in Brasilia, Brazil, Friday, Dec. 16, 2022. President-elect Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva will be sworn-in on Jan. 1, 2023. (AP Photo/Eraldo Peres)
            
              Workers carry moving materials at the presidential palace in Brasilia, Brazil, Friday, Dec. 16, 2022. President-elect Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva will be sworn-in on Jan. 1, 2023. (AP Photo/Eraldo Peres)
            
              Brazilian President-elect Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, top center, meets with union members at the his transition team's headquarters in Brasilia, Brazil, Thursday, Dec. 1, 2022. Da Silva will be sworn-in on Jan. 1. (AP Photo/Eraldo Peres)
            
              FILE -  Supporters of presidential front-runner Jair Bolsonaro sing the national anthem outside his residence in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Oct. 28, 2018, during the country's presidential runoff election. The shirt reads in Portuguese "My party is Brazil," using a play on the word "partido" which also means "game." (AP Photo/Silvia Izquierdo, File)
            
              Movers transport items out of Planalto presidential palace as workers prepare the ramp for the inauguration ceremony in Brasilia, Brazil, Friday, Dec. 16, 2022. President-elect Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva will be sworn-in on Jan. 1, 2023. (AP Photo/Eraldo Peres)
            
              FILE -  Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro flashes a thumbs up as he greets supporters, wearing a Brazil soccer jersey, as he campaigns in Praca da Liberdade or Liberty Square, in Belo Horizonte, Brazil, Oct. 29, 2022. Soccer was a short-lived unifying force in Brazil, as Brazil exited the World Cup tournament earlier than expected, but Bolsonaro's backers are still sporting the national colors. (AP Photo/Yuri Laurindo, File)
            
              FILE - Supporters of Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro protest against Bolsonaro's run-off election loss outside the Army headquarters in Brasilia, Brazil, Nov. 15, 2022. Many reject results of the vote and remain camped outside military buildings nationwide, demanding that Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva's inauguration will be impeded. (AP Photo/Eraldo Peres, File)
            
              Brazilian President-elect Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva gives a press conference in Brasilia, Brazil, Tuesday, Dec. 13, 2022. Da Silva will be sworn-in on Jan. 1, 2023. (AP Photo/Eraldo Peres)
            Brazilian President-elect Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva prepares to announce people to lead ministries in his upcoming government in Brasilia, Brazil, Thursday, Dec. 22, 2022. Lula will be sworn-in on Jan. 1, 2023.  (AP Photo/Eraldo Peres)

SAO PAULO (AP) — Trumpets and snares will play Brazil’s national anthem at Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva’s swearing-in on Jan. 1. Then, one will hear a different song on the streets, its lyrics taking a shot at outgoing President Jair Bolsonaro.

“It is time for Jair, it is time for Jair … to go away!” the lyrics say. “Pack your bags, hit the road and go away!”

When Lula clinched his election win over Bolsonaro on Oct. 30, tens of thousands of people sang the familiar tune throughout the night, pushing the song to the top of Spotify’s list in Brazil and showing one way that many Brazilians aren’t ready to extend olive branches.

Healing Brazil’s divided society will be easier said than done. Lula’s Cabinet appointments thus far favoring leftists and stalwarts of his Workers’ Party are turning off those who trusted the divisive 77-year-old to govern alongside moderates, and who joined forces after Bolsonaro repeatedly tested the guardrails of the world’s fourth-biggest democracy.

“Governing Brazil means deals with agribusiness, evangelicals, former Bolsonaro allies. It can be frustrating for half-hearted Lula voters, but that’s what they have before them,” said Carlos Melo, a political science professor at Insper University in Sao Paulo.

Of course, Bolsonaro’s far-right backers are hardly the picture of post-election bonhomie. Many reject results of the vote and remain camped outside military buildings nationwide, demanding that Lula’s inauguration be impeded.

Brazil’s October election was its closest in more than three decades, pitting two arch-rivals against one another. In Lula’s victory speech on Oct. 30, he declared that “there are not two Brazils,” as tens of thousands gathered outside his hotel in Sao Paulo to celebrate his victory and Bolsonaro’s defeat.

A hopeful sign for Lula’s bridge-building ambitions came days later, with leftists and moderates once again donning the nation’s yellow soccer jersey to cheer on their team at the World Cup. The shirt for almost a decade has been an anti-left symbol and often featured in protests against Lula and in favor of Bolsonaro.

Lula and his allies wore the yellow shirt, too, in an effort to reclaim it; he posted photos of himself to social media, and said green and yellow “are the colors of 213 million people who love this country.” Salesman Elias Gaspar said yellow jerseys started flying off his rack as the team’s flamboyant performances trickled in.

“Before the World Cup I would sell on average six blue shirts and four yellow out of every ten,” Gaspar, 43, said on Dec. 4. “Now it is almost all yellow.”

Soccer was a short-lived unifying force. Brazil exited the tournament earlier than expected after a surprise penalty shootout loss to Croatia in the quarterfinals, and most Brazilians stuffed their jerseys back in their drawers. Bolsonaro’s backers are the only ones still sporting the national colors.

Lula has avoided inflaming tensions, mostly refraining from public attacks against Bolsonaro or his supporters, and instead focusing speeches on helping the most disadvantaged Brazilians once he returns to the office he held from 2003 to 2010. At times, though, us-versus-them comments have slipped past his lips. On Dec. 22, while announcing new ministers, he said Bolsonarismo remains alive and angry among those who refuse to recognize the electoral loss, so it must be defeated on Brazil’s streets.

For defense minister, Lula picked conservative José Múcio Monteiro after four years of Bolsonaro striving to secure the armed forces’ allegiance.

Other Lula appointments seem crafted to please his base and party, such as Anielle Franco, sister of slain Rio de Janeiro city councilwoman Marielle Franco, for minister of racial equality. He also tapped long-time ally Aloizio Mercadante to head the country’s development bank — precisely the sort of position business leaders expected to remain clear of Workers’ Party hands.

Gleisi Hoffmann, the chairwoman of Lula’s Workers’ Party, said building a Cabinet would be a challenge even if Lula were only selecting progressives. Complicating decisions further is the fact that some would-be ministers are likely 2026 presidential candidates, as Lula has indicated he won’t run for reelection.

“We have our differences within the Workers’ Party, now go figure what happens when we bring a dozen other parties,” Hoffmann said on her social media channels Dec. 16. “It is a puzzle, it takes time.”

That may help explain why the number of ministries will nearly double, to 37.

Centrist endorsements from former environment minister Marina Silva and Simone Tebet, who finished third in the presidential race’s first round, brought in votes from Brazil’s moderates — a demographic that grew leery of Lula since the sprawling Car Wash corruption probe landed him in jail in 2018. With their support, he beat Bolsonaro by less than two percentage points. Many expected them to be quickly announced as ministers, but negotiations have dragged on.

Thomas Traumann, a political consultant, said delays reflect the fact the president-elect has had a central role in negotiations for positions.

“People who helped him like Marina and Simone will have less stature than they would have had they been appointed shortly after he won,” Traumann said. “Lula’s luck is that moderates will view his administration like many leftist Democrats see (U.S. President Joe) Biden: they might not like what they see, but it is better than the alternative.”

Biden’s attempt to bridge the political chasm could offer an instructional, albeit dispiriting, model, said Brian Ott, a professor of communication at Missouri State University who has researched the stratifying impact of social media on American political discourse.

Early in his presidency, Biden did not shy away from the fact that he was governing in a polarized country and played up his bonafides as a throwback to a different era when Democrats and Republicans could battle on the Senate floor before repairing to the dining room to hammer out compromises.

“The problem that Biden faces and the problem that politicians face in 51% countries like Brazil is there may no longer be smart strategies to deliver big tent messages without alienating your base,” said Ott. “We are now in a period where politics is so intensely, deeply divided culturally, where people don’t have to be exposed to different points.”

On Dec. 22, Lula named 16 ministers, bringing his total thus far to 21. Neither Tebet nor Silva are among them.

“It is harder to assemble a government than to win elections,” he said while counseling his appointees to hire staffers from diverse backgrounds. “We’re trying to make a government that, as much as we can, represents the political forces that participated in our campaign.”

He added that people who helped and haven’t yet been named will be taken into account, and are owed a debt for “daring to stick their necks out to confront fascism.”

Still, many new Lula voters already feel inclined to jump ship. One is Thereza Bittencourt, 65, who spoke at a military club in Rio and said initial signs worry her.

“I took a lot of criticism from my friends at the club because I voted for Lula. All of them chose Bolsonaro. I told them the management of the economy would be better,” Bittencourt said as she sipped her caipirinha. “If I only see members of the Workers’ Party in the government, goodbye.” ___

Associated Press writer Aamer Madhani in Washington contributed to this report.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

FILE - The Starbucks logo is seen on a storefront, Friday, Oct. 14, 2022, in Boston Starbucks repor...
Associated Press

Starbucks misses sales, revenue estimates as China falters

Starbucks reported lower-than-expected sales in its fiscal first quarter, with COVID store shutdowns in China overshadowing stronger results elsewhere.
18 hours ago
The Amazon DTW1 fulfillment center is shown in Romulus, Mich., April 1, 2020. Amazon reports financ...
Associated Press

Amazon beats Q4 revenue estimates, but profits slump

Amazon on Thursday reported worse-than-expected profits, but its revenue beat expectations boosted by sales in North America businesses and the cloud-computing unit AWS.
18 hours ago
legislature...
Associated Press

Washington’s low-income tax credit available for first time

 Up to $1,200 is now available for thousands of low-income working Washington residents, thanks to a 2008 law that has finally been funded.
18 hours ago
FILE - People visit the Magic Kingdom Park at Walt Disney World Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Florida...
Associated Press

Florida lawmakers to meet next week on Disney, immigration

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — Florida lawmakers will meet next week to complete a state takeover of Walt Disney World’s self-governing district and debate proposals on immigration and election crimes, as Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis continues to leverage national political fissures ahead of an expected White House run. Republican leaders of the Legislature, in coordination with […]
18 hours ago
FILE - Johnny Thai, 11, receives the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine at a pediatric vaccine clinic for chil...
Associated Press

California won’t require COVID vaccine to attend schools

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — California won’t make children get the coronavirus vaccine to attend schools, state public health officials said Friday, reversing a state policy first announced by Gov. Gavin Newsom in 2021. The nation’s most populous state plans to formally end its coronavirus emergency order on Feb. 28, ending some of Newsom’s authority to […]
18 hours ago
Associated Press

Guest lineups for the Sunday news shows

WASHINGTON (AP) — ABC’s “This Week” — Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg; Gov. Chris Sununu, R-N.H.; retired Amd. Mike Mullen, a former Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman. __ NBC’s “Meet the Press” — Buttigieg; Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J.; Rep. Mike Turner, R-Ohio. _ CBS’ “Face the Nation” — To be announced. ___ CNN’s “State of the […]
18 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

safety from crime...

As crime increases, our safety measures must too

It's easy to be accused of fearmongering regarding crime, but Seattle residents might have good reason to be concerned for their safety.
Comcast Ready for Business Fund...
Ilona Lohrey | President and CEO, GSBA

GSBA is closing the disparity gap with Ready for Business Fund

GSBA, Comcast, and other partners are working to address disparities in access to financial resources with the Ready for Business fund.
SHIBA WA...

Medicare open enrollment is here and SHIBA can help!

The SHIBA program – part of the Office of the Insurance Commissioner – is ready to help with your Medicare open enrollment decisions.
Lake Washington Windows...

Choosing Best Windows for Your Home

Lake Washington Windows and Doors is a local window dealer offering the exclusive Leak Armor installation.
Anacortes Christmas Tree...

Come one, come all! Food, Drink, and Coastal Christmas – Anacortes has it all!

Come celebrate Anacortes’ 11th annual Bier on the Pier! Bier on the Pier takes place on October 7th and 8th and features local ciders, food trucks and live music - not to mention the beautiful views of the Guemes Channel and backdrop of downtown Anacortes.
Swedish Cyberknife Treatment...

The revolutionary treatment of Swedish CyberKnife provides better quality of life for majority of patients

There are a wide variety of treatments options available for men with prostate cancer. One of the most technologically advanced treatment options in the Pacific Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform at Swedish Medical Center.
Days before new president, old divisions tearing at Brazil