A Western bank sent a memo advocating a coup against Brazil’s left-wing presidential hope

Brazil presidential candidate Lula and the Santander logo
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A Western bank sent out a report in Brazil that presented a coup against a left-wing candidate in next year’s presidential elections as a good thing. The thinly-veiled threat is endemic of the global shutting down of progressive politics.

Lula: Brazil’s only hope?

The Canary has documented Jair Bolsonaro’s time as president of Brazil – covering his disastrous handling of the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic, his inaction over the climate crisis, and “declining living standards, growing corporate exploitation, and rampant privatisation”. As The Canary‘s Peter Bolton summed up, it’s been a “horror show”. But as he recently wrote, there may be light at the end of the tunnel.

Bolton noted that:

Luiz Inácio da Silva, known colloquially as ‘Lula’, is one of Brazil’s most widely popular ex-presidents. And he’s indicated that he’s willing to run against Bolsonaro in the next election.

However, in the past powerful forces successfully conspired against Lula to keep him off the ballot. They’ll surely try to do so again, so he will have a hill to climb. But if he prevails, his victory would open an exciting new chapter in Latin America’s largest country.

Decidedly left-wing

Lula’s politics are decidedly left-wing. Bolton said that:

Lula previously served as… [Brazil’s] leader between 2003 and 2011. He represented the social democratic Workers’ Party (PT in its Portuguese initials). And his election was of huge symbolic importance for many Brazilians. As a former metallurgy worker and trade unionist, he became the first working class person to reach Brazil’s presidency.

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His progressive policies lifted millions out of poverty. And following decades of instability and dictatorship, he turned Brazil into an emerging economic and diplomatic powerhouse. As a result, he left office with an 80% approval rating. Former US president Barack Obama described him as “the most popular politician on earth”.

After Lula stood down, another member of the PT Party, Dilma Rousseff, became Brazil’s first female president. But a constitutional coup followed, as did a right-wing, corporate ‘lawfare’ campaign. They used the courts and falsified corruption claims to prevent Lula running, imprisoning him for nearly two years. Bolsonaro was elected, and the rest is history.

Now, Lula is planning on standing again in 2022. And it seems some corporate, Western-backed forces are already plotting against him.

The plotting begins

As Brasil Wire wrote, Brazil’s arm of the Spanish bank Santander recently sent out a report via email to “clients and financial operators” in the country. It was signed by economist Victor Candido. The report stated that:

it is necessary to recognize a problem in the 2022 election: the prospect of the Lula government’s corruption machine returning to power… In short, no one will support a coup in favor of Bolsonaro, but it is possible to speculate on a coup to prevent Lula’s return. He was ineligible until another day, for example. It can go back to being it.

That is, the corporate right-wing previously got rid of Lula – and it can do it again if necessary. So in other words, Santander forwarded advice to its clients that a coup to stop Lula running in the election would be a good thing.

Brasil Wire reported that the PT Party reacted angrily. A spokesperson said:

There is no doubt that the e-mail is part of an analysis that Santander sends to many people in the markets

Nothing to see here

According to Forum, Santander denied the report represented its position. It said:

the cited text does not correspond, under any circumstances, to a vision of the institution, which restricts its economic analyzes to variables that impact the financial life of its customers, without any political or partisan bias.

The content is only an assessment made by an independent consultancy – which we do not censor and for whose content we are not responsible – passed on to a restricted group of investors who need to base their decisions on different views of the national scenario.

Yet this point is moot, as reports suggest the bank still sent Candido’s analysis out to clients anyway.

Corporate imperialist forces at work

Candido’s support for Bolsonaro’s far-right government is nothing new. He has repeatedly commented positively on the president’s reforms. He is pro-stock markets and very much a corporate capitalist. So it’s of little wonder that Lula’s left-wing agenda would worry Candido.

Ultimately, one report forwarded by one bank doesn’t represent a potential coup in the making. But it does represent the fear of Western corporate interests over the left in South America coming to power. Much like Jeremy Corbyn in the UK and Bernie Sanders in the US, corporate imperialist forces will stop at nothing to prevent progressive politicians coming to power. And it appears that Lula may well be back in the firing line.

Featured image via Ricardo Stuckert/PR – Wikimedia and Santander – Wikimedia 

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