Friday, Feb 03, 2023

‘It’s going to be wild’: Brazil braced for ‘Lulapalooza’ as new leader kicks off reign with huge party

‘It’s going to be wild’: Brazil braced for ‘Lulapalooza’ as new leader kicks off reign with huge party

The return of Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva has led to an outpouring of optimism in Brazil – and relief at the downfall of Jair Bolsonaro

They are billing it as Lulapalooza – a momentous explosion of Brazilian politics and dance – and Mayse Freitas wouldn’t miss it for the world.

“I think it’s going to be the greatest show on earth … It’ll be the happiest day of my life,” said the social activist from the Complexo do Alemão, one of Rio’s largest favelas, as she geared up for the festivities.

The source of her joy is the demise of Brazil’s ultra-conservative president Jair Bolsonaro and the extraordinary political resurrection of his leftist successor, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, who will take power on Sunday during the musical extravaganza in the capital, Brasília.

“It’s going to be wild,” said Freitas, 64, one of hundreds of thousands of Lulistas flocking to the event from across Latin America’s largest nation. “I’m not one to cry but I think I’ll have to take a sedative to control the emotion I’m going to feel.”

Progressive jubilation over Brazil’s fresh start has been tempered by the loss of football king Pelé, whose public wake will be held on Monday in the city of Santos after three days of official mourning.

Bolsonaro, who last week declared the mourning period, paid tribute to a man who “transformed football into art and joy”, while Lula tweeted: “There had never been a number 10 like him.”

Nevertheless, Freitas’s thoughts were turning to what many hope will be a brighter future under the president-elect, who narrowly beat his rival in October’s election.

“Lula’s one of us. Lula’s a human. He is humanity,” she said, remembering the social advances of his two-term presidency, from 2003 to 2010, when Lula-led policies helped downtrodden favela residents improve their lot. “He is the exact opposite of this sleazebag who has been governing for the last four years.”

Freitas is far from the only Brazilian harbouring such feelings.

For many of the 60m citizens who voted Bolsonaro out of office, the former paratrooper’s defeat was a pivotal victory over an aspiring autocrat bent on shattering Brazil’s young democracy, as well as its international reputation.

“This is a historic and a unique moment,” said Jonas Di Andrade, 29, a journalist and activist who is also heading to Lulapalooza to celebrate a politician he credits with helping him become the first member of his family to study at university.

“These were four extremely difficult years during which we went into survival mode – above all in the favelas,” Andrade said. “Bolsonaro represents the past: a past of oppression, of colonisation, of the enslavement of bodies and minds, of violence, of hostility, of extermination.”

Overseas, there is also contentment at the return of Lula, a moderate leftist of the Worker’s party (PT), whose political career had seemed dead and buried when he was jailed in 2018 on corruption charges that were later quashed.

Brazilian president-elect Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva with Sonia Guajajara, nominee for minister of Indigenous Peoples, on 29 December.

More than 60 high-level delegations are set to attend Lula’s inauguration compared with 18 when Bolsonaro took power – a sign of global relief over the exit of a radical leader whose assault on the Amazon made Brazil an international pariah.

The guest list includes King Felipe of Spain, the presidents of Germany and Portugal, and Latin American leaders including Argentina’s Alberto Fernández, Bolivia’s Luis Arce, Chile’s Gabriel Boric, Colombia’s Gustavo Petro and Venezuela’s Nicolás Maduro, whose international rehabilitation has been helped by the election of a succession of leftists in the region.

The French president Emmanuel Macron is expected to make a state visit in early 2023.

Some of Brazil’s top artists are also heading to Brasília to sing in their country’s new era, among them the drag queen Pabllo Vittar, the sambista Martinho da Vila, and the Amazon star Gaby Amarantos.

“My heart is filled with hope,” said Amarantos, who believed Lula’s return would spark a “cultural revival” that would make Brazilians once again proud of their nationality after four years of international ignominy under Bolsonaro.

“There is so much to rebuild,” she added. “But we can now see light at the end of the tunnel.”

There is, however, anxiety over possible extremist attacks at Lula’s 1 January festa.

Freitas, who met Lula when he took his campaign to the Complexo do Alemão, said she felt anxious about being targeted by pro-Bolsonaro fanatics in Brasília. Relatives had urged her not to go.

“What happens if a Bolsonarista gets on the bus trying to trick everyone and does something?” her seven-year-old grandson had fretted.

Lula, whom allies have reportedly urged not to travel to his inauguration in the convertible Rolls-Royce Silver Wraith normally used, has tried to calm supporters, rejecting the idea the celebrations would be marred by rightwing “rowdiness”.

“Don’t worry about all this noise. Those who lost the election need to pipe down – and those who won have the right to throw a big party,” Lula said on Thursday.

When he became Brazil’s first working-class president in January 2003, a global commodities boom allowed the former union leader to turbocharge social programmes that helped millions escape poverty. Lula left office in 2010 with high approval ratings that led Barack Obama to call him “the most popular politician on earth”.

Two decades later, the economic outlook is less promising and Brazilian society is profoundly divided, with many families split over their support for Lula or Bolsonaro.

“It’s going to take time for him to get things more or less back on track,” Freitas said. “It’s like when your clothes are torn: just putting them back on your body won’t fix them. You have to sew them back together again … stitch by stitch.”

But as the curtain comes down on Bolsonaro, those worries can wait. On Sunday, Freitas just wants to have fun.

“I feel utterly delighted,” she beamed, showing off the bright red T-shirt and cap she would wear to her leader’s big day.

“Democracy has prevailed. The people have prevailed. Brazil will never, ever see another event like it,” she said. “We might have another 200 presidents but we will never see anything like this again.”


Related Articles

EU found a way to use frozen Russian funds
First generation unopened iPhone set to fetch more than $50,000 at auction.
WARNING GRAPHIC CONTENT - US Memphis Police murdering innocent Tyre Nichols
House Speaker Kevin McCarthy said he will block Reps. Adam Schiff and Eric Swalwell from serving on the House Intelligence Committee
Almost 30% of professionals say they've tried ChatGPT at work
Interpol seeks woman who ran elaborate exam cheating scam in Singapore
What is ChatGPT?
Bill Gates is ‘very optimistic’ about the future: ‘Better to be born 20 years from now...than any time in the past’
Tesla reported record profits and record revenues for 2022
Germany confirms it will provide Ukraine with Leopard 2 tanks
Prince Andrew and Virginia Giuffre Photo Is Fake: Ghislaine Maxwell
Opinion | Israel’s Supreme Court Claims a Veto on Democracy
Moonwalker Buzz Aldrin Gets Married On His 93rd Birthday
Who’s Threatening Israeli Democracy?
Federal Reserve Probes Goldman’s Consumer Business
China's first population drop in six decades
Microsoft is finalising plans to become the latest technology giant to reduce its workforce during a global economic slowdown
Tesla slashes prices globally by as much as 20 percent
1.4 Million Copies Of Prince Harry's Memoir 'Spare' Sold On 1st Day In UK
After Failing To Pay Office Rent, Twitter May Sell User Names
Lisa Marie Presley, singer and daughter of Elvis, dies aged 54
FIFA president questioned by prosecutors
Britain's Sunak breaks silence and admits using private healthcare
Hype and backlash as Harry's memoir goes on sale. Unnamed royal source says prince 'kidnapped by cult of psychotherapy and Meghan'
Saudi Arabia set to overtake India as fastest-growing major economy this year 
Google and Facebook’s dominance in digital ads challenged by rapid ascent of Amazon and TikTok
FTX fraud investigators are digging deeper into Sam Bankman-Fried's inner circle – and reportedly have ex-engineer Nishad Singh in their sights
TikTok CEO Plans to Meet European Union Regulators
France has banned the online sale of paracetamol until February, citing ongoing supply issues
Japan reportedly to give families 1 million yen per child to move out of Tokyo
Will Canada ever become a real democracy?
Hong Kong property brokerages slash payrolls in choppy market
U.S. Moves to Seize Robinhood Shares, Silvergate Accounts Tied to FTX
Effect of EU sanctions on Moscow is ‘less than zero’ – Belgian MEP
Coinbase to Pay $100 Million in Settlement With New York Regulator
FTX assets worth $3.5bn held by Bahamas securities regulator
A Republican congressman-elect is under investigation in New York after he admitted he lied about his education and work experience.
Brazilian football legend Pele, arguably the greatest player ever, has died at the age of 82.
Hong Kong to scrap almost all its Covid rules
EU calls screening of travellers from China unjustified
US imposes Covid testing for visitors from China
Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy Addresses Joint Session of Congress - FULL SPEECH
Where is Rishi? Chancellor Jeremy Hunt's excuses about the UK's economic challenges just don't make sense
Former FTX CEO Bankman-Fried finally arrested in Bahamas after U.S. files charges
Corruption works: House Financial Services Chair Waters doesn't plan to subpoena her donor, Sam Bankman-Fried, to testify at hearing on FTX collapse
Ronaldo's new contract...
Prince William's godmother resigns honorary royal role after exposing her/their racism
Tax fraud verdict again exposes illusion of Trump the master businessman
Tax fraud verdict again exposes illusion of Trump the master businessman.
Yellen hints at ‘national security’ probe into Twitter purchase