The West’s left-right battle lines run through Brazil

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11/10/2019

“They did not jail a man,” declared the released prisoner. “They tried to kill an idea, and ideas don’t disappear.” The freed man was Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, the former left-wing Brazilian president who was jailed last year on corruption charges that his supporters believe were politically motivated. Lula left office in 2010 with a staggering 80 percent approval rating and was favored to be on course to return to power in 2018; his imprisonment paved the path to the presidency for far-right firebrand Jair Bolsonaro, who, both on the campaign trail and now in office, has loudly banged the drum against perceived perfidy and tyranny of leftist dogma. Bolsonaro has anchored his politics in a rejection of years of left-wing rule, unraveling environmental protections, seeking to privatize state institutions, and dabbling in an angry culture war targeting indigenous and LGBT rights. After Lula’s release, he heaped scorn on his leftist adversary. “Let’s not give space to compromise with a convict,” Bolsonaro told supporters in Brasilia. “Do not give ammunition to the scoundrel, who is momentarily free but full of guilt.”

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