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Lula isn’t the hero people think he is

Never exonerated over corruption: Lula on the campaign trail. Daniel Munoz/VIEWpress/Getty

Liberal commentators have greeted news of Brazil electing left-winger Luiz Inácio “Lula” da Silva to the presidency with glee. They’re living in a dream world, says The Wall Street Journal. There is nothing to cheer in Latin America’s largest country “gambling again” on the left-wing populism that has failed so often in the past. When he is inaugurated in January, South America will “largely be run by socialist governments”. Not just Lula’s old friends in Cuba and Venezuela, but everywhere from Argentina to Mexico is now run by leftists. “Economic misery seems to want company.”

Those who believe Lula’s pledges to safeguard the environment and help the poor will be disappointed. Before his party last ceded power in 2016, it was responsible for the “largest corruption scheme in Latin American history”, tainting the country’s national development bank, state-owned oil company and Congress. And the “money machine” wasn’t just a cash grab, it was also an anti-democratic effort to entrench his party’s power. Lula’s 2017 corruption conviction was “overturned on a technicality”, but he was never exonerated. And while his ousted right-wing rival Jair Bolsonaro is loathed for supposedly ruining the Amazon rainforest, deforestation happened at a more devastating pace in Lula’s first four-year term. Thankfully, the country’s centre-right congress will be a check on his “worst ambitions”. But the “crafty 77-year-old” will pull any lever of power to achieve his socialist dreams.

🇺🇦🤦‍♂️ The new president’s Western cheerleaders may also want to consider what their “cuddly Brazilian socialist” thinks about Ukraine, says Monocle’s Andrew Mueller on Twitter. In an interview with Time magazine in May, Lula said Volodymyr Zelensky was “as responsible as Putin” for the conflict: “If he didn’t want war, he would have negotiated a little more.”