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Lula’s embarrassing little phrase about Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega

His tour of Europe has been called « Triumphant » through the press. But, for Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, the return to Brazil is much more complicated. The leftist leader, big favorite of the next presidential election, is today at the center of an embarrassing controversy even to his close allies. The subject of the dispute: the ambiguous position of the former steelworker on the authoritarian regime of Daniel Ortega in Nicaragua, to say the least.

Originally, we find an interview, given on November 20 to the Spanish daily El Pais. Regarding Nicaragua, where Daniel Ortega was re-elected on November 7, for a fourth term, after a process described as  » prank call «  or from « Simulacrum » by observers, Lula is first consensual: “Any politician who begins to think that he is indispensable and irreplaceable begins to become a small dictator. « 

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But quickly, the tone changes. “Having said that, we must defend the self-determination of peoples. Why can Angela Merkel stay in power for sixteen years, and Daniel Ortega not? (…) What is the logic in this? « , wondered awkwardly the former president. Scathing response from the journalist: “Angela Merkel has been in power for sixteen years, it’s true. But she never put her opponents in jail.  »

Visibly embarrassed, the leader of the Workers’ Party (PT), 76, finally admitted that Daniel Ortega « Wrong ». But the damage is done. And the little phrase instantly triggers the fury of the right and unease in part of the left, while Brazil still lives under the threat of a coup by President Jair Bolsonaro.

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Predictable output

In the « green room » of the Congress of Brasilia, equivalent to the room of the four columns at the Palais-Bourbon, in Paris, few deputies agree to comment on the statements of the « leader ». « Lula holds out the stick to get beaten », deplores an executive of the PT. « I don’t understand why he says such bullshit! » « , an intellectual close to the party gets angry. The Bolsonarists, them, play on velvet: « Why don’t you shut up? « , launches on Twitter, in Spanish, General Augusto Heleno, right-hand man of the current head of state.

Coming from a former opponent of the dictatorship, the exit may surprise. But it is actually quite predictable. The PT has never distanced itself from the old left “brother parties”, today at the head of authoritarian regimes, such as Nicaragua, Cuba, Venezuela or even Communist China, recently described by the former -President Dilma Rousseff of « Light in the face of decadence and the darkness traversed by Western societies ».

A year from the presidential election, the controversy could cost votes to the former steelworker, who is trying to attract the moderate electorate, scalded by Jair Bolsonaro. « The PT is against dictatorships, but only when they are right-wing (…), he continues to cultivate links with the worst regimes on our continent and the world. Can we really believe in his commitment to democracy? « , went so far as to question José Pinheiro da Fonseca, liberal economist and columnist at the Folha from Sao Paulo.

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