Brazil split between those who have food and those who don’t

Another four years of Jair Bolsonaro, or bring back former President Lula? A far-right leader or someone leaning to the left? In the leadup to what promises to be the most polarized election in Brazil’s recent history, that’s what seems to be at stake in the country. But a large portion of Brazilians care not for the election, worried instead about having enough food on their tables to feed their families.

The big story this week concerned Lula making the cover of Time magazine, with an exclusive interview on his “promise to save the nation.” The story made waves, not least because Jair Bolsonaro’s supporters have spent years photoshopping their president onto phony covers of the famed American news magazine.

Elsewhere, some of the former president’s remarks within the piece caused a much bigger stink, like when he suggested Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky was “as responsible as Putin for the war,” needlessly confusing and angering many of his potential voters.

But beyond the political posturing, the debate Brazil really needs has little to do with the election. After a sluggish economic recovery and a devastating pandemic, inflation and unemployment rates are barely manageable anymore. After years of improvement, hunger is now once again rampant in Brazil.

The precarity is visible to citizens all over the country, whether it be in the long lines at social security offices, or in the rows of tents sheltering the large homeless population in Brazil’s cities. Almost one out of every ten Brazilians does not have access to enough food to eat at least a single meal a day.

Bolsonaro v. Lula will be the cover story for the months to come, but it is important that Brazil does not lose sight of the bigger picture. 

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