Changes… in Brazil 

The New Year certainly started with a bang in Brazil!! The indomitable Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva was sworn in as President of Brazil – our giant neighbour over our southern border – for the third time. In his first two iterations, between 2003 and 2011, he’d become almost as famous as the footballers who’d distinguished their country for decades. The most famous of them all – Pele – has unfortunately just passed.
Unfortunately, Lula faltered after he’d been convicted of corruption charges, and saw most of his glitter disappear after being sentenced to a 12-year jail term. He was vindicated when the courts quashed the convictions in 2021, leaving him free to run again for office, even though by then he was in his mid-seventies. But he was facing a different Brazil from the one that he’d placed on the global top tier in his early years – on a solid economic performance for the largest economy in South America. However, the collapse of the Developed World’s economies in 2008 hit Brazil hard, and much of the gains for the poor which he’d implemented were wiped out by the time he left office.
The floundering economy was the main reason why the foaming-at-the-mouth, far-right, former Army officer, candidate Bolsonaro, was able to get elected in 2019. He presented a diametrically opposite vision for resuscitating Brazil, with his neo-liberal policies that mirrored his hero Trump’s in the US. He spat in the face of the climate change world that looked to preservation of the Amazonian forests as a main weapon in preventing global warming by sequestering carbon!! A huge swath of the forest – amounting to the entire Netherlands! – was converted to agriculture. But most alarmingly was the polarisation he brought into Brazilian politics, mirroring that of the US.
However, the economy didn’t recover as he’d promised, and no one accepted his excuse of the COVID pandemic that swept the world from 2020, especially since his mismanagement caused almost 700,000 deaths – the second highest in the world, after the 1,000,000+ in the US! In fact, the line that got Lula a huge round of applause at his inauguration was, “The responsibilities for this genocide must be investigated, and must not go unpunished. It is up to us now to show solidarity with the relatives of the 700,000 victims”!!
The expectations on Lula are extremely high, and he ain’t gonna be getting no slack from Bolsonaro’s supporters, who’re just a wafer-thin 2% less than his!! In fact, the right-wing ideologue flew to the States just two days before Lula’s inauguration in order to avoid being seen as offering legitimacy to the Lula Administration.
Brazil’s stability is important to us, since they have always been a counterweight to Venezuela’s territorial and political ambitions. It was good President Ali went to the ceremony!! Good Luck, Lula!!

…in Venezuela
Talking about Venezuela’s ambitions, the ambitions of Maduro’s Opposition have caused some interesting developments. They’ve dumped Guido, who was anointed as Venezuela’s “real” Government by the US and its allies!! Cold!! Here’s the man – who was controlling Venezuelan Embassies, and almost got his hands on billions of his country’s foreign assets on the strength of his friends – now out in the cold!! What gives?? Geopolitics of oil is what gives!!
As we know, the US wants to hedge its bets on the dwindling global oil supply, and has eased its sanctions on the Maduro Government to allow Chevron to start pumping the black gold up North!! Now, a new policy needs a new team to execute – and Guido’s too much part of the old regime-change game plan to be credible in the new dispensation!! This new plan needs a kinder, gentler face, but whoever it’ll be?! Don’t expect any change in the one issue that both Maduro and his Opposition ABSOLUTELY agree on – that Venezuela is theirs!!

…Church pederasty
The former Pope Benedict has passed on. Aside from whatever good deeds he might’ve done, he must be complimented for finally lifting the veil – so to speak – on the widespread pederasty practised in the Catholic Church by high officials!! RIP.