In the second of two profiles of the leading candidates in the race to become Brazil’s new president, Katy Watson asks if Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva is the same person who took the world by storm 20 years ago.
It is no coincidence that Lula chose the Amazon as one of his key destinations on the campaign trail.
The 76-year-old’s main rival in the presidential election on 2 October, far-right President Jair Bolsonaro, has been accused of destroying the rainforest.
Lula knows that climate issues have soared to the top of the political agenda and in Manaus, the biggest city in the Amazon, he told reporters “the planet needs special attention from all of us”.
“We need to look after our forest, our fauna, our water, but most of all, we need to look after our people because they’re struggling, they’re in need and they need to live with dignity,” he said. “We can reclaim this country, it’s possible to once again walk with our heads held high.”
Lula chose the Museum of the Amazon to meet indigenous leaders and talk about the future of the forest. “Nobody wants to turn the Amazon into an untouchable world sanctuary,” he told the audience.
“What we want is to benefit from our wealth, our biodiversity.” By saying that, the former president shows that he is aware of his rival’s message. President Bolsonaro is at great pains to say that the rest of the world needs to stop meddling in Brazil’s affairs.