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Presidential scandal puts Brazil in global spotlight

by Breonnah Colón - Lifestyles Editor
Tue, Apr 17th 2018 08:00 pm

Living in the United States offers a sort of luxury many of us tend to not have to think about: being blind to the problems of the world. Being in a firstworld country, more often than not, means trying to figure out how to make car payments or when you can buy the latest iPhone. The reality of the matter, though, is that most people around the world have much larger problems. 

Last week, I discussed the world’s view of Colombia and how rather than uphold those views, the country’s people have been working to establish and maintain a safer society, both for themselves and the thousands of Venezuelans seeking refuge plaguing their own country. Despite Colombia having its own issues, the government has promised to lend a helping hand to those in need. However, not every leading body shares this approach.

Brazil is another South American country which has been the destination of Venezuelans fleeing in search of a better life. Unlike Colombia, the Brazilian government has been less welcoming to its border country’s residents. In response to the approximate 800 refugees entering the country on a daily basis, according to reuters.com, the Brazilian government has worked to grant temporary two-year visas to Venezuelans. The country’s authorities have also called out Venezuela’s government for its inability to help its own people. While this response may seem a bit harsh, it isn’t without reason. Since the beginning of 2017, roughly 52,000 Venezuelans have fled to Brazil. While this large influx of refugees has been taking place, Brazilians had a completely different issue to deal with this past week — one that captured the attention of news organizations worldwide. The country’s previous president  has been charged and convicted of corruption and money laundering, granting him 12 years in prison. While this may be one of the country’s most scandalous events, it is certainly only the tip of the iceberg as far as social issues are concerned.

Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, commonly referred to as Lula by his many supporters, turned himself into authorities on Saturday, April 7.  According to  The New York Times, the ex-president was hailed as “the most popular politician on earth” by our very own former president Barack Obama. Despite agreeing to turn himself in to authorities, Lula holds to his statement that his sentence is politically motivated and an attempt to remove him from upcoming elections due to take place later in October. 

Supporters were so vehement about Lula not going to prison, hundreds flanked the car while he was attempting to drive to the authorities, chanting “don’t surrender” and “there’s no turning back,” CNN explained. Beyond everything that’s happened, Lula has maintained his intent to run in upcoming elections for as long as he is a free man, news both his public supporters and political party appreciate. The situation has the world watching. While he may be immensely popular with the general Brazilian public, the court concluded unanimously that Lula was guilty of all charges. It is unknown what will take place in October, but we can only hope some semblance of democracy will be present. 

Still, Brazil has so much more to worry about than an immense number of refugees and a possibly corrupt government leader who has the hearts as well as the support of most of the country’s people, despite the same individuals possibly being his victims. The country is also plagued with severe overcrowding of not only adult prisons, but also juvenile facilities, where many children die at the hands of other children. The Human Rights Watch, an organization that documents human rights issues from different countries around the world, explained that Brazil has also struggled with issues of violating freedom of expression, where citizens have been charged in courts for “disrespecting” either political leaders or members of the country’s armed forces that patrol the streets of Rio de Janeiro, the country’s capital. 

Needless to say, Brazil certainly has a lot on its plate. Harboring refugees is a difficult role for a country that isn’t dealing with large scale corruption and rampant social issues. The best we can do is be informed and understand the struggles that face our brothers and sisters just one plane trip away in the other America.



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