Brazil's Left Buried With Lula Downfall
Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva’s fall is complete.
The improbable rise of a young boy from street-side peanut seller to Brazilian president has ended in ignominy as the Supreme Court denied his request to remain free while appealing a corruption sentence. Lula, 72, says he’s been framed.
The former union leader has been leading opinion polls ahead of October elections and may now try to portray himself as a victim of political persecution in order to steer voters from inside a prison cell.
It’s a tall order. Lula on Facebook isn’t the same as Lula on stage, where his fiery rhetoric mobilized thousands. The verdict also likely buries the political left, denying it a chance of reclaiming the presidency.
But as investors breathe a sigh of relief that recent market-friendly policies are safe for now, none of the centrist, reform-minded candidates are polling beyond single digits. In fact, the most popular hopeful after Lula is Jair Bolsonaro, a former Army captain who says he knows nothing about economics. The relief may be short-lived.
Trade troubles | Republicans are warning President Donald Trump that a trade war with China would hurt politically important areas of the country and cost the party in November’s congressional elections. The proposed tariffs are aimed at fulfilling a campaign promise to protect domestic industries slammed by globalization. But the pain of the Chinese retaliation could undermine the president's claim that he is delivering prosperity.
Zuckerberg speaks | Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg may face an even tougher grilling when he heads to Capitol Hill next week after the company said data on most of its 2 billion users could have been accessed improperly. “We didn’t take a broad enough view of what our responsibility was and that was a huge mistake. It was my mistake,” Zuckerberg said yesterday on a call with reporters.
Macron’s train fight | French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe offered to ease the debt burden of national rail operator SNCF if workers accept reduced privileges for new hires and end their strike. The action practically shut down services this week and is planned to continue through June. A poll showed support for the strikers increasing even though most voters want to see the government’s plans to cut pensions and roll back special job protection for rail workers.
Toxic ‘Fairy Tales’ | The U.K. was forced onto the back foot in the war of words with the Kremlin, after government scientists said they couldn’t identify Russia as the source of a nerve agent used to poison a former spy. That contradicted statements by Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson. Russia pounced, accusing the U.K. of spinning “fairy tales” as conspiracy theorists fanned the social media flames. Expect more from Russia’s U.K. ambassador at a news briefing today.
Nafta retreat | The Trump administration has softened a demand for more North American content in car manufacturing — a potential olive branch on arguably the biggest Nafta sticking point. The new U.S. proposal comes as Trump — who has threatened to scrap the trade pact if Mexico doesn’t do more to stem the flow of illegal immigration — ordered the National Guard to the southern border. Click here for a slideshow from the travels of a caravan of Central American immigrants Trump has targeted for criticism.
And finally … High-wire acts and movies are coming to Saudi Arabia, all billed as part of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s development agenda. AMC Entertainment was granted a cinema license during the prince’s three-week U.S. tour, while Cirque du Soleil will perform and Feld Entertainment will stage productions such as “Disney on Ice” – all firsts in a country where it is difficult to gauge the religiously conservative public about change.
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