Could we have a black president?
Joaquim Barbosa isn’t even officially running for president, said Juan Arias, but he’s already third in the polls. Brazil’s first black Supreme Court justice, the 63-year-old Barbosa is widely respected both for his erudition—he’s an ex-diplomat who speaks English, French, and German as well as Portuguese—and for his anti-corruption bona fides. Appointed to the court by former leftist President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva in 2003, he didn’t hesitate to jail dirty lawmakers from Lula’s Workers’ Party. Now that Lula is himself in prison on charges stemming from a corruption scandal, Barbosa is being touted as his heir, “the black Lula.” He is reportedly in talks with the center-left Socialist Party about running as its candidate in the October election. In a country where half the citizens are black, indigenous, or mixed race, Barbosa’s blackness could be a plus. And while we “know very little about the political thinking” of this “secretive” man, his few public statements show him to be acutely aware of the problems of Brazil’s poor. Barbosa is no Marxist, but he is “aware that Brazil cannot be governed without fighting structural poverty.” Lula lifted millions of families above the poverty line. Could a President Barbosa help erase “the scars of slavery”?