The narrow victory of Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, better known as Lula, in Brazil's presidential election in November 2022 was seen by many as a win for democracy in the country. Yet as the storming of its legislature on January 8 showed, former president Jair Bolsonaro's tumultuous, populist tenure has left Brazil deeply divided. How did Lula and then Bolsonaro and then Lula again emerge as such potent figures? What impact did the two-decade military junta (1964-85) have on the country's politics? And how has Brazil's turbulent institutional history made Brazilian politics more flexible and participatory than those in the United States?
These are some of the questions we address in this episode of Then & Now. Our guest is Dr. Bryan Pitts, a historian of 20th-century Brazil, and the author of the recently published Until the Storm Passes Politicians, Democracy, and the Demise of Brazil’s Military Dictatorship. Dr. Pitts is the Assistant Director of Latin American Institute at UCLA.