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News > Latin America

Brazilian Magazine Substitutes Lula for Gaddafi in Latest Cover

  • Veja's Sept. 21, 2016 cover and Newsweek's Oct. 30, 2011 cover

    Veja's Sept. 21, 2016 cover and Newsweek's Oct. 30, 2011 cover | Photo: Veja / Newsweek

Published 18 September 2016

Brazil's conservative weekly magazine Veja compares the lynching of the deposed Libyan leader to Lula's political misfortune. 

The latest edition of the conservative Brazilian magazine Veja parrots a 2011 Newsweek cover heralding the death of former Libyan President Muammar Gaddafi, but substitutes the image of the country's former President, Luiz Inacio “Lula” da Silva, for the slain leader in a macabre pastiche, dripping in blood.  

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The likeness is unmistakable: a floating, seemingly severed head, dripping in blood, appearing just below the magazine's title in a stark two-toned black and red design.

But the context is hardly the same. Newsweek’s Oct. 30, 2011 issue featuring Gaddafi’s black and red silhouetted face was published just 10 days after NATO and U.S.-backed de facto forces captured and lynched the deposed Libyan leader.

Veja’s Sept. 21, 2016 issue, on the other hand, appears to herald Lula’s political death in Brazil. 

Lula is a founding member of the Workers’ Party–known by its Portuguese acronym, the PT–and would be the odds-on favorite to win the 2018 presidential election, according to recent polls. His protege and successor as president, Dilma Rousseff, was impeached Aug. 31 by the Brazilian Senate in a move widely condemned both in Brazil and internatonally as a coup. 

Since Rousseff’s ouster, Lula has been slapped with new formal corruption accusations alleging he was the mastermind behind a bribery scheme in the state-run oil company, Petrobras. The charges last week represent the first time federal prosecutors have directly accused Lula for alleged involvement in the Petrobras fraud ring.

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Lula slammed Rousseff’s impeachment as a “spectacle” and dismissed the corruption charges as a political maneuver to discredit his candidacy. “If my adversaries want to bring me down,” he said, “ they will have to fight me with votes.”

Many Brazilian analysts contend that Rousseff's impeachement, and charges of corruption against Lula are intended to nullify the Workers' Party's popularity with voters. PT governments.

Veja, the publisher of the new controversial cover, is among the major outlets within Brazil’s highly-concentrated media sphere accused of “coup-mongering” in the months leading up to Rousseff’s impeachment, with its yellow journalism intended to weaken public support for the PT. 

In 2010, the magazine favored PSDB candidate Jose Serra in his unsuccessful bid to unseat Rousseff. Serra, who also lost the election to Lula in 2002, is now Foreign Minister in the cabinet of unelected President Michel Temer. 

The comparison between Gadaffi and Lula could be viewed as ironic in another sense, however. While unelected, Gaddaffi was immensely popular in Africa –former South African President Nelson Mandela adored him–and had transformed the oil-rich Libya into continent's most prosperous, and egalitarian country. Many analysts have posited that the U.S. was keen to overthrow him to get their hands on Libya's oil and financial resources. 

Similarly, many of Veja’s front-page graphics have reflected the magazine’s right-wing editorial politics and sparked controversy among Brazilians. Upon the normalization of ties between the United States and Cuba, for example, Veja ran a cover featuring U.S. President Barack Obama as iconic Argentine Marxist rebel and Cuban Revolution commander Ernesto “Che” Guevara. 

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