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The response to attacks on democracy is to improve people’s lives

Rarely has support among the world’s progressive forces — such as Spain and Brazil — been as necessary as it is today

The entrance to a 'favela,' in one of the poorest districts of São Paulo.
The entrance to a 'favela,' in one of the poorest districts of São Paulo.Bosco Martín

Spain was one of the first countries that I had the honor of visiting at the beginning of my third term as president of Brazil. This was an important step in my country’s return to the world stage. And, on March 7, Brazil will have the opportunity to receive a visit from Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez.

Spain is the second-largest country of origin of foreign direct investment (FDI) in Brazil. The volume of investments is around $60 billion, with an annual flow of about $3.3 billion in recent years. However, there’s no other economic partner with which we share so many cultural and political affinities.

Hundreds of thousands of Spaniards have contributed to forging the Brazilian national identity. We have essential values in common, such as the defense of democracy and human rights, the promotion of socially-inclusive policies, the commitment to sustainable development and the fight against the climate crisis. These are fundamental efforts at a time when we’re experiencing profound changes in the international order, which challenge our sense of humanity.

In a world that spends $2.2 trillion a year on weapons, peace remains the privilege of some, while wars cause destruction, suffering and the death of innocents. In a world that produces wealth worth $105 trillion each year, more than 735 million people still have nothing to eat.

In recent decades, an exclusionary economic model has concentrated wealth among the very few and has widened disparities. Inequality has become fertile ground for extremism. When democracy fails to guarantee the well-being of citizens, figures who sell simplistic solutions to complex problems thrive, sowing distrust in the electoral process and political institutions.

We are facing a worrying rise in support for the extreme-right and its traditional tools to accelerate social disintegration: authoritarianism, violence, economic precariousness, climate denialism, hate speech, xenophobia, racism and misogyny. Fortunately, some of our societies have opted for governments that believe that the key to responding to attacks on democracy is to improve people’s lives.

This year, Brazil, once again, appears among the 10 largest economies in the world. The Brazilian economy grew by 2.9% over the past 12 months, while unemployment fell to 7.6%, the lowest rate since 2015. We expanded income transfer programs for the most vulnerable citizens and reestablished the minimum wage policy. We approved a tax reform that will finally correct the distortions that have been burdening those who have the lowest incomes with the highest taxes.

We were inspired by Spain to write a bill which guarantees workers’ rights: it was sent to the National Congress of Brazil this week. We reduced Amazon deforestation by 50% since my term began in January 2023, while supporting Spain’s efforts in the fight against desertification. At the national level, our governments are doing what needs to be done at the international level.

During the Brazilian presidency of the G-20, we will launch a Task Force for a Global Alliance Against Hunger and Poverty, to mobilize resources for the implementation of policies that have proven effectiveness. We will defend the creation of a global tax on billionaires. We will propose initiatives to guarantee decent jobs. We will promote a just transition towards a low-carbon economy, so as to guarantee that the COP30 — which we will host in the heart of the Amazon — results in effective solutions for the planet.

Rarely in history has solidarity among the world’s progressive forces — such as the alliance we maintain with Spain — been as necessary and urgent as now. It’s our responsibility to work together, so that indifference doesn’t prevail over humanism. We must ensure that injustices that spread within and between countries give way to cooperation.

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