Brazil’s Democracy Pushed Into the Abyss

Former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva of Brazil at an event this month in Rio de Janeiro.Photo: Mauro Pimentel/Agence France-Presse — Getty Image

WASHINGTON — The rule of law and the independence of the judiciary are fragile achievements in many countries — and susceptible to sharp reversals.

Brazil, the last country in the Western world to abolish slavery, is a fairly young democracy, having emerged from dictatorship just three decades ago. In the past two years, what could have been a historic advancement — the Workers’ Party government granted autonomy to the judiciary to investigate and prosecute official corruption — has turned into its opposite. As a result, Brazil’s democracy is now weaker than it has been since military rule ended.

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