Winds of Racial Change in Brazil
By Fabiana Frayssinet
RIO DE JANEIRO, Nov 5 2012 (IPS) - The appointment of Judge Joaquim Barbosa, seen as a popular hero because of his performance in one of Brazil’s highest-profile corruption cases, as the first black president of the country’s Supreme Court on Nov. 22 will be a landmark in national history.
Barbosa has been handling a trial of an alleged misappropriation of public funds to buy votes in Congress, involving leaders of the ruling left-wing Workers’ Party (PT) and former ministers of the government of former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva (2003-2011).
In Brazil, where 50.6 percent of the population of 194 million identify themselves as Afro-descendants in the census, there has never been a black Supreme Court president before.
“It’s doubly important, because he is black, and because he is the black person he is,” Carlos Alberto Medeiros, an analyst on race relations and Brazil’s laws, said in an interview with IPS