Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. (AP)

Seven Numbers to Understand Lula's First 100 Days

By Abby Arndt and Chase Harrison

The start of the Brazilian president’s third term has focused on the Amazon, fiscal policy, foreign relations, and more.

Thirteen years after stepping down from his first two terms in power, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva once again picked up the reins of Brazil’s presidency on January 1, 2023. But this time it came after winning a contentious and highly polarized election against incumbent Jair Bolsonaro. Then, just one week after his inauguration, a mob stormed Brazil’s capital, highlighting the country’s divided political landscape. 

Despite the difficult start, Lula’s approval sits at 65 percent, per Genial/Quaest. And the start of his new term has been marked by an effort for fast changes—including some to undo the work of his predecessor—on social policies, environmental protections, and international affairs. 

AS/COA Online zeroes in on seven figures that mark the beginning of his third term as president.

294 people

The number of people in prison for involvement in the January 8 insurrection.

Days after Lula’s inauguration, Brasília saw a mob invade and vandalize the Supreme Federal Court, the National Congress building, and the Planalto Presidential Palace. Authorities detained over 2,000 people on January 8 and 9. A March ruling by Supreme Court justice Alexandre de Moraes led to the release of all but 294 from prison

As investigations continue, the prosecution is pursuing charges including criminal association, attempted violent abolition of the democratic rule of law, attempted coup d'état, qualified damage, and deterioration of listed property. 

13.75 percent

Brazil’s key interest rate. 

The country’s Central Bank has maintained the interest rate at this level—a six-year high—for five straight meetings. The Bank has said it will increase this rate if inflation continues. 

Lula has openly criticized the bank’s rate policy, calling it “truly absurd,” and arguing that high borrowing rates have hampered job creation and economic growth. One way Lula is pressing the bank to lower the rate is through a fiscal plan that limits how much the government can increase spending each year. Markets so far have responded positively to the plan with Brazil’s benchmark stock index rising 1.5 percent after the announcement. 

60 million

The number of Brazilians receiving Bolsa Familia payments again.

Lula’s government resumed the Bolsa Familia cash transfer program, a signature policy of his first two presidential terms (2003–2010). Through Bolsa Familia, Brazilian families receive money directly, with a cost to the federal government of $33.65 billion a year. Bolsonaro had ended the program in 2021, launching his own cash transfer program known as Auxílio Brasil. 

Lula’s action on Bolsa Familia is indicative of a strategy of reversing the actions of Bolsonaro, who in turn sought to reverse the policies of Lula and President Dilma Rousseff. In fact, Lula has rolled backed several of Bolsonaro’s marquee reforms on gun rights and appointed new members to the Amnesty Commission for Brazil’s dictatorship. 

$5.1 billion

The value of Brazil’s total exports to China in February 2023. 

Beijing is currently Brazil’s largest trading partner, with the South American country’s top export commodities to China including iron ore, soybeans, and crude petroleum. Between 1995 and 2021, the value of Brazilian exports to China soared from $1.3 billion to $88.3 billion. Not only that, but Brazil also took in $5.9 billion in Chinese FDI in 2021, making it the world’s top destination of Chinese investment, per Americas Quarterly

Deepening bilateral ties stands as a priority for the Lula administration. He was supposed to visit China in March, though he postponed the trip due to illness. The visit is now scheduled for April 11.  

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102 projects

The number of works that have been supported by the Amazon Fund.

On his first day back in office, Lula signed a package of seven executive orders with provisions to protect the Amazon from deforestation and reestablish institutions dedicated to environmental defense. Suspended in 2019 under the Bolsonaro administration, the Amazon Fund is back in action. 

Since its inception in 2008—during Lula’s second term—the Fund has supported over 100 projects focusing on rainforest conservation through money allocated by Brazil and donated from countries across the globe. Now, donations have resumed with Germany pledging $219 million in January. Following a meeting between Lula and U.S. President Joe Biden in Washington in February, the White House agreed make an initial contribution of $50 million to the fund. 

But the path forward will not be easy. February 2023 saw the highest rate of deforestation for any month on record, and a 62 percent increase over the previous year. 


The number of weapons Brazil will send to Ukraine.

Despite a request by German Chancellor Olaf Scholz in February, Lula remained firm that his country would not supply arms to Ukrainian forces to push back against the Russian invasion. 

That month, Lula introduced his own pitch for resolving the conflict that would gather countries such as India, China, and Indonesia to negotiate a solution. Foreign Minister Mauro Vieira told Americas Quarterly’s Brian Winter that Lula “didn’t make a concrete proposal” but rather started a discussion on peace, going on to say: “Brazil is a pacifist country … that’s our diplomatic DNA. That’s what the president wants to tell the world.” 

In early April, Lula suggested Ukraine could cede Crimea to Russia—a suggestion Kyiv rejected. This came after Lula’s close foreign affairs advisor, Celso Amorim, traveled to Moscow to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin in support of potential talks. The conflict is expected to be a topic on Lula’s agenda during his April visit to China.


The amount of tax paid per liter of gasoline.

Lula’s administration reinstated taxes on gasoline at a rate of $0.093 per liter and ethanol at $0.0039 per liter. Finance Minister Fernando Haddad announced the measures in February, and they will last through June. Bolsonaro previously slashed fuel tariffs ahead of the October election, leading to debates within Lula’s administration and the Workers’ Party about how to walk back this widely popular tax cut. 

Roberto Campos Neto, governor of Brazil’s Central Bank, anticipates this change to create short-term inflationary pressure but suggested it will have an overall beneficial effect by improving the government’s fiscal situation. The fuel taxes are expected to provide the government with an additional $4.4 billion in revenue