The World is Watching: Democracy and Human Rights in Brazil’s 2022 Elections


Wednesday, March 23, 2022, 12:00pm to 1:30pm


Zoom (registration required)

This event is virtual and will take place in both English and Portuguese with simultaneous interpretation. To register, click here.

Speakers: Julissa Mantilla Falcón, President, Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR); Steve Levitsky, Professor of Government, Harvard University; Director, David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies; Jamil Chade, Journalist
Moderated by: Sidney Chalhoub, Professor of History and African and African-American Studies, Harvard University; Natalia Viana, Nieman Fellow, Harvard University; Co-founder and Co-director, Agência Pública

Over the last two years the UN included Brazil in a list of 40 countries in which the human rights situation is “worrisome”. Another international organization, Human Rights Watch, warned that president Bolsonaro “has tried to undermine the foundations of democracy by attacking the judiciary and repeating baseless claims of electoral fraud”. On top of that, the past two elections were marked by unprecedented levels of violence that has caught the attention of international observers. (link 2018) (link 2020). In its latest country report, the OAS pointed out the increasing attacks on freedom of expression of professors, journalists and human rights advocates through online and judicial harassment. Amid uncertainty, international organizations such as the OAS are in talks to send observers to monitor the elections in October. In this panel, Steve Levitsky, Director of DRCLAS and author of the best-selling book “How Democracies Die”, Julissa Mantilla Falcón, President of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, and award-winning journalist Jamil Chade will discuss the threats to democracy and human rights in Brazil ahead of the elections, and the path to move forward.

Commissioner Julissa Mantilla Falcón was elected by the General Assembly of the OAS during its 49th Regular Period of Sessions, on June 28, 2019, for a four-year term from January 1, 2020 through December 31, 2023. As a lawyer, she specializes in human rights and has a degree from the Pontifical Catholic University of Peru (PUCP), a diploma in Gender from the PUCP, and an LLM in International Human Rights Law from the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) at the University of London. She worked in the Peruvian Ombudspersons Office and was in charge of gender issues in the Commission for Truth and Reconciliation in Peru. She has served as an international consultant on transitional justice for UN Women. She is a professor at the Law School and the master’s degree in Human Rights at the PUCP and at the Academy on Human Rights and Humanitarian Law at the American University’s Washington College of Law. She has lectured internationally and authored several academic publications. She is a citizen of Peru.

Steven Levitsky is the Director of the David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies at Harvard University. As the David Rockefeller Professor of Latin American Studies and Professor of Government, his research focuses on democratization, authoritarianism, political parties, and weak and informal institutions. He is author (with Daniel Ziblatt) of How Democracies Die (Crown, 2018), a New York Times Best-Seller that has been published in 25 languages, Competitive Authoritarianism: Hybrid Regimes after the Cold War (with Lucan Way) (Cambridge, 2010), and Transforming Labor-Based Parties in Latin America: Argentine Peronism in Comparative Perspective (Cambridge, 2003), and co-editor of Informal Institutions and Democracy in Latin America (with Gretchen Helmke) and The Resurgence of the Latin American Left (with Kenneth Roberts). He has written frequently for the New York Times, Foreign Affairs, Vox, The New Republic, The Monkey Cage, La República (Peru) and Folha de São Paulo (Brazil). He is currently writing a book (with Lucan Way) on the durability of revolutionary regimes. Levitsky received his PhD from the University of California, Berkeley.

Jamil Chade is a journalist who specializes in international coverage. He has reported on more than 70 countries. Over the last 20 years he has crossed borders with refugees, interviewed Nobel Prize winners, covered elections, summits of heads of state and mega sporting events. From his office at the UN headquarters in Geneva, he contributed to international news outlets such as The Guardian, El Pais, BBC, CNN, Le Temps, Swissinfo, CCTV, Al Jazeera, France24 and others, in addition to being a columnist for UOL and Grupo Bandeirantes.

Sidney Chalhoub is Professor of History and of African and African American Studies at Harvard University. He is also a faculty affiliate of the Department of Romance Languages and Literatures. He taught at the University of Campinas (UNICAMP), Brazil, for thirty years before coming to Harvard in the fall of 2015. His research and writing focus mainly on the social history of Brazil in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, with emphasis on the history of slavery, race, public health, and the literature of Machado de Assis, a writer of African descent widely regarded as the most important Brazilian novelist of all times. He published five individual books, three of them on the social history of Rio de Janeiro: Trabalho, lar e botequim (1986), on working-class culture in the early twentieth century; Visões da liberdade (1990), on the last decades of slavery in the city; and Cidade febril (1996), on tenements and epidemics in the second half of the nineteenth century. He also published Machado de Assis, historiador (2003), about the literature and political ideas of Machado de Assis. His most recent book is A força da escravidão: ilegalidade e costume no Brasil oitocentista (2012), on illegal enslavement and the precariousness of freedom in nineteenth-century Brazil. Chalhoub has also co-edited five other volumes on the social history of Brazil. At Harvard, he teaches courses on slavery, race, literature, and theories and methodologies of history, besides a lecture course on the History of Brazil, from Independence (1822) to the Present.

Natalia Viana is a co-founder and co-director of Brazilian investigative journalism Agência Pública, founded in 2011 by women reporters. She is the author or co-author of four books about human rights violations and has won several journalism awards, including the Gabriel García Márquez award in 2016.

Presented in collaboration with Agência Pública