“Good morning President Lula!” – are the words that accompanied the current head of Brazil every morning during the 580 days of his stay in prison in the state of Paraty, from 2018 to 2019. The reason for his imprisonment was a large-scale court case about corruption in the government , called Lavo Jato. And the voice that sounded through the speakers installed in front of the police station was that of Lula’s then-future wife, trapped in the political cycle.
Zhanzha became a reliable support for Lula in the political arena
The president later said in an interview that while he was behind bars, she sent him food and touching letters every night. The day Lula was released, Rosangela stood by her side during her first speech to her supporters, holding a sign that read “Lula is innocent.” Rosangela, better known as Janja in Brazil, was born in 1966, 21 years after the birth of her current husband. Already at the age of 17 she joined the Workers’ Party, the Trudoviks, one of whose founders was Lula.
Their first relationship took place in the early 1990s, but then it was exclusively “professional” in nature, since at that time Lula was already married for the second time. However, in 2017, the current president became a widower: in January, Marisa Lula da Silva suffered a stroke and a few days later she died in the hospital.
Lula’s relationship with Zhanzha became known to the general public in 2019; Later, one of the politician’s party associates said on social media that the former prisoner was “in love” and dreams of marrying his new chosen one. Immediately after Lula’s release from prison, the couple begins living together and, in May 2022, Zhanzha takes her husband’s world-famous surname.
Janja’s presence at the G20 as a full participant, and not just as Lula’s wife, is just the latest of many examples of the increasingly visible participation of Brazilian women in political events both inside and outside Brazil. She invariably accompanies her husband during her travels, most frequently choosing the color red in her clothing, emphasizing her commitment to the ideology of the Working People’s Party.
While her activism has been criticized by Lula’s opponents, who accuse her of being too involved in political affairs, others see her unconventional approach as a departure from the traditional role of first lady. For the president’s electorate, Jeanja appears not only as a “complement” to Brazil’s leader, but as a figure in her own right committed and aware of the complex social and political problems facing Brazil and the world.
Media materials from the South American country make it clear that Zhanzha plays an extremely important role, becoming a reliable support for Lula not only in domestic affairs, but also in the political sphere. “Zhanzha criticized the idea of privatizing Eletrobras (the largest Brazilian electricity company. – Note RG) after a large-scale blackout in Brazil”, “Zhanzha invited the vocalist of the British rock band Coldplay to participate in COP 30 (UN Conference on Climate Change – Note “RG”) in Brazil”, “Zhanzha met with US representatives at the UN” – these are just a small part of the headlines in Brazilian newspapers dedicated to Lula’s wife.
At the same time, experts note that Zhanzhe is also characterized by the manifestation of political ambitions that go beyond the reach of “simply the first lady of Brazil.” Thus, in January 2023, it became known that Lula’s wife was unhappy at not having obtained any position in the presidential cabinet. So, in a conversation that was made available to the press, Zhanzha excitedly emphasized that “maybe I need to tear up my marriage certificate so I can engage in political activities.” The reason for Lula’s deliberate refusal to grant his wife a government position was his consultations with lawyers, who told the president that such a move could be considered nepotism.