VP of Lebanese origin could clinch presidency in Brazil

By Furkan Guldemir

BEIRUT (AA) – While Lebanon struggles with a two-year-long presidential vacuum, Brazilian Vice-President Michel Temer — who is of Lebanese origin — could assume Brasilia’s highest office due to mounting corruption allegations against President Dilma Roussef.

Many Lebanese note with irony that, while politicians in their own country consistently fail to choose a new president, someone of Lebanese origin may end up becoming president of another country.

“Let’s go to Brazil to choose our president,” 50-year-old Lebanese housewife Maria Khouri told Anadolu Agency. “Or Michel Temer can come here and serve as our president.”

Abdulhadi Nasuli, a 42-year-old Lebanese man, voiced similar sentiments.

“We [the Lebanese] aren’t capable of choosing a president,” he told Anadolu Agency. “Maybe Temer should serve as president of both Brazil and Lebanon.”

Following the expiry of former President Michel Suleiman’s term in mid-2014, Lebanon’s 128-seat parliament has been unable to muster enough MPs to elect a new president due to repeated boycotts by Hezbollah-affiliated lawmakers.

The next attempt is scheduled for May 10, when MPs will try once again to elect a new head of state.

Temer’s family immigrated to Brazil from a village north of Beirut in the early 20th century.

The Lebanese diaspora is currently estimated at some 15 million in total, with many Lebanese expatriates occupying important positions abroad in politics, athletics, the arts and culture.

During the First World War, many Lebanese immigrated to South American countries, especially Brazil, Argentina and Chile.

According to the Brazilian Foreign Ministry, between seven and 10 million people of Lebanese origin now live in the country.

One of the best known of these Amin Malouf, a prominent author who left Lebanon due to that country’s destructive civil war from 1975 to 1990.

Famous people of Lebanese origin, however, are not confined to Brazil. Columbian pop singer Shakira and Mexican-American actress Salma Hayek also trace their roots back to Lebanon.

In the U.S., meanwhile, the list of prominent Lebanese-Americans includes retired army general John Philip Abizaid and Republican Congressman Darrell Issa.