“Primus” in Economics: Daughter of Ramez, Grandson of Habib
The management of the Brazilian economy is now in the hands of two Lebanese grandsons: Fernando Haddad in finance and Simon Tebbit in planning. The candidacy of the duo is another indication of the projection that the Arabs and their descendants have acquired in Brazilian politics in recent decades – a social phenomenon that I have analyzed in depth in my book “Brimos” by Fósforo.
Other Levantine names that characterize our policy are Tamer, Malouf, Boulos and Feghali – all of Syro -Lebanese origin. The common denominator has not gone unnoticed. When she was nominated, Tebbit said that she had three points in common with Haddad: they are both university professors, have family in Mato Grosso do Sul and are of Arab origin. “You can not be wrong.” We know a lot about Fernando Haddad’s family.
I have visited the mountain village of Ain Ata several times, where his family came from. It is a city in southern Lebanon, at the triple border with Syria and Israel. There was his grandfather Habib al-Haddad there, an influential Orthodox priest who fought with the French invasion army. Ain Atta is also the birthplace of his father, Khalil, who changed his name to Felipe during his emigration to Brazil in 1947 – 24 years old. The Lebanese origin is what marked Haddad’s journey a lot.
When we talked about her in 2015, he told me that he had a photo of his grandfather, Habib, in his wallet and that he thought of him every time he was facing a moral dilemma . In a speech after losing the elections against Jair Bolsonaro in 2018, Haddad talked about his family again. “I learned from my predecessors the value of having the courage to defend justice at all costs,” said the minister.
We don’t know much about Simone’s family, in part because her name has become more popular with voters. The story begins with the immigration of two Lebanese in Brazil. His paternal grandfather, Tawfiq Tebet, arrived in 1929. He settled in Tres Lagoas, where he worked as a merchant – one of the favorite professions of Arab immigrants, but not the only one.
Her paternal grandmother, Angelina Jaime Tebbit, came to Brazil from Lebanon when she was a child, accompanied by her parents. Homewoman, she was known for her generosity. Today, Angelina Jaime gives her name to a street in the city of Tres Lagoas, the fief of this Lebanese family. Simon’s father, Ramez, was born from Tovic and Angelina. Ramez is graduated in law and married Ferti Nassar from Tibet, which is also of Arabic origin.
Like many Lebanese and Afro-Lebanese, he embarked on politics. He was mayor of Tres Lagoas, Minister of Justice of Mato Grosso Do Sul, senator and Minister of National Integration. Like Haddad, Simone is used to mentioning her levantine ancestry in public. Two years ago, when an explosion devastated the city center of Beirut, it tweeted: “Lebanon, the land of my ancestors, cries today in pain on yet another human tragedy with colossal proportions”.
The Arabs began to migrate to Brazil at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries, and they came from the Ottoman Empire – mainly from the countries of Syria and Lebanon – in search of a better life, after the collapse of the collapse silk market. They turned the local economy. There was also, to a certain extent, the impression that Arabs and Christians had been marginalized within the Muslim majority empire, hence his decision to leave.
Their collective journey was marked by an exceptional social elevation compared to other groups. Among the explanations of this phenomenon are the investment in the education of children and the mobility of street sellers.
But that does not mean that all the Syrians and Lebanese prospered in Brazil. Few families have had the same success as the Haddad and the Tibetans, and ended up being stifled by the successful novels which marked the academic production of the community.
Access to politics is the result of the social ascent and also of the common choice that the government of Getúlio Vargas offered minorities in the 1930s and 1940s in return for traditional families, considered hostile to the category. These are only a few of the many factors that explain the strong presence of names like Haddad, Tabet, Tamer, Maalouf, Boulos and Feghali in national politics.
When I talked about this subject earlier, some experts told me that it didn’t matter where these politicians came from. I was discriminating. But from a social point of view, it is strange that the politicians themselves save their levantine origins in public, built anti hybrid identities like Brazilian Arabs. It is a Latin American phenomenon, analyzed by Teresa Alvaro Velkamp in the Mexican case of the book far from God.
Tebbit’s own suggestion that he would work well with Haddad because they are both of Lebanese origin, by the way, is not weird. It is enough to remember that one of the keys to Maloof’s success in the government of São Paulo, at least by reading the leading sociologist Oswaldo Trozzi, was his ability to cooperate other Arab descendants in what’s then called the “Caliphate”. Diogo