Brazilian worker becomes president
28th October 2002
In a landslide election victory, Brazil has voted in a left wing president for the first time in its history. Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, widely known as Lula, became president of Latin America's largest nation on Oct 27. He will assume power on 1 Jan 2003.
Lula was born into a poor family of economic migrants and left school at primary level to become a lathe operator. He founded the Worker's Party in 1980 and has made three previous attempts to become president. However the United States and big business have always feared that the radically leftwing politician would gain power, and have actively worked to discourage Brazil from electing him.
In recent years Lula has curbed some of his more radical proposals and made enough promises to international big business to gain the acceptance required to ensure electoral success. He also chose a millionaire textile magnet as his running mate. However, his agenda still aspires towards radical measures to help 50 million Brazilian people who live in poverty.
The first three world leaders to telephone their congratulations on Lula's success were Hugo Chavez and Fidel Castro, the socialist presidents of Venezuela and Cuba, and George W Bush, ultra right wing capitalist president of the US. When Tony Blair visited Brazil last year, he refused to meet Lula, mistakenly believing he had no chance of victory.
Lula's electoral victory occurred on personally auspicious dates. His first round victory occurred on the day he was born (Oct 6), and his second and final round victory occurred on the day his birth certificate records his father's registration of his birth (Oct 23).
However, the coming year will be more difficult for Lula than achieving victory as he treads a fine line between fulfilling his radical socialist agenda and dealing with the International Monetary Fund to which Brazil owes lots of money.
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