Magazine article New Internationalist

Is There Life beyond Lula?

Magazine article New Internationalist

Is There Life beyond Lula?

Article excerpt



Brazil's charismatic President 'LuIa' da Silva steps down this month after eight years in power. So what's next?

It's a rags to riches story. Brazilian President Luiz Inacio 'Lula' da Silva was born into poverty in the country's hardscrabble northeast. When his family migrated south he worked the streets as a shoeshine boy and eventually became a metalworker and a trade union leader. He then helped organize an unprecedented wave of strikes against the military dictatorship in the early 1980s. In 1986 that opposition led to the formation of a new political party, the Workers Party (PT), and the fall of the dictatorship.

Lula then ran and lost all the post-dictatorship Presidential races until he finally came to power on 1 January 2003. His success sparked a wave of left-wing governments across Latin America and quickly established Lula as the continent's defacto leader. He was re-elected in 2006 and this month he's leaving, with a spectacular popularity rating nudging 80 per cent.

During his eight-year term Brazil has gone from a debtor to a creditor at the International Monetary Fund and has become self-sufficient in oil with massive new deep-water discoveries. The economy has grown an average 5.3 per cent a year. And the country will host the World Cup in 2014 and the Olympics in 2016.

Lula also tackled the country's grotesque inequality. The UN millennium target was to reduce poverty by half in 25 years. He has nearly achieved that in eight. The number of poor has plummeted from 50 to 29 million and could drop to 14.5 million by 2014. …

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