Fourth Time a Charm for Lula

At his fourth attempt, Luis Inacio Lula da Silva becomes Brazil’s first left-wing president, who was swept to Brasilia on a wave of popular support in a record turnout on Sunday. He promises to respect financial commitments with the IMF but intends to reduce Brazil’s 215 bn. USD foreign debt while at the same time declaring “Employment is an obsession”.

Due to the fact that Lula has systematically claimed that he intends to respect Brazil’s financial agreements, the Ambassador of Portugal, the greatest foreign investor in Brazil, has declared that the climate is clearly favourable for a continuation of Portuguese interests in the country and that foreign entrepreneurs need not fear Lula. Ambassador Antonio Franco stated on Sunday that Lula has done everything necessary to reassure the investors that he does not pose an added risk.

What was evident this time around was that the manipulative tactics to keep Lula out of office were clearly a failure. In 1989, Fernando Collor de Mello won the Presidency for the right wing, backed strongly by the USA and the foreign financial community, by starting a smear campaign against Lula, using the paid declarations of an ex-girlfriend and a carefully staged, illegal re-mixing of a TV interview shortly before the election. Collor de Mello was subsequently disgraced by a financial scandal which led to his impeachment.

In 1994, Fernando Henrique Cardoso won his first Presidency by launching the Real Plan, to reduce hyper inflation, claiming that only he, as Finance Minister, was competent to bring it into action, since it was he who conceived it. In 1998, Cardoso won again after buying the votes of members of Congress, refusing to engage in TV debates with Lula and engineering a fictitious increase in the value of the Real for the election period. The value fell back to its previous level shortly after the election.

This time, Brazil belongs to Lula and Lula belongs to Brazil.


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