Lula: Latin America’s last hope

Luis Inacio Lula da Silva arrived where he is today the hard way. He has had to fight the vested interests of the system at every turn to rise from his humble working-class origins in Pernambuco to Trade Union leader and now President-elect of Brazil. His meteoric journey embodies the hopes not only of a nation, but of a continent in desperate need of a leader.

Eight years of liberal policies under President Fernando Henrique Cardoso, which brought smiles to the faces of the US administrations in Washington, have left Brazil in a deplorable condition. Unemployment affects 20% of the working population, the worst rate in the country’s history, buying power is in free-fall, the economic growth rate is next to zero, the interest rate is the third highest in the world, the net internal debt is 300 thousand million USD and soaring, there are 40,000,000 living below the poverty line and next year, the payments to international creditors will be in the region of one billion USD per week.

Much as he may be regarded with derision by the right-wing administration in Washington and much as they may consider hum a communist in disguise, President Lula is the direct result of Washington’s policy in Latin America over the last decades, a product of its own making.

In Lula’s words, Brazil is not a Banana Republic. “My government will not be submissive and it will strongly defend the interests of the country, making its weight felt in the international community. Brazil is the tenth largest economy in the world. We cannot be treated like a Banana Republic. We must occupy the space that belongs to us and be respected”, he declared before he was elected.

Lula wants a Latin America inside the American Free Trade Area but on a basis of equality, not a playground for the USA’s rich to become richer, at the expense of the local populations. He considers the current AFTA proposals for Latin America “a proposal for the annexation of the economies of South America and the Caribbean by the North American economy”.

Lula favours an integration of Latin America in AFTA not only on an economic and commercial basis but also on a political and cultural one, with all the states as members, and this includes Cuba.

Lula considers that in the current context, the USA “maintains a technological, military, cultural and economic hegemony yet does not concede acts of compensation, as happens in the European Union with Spain, Portugal and Greece”. For instance, Brazilian exports to the USA pay on average 45% in import duty, whereas US exports to Brazil pay only 15%. “The Brazilian people have paid a very high price for the policy of submission by Brazil to the neo-liberal globalisation commanded by the USA”, comments Lula.

The time has come for the Americas to come together as friends, to work together and to share their wealth. There are no longer white areas on the map, unexplored by Mankind. There are, however, political black holes, vortexes in which the mighty grow stronger at the expense of the weak and powerless.

These are not Christian values, they are the laws of the jungle. The peoples of South America deserve better and with Lula as President of Latin America’s largest country, the time has arrived for a change.


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