The question is not if, but when. Luis Inacio Lula da Silva, former shoe-shine boy, is set to lead his country, giving hope for the first time to brazil’s 60 million people living below the poverty line, after decades of right-wing rule did nothing to further their chances of social progress.
PRAVDA.Ru sources in Brazil state that voting is set to continue long into the night, with long queues at polling stations as opinion polls indicate that Lula has come just short of the 50% plus one vote he needed to be elected in the first round. His estimated 47% will take him into the second round with Jose Serra, forecast to gain 23% but the votes of the other main candidates (Garotinho and Gomes) should in their majority go to Lula.
Lula began his life in a poor family in Pernambuco, north-east Brazil. He worked on the streets as a peanut seller and a shoe-shine boy before gaining an apprenticeship as a metalworker, a profession which he loves and which cost him a finger in an accident.
Lula launched himself into politics in 1969, as a means to get over the loss of his first wife, who died of hepatitis. In 1975, he was elected leader of the metalworkers’ union, whose 100,000 members were enraptured by his innovative style of leadership. Until Lula, Brazil’s trade unions had been emaciated organisms led by government yes-men. Lula gave the union a life of its own and brought real hope to Brazil’s oppressed working class.
Arrested by the military government in 1980 and subsequently released, Lula founded the Partido dos Trabalhadores (Workers’ party), the first major left-wing party in the country’s history. It was his fiery leadership and left-wing discourse, however, which kept him out of the presidency. A survivor and a pragmatist, a practical and sensible man, Lula learnt from his three election defeats.
Enlisting the support of the centre-right Liberal Front (PFL), Lula has won the backing of political heavyweights like ex-presidents Itamar Franco and Jose Sarney and the powerful former Senator, Antonio Carlos Magalhaes, from Salvador de Bahia. A jittery financial market, manipulated from abroad, has done what it can to keep Lula out of the presidency, unjustly.
Lula has declared repeatedly that he intends to honour all agreements with the IMF. What he promises is “a destiny of progress and justice” and a Brazil where “Brazilians believe in themselves”, something which decades of right-wing rule promised but failed wholly to produce. Brazil’s 235 bn. USD external debt is witness to the disastrous running of the country by a corrupt clique of haves.
Brazilians decided today to take the first step towards taking their destiny in their own hands, a process which will be completed on October 27th when Lula runs against Jose Serra, of the PSDB (Social Democrats). The financial markets will calm down and Lula will prove to Brazil’s 115 million voters that he is a competent, intelligent politician, a humane man with great and special qualities of leadership, a visionary who will speak not only for Brazil’s underprivileged class, but also for its middle class, and give a new spirit of hope to Latin America in general.
Marcia MIRANDA PRAVDA.Ru BRAZIL
The choice of the city of Helsinki is not incidental as the capital of Finland had hosted US-Soviet negotiations on the limitation of nuclear stockpiles in 1969