Who is Brazil’s next President?
May 20, 2010

“The Ipiranga Legacy”

“By the placid banks of the Ipiranga they heard

The resounding cry of a heroic people

And the bright rays of the sun of liberty

That shone at that moment in homeland’s skies.”

(Opening verse of the Brazilian national anthem)

 It was a day of glory, a day of bravery, a day when the magnificent rays of the sun of liberty illuminated the lives of those heroic people. It was on the banks of the river Ipiranga in the city of São Paulo, on the 07th of September 1822, when Dom Pedro I, the first emperor of Brazil and king of Portugal, cried: “Independence or Death!” – the so-called “Cry of Ipiranga”. Dom Pedro had thus declared that Brazil was no longer a Portuguese colony, heralding the beginning of the “The Brazilian Dream” for that peaceful nation.

After five centuries of struggle, hope, and courage Brazil is nowadays considered one of the countries with the greatest potential to shape world events, sitting as an equal partner at the same table as the other power-brokers who will shape the future of the world. The emergence of Brazil on to the world stage has come about because of the efforts of Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. Lula, 64, a genuine son of the people and courageous militant is one of the founding members of the Worker’s Party (PT). After three failed attempts, he was elected President in 2002 and re-elected for a second term in 2006.

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President Lula (PT)

Lula’s early life was very difficult. He had to leave school after fourth grade to work and support his family. He worked as a shoeshine boy, street vendor, and factory worker. In 1963, while working as a press operator in an automobile parts factory, Lula lost part of his finger in an accident, and had to wait several hours for the factory director to take him to hospital. It was a shock for him. He later had to have the whole finger amputated; Lula also had difficulties in receiving follow-up medical support after the accident. Years later, in 1971, he lost his wife Maria, who died of hepatitis during the eighth month of her pregnancy. The unborn baby was lost also. Both losses were due to the difficulties in receiving and affording medical care. These hard life experiences increased his interest in participating in trade unionism to defend working class interests and to defend the human rights, eventually leading Lula into mainstream politics.

Constitutionally, having led Brazil for two successive presidencies, Lula must now stand down. He will be able to dispute the presidential election in 2014, having left a gap of four years. In October 2010, Brazil will elect a new president, who will take up office in January 2011. But before speculating on who Brazil’s next president might be, it is worthwhile taking a broad look at Lula’s achievements during his eight-year presidency. How has it affected the lives of ordinary Brazilians? Before discussing who the next Brazilian President will be, how Lula’s work as a President for 8 years transcended over the lives of Brazilian people and the nation?

Jerry Antonio Dotto, historian, lecturer and former lawyer says: “In my opinion Lula is – without a doubt – an icon of the same magnitude as Getúlio Vargas, Jucelino Kubitschek, and everything points to him gaining a worldwide presence greater than many current leaders, equalling that perhaps of Mandela, principally due to his diplomatic negotiations in trying to find a solution to Iran’s nuclear ambitions”. It should be noted here that this had hitherto been a dialogue between Iran and the West without the involvement of Third World countries. Jerry Dotto is an ex-militant of the Worker’s Party (PT) in the city of Santa Helena, state of Parana, southern Brazil.

Dotto continues: “Lula’s government channelled the power of the machinery of the State towards industrial development and consequently, improved standard of living, despite the outward appearance of patronage, and this is shown by the Schools Package and the Family Package initiatives, which had already been introduced in most developed countries. Any good statesman knows that leaving people in poverty is more damaging to the state than guaranteeing a minimum salary and thus a means to live. The next elections will be disputed around Project Lula, and whoever takes a different tack will wind up the loser”.

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Marina Silva (PV)

Brazilian legislation only allows political parties to announce their presidential candidates within the period 06th of June to 30th of June, when the Electoral College conventions take place. But possible pre-candidates are: DILMA ROUSSEFF of the Worker‘s Party (PT), possibly in coalition with MICHEL TEMER as running mate: TEMER is a member of the Brazilian Democratic Movement Party (PMDB), which is the biggest political party in Brazil. JOSÉ SERRA of the Brazilian Democracy Social Party (PSDB), is another likely nominee and has as yet no coalition or declared running mate. Another pre-candidate is MARINA SILVA from the Green Party (PV), who also has no confirmed running mate.

But why doesn’t the PMDB have its own presidential pre-candidate? It is, after all, Brazil’s biggest political party, and does not have their own candidates? Julio Morandi explains: “Unfortunately the PMDB is being towed along and locked in to the PT by in the Dilma coalition despite being the largest political party in Brazil, not only having a greater number of governors, senators, state and federal deputies and mayors, but also a majority of councillors. The national mood does not encourage us to launch our own candidate as we maintain that the governability of Brazil is our priority, and in any case, the changes that Lula introduced were only possible thanks to the support of the PMDB at every level, since we have various ministers in the government as well as a majority in the Senate”. Morandi is a PMDB activist and for eight years was mayor of Santa Helena, state of Parana, southern Brazil.

And will Lula come back after a 4-year mandatory lay off? Do Brazilians want Lula back? According to Jerry Dotto: “The Brazilian people do not want a change in the government’s aims, therefore even Serra will have to defend Project Lula.”. That being the case, there is a great chance of Dilma being elected. If the people could, they would leave Lula in power. However the sacrifice – a presidency cannot extend more than two terms – must be made so that democracy is maintained. I think it is unlikely that Lula will return in four years time simply because of the question of his age – he will be more than 70-years old. But to be sure, he has done, and is still doing excellent work. Obviously there is much more still to do but the majority of sectors have been improved, including the most demanding, namely industry and the army.

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José Serra (Tucano - PSDB) and ex-Governor of São Paulo state

If DILMA ROUSSEFF (PT) contests the presidential race in October, she will be the first woman to do so, and who knows, Brazil’s first woman president. On the other hand, JOSÉ SERRA is also a powerful name in the presidential race. Serra has a great record of service. In addition, he also has been a member of the House of Representatives, Senator, Governor, and is well prepared to be the next President of Brazil. But what do the popular censuses say? What do they reveal about candidates for the next Brazilian president?

Jerry Dotto: “Well, until last week, Serra was in the lead. But the CNT/Census this Monday (17th of May) shows a technical draw between PT pre-candid, Dilma Rousseff, and PSDB pre-candidate, José Serra. Dilma has a slight advantage, 35.7%, over the tucano, who has 33.2%. But nothing is definite. If Serra wins he will, without a doubt, be an excellent president because, as I’ve already said, he will have to continue with Project Lula. If he doesn’t, he will have no chance of being re-elected, nor will his successor. Regarding his reputation, I’ve no doubt that Serra has a good reputation. Certainly, I have doubts as to his chances of winning, but obviously I would say that, wouldn’t I?”.

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Dilma Rousseff (PT)

On the other hand DILMA ROUSSEFF seems not to have the best curriculum vitae and seems not to be as well known as Lula was to be actually occupying Lula’s place as a President and representative of the Worker’s Party (PT). Elias Klaime, President-Director and columnist of the newspaper A Voz Do Parana writes: “If Dilma today has around 35.7% of the electorate, it is because of Lula’s influence, who himself has 80% government approval. Dilma does not possess the charisma of Lula. We are not sure of his policies except in the public sector. For this reason, Lula has an important role to play in the conduct of these elections”. A Voz Do Parana is published in Cascavel, Parana state, southern Brazil.

Brazil currently has about 120 million voters from a population of 192 million. In Brazil the vote is obligatory, and elections are still for most Brazilians a “Party moment” where they can actually “play” with the politicians. But what has to be considered is that the Brazilian democracy is still young; it was born only 121 years ago. Therefore, judgments over politics and politicians and over corruption are very difficult to make, for historical reasons. And the most crucial question is: will Brazil became part of the First World in future?

Summing up, Jerry Dotto says: “Brazil is on the right path. Brazilian political influence in world affairs will come about in step with Brazil’s internal development as it evolves into an economic power. These days, Brazil knows it is highly respected abroad and does not need to act like a colony nor its citizens like colonials but rather, like an actor on the world stage. Lula gave this to the Brazilian people. We do not hang our head down. We hold our head up, looking to the future. Brazil will very soon be helping shape decisive world affairs, be it on the UN Security Council or within the Latin American economic development block Mercosul. At the end of the day, this is one of the roles that Brazil must assume in the future, filling the vacuum left by the USA. Or even acting in areas where no-one had acted before, leading neighbouring countries in their own political and economic development. In leading the development of all the countries in the region, the task of continuing Brazil’s development is made much easier”.

by Tabata Mazzochin.


The World Behind a Word!
February 11, 2010