On Oct. 27, the overwhelming majority of Brazilians awarded Luiz Inacio da Silva, known by all as Lula, with a resounding victory in the nation’s presidential elections. Lula won with over 61 percent of the vote, to Jose Serra’s 39 percent. Even though the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Wall Street and Washington tried to blackmail Brazilians into rejecting Lula for president, the attempt failed.
At their 10th Congress in December 2001, where Lula passionately spoke, the Communist Party of Brazil (PCdoB) set winning this presidential election through a united coalition of forces as the most important strategic task on the nation’s immediate agenda. It will open the way to a new stage in social progress for Brazil.
According to Renato Rabelo, the national president of the PCdoB, winning this victory is the mark of an historic turning point in Brazil, as significant as the abolition of slavery and the proclamation of the republic, where national sovereignty, democracy, development and social justice can be pursued. The PCdoB itself won over 9 million votes throughout Brazil, and elected 12 deputies to the Chamber of Deputies (equivalent to our House of Representatives).
Throughout the world, this glorious triumph is being celebrated by progressive forces. Cuban President Fidel Castro said Lula is his friend and he admires his perseverance. Hugo Chavez of Venezuela said an “axis of good” now exists in Latin America. Rev. Jesse Jackson went to Brazil at Lula’s invitation and joined in the campaign. The experience was positive and very welcomed, reported Luis Fernandes of the PCdoB. Fernandes also stated that “Though we were leery of dirty tricks and remained mobilized, we were very optimistic.”
Lula was a metalworker in the auto industry and is a former president of the metalworkers’ union. His sharecropping family migrated to Sao Paulo from Pernambuco, a state in the northeast, which is one of the poorest regions in the country. Lula’s father worked on the docks after moving to Sao Paulo, and Lula began to work full time by the age of twelve.
He was a political prisoner during the late 1970s under the military dictatorship that governed Brazil from 1964 to 1985. As the founding leader of the Workers’ Party, this was Lula’s fourth run for president since 1989.
In the first phase of the 2002 election, held on Oct. 6, the Workers’ Party won more seats in the Chamber of Deputies than any other party. In that round, Lula won 46 percent of the vote to Jose Serra’s 23 percent. Serra was the presidential candidate from the governing party’s coalition, the Brazilian Social Democracy Party. Anthony Garotinho of the Brazilian Socialist Party got 18 percent and Ciro Gomes of the Popular Socialist Party got 12 percent of the vote. Both Garotinho and Gomes threw their support to Lula in the second round of the elections.
The IMF attempted to win the presidency for Jose Serra by awarding a $30 billion package in August, three-fourths of which would not be released until after the election. It is widely reported that the agreement was designed to help Serra, the current president’s hand-picked successor.
It is also reported that Lula’s most formidable opponent was not Serra, but the world financial community, particularly Wall Street. In an attempt to manipulate voters, Wall Street financial players steered investors away from Brazil, downgraded Brazil’s government bonds and contributed to effecting the devaluation of Brazil’s currency. Part of the objective was to make it clear that Wall Street did not favor Lula’s superiority in the election polls or a Lula victory. One financial house, Goldman Sachs, developed a “Lulameter” to create increasing economic trouble for Brazil as Lula’s ratings in the polls increased.
Washington made it clear it did not favor a Lula victory. U.S. government circles are concerned about Brazil and the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) agreement under a Lula administration. Representatives of the Bush administration have arrogantly indicated that as long as Lula adopts sound policies and commits to U.S. values, they are willing to work with him. This, along with the IMF loan hold- out, is a clear attempt at blackmail, leaders of the PCdoB charge.
Experts indicate that the U.S. has been involved in upsetting progressive Latin American governments consistently since 1954. The progressive movement in the United States must keep its eyes open to expose and mobilize quickly against any Washington or Wall Street shenanigans geared toward undermining the decision of the Brazilian people to choose Lula as their president. We must make it clear, we too are for Lula! As one woman in Brazil declared, “He is one of ours.”
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