Zero and Blast-Off: The Lula Era Begins
Brazil Countdown - Fifth and Final Part
By Luis A. Gómez
Narco News Andean Bureau Chief
October 28, 2002
Before heading out of Brazil to continue our work, we’ll give you a pair of keys about the future of Brazil, kind readers, because the long walk has begun today… and Narco News will follow it closely.
“Today, the Brazilian working class became its own political subject, having its own instruments of action and a program created from struggle.”
- Frei Betto, liberation theologist and author, in his book: Lula, political biography of a worker (1989)
“It’s funny how it seems like magic to them, something that was constructed step by step, with a daily work and many times like that of Cinderella… What’s happening here isn’t magic… And I don’t mean to say that magic is prohibited. I will always count on it to return to the past and correct those frozen nights with incredible and good news.”
- Fernando Gabeira, in his column today in Folha de Sao Paulo
“I want to say to you that Brazil is changing peacefully. And, the most important thing is that hope conquered fear. And today I can tell you that Brazil, without fear, is being happy.”
- Lula, in his first public speech, after being elected President of Brazil on the night of October 27th
The party’s over but not the celebration. Although the whole world has returned to its daily activities, in the streets, in the cafes, or on the subway, in every part of Sao Paulo there are many people smiling, the theme of the conversations is the same, with more or less the same order: A congratulations because Brazil now has its first president of the Left, elected by popular will; some talk about the party last night on Paulista Avenue (where about 200,000 people came together), and, next, the first comments about the latest news stories, about the first speeches by Lula, and the reactions…
This morning, around 10 a.m. (local time), the one and only George Bush picked up the telephone (is it still red?) and congratulated his new colleague. For its part, the US StateDepartment said that Washington (and the communiqué was repeated in its huge office in Brasilia) that it has great expectations of working very closely with Lula and his government… Hopefully, it’s not, in reality, a hidden threat. And like those, congratulations of every sort have begun to arrive: from the Spanish government, the French president, the Argentine Left of the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo, from Evo Morales and from Fidel Castro.
But one particularly interesting call came from the chief of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Hoerst Köhler: “The grand election result is another confirmation of the vibrant democracy of Brazil and it presents the president-elect with an historic opportunity to satisfy the economic and social aspirations of the Brazilian people… Over the months we have waited to work with president-elect da Silva and his new government to help create the conditions that will be necessary for sustainable development in Brazil.” Köhler also asked for a meeting with Lula and his economic team… we’ll see what President da Silva (in English, his last name means “of the jungle”), with respect to the economic situation.
Lula has already made two speeches as president-elect. Of course, for those who want to listen to the voice of the new Brazilian president, you can go to:
Let’s go! It’s not very long to listen to, and there may be those who don’t understand, but it’s good to know how the voice sounds, that of the man who last night said: “Our arrival at the Presidency of the Republic is the fruit of a vast collective effort made over decades by uncountable democrats and social fighters.”
Returning with our theme, in his speech last night, Lula referred to the social issues, reaffirming his campaign promises about economic stability and fiscal responsibility, because “the hard path that Brazil will face will demand austerity in the use of public funds and an implaccable fight against corruption. But in spite of the restrictions placed by the difficult economic situation that we inherit, we are convinced that from the first day of our term it will be possible to move with creativity and determination in the social realm. We’re going to conquer hunger, generate jobs, attack crime, combat corruption and create better schools for the population with few resources, from the first moment of my government.”
In fact, President da Silva assured that the battle against hunger will be the central theme of his first year in government. He announced the creation of a Cabinet Department of Social Emergency. “I’m sure that this is, today, the strongest clamor of society. If at the end of my term each Brazilian is able to feed himself three times a day I will have accomplished the mission of my life,” Lula said.
The new president also said that he is going to work to strengthen the Mercosur alliance (with other countries in the south of South America) and that the negotiations for the Free Trade Treaty of America (FTTA) will be conducted so as to guarantee the sovereignty of Brazil. He said that the generation of jobs is possible if more credit will be extended, the reduction of interest rates and incentives for exportation. He very clearly confirmed that he is going to fight to reduce the handcuffing barriers to Brazilian products in the United States and Europe. “Work is the path of our development, with the bypassing of this historic inheritance of inequality and social exclusion… We want to construct a wide market of mass consumption… that represents a new model of development and makes the redistribution of income and economic growth compatible,” he said.
That first speech given by Lula da Silva is titled “Commitment to Change.” In his opening remarks, upon referring to various fallen comrades, the President, with his eyes in tears, said that they knew that they would be followed by a good fight, “the struggle in favor of the excluded and the discriminated; the fight in favor of the unprotected, the humiliated and the aggrieved.”
Lula’s word: “The majority of Brazilian Society voted for the adoption of a new economic and social model, capable of assuring the return of growth, of economic development, with generation of jobs and redistribution of income.”
And, referring to the international economic organizations, among them the IMF, President da Silva said that it is necessary that new lines of credit be established for the country… Now, kind readers: after this brief summary, do you believe that it will be the same as before? The mere continuance of the payment of the foreign dept or of the neoliberal economic model? Your correspondent thinks otherwise, that the IMP is going to have a very difficult time trying to continue fomenting the looting and exploitation of this country, that Bush will have much to learn – definitely! – about democracy and a government of the people (if he likes)... and this is, in a word, hope. The Lula era has begun its navigation of history… and a kind wind blows…
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