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Brazil. Who is Lula da Silva, the new president? Origin, political career and election promises

Brazil. Who is Lula da Silva, the new president? Origin, political career and election promises

Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva defeated the incumbent Jair Bolsonaro in yesterday’s presidential election in Brazil. This will be his third term as president, since da Silva has already held this office. Due to his past trade union activities, he is sometimes referred to as the “Brazilian Wałęsa”. Who is Lula da Silva?

Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva in yesterday’s presidential election in Brazil won 50.90 percent. votes, and his rival Jair Bolsonaro 49.10 percent The new president of Brazil already held this office for two terms in 2003-2010. Who is the left-wing politician Lula da Silva who defeated the far-right Jair Bolsonaro?

Lula’s first speech after winning the presidential election PAP / EPA / Ettore Chiereguini

SEE ALSO: Lula won the presidential election, promises to unite Brazil. “It’s time to restore peace”

Who is Lula da Silva?

Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva was born in 1945 in a poor region in the north of Brazil, one of seven children in a working-class family. Already in elementary school, he started working as a street vendor, later received an education and work in the metallurgical industry. In the 1970s, he started working in trade unions. In 1975, he became chairman of the trade union of metallurgical workers in the Sao Paulo region.

At a time when the country was under a military dictatorship, da Silva organized massive strikes from 1978 to 1980 in which protesting workers demanded wage increases. This activity brought him enormous popularity and is sometimes referred to as the “Brazilian Wałęsa”. Trade union activity led him to be accused of breaking the National Security Act and sentenced to three and a half years in prison, although he was released much faster. Already in 1980, he founded the Working Party (PT), which he chairs to this day, and in 1986 he became a deputy to the Brazilian Congress for the first time. He ran in the presidential election several times, but he did not manage to win, until 2002, when he won with 61 percent. votes. In 2006, he won the presidential election again.

SEE ALSO: The elections in Brazil could decide the future of the Amazon

Previous presidency

During his previous terms, Lula da Silva worked mainly to improve the condition of the national economy, implement social reforms and reduce corruption. He introduced a number of social programs that were to provide equal opportunities for citizens in a country with such significant differences in property. A pillar in the welfare strategy was the internationally recognized Bolsa Familia program. He assumed that poor families would receive money from the state provided that their children attended school regularly and that their parents took care of their vaccinations. During the first ten years of the program, the number of families receiving the benefit increased from 3.6 million to 13.8 million. At the end of his first term in office, the Brazilian economy was growing and poverty levels were falling significantly.

He left office in 2010 with the support of almost 90%, but the following years were extremely difficult for him. Allegations of corruption and money laundering were brought to light. He was also accused of putting the country into a deep recession. In 2018, he was imprisoned on corruption charges, where he spent 580 days. He was released in 2019 and Brazilian in 2021 Supreme Court ultimately annulled the verdicts, thanks to which da Silva could run in this year’s elections. “They tried to bury me alive, but here I am,” he said in yesterday’s speech after the results were announced.

Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva greets his followersPAP / EPA / Sebastiao Moreira

What does da Silva propose?

In this year’s election campaign, da Silva made many promises similar to those of his previous terms. This includes ending the problem of hunger in the country, building cheap housing and connecting remote villages to electricity and water. The politician also promises to increase investment in public transport, as well as tax reform and growth minimum wage. Da Silva also wants to “renew” the Bolsa Familia program, providing the poorest families with an allowance from the state of about $ 110 a month, and for families with children under six an additional $ 30, while maintaining school attendance and immunization requirements.

These promises, however, may be difficult to fulfill, because in Congress, da Silva may face strong opposition from supporters of the outgoing president. According to the BBC, da Silva’s opponents believe that the withdrawal of corruption charges against him does not mean that he was innocent, but rather that proper legal procedures were not implemented to prove his guilt. In addition, Bolsonaro has repeatedly suggested that he may challenge the election results if he does not win. He emphasized that electronic voting systems are susceptible to manipulation, although he did not provide any evidence of this.

SEE ALSO: Reuters: Bolsonaro may not want to come to terms with losing power

In the election campaign that ended yesterday, the emotions were exceptionally strong, because the politics of the outgoing Bolsonaro divided the Brazilians. For example, he questioned the necessity of introducing pandemic restrictions, although because of COVID-19 in Brazil, over 688 thousand died. people. Bolsonaro also led to the massive felling of the Amazon rainforest – over 2 billion trees were cut in the last four years, which contributed to the death and suffering of tens of millions of animals. Violence against indigenous peoples and environmentalists also increased during this time.

Amazon deforestationAdam Ziemienowicz | PAP / Reuters

Da Silva announced that he would stop this practice and pursue a policy of “zero deforestation”. – Instead of being a world leader in deforestation, we want to be a champion in the fight against the climate crisis and in socio-environmental development. In this way, we will have healthy food on our plates, clean air to breathe and drinking water, as well as many good jobs thanks to green investments, ‘he said.

The challenge Lula will face, then, will be to unite a divided nation and help 33 million Brazilians suffering from hunger and 100 million living in poverty. – I will rule for 215 million Brazilians (…) There are no two Brasil, there is one nation (…) It’s time to restore peace – he said yesterday evening in Sao Paulo.

BBC, The Guardian, Britannica, PAP

Main photo source: PAP / EPA / Sebastiao Moreira

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