<i>"The Name of Our Country is América" - Simon Bolivar</i> The Narco News Bulletin<br><small>Reporting on the War on Drugs and Democracy from Latin America
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Opening Statement, April 18, 2000
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In the Streets

Election Day in São Paulo

By Ana Cernov
Special to the Narco News Bulletin

October 28, 2002

Sao Paulo, October 28, 2002: It was really impressive to get out yesterday after the voting. It looked like the World Cup final! Red flags, people with painted faces, crying, and heavy drinking. People were really touched by the fact that a steel factory worker is now our president.

After running for office three other times, Lula was persistent and got over 61% of the valid votes. His political pathway is distinct from those of the other presidents Brazil had. First of all, Lula had never had any Executive mandate. He was a Union leader before he ran for São Paulo governor in 1982, just after the creation of the Worker’s Party (Partido dos Trabalhadores – PT). By the way, when the party was created in 1980 it received support from workers, leftist groups as well as progressive church sectors and also some important intellectuals, such as Fernando Henrique Cardoso. Yes, you got the name right…our current president.

After that experience, Lula was elected a congressman and hated the experience to deal with all the Legislative bureaucracy. In 1989, he was back, but this time after the presidency. Despite of Lula’s high chances, his major opponent, Fernando Collor de Mello, was elected. As many of you know, after 2 years in Office, Collor was impeached in 1992 for corruption. A popular movement took the streets to pressure the Senate; that motivated the impeachment process, and he was removed.

Lula’s second attempt to be elected Brazil’s president was in 1994. And the third came in 1998. Both times he lost to Fernando Henrique Cardoso. And now, in his fourth run he defeated the establishment candidate José Serra.

The Workers Party (Partido dos Trabalhadores – PT) is relatively young and kept an informal and jovial aura that distinguish it from the other parties. Therefore, the celebration of the victory couldn’t be any different; it had to take the streets. At the Paulista Avenue (São Paulo’s financial center) a stage was built and some 50.000 people were there to see Lula. Everyone in red, wearing the star (the party symbol) pin and stickers with the campaign logo “Agora é Lula” (Now, it’s Lula) glued everywhere.

It was beautiful to see people touched, eyes full of tears, hoping for and talking about a real change. A steel factory worker could not forget where he came from…

During the debate, before the voting, last Friday, Lula said that he knew how uncomfortable it was to live in a barraco , because he had lived in one. His answers were perfect. He knew the unprivileged side of the issues and also showed to be prepared to deal with all of that in the federal level. He was confident and the ballots showed him that Brazilians are also confident in him. Even those who didn’t like the alliances PT made for the election had to take their hats of. They were also at the streets after the results. Complaining a little, but were there…in the streets.

I went to a bar in Pinheiros (the neighborhood where most of São Paulo bars are located) to celebrate with friends and to possibly meet the Narconews man Luis Goméz. But it was impossible to find anyone in that crowd: the streets were taken. People dancing, singing, kissing, drinking…. In the entire country the party was like that. In a only one state, Serra obtained more votes than Lula. It was in Alagoas (northeast of the country), political corral of Fernando Collor de Mello. Do you remember him? The only Brazilian president ever impeached. As the poet Carlos Drummond de Andrade said ”vá ser gauche na vida” (be gauche in life), and yesterday it seems he was heard…

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The Narco News Bulletin: Reporting on the Drug War and Democracy from Latin America