Political Risk Latin America Blog @PolRiskLatam

‘Father of the Poor’ Has Triggered Economic Miracle

Posted in News and Articles, Political Risk by politicalrisklatam on November 24, 2009

by Jens Glüsing, for Spiegel Online, November 24, 2009.

Brazil is seen as an economic success story and its people revere President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva like a star. He is on a mission to turn the country into one of the world’s five biggest economies through reforms, giant infrastructure projects and by tapping vast oil reserves. But he faces hurdles.

Elizete Piauí has been waiting patiently for hours in the shade of a mango tree. She is wearing plastic sandals and baggy shorts over her thin legs. At 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit), the air is shimmering on this unusually hot day in Barra, a small city in the Sertão, the heart of northeastern Brazil. But Piauí isn’t complaining, because today is her big day, the day she meets the president, who is working to provide her hut with running water.

The rattle of a helicopter signals his arrival. The white aircraft circles once over the crowd before landing. A motorcycle escort accompanies the Brazilian president to the ceremony.

Lula gets out of the limousine wearing a white linen shirt and a green military hat. Ignoring the local dignitaries in their dark suits, Lula heads straight for the crowd behind a security barrier. “Lula, Papai! (Papa Lula!)” Elizete calls out. He pulls her to his chest and shakes the hands of others in the crowd, allowing them to touch, stroke and embrace him. Beads of sweat are running down his flushed face, and people are tugging at his shirt, but Lula soaks in the attention. He feels at home here, in one of Brazil’s poorest regions.

The president spends three days traveling through the Sertão. He knows the route. He came to the region 15 years ago for the first time on a campaign tour, traveling by bus and staying in inexpensive guesthouses. He made stops in every village square, seven or eight times a day, and usually held his speeches from the back of a truck. His voice was usually hoarse and weak by the evening, and he had to change his sweat-soaked shirt up to 10 times a day…(continue reading)


2 Responses

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  1. contoveros said, on November 29, 2009 at 11:12 am

    80% approval rating
    one year left in office

    This leader is genuine and it would be a shame to see him out of government office when the world needs someone like him. Can’t Brazil keep him in an unofficial capacity?

    Great article.

    thanks from the USA

    michael j

    • politicalrisklatam said, on August 20, 2010 at 2:32 pm


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