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"When Lula was elected in 2002, the whole country was in uproar. The previous president, Fernando Henrique Cardoso, had been in his position for 8 years. The Brazilian people thought by that time that the country needed to change, so the nation trusted in Lula, who was trying the presidency for the fourth time.

Now it is important to talk about Lula's history. In the late 70's he was a trade unionist from São Paulo , Brazil 's biggest industry concentration. He organized many strikes during the military dictatorship, which lasted from 1964 to 1985. The repression was very strong by that time, as well as the censorship. It was dark times in Brazilian history. However, in the beginning of the 80's, the government authorized new parties to be created. One of them was the Partido dos Trabalhadores (PT – Labour Party, in Portuguese), created among others by Lula. Firstly, these new parties could only try the elections for mayor and state governors. In 1989, when the dictatorship was gone, the country was preparing the first presidential elections in many years (the previous president had been elected by the parliament). Lula ran for the first time, but who won was Fernando Collor. This president was involved in many corruption scandals, what lead to his impeachment. In 1994, Lula tried again, but Fernando Henrique Cardoso won. He stayed on charge until 2002, being reelected in 1998. This president created a new currency, the Real, trying to slow down the inflation. He sold many State companies to foreign groups. To maintain the economic policy, the social part was almost totally forgotten. From 1994 to 2002 the poverty in Brazil grew considerably.

That's basically why in 2002 Lula was elected. He had been the “other option” for many years, and in this year the Brazilian people decided that it had come the time for him to be president. He represented an ideal of change that was growing in the country. Everybody was very optimistic. It meant a lot, after all it's not so common for a worker, who grew in a very poor family and do not have a university diploma, to become president. Despite everything, including his precarious Portuguese, it really seemed that he was the right man for the job.

Well… After 3 years, I can now say that it was a disappointment. Everybody thought that Lula would try as hard as he could to defeat poverty. Instead of that, he created a social program, “Fome Zero”, to eliminate hunger, whose effectiveness is questionable. In the economic field, he almost completely maintained the “hard policy” from the previous government. This means that the biggest part of the country's wealth goes for paying old debts, and not to make effective improvements in the social area. I can speak for myself in the area of education. I'm finishing high school in a school owned by the government, which has more than 200 years of tradition. It used to be a model of quality. Now the teachers have a so poor salary that there was a 3-month strike. This means that the school year is going to end in March, when it should have ended in December. And that's just an example of a “good” case, because most of public schools in Brazil are even worse.


2005 is certainly a year that Lula wants to forget. There was one of the biggest corruption scandals in the Brazilian history (and that's not little). Some congressmen were receiving money to support the government. There were accusations that PT and other parties used non-declared money during the last elections. All those schemes involved millions of thousands of dollars that belonged to the country. During all the scandals, Lula has remained unperturbed, saying that he has absolutely nothing to do with the corruption. Not everybody believes him, with some reason, what explains the decrease of popularity noticed during the last months. He should know everything; after all he is the president, isn't he?


Despite of all this, there have been unquestionable improvements during the Lula government. Some weeks ago he payed a big debt with IMF (International Monetary Fund), what people say, is going to strengthen the economy. To be honest, the economy has in fact had a big growth in the recent years, specially the exportations. Brazil is becoming more important in a worldwide sphere, which can be proved by the year of Brazil in France , just to say one example. Economically it seems to be well, but definitely not socially.


To sum up, the Lula government was not exactly what the Brazilian people expected it to be. The expectation to have a government devoted to the social case has vanished. Meanwhile, Brazilian schools, hospitals and poor people suffer as always. In 2006 there will be elections, and Lula expects to be reelected. And that's very likely to happen. Even I am willing to vote for him, because it seems that the other candidates have the capacity of being all of them worse. Yes, that's how critical the situation is! "


Danilo Rodrigues Melo