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Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Former Marxist Rebel Dilma Rousseff Poised to Be Elected President of Brazil



Wow. This story went beneath my radar. (h/t Donald Douglas at American Power)


"Locked up and tortured by the dictatorship which ran Brazil during the 1970s, she was once branded by a prosecutor as the 'Joan of Arc of subversion'.

"Yet in less than a month's time Dilma Rousseff is on course to become Brazil's first woman president, entrusted with running the largest and fastest-growing economy in Latin America.

"Her first election campaign has gathered the apparently unstoppable force of a steamroller and Ms Rousseff is likely to win the first round of voting outright.

"If she pulls it off, it would seem like a miracle for a 62-year-old apparatchik who has never before been elected to any political post and who was unknown to most of Brazil's 192 million people a few months ago - until you look to see who is behind the wheel of the steamroller.

"Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, the most popular president in Brazilian history, is ineligible to run for a third four-year term, and has given Ms Rousseff, his former political adviser, his unflinching support."

[...]

"If the election were held today, according to recent polls, Ms Rousseff would pick up 50 per cent of the vote, putting her far ahead of her main rival José Serra, a former health minister, on 28 per cent.

"Her extraordinary success, despite her own lack of pzazz, owes much to slick, Hollywood-style television advertisements which have linked her firmly to Lula - and made a powerful first impression in a country which still has high levels of illiteracy.

"In Ms Rousseff's first such 10-minute broadcast the camera soared over scenes of Brazil until she came into focus, declaring: 'With Lula, we learnt to move forwards... Now we must continue advancing. Brazil doesn't want to stop, and can't stop.' On banks of the Amazon, Lula was shown declaring a new era – and Ms Rousseff the person to lead Brazil.

"'The Oscar for best supporting actor certainly goes to Lula,' said Dr Timothy Power, director of Oxford University's Latin American Centre.

[...]

"For someone who was once an active member of an armed Marxist group, fighting to overthrow the dictatorship, it is quite a change.

"The daughter of a middle class Bulgarian immigrant and a schoolteacher in Belo Horizonte, southeastern Brazil, she realised upon leaving a privileged school that the world was 'not a place for debutantes'.

"She was 16 when Brazil fell prey to a military coup in 1964 and like many was soon drawn into the world of underground opposition.

"Introduced to Marxist politics by the man who became her first husband, Claudio Galeno, she helped build up one of the guerrilla organisations trying to overthrow the government - at one point spending three years in prison.

"After democracy was restored she had a daughter, Paula, now a 33-year-old lawyer, with her second husband Carlos Araújo, a revolutionary leader who had met Fidel Castro and Che Guevara. She trained as an economist she entered conventional left-wing politics and professional public service.

"In 2001, by now divorced again, she joined Lula's Workers' Party and her experience in the country's energy ministry quickly impressed the new president. A cabinet job as energy minister followed before she was appointed his chief of staff in 2005.

"But many have questioned how she can be running for the presidency.

"Critics say she was simply the last senior Lula crony standing since one aide after another was forced to quit in scandals over alleged slush funds, bribery or blackmail - including, last week, her own former aide who had followed in her footsteps as Lula's chief of staff.

"Her lumbering speaking style and lack of personal charisma do not make her an obvious candidate and - in what was seen as a thinly-veiled attempt to protect Ms Rousseff - the government made it illegal for television and radio broadcasters to make fun of the candidates [Hmm...].

"Others wonder whether she has the skills needed to hold together the 14 parties of Lula's business-friendly coalition, dominated by his Workers' Party, or to keep it to the pro-business approach that Lula, a former trade unionist, adopted."

[...]

"Yet in the latest poll of the province's almost 40 million voters, Ms Rousseff was seven points ahead of her rival.

"'I don't think she is particularly nice, she doesn't come across as pleasant and she isn't charismatic,' said Gabriel Malard, 39, a trendily-dressed photography teacher in the central business district of São Paulo. 'Her success is entirely down to Lula. But I'm still going to vote for her.'

"Yet others have not been swayed. Carloz Vereza, a popular actor and political blogger, told The Sunday Telegraph: 'Dilma doesn't have any experience. She has always made appointments on the basis of party allegiance, not merit.

"'Lula chose Dilma because Dilma means a third Lula term and the continuation of his populist-authoritarian project. She's only doing so well in the polls because his government ignores all the institutional limits on power and manipulates the population through welfare programmes.'"

Some in Rousseff's opposition are predicting her to adopt a Chavez style of leadership-- censoring media, further nationalizing industries, etc. I know very little about Brazil's politics, so I have no opinion on the matter. It should be very interesting to watch Brazil for the next several years though.

Dilma Rousseff wikipedia bio here-- I know, not the best source. But I couldn't find anything else in English longer than a blurb. I do admit I ran a pretty quick search, however.

3 comments:

  1. Yeah, I'm watching Brazil . . . drill for oil with our money when we can't do it ourselves (and now Mexico is drilling in our waters on our dime!). Hmph! One thing about Brazil, though, or at least the Brazilians I've met . . . individualistic and nonconformist, I wouldn't expect a communist/socialist/marxist rise there. But hey, who would have thought it would rise HERE?

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  2. Do you know Brazilian's politics?Have you ever visited or lived here ?It would be interesting if you could study a little more about Brazil.Your money?That's a joke.Brazil has a big dollar reserve and the technology to drill for oil it's totally brazilian.Do you know Petrobrás?It's so sad see people that don't have enough knowledge to comment about other nation with respect.This a behavior of a xenophobic person.I hope that people which have this kind of position, become one day more sensible.It's really sad because brazil it's a place that everybody is welcome.Brazil's reality changed and is raising because of the brazilians.We are changing and it is just the beginning.:o)
    P.S:I really hope that I have misunderstood what you said. But anyway that's my message with all respect .

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  3. I forgot something!My message was for fuzzy slippers.:o)

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