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Date: Sat, 25 Jul 98 16:34:12 CDT
From: Michael Eisenscher <meisenscher@igc.apc.org>
Subject: Brazil: Worker Party's Lula Sees Victory in Sight
Article: 39907
To: undisclosed-recipients:;
Message-ID: <bulk.7592.19980726181659@chumbly.math.missouri.edu>

Back on the stump, Brazil's Lula says he's a winner

By Adrian Dickson, Reuters, 01:19 p.m Jul 24, 1998 Eastern

SAO PAULO, July 24 (Reuters) - Twenty pounds (nine kg) slimmer and a whole lot wiser, Brazil's maverick opposition leader and three-time presidential candidate Luis Inacio Lula da Silva says he has never been more confident of a victory at the polls.

With just over two months to go before Brazil's Oct. 4 presidential election, Lula, as he is universally known, says 1998 could be the year in which Latin America's biggest democracy elects a popular socialist to the presidency.

As I begin my third presidential campaign, I am far more certain of victory than in the last two elections, Lula told Reuters in an interview this week.

I am much more prepared. I understand Brazil's problems far better than I did in 89 or 94. I have a stronger political alliance behind me.

The 52 year-old Lula said he wants to transform his campaign into a movement for people's rights.

A movement to conquer our democracy, a movement that helps people understand they have rights, that those rights are in the constitution, that children, teenagers and workers also have rights, and that those rights are being ignored by Brazilian society.

In the upcoming election Lula is the front-running candidate against President Fernando Henrique Cardoso, who last year rammed a constitutional amendment through Congress that enables him to run for a second four-year term in office.

The most recent polls show Cardoso enjoying a comfortable 17 point lead over Lula, enough of a gap to allow him to carry the presidency with no need for a second runoff election.

But Lula suspects Cardoso has peaked too soon and said the president will quickly run out of steam.

He said that despite a $70 million campaign war chest and the advantage of the government machine behind him, Cardoso has nothing to show for his three and a half years in office.

Besides bringing down inflation, what has he done? There is no industrial policy, no agricultural policy. He has done nothing.

Reminded of the billions of foreign dollars that poured into Brazil during the Cardoso administration, Lula says he is not impressed.

Sixty percent of that money was used to buy up public companies. And did that generate any new jobs? No. On the contrary. It fuelled more unemployment, he said.

Lula says the Cardoso campaign has run out of ideas and is being forced to steal from the opposition's socially-conscious platform.

Fernando Henrique is the first candidate that I know of who doesn't want to continue his own government programme. His own ministers say a second Cardoso administration would be very different from the first. In other words, he doesn't believe in what he preaches, he said.

It would be hard to find two more different candidates than Cardoso and Lula.

Cardoso is an internationally recognised academic turned politician, a polyglot who was befriended by French philosopher Jean Paul Sartre while still a graduate student at university.

Lula is the son of a migrant worker from Brazil's poor Northeastern state of Pernambuco. While still a youth, he moved to Sao Paulo where he was absorbed into the organised labour movement and quickly became a leader of the democratic opposition to Brazil's 21-year military dictatorship.

Lula, who lost a little finger in a factory lathe at the age of 12, says he knows first hand the plight of millions of Brazil's poor and wants to make jobs his campaign priority.

We need to get it into our heads that our most important working capital is the human being and that everything that happens in politics and in an economy has to help human beings.

Otherwise we will disappear, he said.

Lula shrugs off criticism that his socialist principles are outdated.

He says he does not identify with any new leftist international leader such as British Prime Minister Tony Blair, even though he respects Blair for trying to recover the ravages wrought on the poorest of the English people by years of Conservative governments.