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[Opinion] President Lula

Posted May. 24, 2005 03:33,   


It has a vast land. It is rich in population and resources. It takes up almost half of the American continent. These are the common factors of the United States and Brazil. Then how come the former is well off while the latter is not? The Brazilians would often say, “If we were also under British instead of Portuguese rule, we would also have become like the U.S.” The belief that miracles will occur once the Messiah advents is strong, since they believe that Brazil is fated to become great. When former worker Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva won the presidency in October 2002, the Brazilians cheered as if they were welcoming the Messiah.

Two and a half years have passed since the emergence of the Lula administration with placards saying, “Lula, you are the only one who can save us.”

A president’s estimation is first judged by economic conditions. His popularity is so great as to expect an easy victory in the presidential election, which is scheduled to be held next year. Last year’s economic growth rate was 5.2 percent; it is the fastest growth rate in the last 10 years. Public deficits, which accounted for 57 percent of GDP, fell to 52 percent. What kind of special policy did he implement to satisfy both the foreign investors and Brazil’s low-income citizens as well?

He was a leftist president who came to power promising changes. However, Lula put more weight on continuity. Instead of implementing a scooping distributive policy, he adopted a market economy solution of reducing extravagant government spending and raising interest rates to curb inflation. He did not touch his predecessor’s good deeds in the education and medical fields. He earned grudging respect from the ruling party for carrying out “tough love” economic policies like pension and taxation reforms. An authority of the World Bank commented that Lula’s open attitude brought about the “change.”

His words that “Union leader Lula spoke out only for the workers, but President Lula works for all 180 million Brazilians” show his open attitude. It is a stark contrast to a “president for only the Nosamo--the pro-Roh group.” Although both presidents walked similar political paths, it would be hard to say that they did so after they rose to power. I welcome Lula’s visit to Korea.

Kim Sun-duk, Editorial writer, yuri@donga.com