Interview: Life After Keating
Industrial: That Friday Feeling
Bad Boss: Begging to Work
Organising: Project Pilbara
Unions: Off the Rails
International: Brazil Turns Left
Environment: Brown Wash
History Special: Learning from the Past
Corporate: Will the Bullying Backfire?
Technology: Danger Lurks For The Passive
History: In Labourï¿½s Image
Politics: Without Power Or Glory
History Special: A 'Cosy Relationship'
Culture: Blood Stains the Wattle
Satire: Iraq Pre-empts Pre-emptive Strike
Poetry: The Executive Pay Cut
Review: Time Out
Month In Review
The Locker Room
Why The User Should Pay
More Bali Feed Back
Clean Election Laws Now!
And Now, Some Fan Mail!
Brazil Turns Left
Lula, in the job of President of the largest economy in Latin America, is seen as a potentially important ally for working people battling the ravaging effects of globalisation.
Certainly the huge manufacturing unions worldwide, allied to the International Metalworkers Federation (IMF), were cheering on his election because Lula had been the leader of the Metalworkers Union in Brazil and because they feel he understands the anger and frustration of all manufacturing workers hit by globalisation.
They - like many others - see him as a left, progressive hero around whose banner people can gather to transform the balance of power in one of the poorest regions of the world.
Elected leader of the Metal Workers Union in 1975 Lula is credited with transforming a former moribund government-controlled union movement into a powerful independent voice for working class people.
Creating the Workers' Party
Five years later Lula played a key role in bringing together the newly empowered unions, church activists, intellectuals and Trotskyites to establish a radical socialist party called the Workers' Party (PT).
However since then the Workers' Party's revolutionary commitments have gradually evolved into a more pragmatic, populist, social democratic political grouping eager to claim political power for itself.
It is the compromises that he has had to make - and will still have to make after he is sworn in as President in January - that will test whether he can maintain the hero status that he still has among Brazil's poor - and among progressive intellectuals in his country and abroad.
Many are hoping that this election gives heart , or even signals a swing back, to left, democratic, progressive groups throughout the region ready to do battle with the free-marketeers and globalizers.
The International Federation of Chemical, Energy, Mine and General Workers' Union ( ICEM) certainly timed the holding of a key conference in Sao Paulo, Brazil, so they could be in the country to take part in celebrating the election of this working class leader.
"This is an extraordinary moment for working people in Brazil and throughout the Americas," said Lawrence McBrearty, the Canadian National Director of the Steelworkers' Union who was in Brazil for the ICEM meeting.
"In Brazil at least, voters are beginning to see that there is another path other than the relentless globalisation agenda promoted by politicians who follow uncritically in the footsteps of the US and the Bush Administration.
"Critics who portray Lula as some kind of wild-eyed peasant revolutionary do not understand the nature of social democracy, which is Lula's political framework, just as it is the framework of Canada's own New Democratic Party," McBrearty said. "Lula's victory signals a resurgence of the left. My sincere hope is that Brazil is only a start."
The hotel workers' union international the IUF has also welcomed the election of Lula but has called on unions' around the world to be vigilant in protecting this new government from conservative reaction.
" Unions can contribute to the Workers Party victory in Brazil by actively monitoring national and international policy towards the new government - in the first instance trade and financial policy - to help give it the room and the resources it needs," the IUF said in a statement.
Certainly Lula needs to be concerned about how Bush and his conservative mates will react to his election.
Already one right-wing Republican has written in the most extraordinary terms to President Bush warning of a new "axis of evil" comprising of Brazil's Lula, Venezuela's Chavez and Cuba's Castro.
Republican Congressman Henry Hyde wrote to Bush talking of the 'triumvirate of evil' that Lula will help to create, and claiming that the new Brazilian leader will openly support hemispheric terrorist organizations.
And George Bush's trade representative Robert Zoellick has issued a not very diplomatic threat saying that Brazil's new leadership must choose between trade under the US-sponsored Free Trade umbrellas in the hemisphere or trading with Antarctica.
First Speech to his Voters
In his first formal speech as Brazil's president-elect - Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva ( to give him his full formal name) - addressed the country's poor, saying his priority was to combat hunger and unemployment.
Sixty per cent of the nation lives on or near the poverty line so the former trade union leader sought to reassure his supporters that he was committed to social reform.
Lula said his first priorities would be to combat hunger and create jobs, changing what he described as an unjust system that excludes large portions of society.
Announcing the creation of a Poverty Secretariat in his first speech as the newly-elected president he said he would have felt he had fulfilled his mission if, by the end of his term, each Brazilian would be able to have at least three proper meals a day.
The Workers Party has achieved world-wide fame for having introduced "participatory" budgeting" in the left-controlled city of Porto Alegre.
Even cynics have recanted acknowledging the participatory democratic control that the Workers Party has delivered, though this process, to people who were normally marginalised in Brazilian society.
This process has seen the municipal budget submitted to open and public scrutiny in meetings held at local district levels of Port Alegre and democratic decision-making processes deciding where and when the Budget will be spent.
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