Brazil advanced sharply with the wind at its back provided by President Juscelino Kubitschek’s developmentalist economic policies. The ABC region in the greater São Paulo area became the most industrialized region in Brazil, attracting some of the principal industrial complexes of the world, such as the vehicle manufacturers Scania and Volkswagen. Young and strong, accustomed to hard work because of his backwoods upbringing, Lula was one of many migrants from the Northeast to head to the factory floor and make metalworking his profession. He was 17 years of age when he lost the little finger on his left hand in a workplace accident in 1963, and 18 at the time of the military coup in 1964. The end of democratic freedoms, the spread of censorship and the installation of a repressive apparatus, coincided with the beginning of a long period of retraction in the economy, accompanied by unemployment, the abuse of workers and inflation.
Still fascinated with the size and the possibilities of the large city, a reality that was much greater than in drought-ridden Pernambuco, Lula was convinced by one of his brothers —an active member of the then clandestine Communist Party of Brazil — and he began to attend union meetings. For the first time, he came into close contact with the hardships of the working class and learned firsthand expressions such as “wage squeeze,” “extreme wealth” and “strike fund.” A skilled negotiator, Lula was asked to act as a member of the management committee of the union and was elected to that position in 1969, thus beginning his career as a union leader.
His Political Trajectory
In the 1990s he headed the “ Instituto Cidadania” (Citizenship Institute) where some of the most important public policies implemented in the following decade were formulated, such as Zero Hunger, and was head of the PT in the campaign for the impeachment of Fernando Collor, and for the implementation of some of the most important congressional investigative committees of the period, such as the charges of violation of the secrecy of the Senate vote in 1991 and the so-called “little person scandal” of the budget in 1993. During the eight years of the Fernando Henrique Cardozo administration, he opposed recessive economic policies, the manipulation of the exchange rate to make the currency artificially strong, the “purchase of votes” in exchange for the approval of a change in the Constitution that guaranteed the right to reelection in 1997, and the poor management of public resources in program such as Proer, support for financial institutions, and privatizations of companies such as Vale, sold for a price that was well below its market value. After three frustrated election campaigns, Lula was finally elected president of the Republic on November 27, 2002.
As President of the Republic
Source: Instituto Lula