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Brazil’s Lula gets hero’s welcome at Social Forum

January 27th, 2010

President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva

Brazil’s first working-class president got a hero’s welcome at the World Social Forum, wowing 10,000 leftists with a vow to reproach the rich and famous for causing the global meltdown when he meets with them this week.

Former radical union leader Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva – known almost everywhere as Lula – was greeted Tuesday night like a rock star by activists in a sports stadium chanting “Lula, Lula, the warrior of the Brazilian people!”

And he got more cheers after promising to scold world leaders and bankers at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland – and tell them the free market policies they have espoused for decades were to blame for the global financial crunch.

“The financial system can’t parade itself as a good example, because it ended up provoking the biggest crisis in recent years,” he said.

Silva said the Davos gathering doesn’t have as much glamour as it did when he first attended it just after his inauguration in 2003. Now, he said, developing nations like Brazil only recently viewed as second-class countries will have a strong hand in setting a new world economic order.

As a storied leftist union leader, Silva was a popular fixture at the World Social Forum – started in Porto Alegre a decade ago as a counterpoint to the yearly gathering of the business and political elite at the World Economic Forum – although he has grated on some activists since being elected Brazil’s president.

Silva turned to the center after taking office and embraced free market economic policies loathed by the forum’s leftists, but he also spent heavily on social programs that have lifted millions of Brazilians out of poverty. Brazil is also riding an unprecedented economic boom.

Silva was booed at the social forum in 2005 by activists who felt he had betrayed his leftist roots and were more impressed with the presence of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, a strident socialist.

But Chavez didn’t show up at the social forum this year, and Brazilians attending the event said Silva should get most of the credit for Brazil’s rapid advance on the world stage during his administration and for extremely strong economic advances that have helped most of the nation’s more than 190 million citizens.

Brazil was also among the last nations to be hit by the financial crisis, and among the first to emerge with strong growth prospects based on heavy domestic consumer demand.

“He’s made friends for Brazil with all of the countries in the world, and he’s created harmony for the rich and poor,” said Noe Melo Hernandez, a retired police officer. “It’s really remarkable.

This year’s social forum has seen leftist leaders gleefully criticize the business titans hit hard by the financial crisis who will gather Wednesday in Davos for the World Economic Forum.

“Capitalism’s unsustainability has never been so obvious,” said Brazilian philosopher and sociologist Candido Grzybowsky, one of the forum’s leaders. “We need to create a system based on social and environmental justice.”

Grzybowsky and others said nations that have exerted greater state control over economies as a result of the meltdown should go further, saying big large corporations will try to reassert their grip and push policies that critics say emphasize reliance on free markets at the expense of social welfare.

In a sweltering conference hall filled with activists – some wearing bright red shirts with the image of legendary revolutionary Ernesto “Che” Guevara and others opting for Vladimir Lenin – Hildebrando Velez Galeano urged citizens of developing nations to seize control of the global economy.

“We have to decolonize our territory and declare it free of Coca-Cola and Monsanto,” said Galeano, a leader of the Colombian chapter of the environmental group Friends of the Earth.

Silva was booed at the social forum in 2005 by activists who felt he had betrayed his leftist roots and were more impressed with the presence of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, a strident socialist.

But Chavez didn’t show up at the social forum this year, and Brazilians attending the event said Silva should get most of the credit for Brazil’s rapid advance on the world stage during his administration and for extremely strong economic advances that have helped most of the nation’s more than 190 million citizens.

Brazil was also among the last nations to be hit by the financial crisis, and among the first to emerge with strong growth prospects based on heavy domestic consumer demand.

“He’s made friends for Brazil with all of the countries in the world, and he’s created harmony for the rich and poor,” said Noe Melo Hernandez, a retired police officer. “It’s really remarkable.

This year’s social forum has seen leftist leaders gleefully criticize the business titans hit hard by the financial crisis who will gather Wednesday in Davos for the World Economic Forum.

“Capitalism’s unsustainability has never been so obvious,” said Brazilian philosopher and sociologist Candido Grzybowsky, one of the forum’s leaders. “We need to create a system based on social and environmental justice.”

Grzybowsky and others said nations that have exerted greater state control over economies as a result of the meltdown should go further, saying big large corporations will try to reassert their grip and push policies that critics say emphasize reliance on free markets at the expense of social welfare.

In a sweltering conference hall filled with activists – some wearing bright red shirts with the image of legendary revolutionary Ernesto “Che” Guevara and others opting for Vladimir Lenin – Hildebrando Velez Galeano urged citizens of developing nations to seize control of the global economy.

“We have to decolonize our territory and declare it free of Coca-Cola and Monsanto,” said Galeano, a leader of the Colombian chapter of the environmental group Friends of the Earth.

http://www.gadsdentimes.com


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