Brazil Election to Offer Definite Contrast
Roussef, an economist and former guerrilla activist, has been Lula's chief of staff since 2005. In recent months, Lula has paraded her throughout the country inaugurating public works projects with him, hoping that his 80 percent popularity rate and the country's expected 5 percent economic growth this year will benefit her candidacy.
A recent poll by
-- Will she win, I asked Cardoso, who is backing Serra.
-- "I think she will have difficulties. She will rise in the polls . . . because President Lula has accelerated the start of the campaign, the opposition has not yet officially elected a candidate and she is thus gaining visibility in the mass media. But I think that, at the end of the day, when people go to vote and look at which candidate inspires more confidence, things will change."
-- Why? I asked.
-- "Dilma Roussef still doesn't have any leadership experience. She hasn't been a leader of anything. She hasn't been governor, nor mayor, nothing. It's difficult to think that the people will put their trust in somebody who is a public official, who is not a leader, while on the other camp you have leaders with a proven track record."
-- Would she be managed by Lula?
-- "I don't know whether somebody who rises to power would allow somebody else to manage her. I wouldn't say that. Also, because of her personal characteristics. She is a very hard, authoritarian person."
-- Would her government be closer to the radical left than Lula's?
-- "She is closer to the Worker's Party. Lula has greater independence from his party. He has transcended his party. Lula is a skillful negotiator, a [former] union leader. He is not a confrontational man; he is a negotiator. He has the ability to change his mind . . . I don't think Dilma would do that, because she is more -- perhaps this is a little harsh -- dogmatic. She has a somewhat outdated view . . . favoring a greater state interference [in the economy.]"
-- Would Dilma Roussef be closer to
-- "Probably. However, you have to take into account that the country's institutions are strong, and that people in power can't do whatever they want. She may want to, but the leadership of other political groups, the existence of a free press, strong companies, universities, etc. all of that works as a counterweight. But, having said that, Dilma's heart is closer to the left."
GRAIN OF SALT
The Serra camp's electoral strategy -- so far voiced by Cardoso,
while Serra takes the high ground -- will be to paint Roussef as an
inexperienced, radical candidate who would move
In fact, Roussef will have to veer to the center if she wants to win.
Her Worker's Party lost the 1989, 1994 and 1998 elections when it ran on
radical leftist platforms, before Lula shifted to the center in 2002.
And Serra is hardly a free market freak -- he is best known in
Most importantly, as Cardoso himself recognized,
U.S. Foreign Aid Cutback Plan Sends Wrong Message
Perhaps, Obama's 2011 foreign aid budget request reflects priorities in world affairs as it looks like Obama is saying 'adios' to Latin America. Obama's foreign aid request to Congress calls for a 13 percent increase for Africa, 7 percent increase for the Middle East and nearly 60 percent increase for South and Central Asia. By comparison, a nearly 10 percent cut in aid for Latin America.
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