Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva

President of Brazil

Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva was born on 27 October 1945, in the small town of Garanhuns, in the inner state of Pernambuco. Married to Marisa Letícia since 1974, they have five children. Lula is the seventh of eight children of Aristides Inácio da Silva and Eurídice Ferreira de Mello. In December 1952 Lula’s family emigrated to the coast of São Paulo, traveling for 13 days in a truck known as “pau de arara”. The family took up residence in Vicente de Carvalho, a poor neighborhood of the city of Guarujá.

Lula learned to read and write at the state-owned school Grupo Escolar Marcílio Dias. In 1956, his family moved to a single room behind a bar in the neighborhood of Ipiranga, São Paulo. At age 12, Lula found his first job in a dry cleaner. After that he worked as a shoeshine and office boy.

When he turned 14, he found a job at Armazéns Gerais Columbia [Columbia Warehouse], where he was officially registered as worker for the first time. Later, Lula transferred to Fábrica dos Parafusos Marte [Marte Screw Factory] where he managed to enroll at the National Industry Service – SENAI, and complete a three-year course to become a mechanic and lathe operator.

The crisis after the military coup in 1964 made Lula to go from factory to factory looking for a job. In January 1966, he started working at Villares Industries, one of the main metallurgical industries in the country, in São Bernardo do Campo, within the metropolitan area of São Paulo known as ABC. It was there that Lula first had contact with the Union movement through his brother, José Ferreira da Silva, known as Frei Chico.

In 1969 the Metallurgist’s Trade Union in São Bernardo do Campo and Diadema held an election to its Board, and Lula was elected an alternate member. In the following election, in 1972, Lula was elected First Secretary. In 1975 he was elected Head of the Trade Union, with 92% of the votes, representing around 100,000 workers.

From that moment on Lula, gave new direction to the Brazilian Union movement. In 78 Lula was reelected president of the Union and, after 10 years without any union strike, the country saw the first shutdowns. In March 79, 170 thousand metallurgical workers stopped the ABC. Police repression to the strike movement, coupled to the quasi inexistence of politicians willing to represent the interests of working class at the National Congress, made Lula think for the first time about creating a Workers Party.

By that time, Brazil was undergoing a slow and gradual political opening process led by the military force that was still in power. Together with other Union members, intellectuals, politicians and representatives of social movements, including rural and religious leaders, Lula founded the Workers Party (PT) on 10 February 1980. In that same year a new metallurgical strike led to the Federal Government’s intervention in the Union and to the imprisonment of Lula and other Union leaders based on the National Security Law. He served 31 days in prison.

By 1982, PT had been expanded to almost all national territory. Lula led the process of organizing the party and, in that year, ran for the Government of the state of São Paulo. In August 83, he participated in the foundation of CUT – Central Única dos Trabalhadores, a federation of Trade Unions. In 84, he was one of the main leaders participating in the campaign for direct elections for the Presidency of the Republic. In 86, he was elected the country’s most voted federal deputy to participate in the Constituent Assembly.

The Workers Party launched Lula to dispute the Presidency of the Republic in 1989, after a period of 29 years without direct elections. He lost the elections in their second round, for a small difference, but two years later he led a national movement against corruption that culminated in the impeachment of President Fernando Collor de Mello. In 1994 and 1998, Lula once again ran for President of the Republic and was defeated by Fernando Henrique Cardoso.

Lula has worked as councilor of the Citizenship Institute since 1992. This non-governmental organization, which was created after the experience of the Parallel Government, addresses its activities towards study, research, debate, publications and especially the formulation of national public policy proposals, as well as towards organizing campaigns to mobilize civil society around the goal of conquering full citizenship to all Brazilians.

In the last week of June 2002, the National PT Convention approved a broad political alliance (PT, PL, PCdoB, PCB and PMN) based on a government program intended to redeem the essential social debts that the country owes to the great majority of the Brazilian people. Senator José Alencar of the PL of state of Minas Gerais ran for the vice-presidency.

On 27 October, 2002 at age 57 and with approximately 53 million votes, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva was elected President of the Federative Republic of Brazil.

On 29th October, 2006 Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva was re-elected President of the Republic with approximately 58 million votes (60.83% of valid votes) in election second round over Brazilian Social Democratic Party candidate, Geraldo Alckmin.