Brazil Elects First Female President: Dilma Rousseff

Brazil has made history with the swearing-in of its first female president. On Saturday, 1 January 2011, Dilma Rousseff received the presidential sash from outgoing President Lula da Silva at a ceremony in the capital Brasília. In the 1960s, Rousseff was a guerrilla resisting Brazil’s military dictatorship. She was imprisoned and tortured for three years.

In her first speech as Brazil’s president-elect, Dilma Rousseff, who polled 56% compared to her rival’s 44%, vowed to eradicate extreme poverty in one of the world’s most unequal countries.

An estimated 135 million Brazilians went to the polls yesterday to choose between the 62-year-old economist, who was the handpicked successor of Brazil’s Workers’ Party (PT) president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, and José Serra, a 68-year-old former health minister who was running for president for the second, and almost certainly last, time.

Speaking at a victory rally in the capital, Brasilia, Rousseff told jubilant supporters: “We cannot rest while Brazilians are going hungry, while families are living in the streets, while poor children are abandoned to their own fates and while crack and crack dens rule.”

“The eradication of extreme poverty is a target that I assume and I humbly ask for the support of you all to help the country overcome this abyss that still separates us from being a developed nation,” she added. “This ambitious goal will not be achieved by the government alone. It is a call for the nation.”

Rousseff, a notoriously tough technocrat who underwent plastic surgery to try to boost her appeal, had looked badly deflated after being forced into a second-round run-off with Serra earlier this month but recent polls showed her pulling away, largely thanks to Lula’s growing involvement in her campaign. She won a landslide victory in Brazil’s impoverished northeast, where Lula was born, polling nearly 66% compared to Serra’s 27.5% and also dominated much of the Amazon region.

She takes power in a country on the rise, which is expected to be the world’s fifth-largest economy by the time it hosts the 2016 Summer Olympics.

Democracy Now! interviewed Greg Grandin, professor of Latin American history at New York University, and author of “Empire’s Workshop: Latin America, the United States, and the Rise of the New Imperialism.” His most recent book, “Fordlandia: The Rise and Fall of Henry Ford’s Forgotten Jungle City,” was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in History.

Excerpt, read article: Dilma Rousseff Wins Brazil’s Presidential Election -By Tom Philips | Guardian UK

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff



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