President of Brazil
Dilma Vana Rousseff, President of Brazil (elected on Oct 31, 2010)
Dilma Vana Rousseff is 62 years old and an economist. She was born in Belo Horizonte, the state capital of Minas Gerais, to Bulgarian migrant Pedro Rousseff and teacher Dilma Jane da Silva. Divorced, she has one daughter and has built a life grounded in determination, competence and social sensitivity.
Her work became widely renowned under President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva´s administration. She served as the Minister of Mines and Energy and as the Chief of Staff within the Executive branch. She led key actions undertaken by the executive branch through programs such as the Growth Acceleration Program (PAC), “Light for All” and “My House, My Life”. She also set the rules for governing the exploration of the pre-salt layer oil deposits.
Fight for democracy
During Brazil’s military regime (1964–1985), when the constitutional rights of Brazilians were suspended, Dilma took part in resistance movements against the dictatorship. She was arrested in Sao Paulo and in 1973 she moved to Porto Alegre, the state capital of Rio Grande do Sul, where she graduated with a degree in Economics from the Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul.
In the late 1970s, Dilma fought for amnesty for citizens who had been deprived of their political rights and was subsequently persecuted and expelled from the country by the military government. At the time, together with then husband Carlos Araújo, she helped found the Democratic Labor Party (PDT) of Rio Grande do Sul. She was an active militant in the party and worked side by side with historic figures in Brazilian politics such as Leonel Brizola. She played a decisive role in the Diretas Já (Direct Elections Now) movement – the largest civil mobilization in the recent history of Brazil, which ultimately led to the return to democracy.
In 1986, Dilma held her first public position. She was appointed by Alceu Collares – a member of the Democratic Labor Party who had been elected mayor of Porto Alegre – to lead the Municipal Secretary of Treasury. In the early 1990s, Dilma presided over the Economics and Statistics Foundation, a state institution geared toward developing social and economic research and surveys.
In 1993, during Alceu Collares’ term in office, she became the Secretary of Energy and Communications of Rio Grande do Sul; a position she held again under Olívio Dutra’s term in office in 1998. Her work as the Secretary of Energy and Communications would later be recognized throughout Brazil.
While working in the Rio Grande do Sul government, Dilma designed an emergency public works program, which resulted in the deployment of 984 kilometers of transmission lines, construction of hydroelectric and thermoelectric power plants, and the implementation of wind energy. Moreover, she mobilized both the public and private sector in a major effort to reduce energy consumption without decreasing production or impacting the well being of the population.
In 2001, Dilma joined the Workers´ Party (PT). One year later, Luis Inácio Lula da Silva (Lula) was elected President of the Republic of Brazil. Lula was impressed with Dilma´s knowledge and experience in the energy sector and appointed her Minister of Mines and Energy.
Lula and Dilma: the partnership that changed Brazil
Between 2003 and 2005, Dilma led an in-depth redesign of Brazil’s electricity sector. The measures she put in place were key to preventing energy rationing or interruption of power supply that would otherwise have proved detrimental to national development. Private investments were attracted to build hydroelectric, thermoelectric and wind power plants. Biodiesel research and production were encouraged.
Energy generation and transmission capabilities were expanded. The Light for All program was created and has thus far made electricity available to more than 11 million Brazilians living in rural areas and in the outskirts of large cities.
On the environmental front, a great deal of progress has been made. The deforested area in the Amazonian region was reduced by 74% in the past six years; coupled with an increase in the use of renewable and clean sources in the overall energy mix.
In 2005 Dilma´s efficiency was broadly recognized both within and outside of government circles. The President chose her to serve as his Chief of Staff and to oversee the work of all of the ministries. The partnership between Lula and Dilma was then consolidated, thus setting new benchmarks for national development.
In her capacity as Chief of Staff Minister under the President’s Office, Dilma performed a decisive role in transforming Brazil into a country that grows while distributing income and fighting social inequalities. Through this approach, more than 14 million Brazilians were able to have access to formal jobs; another 24 million came out of absolute poverty, and 31 million moved into the middle class.
Dilma´s work was recognized nationwide for her role as coordinator of the Growth Acceleration Program – a set of economic policies that prioritized investments in infrastructure works such as sanitation, housing, transportation, energy and water resources. The production chains in the mechanical, metal, steel, chemical and precision engineering industries were renewed. The shipbuilding industry was born again. Port and airport infrastructure works envisaged for the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Olympics have also been included in the Growth Acceleration Program.
Dilma launched strategic programs such as “My House, My Life”, the biggest housing program ever undertaken in the nation´s history and which is expected to build one million new houses. Education in Brazil has seen impressive growth. So far, 14 federal universities and 117 campuses have been opened. In addition, 136 large technical training schools were created and 214 new educational establishments are expected to be set up, i.e., almost half a million new places by the end of the year.
During Dilma´s term in office as president of Petrobras´ Board of Directors Brazil became self-sufficient in oil production. Research projects carried out by the company have consolidated Brazil’s expertise in deep-water oil exploration. Three large oil fields were discovered in the pre-salt layer, at an average depth of five thousand meters. It is expected that up to 100 billion barrels of oil are to be extracted from these deposits.
Brazil’s historic debt with the IMF was fully paid and – thanks to a strong domestic market – Brazil was one the last countries to go into the economic crisis that shook financial markets to the core in 2008 and one of the first countries to come out of it. Recent studies point out that Brazil is now moving towards eradicating extreme poverty and positioned to become the planet’s fifth largest economy in this decade.
Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, Former 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, 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.