Oh yeah, and the politics. Can't forget the whole reason for the party. Lula was reelected last night as president of Brazil (with more than 60% of the vote) and here in Pernambuco Eduardo was elected governor (I swear I don't know his last name! All of the campaign information just said "Eduardo." I wonder if it has to do with that scandal a couple of years ago...). This was the run-off election because Brazil being a civilized country (unlike another country that shall remain nameless) has a run-off election if the candidate did not win by more than 50% of the vote. Both of these candidates are PT (workers party). Lula is actually from the interior of Pernambuco so he has a lot of support in the Northeast. It is interesting to look at the map of Brazil for the October 1st election-- it is completely divided in half (Blue=Alckmin, Red=Lula) . A country divided?
The north voted for Lula and the south voted for Alckmin. I heard some people say that they were voting for Lula because at least he will think about development for the Northeast. Good point there. The north and northeast of Brazil are the poor neglected cousins of the rich south. The economy of the country is driven by southern industry while the northeast languishes in giant sugar plantations owned by the sugar barons of the past or giant companies. You drive through the countryside here and all you see is sugar cane. No houses, no agriculture, no food being produced, just sugar. The Movimento Sem Terra (landless farmers movement) has some shacks built alongside the sugar cane, but there is only work cutting cane for about half the year. The land reform movement never happened here and land ownership is still colonial with the plantation owners from the days of slavery still controlling giant tracts of land in Brazil.
I would also like to throw in a little theory of mine regarding the desserts here. I think that from the colonial days sugar = wealth and so that is why the desserts are so unbelievably sweet. Showing off your sugar, so to speak.
Sorry--agricultural and dessert side track
Lula has had some corruption scandals during his administration (nothing new in Latin America), but people really believed that the PT would change things. They promised a new Brazil, and so far, it hasn't happened. To be fair, 4 years is a short time to change such a messed up system. Lula has instituted some social programs like the bolsa familia and the cesta basica (basic food basket) that have helped many people get out of complete poverty, but without jobs they have no where to go. None of the corruption scandals has traced to Lula, but pretty much everyone else in his cabinet is dirty. Anyone remember the guy caught at the airport with literally $100,000 in his underwear? Small change. Also, apparently Eduardo had some sort of corruption scandal in the past. That happens all the time. Steal some money, let some time pass, run for election again. How frustrating.
Hopefully the next four years will bring better things for Brazil. The energy of the people working for change is amazing. That energy is moving all over Latin America...