Brazil: Lula ‘defeats’ cancer, announces return to politics
During his five month long battle with throat cancer, former Brazilian president Luis Inacio Lula da Silva, lost his trademark beard and his grey mane. On Wednesday he announced that he has been cured and is ready to get back into politics. (flickr agencia de noticias do acre, globovision)
Former Brazilian president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, announced today that after beating throat cancer, he is returning to politics. Slightly older, and more frail than he was as President, Lula, speaking in a gravelly voice said, “I’m returning to politics because Brazil needs to keep growing, developing, generating jobs, and [improving] income distribution.”
“The millions of Brazilians who have [become] middle class do not want to go back [to the past],” Lula says in the video below.
Brazil’s economy, the juggernaut of Latin America during Lula Silva’s presidency has recently slowed down. The country’s economy, still growing, is no longer churning out annual growth rates of over 7.5%, as it did during the last year of Lula’s animated leadership.
Lula’s successor, Dilma Rousseff, is currently attending a conference in India for the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa), the group of the world’s emerging economic superpowers.
Last year, however, Brazil posted the slowest rate of growth among the five economic giants. On the same day as Lula’s announcement, Brazil’s currency, the real, which had increased in value relative to the dollar in recent years, fell to a three month low, and the country’s central bank announced that it would likely miss its inflation target for the year, which means Brazil’s public can expect rising prices.
In the video he released today, Lula said, “I want to give special thanks to my friend Dilma Roussef, Brazil’s president, because every time I was in her company she gave me inspiration, always saying: ‘with presidential strength, you’ll beat [cancer].’”
Rousseff is a cancer survivor herself.
Nearly 5 months after Lula first announced he was battling cancer, doctors from Sirio Libanés Hospital in Sâo Paulo, Brazil’s second largest city, said that their latest tests proved that Lula’s larynx cancer had disappeared.
Lula has returned to public life, retaking the helm of the Citizen Institute, a foundation he runs.
In his video, he said that he’s now “more mature and prudent,” than he was in the past.
“I’m a person who believes in Brazil … there’s no other country in the world more prepared to grow and win,” he added.
Brazil’s economy is expected to grow by slightly more than 3% in 2012, more or less on par with the U.S. economy, but the slowest rate of growth the country has recorded since 2003, the year after Lula first took office. China’s economy by contrast, is expected to grow at over 7% this year.
In a recent op-ed on the “Mexico-Brazil Rivalry” Jorge Castaneda, a professor at New York University, explained that last year the economy of “Mexico grew by approximately 4% [and] Brazil [grew by] slightly less than 3%.”
The once mighty Brazilian economy has weakened. Now, Castaneda explained, Brazil is only better than Mexico at two things: “soccer and self-promotion.”
When Lula left office at the end of 2010, Brazil’s economy was surging and Lula was regarded as being one of the world’s most popular politicians. Now, after losing nearly forty pounds during treatment, Lula is currently engaging in a program of recuperative exercises to fully regain the use of his voice.
In his first public announcement since beating cancer, Lula thanked his supporters.
“The faith, the solidarity … it’s something invaluable,” he said, with visible emotion.
Nathaniel Parish Flannery is a Mexico City based writer. He has worked on projects in Chile, Colombia, Argentina, India, and China and published articles with The Atlantic, Lapham’s Quarterly, Forbes, The Nation and a number of other magazines. Follow him on Twitter @LatAmLENS.