Tags: Brazil's | Cardoso | Voices | Support | for | Lula

Brazil's Cardoso Voices Support for Lula

Tuesday, 12 November 2002 12:00 AM

During a visit to Lisbon, capital of former Brazilian colonial ruler Portugal, two-term President Fernando Henrique Cardoso voiced his support for President-elect Luiz Inacio "Lula" da Silva, noting his successor's professed desire to honor Brazil's current financial commitments both during his campaign and once Lula was elected.

"Lula has affirmed his respect for contracts ... among other things," said Cardoso. "That seems sufficient to me."

Most notable among Brazil's international commitments is its $230 billion in foreign debts including a recent International Monetary Fund bailout totaling $30 billion, the largest in the bank's history.

Investor both at home and on Wall Street had been skeptical of a possible Lula administration leading up to the Oct. 27 election, which he won in a landslide over Cardoso's handpicked successor, former Health Minister Jose Serra.

Many businessmen fretted that as Brazil first left-wing leader in almost 40 years, Lula would default on the debt and undo Cardoso's efforts at fiscal reform and privatization so favored by the United States and the European Union, strong trading partners with the world's ninth largest economy.

However, Lula has assured investors that Brazil would honor its debt commitments, though it may seek to restructure the payments as he embarks on an ambitious social program to raise minimum wage, increase jobs and curb hunger among the nation's poor.

Cardoso's professed belief in Lula appears to contradict the plans of some members of the ruling Social Democratic Party, or PSDB, who have been busy in recent weeks trying to cobble together an opposition bloc of parties before Lula's Jan. 1 inauguration.

Analysts see Cardoso's professed approval as conscious strategy adopted by the president so as to not appear unpatriotic while Brazil goes through an historical transformation.

When Lula assumes Brazil's highest office, it will be the first peaceful transfer of power in the nation's history since the end of the military regime that ruled the country from 1964-1985.

While free elections began in 1989, Brazilian's first independently elected president following the regime -- Fernando Collor de Mello -- resigned amid corruption allegations two and a half years after his election, with his vice president serving the remainder of the term. Cardoso was elected in 1994.

"It's important for the party to not come across as unpatriotic," Tendencias Consulting Group analyst Christopher Garman said of Cardoso's support for Lula.

The outgoing president has even recently said that he would consult Lula on some decisions that would affect the incoming administration when it assume office in 2003, though would reserve the final decision for himself.

"Cardoso's argument is that the party should be cooperative and approve measures that are in the best interest of a smooth transition," said Cardoso.

Copyright 2002 by United Press International.

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During a visit to Lisbon, capital of former Brazilian colonial ruler Portugal, two-term President Fernando Henrique Cardoso voiced his support for President-elect Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, noting his successor's professed desire to honor Brazil's current financial...
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2002-00-12
Tuesday, 12 November 2002 12:00 AM
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