Brazil is filled with red flags today, the red flags of the Workers’ Party, waving to celebrate the landslide victory of a one-time factory worker and shoeshine boy known to all as Lula. Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva is the first working-class president ever elected in Brazil. Until now, military men or members of the economic elite have ruled in a country where 60 percent of the population is poor and 20 percent are considered destitute.
However, Lula’s election is raising red flags of another sort, too. It owes billions to banks and the International Monetary Fund. Lula, who once said he would default on foreign debt, now promises to repay it, even as he feeds the hungry, houses the homeless, and gives peasants land. Brazil’s dilemma now is whether Lula can get what Lula wants.
Martin Kaste, NPR correspondent in Rio de Janeiro
Luis Bitencourt, director, Brazil Project at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars
Jana Butland, vice president and emerging market strategist, Fleet Global Markets.