[Marxism] Argentine and Brazilian troops in Haiti

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Mon Jun 28 10:10:10 MDT 2004

Walter Lippmann wrote:
> I'd like to hear and informed Argentine opinion on why Kirchner
> and Lula have decided to join in Washington's occupation of
> Haiti, and whatever broader significance you think it has for
> their rule. Thanks.

Speaking of Lula, there's a useful article on him in yesterday's NY 
Times Magazine:

Poor Man's Burden

Published: June 27, 2004

Lula, his speech over, waded into the embrace of the masses. It was the 
opposite of most crowd scenes. Here the president was pushing through 
the ropes to get at the people. He was tired and sweaty, his face 
infused with crimson. But the swarm of bodies, pressing his way, 
energized him. He seemed propelled by the heat of their need.

Most of the throng -- like most of Brazil -- was throttled by poverty. 
These thousands in the city of Sobral were dressed in threadbare clothes 
and mud-covered sandals. Some stood on tiptoes, hoisting small children 
who squirmed in their arms. Others held tightly to the bicycles they had 
ridden across the rain-drenched roads. ''Lula, Lula!'' they shouted, 
relentlessly pushing forward, those closest grasping for the president's 
sleeve. A small bear of a man, Lula is bearded and round-shouldered with 
a wide neck and a thick middle. He moved from one person to the next, 
hugging some and pausing to hear what they had to say, patting the palm 
of his hand against the side of their faces. ''O-lé, o-la, Lu-la, 
Lu-la!'' the crowd began to sing, as if roused to a chant at a soccer 
game. ''You are a saint!'' cried one barefoot old woman. Her eyes were 
desperate and bloodshot. She was clutching Lula and wouldn't let go. 
''You will help us,'' she said, and as the president bent closer to 
hear, she bestowed the accolade of the people: ''You are one of us.''

What she, like the others, wanted was a little attention, a little 
empathy, a little money. Brazil is a rich nation full of poor people, 
its distribution of income nearly the most unequal in the world. The 
next night, in another city, a young girl mistook me and my translator 
for members of Lula's staff. She handed us a note, begging us to pass it 
on. Many words were misspelled; there was a name but no address. It 
said: ''Lula, I have six brothers and sisters and my mother doesn't work 
and we don't have a father to help us. Please, my mother cries because 
we don't have anything to eat. My name is Adriene.''

Lula, of all people, would understand, the little girl must have thought.

And this would have been right. Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, 58, is the 
genuine article, a walking fable, democracy's classic story, the poor 
boy who grew up to be president. He, too, had a mother who cried and no 
father to raise him. He, too, had nothing to eat. He, too, suffered all 
the indignities of privation. But from destitution Lula would become a 
metalworker and then a union leader and then the nation's most 
celebrated firebrand, the man who took tens of thousands out on strike 
in defiance of a military government, opening the body politic to some 
of the first cross-breezes of democracy. He then led the creation of the 
Partido dos Trabalhadores, the Workers' Party, an amalgam of the 
Brazilian left, including trade unionists, radical intellectuals and 
progressive Catholics. He won Brazil's presidency on his fourth try, in 
October 2002, getting an overwhelming 61 percent of the vote.

''In a country where the elite have always held a stranglehold, it was 
never written anywhere that someone like me could become president,'' 
Lula told me as we sat aboard the Brazilian equivalent of Air Force One. 
There was a dining table between us. He stabbed at a piece of meat with 
his fork and nodded at a handful of eavesdropping cronies who savored 
his words. ''With me being president, the history of Brazil begins to 
change because someone from the humble people, the lowest classes, has 
risen to the top.''

Lula allowed me to join his entourage in mid-March during a three-day 
swing of meetings, speeches and ribbon-cuttings. Adoring crowds greeted 
him at every stop, but there were also notable gaps in the adulation. He 
had been in office for 15 months, and the expectation was that this very 
different president would somehow bring about a very different Brazil. 
But the masses, born poor, have remained poor, with no end in sight to 
their reiterating misery. ''Lula, give us jobs!'' were words one man had 
written on a placard. ''We are still hungry,'' read another. The federal 
police had gone on strike, and some police officers occasionally heckled 
as the president spoke, shouting out their union's demand for an 83 
percent raise. Instead of instigating labor protests, Lula was now their 
target, recast as the villainous gatekeeper of the status quo. There are 
many numbers between 1 and 83, he reminded the unruly strikers

full: http://www.nytimes.com/2004/06/27/magazine/27LULA.html


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