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Alex Steffen, 11 Nov 03

He is currently the most intriguing politician on the planet - Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva ("Lula"), the president of Brazil. Only a year into his term, he has managed to surprise globalists and shock socialists (with moves like his considering legalizing GMO soy and his announced intention to honor Brazil's foreign debt) and visa versa (by leading the "Group of 22" to break with the WTO and demand IMF reform). He has announced sweeping new social programs, like universal electrification and a "zero hunger" policy for feeding every person in his nation, attacked Amazonian slavers and child prostitution rings, and unleashed legal prosecutors on corrupt politicians and bureaucrats. In a nation still bearing the scars of right-wing dictatorship, he appointed prominent radicals to his cabinet (like musician Gilberto Gil as Culture Minister, Dilma Rousseff, a "55-year old former urban guerrilla," as Energy Minister, former rubber-tapper and forest advocate Marina Silva as Environment Minister and squeeky-clean Márcio Thomaz Bastos, who prosecuted the murderers of Chico Mendez, as Justice Minister [he's already called for the decriminalization of drugs as a way to break the power of narcocartels]). Brazilians I've talked with either love Lula or hate him, but all agree that his Administration is ushering in something like Brazil's version of the Velvet Revolution.

Now Lula is doing something even more interesting: he's taking on the task of reforming the United Nations. Keep your eye on Lula.

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brazil's also strengthening its ties with china (exports there went from twelvth to second over the last year) and africa, in addition to its traditional ties with japan and europe, making brazil more "international" and cosmopolitan in scope.

the lula "phemomenon" is also having an impact on latin american politics, like it's left its mark on bolivia and mexico is starting to feel some of the fervor.

what'd be interesting i think if lula starts to federalize state and municipal work done by humanist technocratic innovators like jaime lerner in curitiba and now paraná state, go go global south :D


Posted by: smerkin on 15 Nov 03

Great links!

Yes, Lula's leadership in the G20+ is a profound bit of change unfolding before our eyes. The G20+ is gaining rapidly in power and moral authority and seems more than willing to upset the apple cart of global governance, trade and monetary regimes. These guys are newly-emerged heavyweights who know the stakes. In comparison, the US Administration looks like a bunch of ideologically-rabid amateurs.

As a friend wrote, the G20+ "could turn into the legal and majority New World Order while the USA is eating its own entrails live on Fox News."

But the point you raise, about scaling up innovation, is critical. The problems facing the developing world (which are of course as various as variety of cultures and nations involved - I'm generalizing) are not solely the products of injustice or imbalance of economic power. There's a lot of major redesign, rethinking and political reform that needs to be done in the developing world.

Posted by: Alex Steffen on 15 Nov 03



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