Official Mourning for Brizola in Brazil

     Official Mourning for 
Brizola in Brazil

    Brazilian President
    Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva said he deeply regretted
    the death of Leonel Brizola, calling him a leading politician that
    he always respected and admired. Brizola had enthusiastically
    supported Lula when he became President, but grew disillusioned
    and turned into a fierce opponent of the government’s economic policy.
    by: Douglas
    Correa

    President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva has decreed three days of official
    mourning for the death of Leonel Brizola, a politician who played a prominent
    role in Brazilian life for most of the past 50 years.

    In a note, Lula said he
    deeply regretted the death of Brizola, calling him a leading politician that
    he always respected and admired.

    Leonel Brizola was 82.
    He was the president of the PDT (Partido Democrático Trabalhista—Democratic
    Labor Party). On Monday he was hospitalized in Rio de Janeiro with flu and
    a high fever. According to the hospital, he had a heart attack and died.

    At the beginning of his
    political career, Brizola had strong links, both political and personal, with
    Getúlio Vargas (twice president of Brazil: 1932-45, and 1951-54). He
    was elected a state deputy as a member of Vargas’ political party, the PTB,
    in 1945.

    He married the sister
    of another Vargas politician, João Goulart, who was Vargas’ minister
    of Labor, twice vice president (Kubitschek, 1955-59, and Quadros, 1961), and
    president himself (1961-64) when Quadros resigned.

    After Getúlio Vargas’
    suicide in 1954, Brizola was elected a federal deputy in Rio Grande do Sul.
    In the following year he was elected mayor of the state capital, Porto Alegre.
    In 1958 he was elected governor of Rio Grande do Sul.

    When Quadros resigned,
    in November 1961, there was military opposition to his vice president, João
    Goulart (Brizola’s brother-in-law), becoming the president.

    Brizola became a leader
    of a group known as the "Legal Network" in favor of having the constitution
    obeyed and allowing Goulart to take office. Brizola won a partial victory:
    Goulart took office but he had to deal with a newly formed parliamentary system.

    Meanwhile, Brizola moved
    to Rio de Janeiro where, in 1962, he was elected a federal deputy. In March
    1964, the Goulart government was overthrown in a military uprising and Brizola
    spent the next 15 years in exile.

    While outside Brazil he
    launched a new party, the PDT, which was to be faithful to the ideals of the
    old PTB and its labor-oriented platform.

    With the 1979 amnesty,
    Brizola returned to Brazil and won the 1982 election for governor of Rio de
    Janeiro with the anthropologist, Darcy Ribeiro, as his vice governor.

    Brizola ran for president
    in 1989 and just missed a place in the runoff election by a small difference
    of votes. Lula got that place, in his first bid to be president, and lost
    to Collor in the runoff election. In 1990, Brizola was once again elected
    governor of Rio.

    In 1998, Brizola was the
    vice president candidate on the losing Lula ticket (Lula’s third try at the
    presidency; he lost his second (1994) and third (1998) tries to Cardoso).
    Brizola and Lula were together in the opposition during the two Cardoso terms
    (1994-2002).

    For the 2002 presidential
    elections, Brizola threw his support to Ciro Gomes and his Labor Front—Frente
    Trabalhista, a coalition of the PDT, PPS, PTB)— in the first vote, but
    supported Lula in the runoff against Serra (PSDB).

    After the Lula victory,
    Brizola enthusiastically supported the new administration. However, in 2003,
    Brizola broke with Lula becoming a fierce opponent of the government’s economic
    policy.


    Douglas Correa works for Agência Brasil (AB), the official press agency
    of the Brazilian government. Comments are welcome at lia@radiobras.gov.br.

    Translated
    from the Portuguese by Allen Bennett.

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