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The Tough Questions Brazil’s Lula Refused to Answer

With an advantage in the polls that seems insurmountable, being the numbers so expressive that would guarantee his reelection in the first round of Brazil’s October 1st election, Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva has been refusing to participate in television debates with the other presidential candidates.

He also has turned down invitations to be interviewed by Brazil’s leading dailies. O Estado de S. Paulo, Folha de S. Paulo and Rio’s most prestigious newspaper, O Globo, have submitted questions to the presidential candidates and published them in recent days, but Lula has said no to all the invitations.

Now, O Globo, in an unheard gesture by the Brazilian press, decided to make public the questions it had prepared to ask the president leaving a blank space after each of them for the answers that never came.

Ironically, just earlier in the week, the Brazilian president had extolled peoples right to information during the Newspapers National Association congress.

Under the headline "Far from the ‘public square of debates,’" using a president’s quote, O Globo dedicated the whole page 13 to Lula’s non-answers.

Among the interviewers were writers Luiz Fernando Verí­ssimo, João Ubaldo Ribeiro and Paulo Coelho. O Globo also cited a Lula’s old interview: "My political history owes much to the free and independent press."

Some of the non-answered questions:

"In September of 2002, you, as a candidate, criticized the president Fernando Henrique Cardoso, who, in eight years, had only met twice with the governors to discuss the states debt, and never to discuss themes such as violence. You also defended the idea that the federal government should coordinate the national battle against narcotraffic and organized crime. Don’t you think that president Lula should have listened to what candidate Lula had to say?" 

"Once, during the worst times of the mensalão (big monthly allowance) crisis, you said that you had been betrayed. (…) After all, were you betrayed or not? And by who?"

"When, you recently said, in a meeting with intellectuals in São Paulo, that politics is done with whoever we got and not with whom we want, were you agreeing with the artists that, in Rio, admitted that politics is done with your hands deep in shit, and more than this, would you admit that real politics led you to use schemes like the mensalão to organize your majority in Congress?"

"As good as the international economic situation is, and as good as the numbers of the Brazilian economy are today, the country’s growth continues as mediocre as in the preceding government that you criticize so much. Proportionally, your results are even worse, due to the conditions of the international economy, without crises, and with the world growing at much higher rates than Brazil. What is going wrong?"

Verí­ssimo had prepared the question: "You ended up having a government more social-democrat than expected. Should we expect in your second mandate a Lula still more to the center looking for consensus or more to the left?" 

Economy reporter, Miriam Leitão has this to ask: "You told me in an interview in 2002 the following: ‘Miriam, I’m going to tell you something because I want you to check back on this with me. I’m going to do an agrarian reform without any occupation and without any death.’ Heeding your request here is my question: "There were 880 occupations and 72 deaths, according to official numbers from your own government and that covers only up to March. How do you explain having missed the target so badly?"

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