Brazil gets first working class president


BRAZIL: Former metalworker Mr Luiz Inacio "Lula" da Silva was sworn in as Brazil's first working class president yesterday as thousands celebrated the start of a new era in Latin America's largest country. Flanked by white-uniformed cavalry, Mr da Silva and his vice president, Mr Jose Alencar, travelled atop a convertible Rolls Royce through cheering supporters from across the continent-sized country, who pushed past security guards to hug and touch their new leader.

At the sleek, modernist Congress in the capital, Brasilia, Mr da Silva, dressed in a dark suit, his grey beard neatly trimmed, took the oath of office amid cheers of "Lula, Lula". Senate President Mr Ramez Tebet then declared him president.

With the humble classes that gave him a record-breaking 52 million votes in his fourth attempt at the presidency in mind, Mr da Silva, Brazil's first left-wing elected president, organised a party for the people rather than for dignitaries.

Revellers celebrated by driving along the sweeping avenues of the capital, honking horns, and dancing in a sea of green and yellow, the colours of the Brazilian flag, and deep red, the colour of Mr da Silva's left-wing Workers' Party.

In a country with one of the most uneven wealth distributions in the world, only surpassed by three African nations, the arrival of a man who never made it past elementary school to the highest office heralded a new beginning for the nation's 170 million people, 53 million of whom live in poverty. - (Reuters)