A few days ago, Lula Da Silva –the former president of Brazil, the 8th largest economy on earth, between Russia and the UK– inexplicably, openly, and unmistakably endorsed Hugo Chávez’s nth campaign for the presidency of Venezuela.
“Chávez can count on me, can count on the PT (Partido dos Trabalhadores – Brazilian Workers Party, Lula’s party), can count on the left’s solidarity, and of every Latin American: your victory will be our victory.”
“… under Chávez leadership the Venezuelan people have achieved extraordinary accomplishments … that need to be preserved and consolidated”.
His endorsement is truly incomprehensible for five reasons:
1. Lula ended a bright 8-year term (including one reelection) in December 2010 as president of Brazil.
2. Lula’s astonishing success as president of Brazil was based on a highly pragmatic approach to politics and a very commendable evolution to what seemed to be a true statesman (analysis of Lula’s profile and transformation story in my recently released book, Globalization).
3. Although Lula’s beginnings –in fact most of his career before becoming president– were decisively on the left –even extreme left–, as president he was wise enough to reconcile Brazilians’ conflicting interests across the whole political spectrum.
4. Chávez’s track record as president of Venezuela has been deplorable. Indeed, it is very difficult to achieve a worse performance than Chávez’s presidency:
a) The standard of living has deteriorated in an alarming way.
b) Population liberties have been increasingly lost.
c) Chávez has been reforming the Venezuelan constitution to allow him a virtual dictatorship.
d) The government is full of cronies.
e) PDVSA –the old oil state monopoly– has been consistently decreasing its production.
f) Chávez unsuccessfully tried a coup d’état against the Democratic Action government of President Carlos Andrés Pérez’s government in 1992.
5. And finally, Lula had no need whatsoever to do so.
By all means, is Lula trying to reposition himself politically? And if so, towards what end?
It is indeed very sorrowful to see a man of the former political stature of Lula’s, fall from grace in such a sad and puzzling manner.