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And Almost... Lula and Brazil Wait For October 27

Olé, Olé, Olá Lula! Lula!
And Almost... Lula and Brazil Wait For October 27th

By Luis A. Gómez
Narco News Andean Bureau Chief
From Sao Paulo, Brazil

Yesterday, kind readers, was a long day, full of anticipation for democracy in our América. Throughout the day the people of Brazil went to the polls... and presidential candidate Lula da Silva arrived just three percentage points from opening the doors to the government in the first round... But no harm done, because within three weeks, nobody doubts it (not in Brazil and not on Wall Street), the popular and most important leader of the Left will triumph.

But let's talk about what has happened, because although Lula was not elected president of Brazil yet, some of his allies did win important posts in the first round, changing the history of his Workers Party, that now becomes the leading political force in Brazil: People like Congressman José Dirceu, who is also president of the Workers Party (PT, in its Portuguese initials), or the governor of the state of Arce (on the Bolivian border), Jorge Viana, and the senator from Sao Paulo Aloizio Marcadante... and many, many more.

And let's speak also of the dark moments for democracy. Yesterday, for example, it was demonstrated that the polls, all of them, did not tell the whole truth about the intentions of the voters. The most scandalous case was that for election of the governor of Sao Paulo. In its final poll before the vote, the daily Folha of Sao Paulo (perhaps the most respected newspaper in Brazil) said that José Genoino, the PT candidate, was in third place with 24 percent, behind the current governor Gerardo Alckim of the governing party, and the old politician Paulo Maluf. The other polls said similar things.

Last night, when almost have the votes in the state of Sao Paulo were counted, Alckim had obtained 40.6 percent, Genoino 31.4 percent and Maluf with barely 21.4 percent. From this it is possible to conclude that the polls were badly conducted… or perhaps organized with the intent to undercount the support for the PT candidates, because the case of Genoino is not the only one. Everything indicates that the labor of Brazilian special interests was very vast and that, with actions like those, they have tried to undermine the enormous vote that the people's party received.

It's worth mentioning that with those results in Sao Paulo, the last representative of the military dictatorship, Paulo Maluf, a civilian who worked with the military commanders in the sixties and seventies, has been left on the sidelines of political life for the first time… a clear indication of the changes afoot.

Oof, the Electronics!

Yesterday, also, the first "electronic" national elections were held in Brazil history. The 115.2 million voters chose their candidates from small terminals that looked like the check out counter at the supermarket, which registered the ID of the voter and the numbers on the list that corresponded to their political preferences. With this, the vote-counting was quite fast and, everything indicates, minor fraud and counting glitches were evaded.

"Everything legal," as the Brazilians say… up to now. The problems began when the people, especially the poorest, came before the voting machine… or when, for example, in Rio de Janeiro they used approximately 500 electronic terminals in bad condition… Many people, confused by the use of electronic machines, took as much as a half hour to emit their votes. With this, the long voting lines in some places (above all, the large cities) caused many to have to wait more than three hours in the streets. Various polling places didn't close their doors until 9 p.m., when the closing hour should have been 5 p.m.

The question was complicated for those not familiar with computers (and in Brazil, that means more than 50 million people). Each voter had to punch six different numerical formulas into the computer (that is to say, six votes), to elect president, governor, two senators, a congress member and a state legislator. In the case of the PT candidates, for example, someone in Sao Paulo had to type the following: 1131 to elect federal congressman Ricardo Berzoni, and then confirm with another work of typing, next, 13184 for the state legislator Maria Lúcia Prandi, and then confirm it, and then 131 for Senator Mercadente (which also had to be confirmed), later, 651 for Senator Wagner Gomes (once more, having to confirm the vote), later 13 for the governor (then confirm it) and finally 13 (for Lula) and confirm that vote… 19 sets of numbers to be able to vote and express their will!

And as the majority of these people who voted for the PT and the other parties of the Left are poor people, without much education, these were the parties most affected. Here, in spite of the apology by the minister in charge of the Supreme Electoral Tribunal, it is clear that democracy not only can (and must) by supported by technology, but also that it is necessary to facilitate, to help the people so that their will be done… and it wasn't that way, at least not enough so.

For now, Anthony Garotinho, presidential candidate of Brazil's Socialist Party (and perhaps the most harmed by the errors in the voting system), is filing suit against the elections in the state of Rio de Janeiro. In this state, the voting was slow and there were many problems, harming also the PT candidates… and while he said he was "surprised" by these matters, the president of the Electoral Tribunal, Nelson Jobim, has blamed the problems on "the people's own difficulty in voting."


Lula: 46,44 %

And almost... we've almost arrived with Lula to the Government Palace. In the highest vote count ever obtained by a left-wing party in Brazil, the PT arrived only 3.5 percent from winning in the first round. But last night, in spite of the fact that the grand fiesta organized for Paulista Avenue was cancelled, there was no frustration or unhappiness in the streets. To the contrary, there were parties and songs, music and red banners with the star of the PT in a celebration that lasted until dawn.

Let's go... To not make it in the first round is no defeat. With 99.21 percent of the vote already counted, Lula has 46.44 percent. He's already made history and will have many opportunities to continue making it. Of the 29 states that make the Federal Republic of Brazil (its official name), Lula won in 27 with more than 40 percent; in five states, about half of the valid votes (not counting the blank and nullified ballots). He even won in New York… What's more, is that in almost all the countries of the world where Brazilians abroad voted, Lula won.

O povo "luló"... Lula as a Verb

Today, Lula made his first post-election statements, explaining his intention to come to power, reaffirming the proposals of his campaign and confirming what we all know: that the people are with him and are not thinking of letting him down or leaving him alone. They will follow the steps yet to come. Already, everyone is working to weave alliances. At least one of the large parties of the Left - the Socialist Party - has announced its support for the PT in the second round. With this, if the war is not too dirty, that alone will be sufficient to make Lula the president of Brazil.

For his part, the second-place finisher and Lula's rival, José Serra, also also in the battle for October 27th. Serra, the candidate of the Social Democratic party, plans to utilize the figure of his most important ally as a decisive support: that of President Fernando Hernrique Cardoso. Here, we'll have a new round of an old conflict, now more clear than ever: the dominant groups, with their sympathizers in Washington, vs. the popular will. We have three weeks left to report it all…

In the coming days, Narco News will be dedicated to report, with more calm, what is happening in Brazil. We'll be speaking with the key members of the PT, and perhaps even with Lula (who, logically, is quite busy these days) and we count with the support of some authentic journalists (like Renato Rovai of Forum magazine: http://www.revistaforum.com.br/

Let's go now and accompany the Brazilian people in the final stretch of their journey to obtain a just and truly democratic government. Come on along with us…


ENDS

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