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Lula's Closet

In Love with Lula

Complete coverage, North to South.

President-elect, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, gives his first press conference after his victory. October 28, 2002. Sergio Moraes

Victory for Brazil's Hungry

by Juan Pérez Cabral

OCTOBER 29, 2002. Fresh from his monster landslide victory on Sunday — he won with 61 percent of the vote, the widest margin in the country's history — Brazil's President-elect, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, said the fight against hunger would be the top priority of his first year in office.

"If by the end of my term, every Brazilian is able to eat three times a day, I will have realized the mission of my life," Lula said in his first public declarations after his election.

One in 10 Brazilians is undernourished, and 11 percent of children under five have stunted growth, according to the United Nations.

Brazil has the world's ninth-largest economy, but one of the world's most unequal wealth distributions: about half of the national income goes to the richest 10 percent of the population, while the poorest 20 percent makes do with just 2 percent.

An estimated 53 million of the 170 million Brazilians live in poverty.

Whether Lula succeeds or not largely depends on patience — the Brazilian people's, whom he warned not to expect instant miracles, and the still spooked international financial markets, whom he scrambled to reassure, promising Brazil won't default on its external debt.

Related links:

For Newsweek International's sobering Brazil: Can Lula Lead?.

For Long Will Live Free Markets. Why many Brazilian businesspeople deserted Serra to back Lula.

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