Why Brazil's Lula Is the Man

Why Brazil's Lula Is the Man

Recently, US secretary of state Hillary Clinton pressured Brazil's president Lula da Silva to join the US in imposing new sanctions against Iran. Lula rebuffed Clinton, saying it's "not prudent to push Iran against a wall". This is not what Clinton wanted to hear from a country that holds a rotating seat in the UN Security Council and is lobbying for a permanent one. Subsequently, in Tel Aviv, Lula shocked Israeli leaders by refusing to visit the tomb of the father of Zionism, Theodore Herzl. In May, he goes to Tehran to meet President Ahmadinejad, a move that a US newspaper described as "unworthy of a country that aspires to be considered an equal among the world's leaders". Is Lula behaving like a world leader?

Mocked by Brazil's chatterati for his fractured grammar, Lula has become a hit on the world stage with his Everyman style. At the London summit on the global financial crisis last year, on seeing Lula, US president Barack Obama shouted, "That's my man right here. Love this guy. He's the most popular politician on earth." Obama's gushing remarks came just a few days after the Brazilian had blamed the global crisis on "the irrational behaviour of people that are white, blue-eyed, that before the crisis looked like they knew everything about economics". Lula's remarks made the Brazilian elite cringe.

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