‘Our phoenix’: Lula’s ups and downs in Brazil defy belief
When former Brazilian president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva met with the local press in Sao Paulo last April, he seemed to be at the core of Brazil’s recovery.
His appointment as chairman of the country’s giant oil company and its subsequent restructuring were a major step towards turning around the economy. The country’s bond rating had fallen to junk status, and the public sector was in danger of bankruptcy.
The economic plan, which involved Lula at the helm of a government-controlled company, was credited with reining in spending, and allowing the government to cut back on borrowing.
So far, in a country with a population of 190 million, this seemed like a good start.
But then came his next step – the announcement that he’d be leaving the political scene.
With a string of tweets, the 46-year-old president announced that despite his attempts to reform the state-run oil company, Petrobras, he would not be seeking re-election. He would instead seek the support of the people of Brazil.
“With his decision, Lula has shattered the myth that Brazil is the best country in the world to be born in,” said Fernando Segovia of the University of Brasilia.
And so a once proud nation is now suffering from a series of economic and political problems, from an unpopular president to spiralling inflation, rampant crime and a serious shortage of money.
But the drama in Brazil is not confined to the past.
Lula, who served three terms as Brazil’s president, is just one in a long line of political figures who have struggled to make their mark on the country.
At a time when politicians are often lauded for their ability to inspire the public with their actions, many have found themselves on opposite ends of the political spectrum.
The list includes figures who were once champions of the left, such as the socialist Aécio Neves, of the Democrats, and the right-wing leader of the Brazilian Social Democracy party