Dilma Rousseff

Carl Juste / Miami Herald

In a 2008 interview, then Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva offered me his formula for success: “I allow the rich to earn money with their investments and I allow the poor to participate in that economic growth.”

Lula’s capitalist-socialist policies, and soaring commodities prices, led Brazil to an astonishing boom in the 2000s. By 2010, as Lula was leaving office, the country was the world’s sixth-largest economy, and 40 million people were added to its middle class.

It was a confident global player.

Now it’s a foundering cautionary tale.


A political phoenix has risen from the ashes of a plane crash in Brazil. Next month it might result in South America's political upset of the decade.

Brazilian presidential candidate Eduardo Campos was killed in that Aug. 13 accident outside São Paulo. Days later Campos’ running mate – environmentalist and former Senator Marina Silva – took his place as the Brazilian Socialist Party’s nominee. In voter polls, Silva quickly catapulted alongside the incumbent front-runner, Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff. She’s now tied with Rousseff ahead of the Oct. 5 election.

Gabriel Smith / Flickr

The line between confident and conceited was pretty thin in Brazil in October of 2007.

The South American giant was in the midst of a boom that would make it the world’s sixth largest economy. Massive new oil reserves were being discovered off its coast. It considered itself a global player that deserved a permanent seat on the ultra-exclusive U.N. Security Council.

And it had just been awarded the 2014 soccer World Cup.

“God,” then President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva declared, “is Brazilian.”