Sao Paulo Carnival to honor president Lula
SAO PAULO - Agence France-Presse
Workers prepare a carnival float for the Mocidade Independente de Padre.A Brazilian samba school will pay tribute to hugely popular former president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva with a Carnival parade Saturday extolling his life of struggle and overcoming the odds. Lula, 66, who is currently undergoing radiation therapy for larynx cancer, will be honored by “Gavioes da Fiel,” the samba school of the Corinthians, the local soccer team of which he is a die-hard fan.
“Gavioes” (the hawks) will bring to the Anhembi sambadrome (in northern Sao Paulo) the life story of the former president who was born into poverty in Brazil’s arid northeast but rose to lead the nation.
Influence of Lula
The former metal worker and labor activist stepped down with a soaring 80 percent approval rating, after serving two consecutive terms from January 2003 to December 2010. “We will speak of Lula who resembles the people. (To show) that any citizen can accomplish what he did. All you need is to show perseverance, determination, to study a lot and stick to your goals,” Delmo de Moraes, the director of the samba school told AFP. Some 3,900 members of the school will tell the story of “a Brazilian and Corinthians icon,” said the soccer team, which will present a samba song entitled “You will see that a faithful son does not run away for the struggle. Lula, a portrait of a nation.”
Corinthians fans point to the social welfare programs created by Lula that helped pull 29 million Brazilians out of poverty.
A tribute will also be paid to the mothers of Brazil’s northeast symbolized by Lula’s mother, “Dona Lindu”, an illiterate but determined woman who emigrated with her children to Sao Paulo and raised them alone.
“The secret of Lula’s charisma is the humility he exudes. He is a man of the people. And as he is from the people, he is ours,” de Moraes said. “Because Corinthians are the team of the people.” The samba school had hoped Lula would be able to ride in the parade on one of its floats but the ex-president’s doctors said he was too weak to attend. Lula, a former smoker who is known for his raspy voice, was diagnosed with cancer last October. Doctors however have said that the cancerous tumor in his larynx has disappeared. Lula, who went through chemotherapy sessions last year, is currently undergoing radiation therapy that should be concluded in the next few weeks.