The election of Luis Ignaçio da Silva, known as “Lula” as the new president of Brazil (215 million inhabitants, seventh world power by gross domestic product) after his previous victories in 2002 and 2006 brought back to my memory the brief but an intense visit which he made to Nembro on 14 September 1999. Lula had come to Italy at the invitation of various international solidarity organizations including the “Radié Resch Network” which in Bergamo and in Nembro in particular had, and still has, numerous supporters.

In the days preceding his visit to the friends of Nembro, Lula had participated in the “March for Justice”, seven kilometers between Agliana and Quarrata, in the province of Pistoia, centered on the theme What future for the Earth? and in which a delegation from Bergamo was also present.

In the front row, alongside Lula, was Rigoberta Menchù, Guatemalan activist for social rights, Nobel Peace Prize winner in 1992; personalities from the Italian cultural and academic world and the banners of numerous Tuscan municipalities in the area also paraded.

During that visit to Italy, Lula, who at the time was the leader of Brazil’s largest opposition political force, the Partido dos trabalhadoresbetween a long-planned meeting and conference, he found time to go to Bergamo, which he knew at least by name because, and he did not fail to mention it, his wife Marisa had distant Bergamo ancestry: her paternal grandparents were in fact originally from Palazzago.

He was welcomed on that beautiful September day by the hospitable home of Mirta, Claudio and Sara, the family of Michele, who died tragically in 1994, who had already been carrying out an intense and constant action for years in favor of the underprivileged in the Brazilian region of Petropolis , thus transforming an immense pain into perennial good. I still remember the future president of Brazil sitting in the bright living room: massive, slightly grizzled, attentive: he was then fifty-six years old (born in 1945), as he sipped a coffee and smoked a small cigar with gusto, holding it in the hand without the little finger that he had lost under a press many years earlier, he was a metal worker from São Paulo, the most industrialized region of Brazil, then a trade unionist, then the founder and leader of the Workers’ Party.

The living room of Mirta’s house was packed with people who had come even from far away to greet the man who was to be a candidate for the presidency of Brazil.


Lula, former president from 2003 to 2011
will take office on 1 January 2023

Lula’s election as President of Brazil consolidates the South American tendency to switch to centre-left governments and presidents (it has already happened in Mexico, Argentina, Chile and Colombia). The very narrow gap between the two candidates. Bolsonaro, the outgoing president, initially refused to accept defeat (as Trump did with Biden in the United States) and this has caused tensions. It should also be emphasized that since democracy returned to Brazil (which evidently for Bolsonaro, as well as for Trump, is good only when you win) after the military dictatorship (1964-1985) it has never happened that an outgoing President was not confirmed for the second term. But Lula is also the first president to be elected for a third term (he was already president for two terms from 2003 to 2011).

79.5% of eligible voters went to vote. Lula won with 50.9% against Bolsonaro’s 49.1 and the difference is quantified in 2 million and 100 thousand more votes and Lula’s party (Pt – Workers’ Party) had a remarkable electoral success, maximum consensus history. Lula was also supported by the “rival” party, the PSDB (Brazilian Social Democratic Party), having allied himself with Gerardo Alckmin who holds the vice presidency. The country is divided, the north-east progressive and the centre-south more right-oriented.

But as in the United States also in Brazil in the two houses of Parliament Lula does not have a majority.

Journalist Alfonso Botti wrote in the magazine “Il Mulino”: «The proliferation of weapons, enormously favored by Bolsonaro during his mandate as a solution to security problems, is a very worrying fact….



NEMBRO – IN SEPTEMBER 1999 – When Lula, the president of Brazil visited the friends of Nembro