October 29, 2006
Brazilian President "Lula" da Silva easily won the second round balloting, defeating conservative Geraldo Alckmin with over 60 percent of the vote. See CNN. No surprise there, as he has proven more competent and responsible than most people expected when he was inaugurated four years ago. Now the question is whether he can govern effectively without resorting to bribery of congressmen. His first term was plagued by a series of such scandals, which illustrated the lack of party discipline in Brazil. Somehow, like former President Ricardo Lagos in Chile, da Silva managed to separate himself from the corruption in the public's (forgiving) eye. In his victory speech, da Silva promised to promote further economic growth while reducing social inequality. That, of course, is the "impossible dream" in Latin America and much of the Third World; good luck.
After political strife in the provincial capital of Oaxaca resulted in a few deaths in recent days, including an American journalists, President Fox finally sent in hundreds of heavily armed riot police. They dismantled barricades and used water cannons to disperse protesters. That may be why the 70,000 teachers who have been on strike since May finally agreed to go back to work on Monday. "Interior Minister Carlos Abascal said it was necessary to send in troops to restore peace because of the 'inability' of Governor Ulises Ruiz to handle the situation." Fox had been reluctant to intervene in Oaxaca, but he only has one more month as president, and has pledged to resolve this crisis before he leaves office. See BBC. It's sad that the local leaders couldn't reach a compromise on their own, and terribly tragic that the tourist trade has suffered so badly.