da Silva, Luiz Inácio

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Luiz Inácio da Silva (lōōēsh´ ēnäs´yōō dä sēl´və), 1945–, Brazilian labor leader and politician, known as Lula, b. Vargem Grande (now Caetés), Pernambuco. Born into a poor family, da Silva worked as a child to help support the household. After becoming a metalworker in 1966, he became active in the metalworkers union, rising to its presidency in 1975. An opponent of military rule and a skilled negotiator, he helped to found the Workers' party (PT) in 1980 and the Central Única dos Trabalhadores, a national trade union confederation, in 1983. In 1986 he was elected to the Brazilian congress and three years later he was the PT candidate for president, coming in second. His presidential runs in 1994 and 1998 ended similarly. Lula and the PT had moved from socialist to social democratic positions by the 2002 race, when he was elected president in runoff with more than 60% of the vote, a result that was partly a repudiation of President Cardoso's free-market policies. Nonetheless, Brazil's first working-class president did not deviate greatly from his predecessor's economic program, steering a largely centrist course. Da Silva was reelected in 2006, again after a runoff. Social programs in conjunction with a centrist economic program and an increase in commodities prices resulted in significant economic growth during da Silva's terms in office. Internationally, Brazil's foreign policy under da Silva steered a course between that of the United States and that of Venezuela and other leftist Latin American governments. He was succeeded as president in 2011 by Dilma Rousseff, his former chief of staff and the PT candidate.