Ex-guerrilla to be Brazil`s first female President

A former Marxist guerrilla who was tortured and imprisoned during Brazil`s long dictatorship was elected as president of Latin America`s biggest nation, a country in the midst of an economic and political rise.

Last Updated: Nov 01, 2010, 13:46 PM IST

Sao Paulo: A former Marxist guerrilla who
was tortured and imprisoned during Brazil`s long dictatorship was elected as president of Latin America`s biggest nation, a country in the midst of an economic and political rise.

A statement from the Supreme Electoral Court, which
oversees elections, said governing party candidate Dilma
Rousseff won the election. When she takes office Jan 1, she
will be Brazil`s first female leader.

With 99 per cent of the ballots counted, Rousseff had
55.6 per cent compared to 44.4 per cent for her centrist
rival, Jose Serra, the electoral court said.

"I`m very happy. I want to thank all Brazilians for
this moment and I promise to honour the trust they have shown
me," Rousseff told reporters who swarmed a car carrying her in
Brasilia, her first public words as president-elect.

Rousseff, the hand-chosen candidate of wildly popular
President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, won by cementing her
image to Silva`s, whose policies she promised to continue.

She will lead a nation on the rise, a country that
will host the 2014 World Cup and that is expected to be the
globe`s fifth-largest economy by the time it hosts the 2016
Summer Olympics. It has also recently discovered huge oil
reserves off its coast.

Rousseff was already speaking like a president-elect
before the result was announced.

"Starting tomorrow we begin a new stage of democracy,"
Rousseff, 62, said in the southern city of Porto Alegre, where
she cast her vote. "I will rule for everyone, speak with all
Brazilians, without exception".

Silva used his 80 per cent approval ratings to
campaign incessantly for Rousseff, his former chief of staff
and political protege. She never has held elected office and
lacks the charisma that transformed Silva from a one-time
shoeshine boy into one of the globe`s most popular leaders.

Silva was barred by the constitution from running for
a third consecutive four-year term. He has batted down chatter
in Brazil`s press that he is setting himself up for a new run
at the presidency in 2014, which would be legal.

Despite Rousseff`s win, many voters don`t want "Lula,"
as he is popularly known, to go away.

"If Lula ran for president 10 times, I would vote for
him 10 times," said Marisa Santos, a 43-year-old selling her
homemade jewelry on a Sao Paulo street. "I`m voting for Dilma,
of course, but the truth is it will still be Lula who will
lead us".
Within 20 minutes of Rousseff`s victory being
announced, her supporters began streaming onto a main avenue
in Sao Paulo, where eight years ago a huge gathering
celebrated Silva`s win, the first time the Workers Party took
the presidency. Police blocked off the road and workers were
already constructing a stage for a party expected to last the
entire night.

PTI