Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva is already in New York where he came for the UN’s General Assembly opening session. Following an old tradition the 61 General Assembly will again be opened with a speech by a Brazilian chief of state.
According to Foreign Minister, Celso Amorim, Lula will repeat his constant message against hunger and poverty in the world. He will also debate themes as the UN’s reform and the need for the rich nations to stop farm subsidies.
But while the Brazilian president will be acting as an international statesman in New York, a tempest has been brewing back home. Two scandals have erupted in the last few days at the eve of the October 1st, election, in which Lula is candidate to the reelection.
In one, a close aide to Lula is charged with buying a dossier that would link the opposition party PSDB with the Bloodsuckers Scheme, an ambulances Mafia involving dozens of congressmen and mayors. The other scandal has to do with the finding that the National Election Board’s telephones were being tapped.
The president, however, seems to feel invincible due to repeated opinion polls showing him winning reelection in the first round. Lula seems so self-assured in fact that in the last few days he started attacking the opposition with some harsh words.
Talking in Belém, capital of the northern state of Pará, for example, he referred to toucans (the symbol of former president Fernando Henrique Cardoso’s opposition party PSDB) as predators who eat the eggs and the nestlings of other birds.
"What have they done for the people?," he asked during a rally and answered his own question: "They limited themselves to have a government for only 35 million Brazilians."
On Saturday, September 16, in Salvador, state of Bahia, he called the local PFL (Party of the Liberal Front) chief "the Northeast’s hamster." This chief, senator Antonio Carlos Magalhães, is still considered a powerful figure in Bahia politics and is still called by some the Lion of Bahia.
Without mentioning the senator’s name, Lula said that "an old politician from Bahia used to hit on the table" to be received by presidents. "This doesn’t work with me. I’m not afraid of meanies. If he wants me to receive him he will have to respect me. For me he is not the Northeast lion as he was already called, but a hamster."
Monday, finally, the old lion roared back in no uncertain terms.
ACM, as Magalhães is also known, called the president a "fat and boozing rat, whose thefts in the Palácio do Planalto (the presidential office) I have been denouncing in the National Congress". According to Magalhães, the president has no idea what a hamster is although "he’s truly a rat." And the veteran senator went on:
"I consider myself more a hunting cat of a rat who steals public money than a hamster. I don’t know any hamster. I’ve just heard about them. Among other reasons because I’m more used to fight big rats. And every passing day it becomes more evident that Lula is an implacable, uncontrollable rodent for himself and his own family."