Brazil’s Lula Says No to Last Debate and Opponent Calls Him a Deserter

Those who bet that Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva would take part in Globo’s TV last debate before the elections Sunday, October 1st, lost it, Just a few hours before the debate was supposed to start, the president sent a letter to the TV network breaking the news.

Many believed, including this magazine, that Lula had weighted all the options and decided that the best would be to participate in the debate in order to refute charges of corruption that have just flared again after the Federal Police discovered a PT (the president’s party) scheme to buy for almost US$ 1 million a dossier incriminating opposition candidates.

The Planalto Palace, the president’s office, kept the suspense about Lula’s participation in the debate until the last minute. When he finally boarded a plane at 6:40 pm, his aides revealed, it was to go to São Bernardo do Campo, São Paulo, to talk in the last rally of the party before election day.

According to a note released by the Workers Party, Lula decided to skip the TV encounter with three other presidential candidates due to  the "virulence and despair level of some opponents, who are leaving the discussion of proposals and ideas in the background, to dedicate themselves, almost exclusively, to the gratuitous attacks and personal aggressions."

Without Lula, whose empty chair sporting his name will be shown anyway during the debate, the encounter will happen among candidates Geraldo Alckmin (PSDB), Heloí­sa Helena (PSOL) and Cristovam Buarque (PDT).

The debate will start at 10 pm, a time that many believe will prevent the poorer voters from watching, since they have to go early to bed in order to wake up in the morning for work.

The live show comes after Páginas da Vida (Life Pages), a popular soap opera. The debate will also be carried on the Internet at http://g1.globo.com.

Alckmin called Lula a deserter. In an official note in his site, the PSDB candidate wrote: "Deserter Lula is avoiding the debate so that he doesn’t have to explain the scandals." He called the president’s decision shameful.

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