Conducts research and collects data on the global history of labour, workers, and labour relations

Microfilms Partido dos Trabalhadores

Recently, the IISH acquired the microfilm collection of the Partido dos Trabalhadores, which is President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva's party. The microfilms are produced by the Fundação Perseu Abramo and donated to the IISH. The IISH wishes to thank the Fundação Perseu Abramo for this valuable addition.

In October 2002 Brazil, the country with the largest economy and greatest population in South America, elected a trade union and leftist party leader for president: Lula. Lula was the candidate of the poor as well as of a part of the middle classes and the elite.

Lula was born on 27 October 1945 in Garahuns, in the province of Pernambuco. His parents were poor tenant farmers. At the age of seven, Lula sold peanuts, tapioca, and oranges as a street vendor. Later he was a shoe-shine boy in Sao Paulo, until he was fourteen, when he obtained his first regular job. He was trained as a fitter in the metallurgic industry. As a member of the metal workers' trade union, Lula developed into a charismatic leader whose talents emerged during the great strikes in 1978 and 1979. In this period Lula concluded that the country was in need of a new political party.

Thus, in June 1980, the Partido dos Trabalhadores was born. Not only workers flocked to the party, but all types of activists from the various groups that opposed military dictatorship. At this time there were various factions and ideas in the party who were engaged in public debate. The main group, led by Lula, was called Articulaçâo. It considered the PT an open, democratic, mass party, a place for the groups which had hitherto been underestimated or disregarded, such as homosexuals or environmentalists.

At its start the PT was traditional marxist, until 1990, when it adopted the principles of democracy. In the course of the nineties, it embarked on a program of gradual reform and coalitions with other parties. On 27 October 2002 this policy was rewarded, when Lula won the presidential elections after the social-democrat president Fernando Cardoso had lost the confidence of the middle groups. By that time the unemployment rate had reached more than15 percent and was particularly high among skilled labour.

Additional copies of the reels can be ordered from IDC Publishers, Leiden.

Text: Huub Sanders, September 2004

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