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A force for democracy or evil?

Lula: a job on his hands to
export his domestic popularity
to Washington

The Brazilian presidential elections were a triumph for democracy. The winner, Luis Inacio Lula da Silva, became the first leftist ever elected president. And in an election notable for its transparency he won the largest ever share of the vote.

While Brazilians danced in the streets, Wall Street greeted Lula with cautious optimism. Analysts reckoned he would stick to the previous administration's IMF agreement and manage to get through 2003 without a catastrophic default.

The reaction was different in Washington. The anti-Castro brigade is already spitting fire about the actions of populist former coup leader Hugo Chávez in Venezuela. They won't then be happy about the likely election of populist former coup leader Lucio Gutierrez in Ecuador.

Henry Hyde, chairman of the House international relations committee, seized on the fact that Lula has visited Cuba and Venezuela. In a letter to president Bush he echoed George W's own rhetoric, warning: "There is a real prospect that Castro, Chávez, and Lula da Siva could constitute an axis of evil in the Americas which might soon have nuclear weapons."

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