Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva Fast Facts
Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva (1958 – 2003) was the first democratically elected president of Brazil from August 1, 2003 to January 1, 2014. He was also the country’s first democratically elected leader to be removed from office. Lula da Silva’s meteoric rise to the presidency of Brazil was unprecedented. On February 11, 2005, a day before his inauguration, he had garnered the highest number of votes in history for the Brazilian presidency.
Lula da Silva led Brazil to one of the most prosperous nations on Earth, with a gross domestic product of US$2.721 trillion. He also led Brazil to its highest annual economic growth rates (5.26% in 2012 and 5.31% in 2013). Lula da Silva’s legacy rests on three key factors. First, he was one of the first democratically elected leaders to be placed on trial for corruption. Secondly, his administration brought about the biggest reduction in the number of Brazilian prisons in more than three decades. Thirdly, he set in motion massive changes to the Brazilian economy. This is perhaps the most important reason that he is remembered as a national hero.
Lula da Silva’s political life began with his election to the Brazilian legislature in 1980 as a member of the Brazilian Socialist Party (PSDB). Five years later, he ran for the Brazilian presidency. After his election to the legislature in his first term, he started his political career in the Ministry of Tourism and Commerce. Lula da Silva was elected in 1994 as the mayor of São Paulo. He became the youngest mayor in the country’s history at the age of 31. He led the city to its greatest popularity ever for its success as a tourist destination and Brazil’s largest economy.
In 1996, Lula da Silva entered the Brazilian Congress as a representative of the Brazilian Socialist Party. He held this position for three terms. He lost his seat in the Chamber of Deputies in 2002, but his name was recalled