largest and most populous country in South America

they speak Portuguese there

Fernando Henrique Cardoso was the president of the Federative Republic of Brazil from January of 1995 to December, 2002.

Cardoso was succeeded in 2003 by Lula da Silva. In his fourth run for the presidency in 2003, da Silva won in a historic landslide against Cardoso's handpicked candidate Jose Serra. Da Silva's election has been seen as a sign of Cardoso's growing unpopularity in his second term.

  • Lula continued to run for the office of President in subsequent elections. In his 2002 campaign he added the nickname Lula" to his legal name for campaign purposes, and abandoned his style of informal clothing, as well as his platform plank of refusing to pay the Brazilian Foreign Debt. This last point was extremely worrisome to US economists, businessmen, and banks, who feared that a Brazilian default along with the already occurring Argentina default would have a massive ripple effect through the world economy.

  • After crafting a fiscal adjustment program and pledging progress on structural reform, Brazil received a USD 41.5 billion IMF-led international support program in November 1998. In January 1999, the Brazilian Central Bank announced that the Real would no longer be pegged to the US dollar. This devaluation helped moderate the downturn in economic growth in 1999 that investors had expressed concerns about over the summer of 1998, and the country posted moderate GDP growth.

  • Economic growth slowed considerably in 2001 - to less than 2% - because of a slowdown in major markets and the hiking of interest rates by the Central Bank to combat inflationary pressures. Investor confidence was strong at yearend 2001, in part because of the strong recovery in the trade balance. Highly unequal income distribution remains a pressing problem.

  • After Lula da Silva came to power in 2003, the government continued to run the same former president Cardoso's policies, attending to market pressures and international agencies - such as IMF and World Bank - demands. As people were expecting swift changes in the social agenda, this fact has caused a measurable electoral disappointment.

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