Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva was born on 27 October 1945 at Garanhuns, in the
hinterland of Pernambuco State. He has been married to Marisa Letícia since 1974
with whom he has had five children. Lula is himself the seventh of the eight
children born to Aristides Inácio da Silva and Eurídice Ferreira de Mello. In
December 1952, the family moved to São Paulo State on the back of a truck (“pau-de
arara”) and settled in Vicente de Carvalho, a poor neighborhood of the city of
Lula received basic schooling at the Marcílio Dias Public School. In 1956, the
family moved into a bedroom at the back of a bar in the Ipiranga neighborhood.
At twelve, Lula landed his fist job at a local cleaners. He also worked as a
shoeshine and an as an office boy.
At age 14, he signed his first fixed employment at a general store. He later
transferred to a metal factory and got a placement in a lathe worker-training
course offered by the National Service of Industry (SENAI), a training scheme
for industrial workers funded by the public and private sectors. After a
three-year course, Lula graduated as a metal worker.
In the period of strife following the 1964 military coup, Lula worked in various
factories before joining the Villares Industries, one of the major metal works
in the country. It was located in São Bernando do Campo, in the ABC region, the
industrial heartland of São Paulo State. There his brother José Ferreira da
Silva, better known as Frei Chico, brought him into contact with the labor
In 1969, Lula sought a seat on the council of the Metalworkers Union of São
Bernardo do Campo and Diadema. In 1972, he was elected. In 1975, he became
president of the 100 thousand-strong union with 92% of the vote.
It was at this time that Lula gave a new direction to the Brazilian labor
movement. In 1978, Lula was reelected union president and there soon followed
the first work stoppages in 10 years. In March 1979, 170 thousand metalworkers
paralyzed the ABC region. The ensuing police repression and the almost total
absence of political representation of worker interests in the national
parliament led Lula to first consider setting up a Workers´ Party (Partido dos
Trabalhadores – PT).
At that juncture, Brazil was undergoing a gradual process of political
decompression under the guidance of the Armed Forces, then holding power. On
February 10 1980, Lula founded the PT together with other union members,
intellectuals, politicians and representatives of social movements, such as
rural and religious leaders. In the same year, a new strike by metalworkers led
to government intervention in the union and to the imprisonment of Lula and
other union leaders, as authorized the National Security Law. They were held for
By 1982, the PT had been established throughout almost the entire country. Lula
guided the Party’s organization and ran in the São Paulo State gubernatorial
elections. In August 1983, he took part in the setting up of United Workers’
Federation (Central Única dos Trabalhadores - CUT ). In 1984, he was one of the
leading lights of the “diretas-já” campaign in favor of free elections for
President. In 1986, he was elected with the largest number of votes of any
congressman to the parliamentary assembly charged with writing a new
constitution for the country.
The PT slated Lula for the presidential elections of 1989, the first free
election for that post in 29 years. He lost in the second round by a slim
margin, but two years later championed the national campaign against corruption
that led to the impeachment of President Fernando Collor de Mello. In 1994 and
1998, Lula was again a candidate, having lost both times to Fernando Henrique
Since 1992, Lula has been an active councilor at the Citizenship Institute
(Institute Cidadania), a non-government organization that grew out of the
“Shadow Government” set up by the PT to monitor government action. It was geared
to do research, debates, publishing and above all policy planning on issues of
national interest. It is equally involved in campaigns to energize civil society
in the struggle to ensure full citizenship for all the Brazilian people.
In the last week of June 2002, the PT’s National Convention agreed to a
wide-ranging political alliance with other parties (PL, PcdoB, PCB and PMN)
under a platform of social inclusion for the great majority of the Brazilian
people. The vice-presidential candidate on Lula’s ticket was Senator José
Alencar, of the Liberal party (PL), from Minas Gerais State.
On 27 October 2002, at the age of 57, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva was elected
President of the Federative Republic of Brazil with almost 53 million votes.