- In-Country Power
- International Power
- Military Strength
- Special Skill: Latina Lambada Leader
- Official Title: President
- Government: Well-established democracy
- Years Left in Office: To 2014; re-election possible
- Political Classification: Center-left
- Education: Enrolled in Masters & Phd in economics but did not finish
- Age: 71 (born December 13, 1947)
Dilma Rousseff Facts and Information
Holy Brazilian bombshells, Batman! She’s repaving old roads, holding the door open for international and domestic investment, and reforming and expanding social benefits to boot! Who is she? The Dilma of course! Let’s do the Dilma! Dilma Rousseff is the 36th president of Brazil, and their first female president…who was largely completely unknown to the world (and the average Brazilian) before being handpicked by the former President to succeed him. Yes, she had been the Energy Minister & the former President’s Chief of Staff but she hadn’t run for any sort of public office before, serving as a civil servant her entire life. Daughter of a Bulgarian immigrant, former member of a Marxist urban guerilla group for which she as imprisoned and tortured, and lifelong left-leaning liberal fighting for more equitable economic/social situation for Brazilians…this lady has done quite a bit in her lifetime!
Quick history lesson on Rousseff’s life: Dilma was born in 1947 and raised in an upper middle class neighborhood in the southeastern area of Brazil. At the age of 20, Rousseff joined a more radical splinter group formed from the Brazilian Socialist Party. During that time she became involved in left-wing politics and joined the underground resistance to the right-wing military dictatorship that had seized power in ‘64 in Brazil. In 1970, she was arrested for her political activity and was jailed for three years even though she was never actively involved in armed operations. During her time in prison, Rousseff was tortured using a variety of methods from electric shock to inducing severe joint and muscle pain! She was released in 1973 and attempted to continue her education.
After some shenanigans involving her education, Rousseff graduated in 1977 with a degree in Economics from the Rio Grande do Sul Federal University. In 2001 she joined the Workers’ Party led by then not-yet-President Lula da Silva. After the campaign (in which Lula won) she was appointed Minister of Mines & Energy for the county. Now, let me tell you she did a damned good job there. Brazil is one of the greenest states on the planet and their cars can run on ethanol! Ethanol!! That’s something that we can only dream of in the US!! Well, at least we are destroying the rainforest at an unsustainable rate. Maybe Dilma better get on that next….
Anyways, back to Dilma: after a scandal with da Silva’s chief of staff, he appointed Rousseff as his new chief of staff. Sadly, in 2009, Rousseff was diagnosed with lymphoma but she beat it and came back to the political scene with a vengeance! She is a torture survivor and cancer survivor! The lady is tough!
In early 2010, Dilma launched her own election campaign with the support of insanely popular President da Silva. (As a Brazilain side note: Lula oversaw a rapid expansion of the Brazilian economy, increase in social benefits and programs, increase expansion of the middle class, the rise of Brazil the undisputed regional leader, a successful bid for the Olympics, and an all-around awesome feeling of success and national pride….that’s why Lula was/is so beloved in Brazil.) With little name recognition and without experience as a candidate, her campaign presented her as the one to continue Lula’s largely market-friendly policies and social welfare programs. She told voters that she was “going to follow Lula’s path.”
During the election campaign, many people throughout the world including Tom Morello, Oliver Stone and too many other famous people to count supported her. Our good lady friend won the election by a margin of 56% to 44% and took office on January 1st, 2011 as the first female president of Brazil.
Now, remember how I said earlier that Rousseff was part of a Marxist urban guerilla group? Yeah, well that was then, and this is now. Politically, Rousseff states that her political thinking has evolved drastically from Marxism to pragmatic capitalism. She still remains proud of her radical roots. She is known to favor a strong state role in strategic areas, including banking, the oil industry and energy.
On a social note, Dilma is definitely a lefty liberal who supports social programs, is against the death penalty, and strives for more economic/social equality within her society…but at the same time is against more radical leftist inspired thoughts like drug legalization or full-scale nationalization of major industries. Like her former boss Lula, she is a moderate left leader that is striving to use the power of the state to make peoples lives better, but not at the expense of chucking out capitalism altogether (like Hugo Chavez of Venezuelan does).
Well, the lady is brand new to the job, and we shall see how she fares in the top slot of South America’s largest state, largest population, and largest military. But what does this all mean for you? Why should you care who Dilma is? Dudes! It’s important! As Brazil’s newly elected president, Rousseff will run Latin America’s largest economy and largest exporter: top exporter of sugar, orange juice, coffee, beef, & poultry. But that’s not all! Brazil is going to be a powerhouse world player in your lifetime. It’s happening already! They’re set to host the 2014 World Cup and the Olympics in 2016…something that only big powerful countries get to do! Brazil is also becoming a significant power player in many supranational organizations, including the G-20, MERCOSUR, and the Union of South American Countries. And Brazil is a likely candidate to eventually join the UN Permanent Security Council too! Damn! Brazil got it goin’ on, like the lambada! So knowing who is in charge of this southern salsa society is serious stuff! So know your Dilma!