Luis Inacio Lula da Silva
Luis Inacio "Lula" da Silva was president of Brazil from 2002 until the end of 2010. He was a populist left-wing candidate three times before winning as the leader of a coalition of parties behind the banner of the Partidos Trabalhadores (PT, or Labor Party). Da Silva was born into poverty and trained as a metalworker, gradually becoming active in the Metalworker's Union. He was elected president of the union in 1975. He was a prominent labor spokesman during a series of strikes (1978-81) and became a co-founder of the PT. He was elected to the country's House of Representatives in 1986 and in 1990 made his first of three unsuccessful runs at the presidency. Lula was finally elected in 2002 on a platform of economic and political reform, promising especially to attack hunger in Brazil. He ran for reelection in 2006; despite a corruption scandal that tarnished his reputation as a reformer, he beat challenger Geraldo Alckmin in October of 2006 for a second term. He was succeeded in 2011 by President Dilma Rousseff.
He legally adopted the nickname Lula in 1982; the name, a play on his first name of Luis, means “squid” in Portuguese.