By Karen Shishiptorova, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO – Brazil’s President Luís Inácio “Lula” da Silva has mesmerized local and international press, as well as heads of state worldwide, with his gusto for analogies, controversial statements and history blunders.
Considered a compelling speaker by many, during the peak of the economic crisis one of his statements left analysts with a full plate: “It is a crisis caused and encouraged by the irrational behavior of white people with blue eyes.” The international press interpreted this anything from derogatory to brilliant.
The unique character of President Lula – a former metalworker who didn’t finish high school – attracted the interest of journalist Ali Kamel, a fixture of contemporary journalism and head of GLOBO Network News. Titled “Dicionário Lula, Um Presidente Exposto Por Suas Próprias Palavras” (Lula’s Dictionary, A President Exposed by His Own Words, Editora Nova Fronteira), the 672-page book is an impressive and unprecedented display of dedication and meticulous journalism. Rodrigo Elias, a History professor at Faculdades Integradas Simonsin (Simonsin College Group) conducted the research.
According to the press release, “Mr. Kamel studied all President Lula’s improvised speeches in full or partial form, all of his interviews and radio shows between January 2003 and May 2008 and September 2008 to March 2009.” “With the aid of two kinds of software – one developed especially for the book , Mr. Kamel was able to analyze with mathematical accuracy Lula’s most frequently used words, to what effect and in what amount.”
The author sectioned the book in two parts, starting with a Lula analysis based on the President’s own words. Kamel questioned, “Is Lula coherent along his time line? Does Lula present opposing ideas about the same issue according to his audience? Does he feel comfortable with capitalism or does he carry himself as a certified socialist? What are the basis for his opinions, assessments, concepts, conclusions, statements, certainties?”
The second part of the book is an actual dictionary. Each entry addresses what Lula has stated on a variety of topics since he was sworn into office in 2003. Thoughts on life, opinions on news items, how he deals with family, children, democracy, hunger, elections and abortion are among many others. Each entry comes with a general definition followed by a number of sub-entries, where the reader is informed about the time, location and context of the utterance.
Among the interesting findings, at least one contradicts the actual facts: a word count using lexicology techniques revealed a vocabulary compatible with someone who attended college. God and family are two central themes in his discourse, which veers on American-style, capitalist-friendly rhetoric.
The study addressed no previously written speeches, concentrating only on improvised conversation, interviews and the content of radio shows. However, it is natural to wonder if Lula brings printed material to radio talk shows, as Mr. Kamel does not mention having interviewed the radio staff on this point.
In spite of that, the book now remains an indispensable tool for the study of International Relations, Latin American studies, International Politics, and similar themes. Mr. Kamel informed The Gringo Times via e-mail that, so far, no translation of the massive work has been negotiated, which is, probably, just a matter of time.
Correction: October 13, 2009
This article was first published on October 6th with the incorrect sentence regarding the use of Lula’s previously written speeches in the writing of “Dicionário Lula, Um Presidente Exposto Por Suas Próprias Palavras” (Lula’s Dictionary, A President Exposed by His Own Words, Editora Nova Fronteira).