SAO PAULO – Guilherme Boulos, leader of the Homeless Workers Movement (MTST) and candidate for the presidential elections in October, sees himself as the standard bearer of the Brazilian left who promises to end the party time the banks and the richest 1 percent are enjoying, and promote a democratic revival in a country he sees as divided.
“There’s an abyss between Brasilia, the center of political decisions, and the Brazilian people, a deep crisis of representation in which ordinary people have no hope,” the candidate of the leftist Socialism and Liberty Party (PSOL) told EFE in an interview.
Boulos, 36, forged his growing leadership in social movements. At age 20, he left home to join the MTST in the Sao Paulo metropolitan area.
Since then, he has become a leader in the streets and in the media to the point of becoming “the youngest candidate for the presidency in the country’s history.”
Some liken him to former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, currently in prison for corruption, for his charisma and ability to mobilize crowds of followers, though he tries to distance himself from any such comparisons.
In his opinion, the present political system is “worn out” and he proposes “reducing the power” of legislators and “increasing the power of society.”
How can that be done? Through “profound” political reform that promotes ways for the people to take decisions, such as referendums and councils, “so people won’t be heard just once every four years.”
Boulos, a graduate in Philosophy at the University of Sao Paulo (USP), makes it a priority to deal with inequality “by means of a highly distributive project,” and is highly critical of the banking system.
“We have the whoopee times of the banks. At a time when ordinary people are losing money due to the crisis, the banks are making more. There’s something wrong with this system,” he said.
In his program, he includes regulating the financial system and tax reform, because “the richest 1 percent – bankers, big corporations – pay almost no taxes in Brazil. Those who support the government are the poorest and the middle class.”
He said he won’t change his mind, and even less publish an open letter like Lula did in 2002 to calm the markets.
Boulos, one of the politicians most critical of the Michel Temer government, said that if he wins the election, he will call a referendum to “revoke the measures” established by the current president.
His running mate, Sonia Guajajara, is a popular representative of Brazil’s indigenous communities.
“It’s an unprecedented alliance,” he said, with which he will try to win the election, though opinion polls up to now put him a long way from achieving that goal.