Dilma Rousseff, a one-time Marxist turned capitalist, was recently elected Brazil’s first female president, according to the country’s Supreme Electoral Court.

Rousseff, who was chief of staff for Brazil’s former president, the well-liked Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, won the national election with more than 56 percent of the electorate votes. She defeated Jose Serra, the one-time governor of the state of Sao Paulo.

This is the first time the reportedly stern and serious southeast Brazil native has held an elected office, although her involvement in Brazil’s political scene spans more than 40 years.

Rousseff was a member of an armed militant group that opposed Brazil’s military dictatorship in the late 60’s, and she was imprisoned and tortured for her involvement in 1970. After a more moderate dictatorship emerged following her prison release in 1973, Rousseff’s political views grew more mainstream. She led her then-husband’s campaign to state congress in 1982 and was appointed energy minister and then Chief of Staff by Silva in 2005.

“We learned a lot,” Rousseff said of her radical roots during an interview with a Brazilian newspaper in 2005. “We did a lot of nonsense, but that is not what characterizes us. What characterizes us is to have dared to want a better country.”

During her presidential campaign, she vowed to eradicate poverty and reduce national spending.

“We’ll care for our economy with complete responsibility,” she told supporters after her win. “The Brazilian people don’t accept governments that spend at unsustainable levels and for that reason we will make every effort to improve public spending.”

One Brazilian voter told Fox News that having the 62-year-old as president means Silva, her political mentor, will still run the country.

“If Lula (Silva) ran for president 10 times, I would vote for him 10 times,” Marisa Santos said. “I’m voting for Dilma, of course, but the truth is it will still be Lula who will lead us.”

Rousseff begins her tenure as Brazil’s president on Jan. 1.

Shernay Williams

Special to the AFRO