Brazilian President Luis Inacio Lula da Silva and his predecessor, former President Fernando Henrique Cardoso, have been selected co-recipients of the 2003 Notre Dame Prize for Distinguished Public Service in Latin America.
The award honours the leadership shown by both men in the national elections last year that achieved the first democratic transition between two elected presidents in Brazil since the early 1960s.
Though they represent opposing political parties, Lula and Cardoso cooperated as statesmen to produce elections that were clean, fair and widely praised for avoiding political divisiveness or demagoguery. Lula's "high-road" campaign and landslide victory, together with Cardoso's even-handed management of the electoral process, yielded Brazil's historic democratic transition.
"The Notre Dame Prize aims to underscore the personal generosity, skillful leadership and tenacious hard work that leaders bring to public life in Latin America," said Rev. Edward A. Malloy, C.S.C., the University's president. "It also highlights the critical role that public service plays in improving the well-being of the region's citizens.
"This year, the prize is a timely tribute to democracy. As Presidents Lula and Cardoso have demonstrated, sustaining democracy?especially with the economic and security problems that challenge many countries today?requires leadership committed to democratic principles."
Lula and Cardoso both know the costs of living without democracy. Under the military regime that ruled Brazil from 1964-85, each suffered from the effects of a politically repressive society. Lula was jailed as a union leader, and Cardoso was forbidden from participating in political life. The two have known each other for decades.
Father Malloy will present this year's prize at a ceremony Jan. 5 in Brazil. Lula and Cardoso each will receive a $10,000 cash award and matching donations to charities of their choice. The Notre Dame Prize is organized each year by the University's Kellogg Institute for International Studies, a center best known for research on the prospects for democracy in Latin America and around the world.
The Coca-Cola Foundation provides funding support for the prize, which was first awarded in 2000. Previous winners include Cardinal Oscar Rodríguez Maradiaga, S.B.D., of Honduras, former Chilean President Patricio Aylwin, and Inter-American Development Bank President Uruguayan Enrique Iglesias.