Marisa Letícia Lula da Silva, Former First Lady of Brazil
(Dilma Vana Rousseff was elected President of Brazil on Oct 31, 2010)
Marisa Letícia Lula da Silva, (born Marisa Letícia Rocco Casa on April 7, 1950), is the second wife of current President of Brazil Luis Inácio “Lula” da Silva, and thus First Lady of Brazil. His first wife died in labour when Lula was in his twenties. She will be portrayed by Juliana Baroni on the upcoming film Lula, o filho do Brasil.
The First Lady Marisa Letícia Lula da Silva was born on 7 April 1950 in the city of São Bernardo do Campo, in the ABCD region of São Paulo. There she grew up, studied, worked, married and built her political militancy. She has been married to Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva since 1974 and has four children and two grandchildren.
Born of Italian grandparents, Marisa Letícia is the penultimate daughter of Antonio João Casa and Regina Rocco Casa’s 11 children.
Until she was five years old, Marisa lived with her family in the old Casa farm, where her grandfather built the St. Anthony Chapel that exists until today. The area is currently known as the Casa neighborhood in honor of her family, one of the first ones to arrive.
In 1955 the family moved to downtown São Bernardo do Campo. Marisa’s first school was made of wood. In third grade she was transferred to the school Grupo Escolar Maria Iracema Munhoz. At age nine she started working as babysitter for three younger girls.
When she was thirteen years old, she got a job at the Dulcora chocolate factory. Because she could not be registered as an official worker, her father signed an authorization so she could work as a chocolate wrapper. She remained in the factory until she was twenty-one, when she became pregnant of her first son.
In 1973, widow and mother of one son of her first marriage, Maria Letícia returned to work, this time as a state school inspector hired by the City Hall. That same year she met Lula at the Metallurgist’s Trade Union of São Bernardo do Campo. Seven months later they got married.
In 1975, Lula was elected Head of the Metallurgist’s Trade Union of São Bernardo do Campo. This period also marked the beginning of Marisa’s political militancy. Always at Lula’s side, she encouraged other women to participate in the Trade Union of ABCD. Then, in 1978 the strikes began in the ABC of São Paulo.
The Workers Party – PT, was founded on 10 February 1980. Marisa cut and sewed the first flag. Being an active militant she helped to create the various divisions and stamp t-shirts in order to collect funds to the Party. In April of that same year, the Federal Government decreed the intervention of the Union. Having lost their gathering space, Marisa’s house became the stage for meetings of unionists, politicians, artists and intellectuals. Then, Lula and other union leaders were arrested.
During this time Marisa helped to organize a women’s protest march for releasing the Union leaders. Surrounded by policemen, tanks and cavalry, thousands of women and children left Praça da Matriz and walked through Rua Marechal Deodoro to the Paço Municipal and returned to the Matriz Church. A great act was held with the participation of the then bishop of Santo André, Dom Cláudio Hummes.
During the elections that Lula ran in 1982, 1986, 1994 and 1998 Marisa Leticia shared her time among her children, house and the campaigns. She also participated in the Citizenship Caravans that crossed the country. Together with Lula, she discovered the reality of the Brazilian people.
In 2002, having raised her four children to adulthood, the wife of candidate Lula was able to dedicate herself entirely to that year’s electoral campaign. At Lula’s side she crossed the country as his most valuable electoral support. Marisa’s constant and marking presence throughout Lula’s trajectory reaffirmed her position as first-comrade.
Marisa Letícia Lula da Silva has been the first lady of Brazil since 1 January 2003.
In one of President Luíz Inácio Lula da Silva’s trips abroad in October 2003, the first lady was awarded the Grand Cross of the Order of Merit by the Norwegian Government.