Lula launches presidential pre-candidacy: Full speech

The man who took 32 million people out of poverty between 2003 and 2010 is now an official pre-candidate of Brazil, in a country where almost 20 million are suffering from hunger. 

On Saturday, former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva (Workers’ Party – PT) and former governor of São Paulo Geraldo Alckmin (Brazilian Socialist Party – PSB) launched the slate in which the two will run for president and vice president in Brazil’s October election. Alckmin was diagnosed with coronavirus on Friday and therefore participated by video conference in the event that took place at Expo Center Norte, in São Paulo. 

Under Brazilian electoral law, the actual candidacy can only be announced one month before the elections. The coalition announced includes the PT and six other parties. Lula has been fully exonerated from all convictions after being denied jailed to keep him out of the 2018 election.

Lula spoke on stage before a jubilant crowd of thousands of union workers and social movement activists. Below is a full transcription and quick translation of Lula’s speech at the launch of the Vamos Juntos pelo Brasil (‘Let’s go together for Brazil’) movement:

I want to start by talking about the most important lesson I have learned in 50 years of public life, eight of which I have presided over this country: Governing must be an act of love. 

The main virtue that a good ruler must have is the ability to live in harmony with the aspirations and feelings of the people, especially those who need it most. 

It is to rejoice with each achievement, with each improvement in the quality of life of the people he governs. 

It’s sharing the happiness of the family that, thanks to Minha Casa, Minha Vida, takes the key to their long-awaited home for the first time, after a lifetime of renting in precarious conditions. 

It’s getting emotional with that mother who lived years and years under the light of a lamp, and with the arrival of Luz para Todos, she can finally contemplate the serenity of her son sleeping at night. 

It is to rejoice with the grandmother who, when she was young, was forced to break a single pencil into two pieces to give to her children. And that later, with Bolsa Família, she can buy complete school supplies for her granddaughter, even a pencil case of all colors.

It is to celebrate together with the children of workers who became doctors, thanks to ProUni, FIES and the quota policy at the public university. 

But it is not enough for a good ruler to feel as if the conquests of the suffering people were his own. 

To govern well, he must also have the sensitivity to suffer with each injustice, each individual and collective tragedy, each death that could be avoided. 

Unfortunately, not every ruler is able to understand, feel and respect the pain of others. 

The ruler incapable of shedding a single tear is not worthy of this title in front of human beings rummaging through garbage trucks in search of food, or the more than 660,000 Brazilians killed by Covid. 

You can even call yourself a Christian, but you don’t have love for your neighbor. 

In 2003, when I took office as President of the Republic, I said that if, at the end of my term, all Brazilians had at least the possibility to have breakfast, lunch and dinner, I would have fulfilled the mission of my life.

We fought the greatest of all battles against hunger, and we won. But today I know that I need to fulfill the same mission again. 

Everything we did and the Brazilian people conquered is being destroyed by the current government. Brazil returned to the UN Hunger Map, where we had left in 2014, for the first time in history. 

It is terrible, but we will not give up, neither I nor our people. Whoever has a cause can never give up the fight. 

The cause for which we fight is what keeps us alive, it is what renews our strength and rejuvenates us. 

Without a cause, life is meaningless.

I and all of us who are together at this time have a cause: to restore the sovereignty of Brazil and the Brazilian people. 

My friends. The first article of our Constitution enumerates the foundations of the Democratic State of Law. And the first foundation is precisely sovereignty. 

However, our sovereignty and our democracy have been constantly attacked by the irresponsible and criminal policy of the current government. 

They threaten, dismantle, scrap, put up for sale our most strategic companies, our oil, our public banks, our environment.

They hand over all this extraordinary heritage that does not belong to them, but to the Brazilian people. 

They destroy public policies that changed the lives of millions of Brazilians, and that were admired and adopted around the world.

It is more than urgent to restore Brazil’s sovereignty. But defending sovereignty is not limited to the all-important mission of safeguarding our land and sea borders and our airspace. 

It is also defending our mineral wealth, our forests, our rivers, our seas, our biodiversity.

And it is, above all, to guarantee the sovereignty of the Brazilian people and the rights of a full democracy. 

It is to defend the right to quality food, good employment, fair wages, labor rights, access to health care and education. 

Defending our sovereignty is also to recover the haughty and active policy that elevated Brazil to the status of a protagonist on the international stage.

Brazil was a sovereign country, respected throughout the world, which spoke on equal terms with the richest and most powerful countries. 

And that at the same time contributed to the development of poor countries, through cooperation, investment and technology transfer. That’s what we did in Latin America and also in Africa. 

Defending our sovereignty is defending the integration of South America, Latin America and the Caribbean. It is to strengthen Mercosur, UNASUR, CELAC and the BRICS again. 

It is to freely establish partnerships that are best for the country, without submission to anyone. It is fighting for a new global governance.

Brazil is too big to be relegated to this sad role of pariah in the world, due to submission, denialism, truculence and aggression against our most important trading partners, causing enormous economic damage to the country.

My friends. Defending our sovereignty is defending Petrobras, which is being dismantled day after day. 

They put the pre-salt reserves up for sale, handed over the BR Distribuidora and the gas pipelines, interrupted the construction of some refineries and privatized others. 

The result of this dismantling is that we are self-sufficient in oil, but we pay for one of the most expensive gasoline in the world, quoted in dollars, while Brazilians receive their salaries in reais. 

Diesel oil also continues to rise, sacrificing truck drivers and making food prices soar. 

A gas cylinder can cost as much as 150 reais, compromising the household budget of most Brazilian families. 

We need to make Petrobras go back to being a big national company, one of the biggest in the world.

Put it back at the service of the Brazilian people and not of large foreign shareholders. Make the Pre-Salt our passport to the future again, funding health, education and science. 

Defending our sovereignty is also defending Eletrobrás from those who want Brazil to be eternally submissive. 

Eletrobrás is the largest power generation company in Latin America, responsible for almost 40% of the energy consumed in Brazil. 

It was built over decades, with the sweat and intelligence of generations of Brazilians. But the current government does everything to deliver it at a bargain price. 

The result of this crime against the homeland would be the loss of our energy sovereignty. 

To lose Eletrobrás is to lose Chesf, Furnas, Eletronorte and Eletrosul, among other companies essential for the country’s development. 

It is also losing part of the sovereignty over some of our main rivers, such as the Paraná and São Francisco rivers.

It’s saying goodbye to programs like Luz para Todos, responsible for bringing about 16 million Brazilians who used to live in darkness into the 21st century. 

It is to increase even more the electricity bill, which today already weighs not only in the pocket of the worker, but also in the budget of the middle class. 

Defending our sovereignty is defending public banks. Banco do Brasil, Caixa Econômica, BNDES, BNB and Basa were created to promote the country’s development. 

To guarantee cheap credit to those who want to produce and generate jobs. 

To finance sanitation works and the construction of apartments and houses for the low-income and middle-class population. 

To support family farming and small and medium rural producers. Because no country will be sovereign if it doesn’t take care of those who produce 70% of the food that comes to our table.

Defending our sovereignty is defending universities and institutions supporting science and technology from attacks by the current government. 

Because a country that does not produce knowledge, that persecutes its professors and researchers, that cuts research grants and reduces investments in science and technology is condemned to backwardness. 

In our governments, we more than tripled the resources directed to CNPq, Capes and the National Fund for Scientific and Technological Development. 

They jumped from R$ 4 billion and 500 million in 2002 to R$ 13 billion and 970 million in 2015. 

With the current government, these investments dropped to R$ 4 billion and 400 million, a value lower than that of 20 years ago. 

Defending Brazil’s sovereignty means investing in infrastructure capable of transforming the country and the lives of its people, increasing the productivity of the economy and creating the foundations for progress and the future. 

But the current government does not take care of the infrastructure that this country needs. 

Important works that were in progress were paralyzed. They try to appropriate others that they received practically completed. 

This is the case of the São Francisco River Transposition, a work dreamed of since the times of the empire, which we made a reality so that 12 million Brazilians could finally have water gushing from their taps. 

Our governments not only planned and conceived the transposition, but also carried out 88% of the works. But they try to deceive the people by saying that they built it all.

Defending our sovereignty is defending the Amazon from the policy of devastation put in place by the current government 

In our governments, we have reduced deforestation in the Amazon by 80%, helping to reduce the emission of greenhouse gases that cause global warming.

But care for the environment goes beyond defending the Amazon and other biomes. 

It is necessary to reinvest in basic sanitation, as we have done in our governments. 

Put an end to open sewage and take care of the disposal of garbage and the people who live by collecting recyclable materials.

Taking care of the environment is, above all, taking care of people. It is to seek peaceful coexistence between economic development and respect for flora, fauna and human beings. 

The transition to a new model of sustainable development is a global challenge. 

In this sense, too, we have much to learn from indigenous peoples, ancestral guardians of the environment. 

Defending our sovereignty is guaranteeing the possession of their lands to indigenous peoples, who were here thousands of years before the arrival of the Portuguese, and who were able to take care of them better than anyone else. 

And that are now seeing their territories illegally invaded by prospectors, land grabbers and loggers. 

The result of this continued crime, which happens with the connivance of the current government, goes beyond the destruction of forests and rivers. 

It also compromises the physical survival of indigenous peoples, and does not even spare children. 

And it is the duty of the State to guarantee the safety and well-being of all its citizens, who deserve – and should – be treated with respect. 

Never has a government like the one that is there stimulated so much prejudice, discrimination and violence. 

No country will be sovereign as long as women continue to be murdered for being women.

As long as people continue to be beaten and killed because of their sexual orientation.

As long as the extermination of black youth and the structural racism that hurts, kills and denies rights and opportunities are not rigorously fought.

My friends. We are the world’s third largest food producer. We are the largest producer of animal protein in the world.

We produce more than enough food to ensure quality food for everyone. However, famine has returned to our country. 

There will be no sovereignty while 116 million Brazilians suffer some type of food insecurity.

While 19 million men, women and children go to bed hungry every night, not knowing if they will have a piece of bread to eat the next day. 

There will be no sovereignty while tens of millions of workers continue to be subjected to unemployment, precariousness and discouragement. 

We were able to generate more than 20 million jobs with a formal contract and all rights guaranteed. 

While they destroyed labor rights and generated more unemployment.

It is necessary to move forward with legislation that guarantees the rights of workers.

That encourages negotiation on a civilized and fair basis between employers and employees.

That contributes to creating better jobs, and turns the wheel of the economy.

It is not possible for the readjustment of most professional categories to be below inflation, contrary to what happened in our governments.

It is not possible for the minimum wage to continue to lose purchasing power year after year. In our governments it rose 74% above inflation, increasing consumption and heating up the economy.

If workers don’t have money to buy, entrepreneurs don’t have anyone to sell to. This leads to what we are witnessing today: the closing of factories in São Paulo, Bahia, the Manaus Free Trade Zone and other regions, and multinationals leaving Brazil.

We also need to create a fertile environment for entrepreneurship, so that the talent and creativity of the Brazilian people can flourish.

This country needs to create opportunities again, so that people can live well, improve their lives and make their dreams come true.

Today we live in a desolate situation. A country whose youthful desire is to go abroad in search of opportunities will never be sovereign. 

We need to reinvest in quality education, from daycare to post-doctoral studies.

There will be no sovereignty as long as education continues to be treated as an unnecessary expense, and not as an essential investment to make Brazil a developed and independent country. 

In our governments, we tripled investments in education, which jumped from BRL 49 billion in 2002 to BRL 151 billion in 2015. 

But the current government has been reducing investments every year. The result is that the MEC budget for 2022 is the lowest in the last ten years. 

As well as education, health has also been treated with contempt by the current government.

Today there is a lack of investments, health professionals and medicines. There are diseases and deaths that could have been avoided.

If it weren’t for the SUS and the brave health workers, the irresponsibility of the current government in this pandemic would have cost even more lives. 

One of the greatest prides of our governments was to take great care of the health of the Brazilian people.

We created Samu, Farmácia Popular, the 24-hour UPAs. We created Mais Médicos, and we took health professionals to the outskirts of large cities and to the most remote regions of Brazil. 

We practically doubled the health budget, which went from BRL 64 billion and BRL 800 million in 2003 to BRL 120 billion and BRL 400 million in 2015. 

No country will be sovereign if its people do not have access to health, education, employment, security and quality food. But culture also needs to be treated as a basic necessity.

There will be no sovereignty as long as the current government continues to treat culture and artists as enemies to be slaughtered, and not as a generator of wealth for the country and one of the greatest assets of the Brazilian people.

We need music, cinema, theater, dance and visual arts. We need books instead of weapons. 

Art fills our existence. She is both capable of portraying and reinventing reality. Life as it is, and as it could be. 

Without art, life gets tougher, it loses one of its greatest charms. 

My friends. During our governments, we promoted a democratic and peaceful revolution in this country. Brazil grew, and grew for everyone. 

We combine economic growth with social inclusion. Brazil has become the sixth largest economy on the planet, and, at the same time, a world reference in the fight against extreme poverty and hunger. 

We are no longer the eternal country of the future, to build our future day by day, in real time. 

But the current government made Brazil plummet to the 12th position in the ranking of the largest economies. And the quality of life has also dropped frighteningly, and not just for those most in need. 

Workers and the middle class were also hit hard by the uncontrolled increase in gasoline, food, health plans and school fees, among many other costs that continue to rise. 

Living just got a lot more expensive.

In the first quarter of 2022, Brazilian family income dropped to the lowest level in the last ten years. The result is that 77.7% of families are in debt. 

And the saddest thing is that most of these families are going into debt not to pay for the vacation trip with their children, or the renovation of their own house, or the purchase of a new television.

They are going into debt to eat.

In other words: Brazil returned to a dark past that we had overcome.

It is to lead Brazil back to the future, on the paths of sovereignty, development, justice and social inclusion, democracy and respect for the environment, that we need to govern this country again. 

The serious moment that the country is going through, one of the most serious in our history, forces us to overcome possible differences in order to build together an alternative path to the incompetence and authoritarianism that govern us.

I never forget the words of the late Paulo Freire, the greatest Brazilian educator of all time, one of the main references of world pedagogy, whose centenary of birth we celebrate precisely in 2022.

Our dear Paulo Freire said: 

“It is necessary to unite the divergent, to better face the antagonists”.

Yes, we want to unite Democrats of all origins and hues, of the most varied political backgrounds, of all social classes and of all religious creeds.

 To face and overcome the totalitarian threat, hatred, violence, discrimination and exclusion that weigh on our country. 

We want to build an ever-widening movement of all parties, organizations and people of good will that want peace and harmony to return to our country.

This is the meaning of the union of progressive and democratic forces formed by the PT, PC do B, PV, PSB, PSOL, Rede e Solidariedade. 

All willing to work not only for the victory on October 2, but for the reconstruction and transformation of Brazil.

I am proud to count on my colleague Geraldo Alckmin in this new journey. 

Alckmin was governor while I was president. We are from different parties, we were adversaries, but we also worked together and maintained institutional dialogue and respect for democracy.

I had a loyal adversary in Alckmin. And I am happy to have him now as an ally, a companion whose loyalty I know will never fail – neither to me nor to Brazil.

My friends. When we governed the country, dialogue was our hallmark.

We created important negotiation tables and councils for civil society participation in all ministries.

In addition, we held 74 conferences at the municipal, state and national levels, with the participation of millions of people, to discuss the most different topics: health, education, youth, racial equality, women’s rights, communication and public safety, among many others. .

From this extraordinary popular participation, several public policies were born that changed Brazil. 

And now we need to change Brazil again.

For that, instead of promises, I present the immense legacy of our governments. We have done a lot, but I am aware that much more is still needed and possible.

We need to place Brazil again among the largest economies in the world. 

Reverse the country’s accelerated de-industrialization process.

Create an environment of political, economic and institutional stability that encourages entrepreneurs to invest again in Brazil, with a guarantee of a safe and fair return, for them and for the country.

I was the victim of one of the greatest political and legal persecutions in the history of this country, a fact recognized by the Brazilian Supreme Court and the United Nations. 

But don’t expect resentment, hurt or revenge from me.

First, because I wasn’t born to hate, not even those who hate me. 

But also because the task of restoring democracy and rebuilding Brazil will require a full-time commitment from each of us. 

We have no time to waste hating anyone.

We will never do like our adversary, who tries to mask his incompetence by fighting with everyone all the time and lying seven times a day. The truth sets you free, and Brazil needs peace to progress. 

My friends. Next September, Brazil completes 200 years of Independence. But few times in history has our independence been so threatened. 

Fortunately, we will celebrate September 7th less than a month before the October 2nd elections, when Brazil will have the opportunity to regain its sovereignty. 

When Brazil will have the opportunity to decide which country it will be for the next few years, and for the next generations. 

The Brazil of democracy or authoritarianism? The truth or the seven lies told a day? Of knowledge and tolerance or of obscurantism and violence? Of education and culture or of revolvers and rifles?

A country that strengthens and encourages its industry or watches its destruction? The exporter of value-added goods or the eternal exporter of raw materials? 

The country of the Welfare State or the Minimum State, which denies the minimum to the majority of the population?

The country that defends its environment, or the one that opens the gate and lets the cattle through?

The Brazil that guarantees health, education and security for all Brazilians, or only for the richest who can afford them? 

It’s never been so easy to choose. It has never been more necessary to make the right choice.

But it must be said clearly: in order to emerge from the crisis, grow and develop, Brazil needs to return to being a normal country, in the highest sense of the word. 

We are not the land of the Wild West, where each one imposes its own law. No! 

We have the highest law – the Constitution – that governs our collective existence, and no one, absolutely no one, is above it, no one has the right to ignore it or defy it. 

Democratic normality is enshrined in the Constitution. It establishes the rights and obligations of each power, each institution, each of us. 

It is imperative that everyone return to dealing with matters within their competence. Without exorbiting, without extrapolating, without interfering with other people’s attributions. 

No more threats, no more absurd suspicions, no more verbal blackmail, no more artificial tensions. 

The country needs calm and tranquility to work and overcome the current difficulties. And it will freely decide, at the moment the law determines, who should govern it.

We want to govern to bring back the model of economic growth with social inclusion that made Brazil progress so fast and lifted 36 million Brazilians out of extreme poverty.

We want to go back so that no one ever dares to challenge democracy again. And for fascism to be returned to the sewer of history, where it should never have come out.

We have a dream. We are moved by hope. And there is no greater force than the hope of a people who know they can be happy again.

The hope of a people who know they can eat well again, have a good job, a decent salary and labor rights. That they can improve their lives and see their children growing healthy until they reach university. 

It takes more than governing – it takes care. And we will once again take great care of Brazil and the Brazilian people.

More than a political act, this is a call. To men and women of all generations, all classes, all religions, all races, all regions of the country. To regain democracy and regain sovereignty. 

May God bless our country.

By Kawsachun News with information from PT.org