Interview with Brazil’s Lula: He Wants to Stay in Politics

to fight a ‘government of destruction’

By Martina Farmbauer, (dpa)

Former Brazilian president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva. File photo: ft.com

HAVANA TIMES – Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has headed “a government of destruction,” Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva says. After his release from prison, the popular ex-president wants to “contribute to Brazil recovering its democracy” – and leaves the door open to the possibility that he could again run for the top job.

As Brazil’s former president Lula da Silva turns 75 on Tuesday, he has no intention of retiring from politics.

“I want to continue being part of that fight” against the resistance of the elites to social change, Lula told dpa, describing President Jair Bolsonaro’s administration as “a government of destruction.”

Brazil’s president between 2003 and 2010, who says he could play a role in the elections due in two years “as a candidate or as someone supporting a candidate,” resumed his political activities after being released from prison about a year ago.

He had served 19 months on corruption charges, which his supporters regard as a ploy to take him out of the 2018 presidential race and to open the way for the victory of right-winger Bolsonaro.

Quarantine since March

How are you, and how are you doing during the pandemic?

Lula: I’m working hard, having several virtual meetings, participating with my party in the municipal elections that will take place on November 15. I’ve been in quarantine since I returned from a visit to Germany on March 11. I would like to be campaigning on the street, but it is not possible because of the coronavirus.

I am worried about Brazil and the dehumanization of people, the increase in poverty and the tensions which already started before the pandemic and which this crisis has accelerated. In Brazil, there was a huge increase in unemployment. And at a time when we need positive leadership and unity, the country is governed by Bolsonaro, someone who lies and seeks discord the entire time.

How do you see Brazil with regard to inequality, democracy and international influence?

Lula: The Bolsonaro government … is a government of destruction. Destruction of environmental, social, development, education, health policies. It is a government totally submissive to the United States of Trump. And a submissive government, which does not respect itself, has no chance of exercising a positive international influence.

Education

How do you see the country’s educational situation, and what about the way Brazil is confronting the pandemic?

Lula: The current government tries, at all times, to reduce investment in education, in addition to attacking teachers and scientists. They want to scrap the minimum payroll for teachers and to no longer reserve a certain amount of spending for education.

As for the coronavirus … Bolsonaro underestimated the risks, mocked preventive measures and despised the lives of Brazilians. Bolsonaro insisted on advertising chloroquine, which is not effective against this virus. And now, for pure ideology, he rejects a vaccine developed by the renowned Brazilian institute Butantan, in partnership with China … [His] attitude has not been helpful either for life or for the economy.

What do you regard as your greatest legacy?

Lula: History will judge. I governed for two terms, fought to strengthen the country’s institutions and left with an approval rating of 87 per cent.

I’m proud to have shown that a worker could be as competent or better a president than the children of elite. To have promoted the greatest social inclusion process in our history. Of the increase of the number young Brazilians getting a high-level education. Of the international respect that Brazil gained … And … Brazil is no longer on the UN Hunger Map.

The future

What would you still like to do for Brazil?

Lula: I know a better Brazil is possible, because we have proved it.

What I want is to contribute to Brazil recovering its democracy, its sovereignty, its joy and its optimism about the future.

The rights enshrined in our constitution – the rights to housing, work, health and education – should not exist just on paper and only for part of the population. But when you struggle to put the rights into practice, that’s when the resistance of the elites appears. That’s when politics becomes more important. I want to continue being part of that fight.

What are your political plans for the post-pandemic?

Lula: I continue doing politics… When the pandemic is over, I think the world will be in a very difficult scenario. It already is, and we need to discuss a lot how to recover humanism, solidarity.

Might Lula run again?

Would it be an option or a wish for you to be candidate again in the 2022 elections, and why?

Lula: A presidential candidacy is not a matter of personal desire. In 2018, I wanted to run because I knew that with my experience, I could do a lot more. I was the favorite to win the election, but they created a farce to prevent my candidacy [refers to the judicial proceedings that led to him being jailed].

What I want, as a candidate or as someone supporting a candidate, is to help defeat the delay that has been created in Brazil.

How should the opposition get organized to face Bolsonaro in the next elections?

Lula: It is not enough to fight Bolsonaro as a person, but [also necessary to] explain to the people the consequences of his political and economic choices … We can indeed have a broad coalition against Bolsonaro in 2022 [to recover] the rights of the Brazilian people.

Read more interviews in Havana Times here.


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