Former Brazilian President Lula da Silva’s Historic Speech in San Bernardo do Campo to his Supporters just Before Turning Himself in to Federal Police

April 7, 2017

In 1979, this union made one of its most extraordinary strikes. And out of it we managed to make an agreement with the car industry that was perhaps the best. I had a Factory Commission with 300 workers, and the agreement was a good one. I agreed to bring the agreement to the Assembly and I worked out with the Factory Commission to go earlier to talk to the workers. The assemblies were brought in the morning to avoid the staff drinking a little in the afternoon, because when we drink a little we get more daring.

Even so I did not avoid it, because someone had a liter of cognac inside his suitcase and when I passed I took a ‘dose’ to improve my throat – this did not happen today.

Well, we started to put the agreement up for a vote and 100 thousand people in the Vila da Cuci d’Euclides stadium did not accept the agreement. It was the best possible. We did not lose a vacation day, we did not lose their salary and we got a fifteen percent increase. But the workers were so radicalized that they wanted 83 or nothing. We did it but we spent a year being called strike breakers by the workers.

I was telling them that we could not approve the proposal even though I considered it a good one and go on to disrespect the leadership of the union. I went to the factory door and nobody stopped. And the press wrote: “Lula speaks for the deaf ears of the workers”. It took us a year to recover our prestige. And I kept thinking with an air of revenge: “The workers think that they can strike for 100 days, 400 days and take it to the end. Well, I’m going to test them in 1980. And we did by making the biggest strike in our history. The biggest strike was for 41 days. On the 17th day of the strike I was arrested and went to jail. Then Dr. Almir, Teotônio Vilela came to jail and told me, “Lula, you have to end the strike, you have to advise them to end the strike.” And I said: “I’m not going to end the strike. The workers are going to decide on their own. ”

The concrete fact is that no one endured 41 days because in practice the partner had to pay for the milk, had to pay the electricity bill, had to pay for the gas, the woman began asking for money for bread, then the strikers began to suffer pressure and could not stand it. But it is funny because in the defeat we won much more without winning as much economically. It means that it is not necessarily the money that solves the problem of a strike, it is not 5%, it is not 10%, it is what is involved in political theory, in gained political knowledge and the political thesis in a strike. Now, we are almost in the same situation. They are processing me and I have said clearly: “In the process of my apartment, I am the only human being jailed by an apartment that is not mine. And we know that Globo lied when it said it was mine. When the Lava Jato Federal Police did the investigation they lied saying that it was mine, then the  Public Ministry lied saying it was mine and I thought that Moro was going to solve that and he lied saying it was mine and he condemned me to nine years in jail.

That is why I am an indignant citizen, because I have done many things in my 72 years. But I do not forgive them for selling society the idea that I am a thief. They allowed the  bandits to bribe the entire Brazil. They gave the bandits the right to slander the PT and in the process creating nearly a climate of war. A one sided political onslaught. And I will say all day that none of them, none of them, have courage or sleep with the quiet conscience of honesty, or of the innocence with which I sleep.

I’m not above justice. If I did not believe in justice, I would not have created a political party. I had proposed a revolution in this country. But I believe in justice, in a fair justice, in a justice that goes through a process based on the records of the trial, based on the information of the accusations, of the defenses, on the concrete evidence, which holds the weapon of the crime. What I cannot support is a prosecutor who made a power point and went to the television to say that the PT is a criminal organization that was created to steal Brazil and that Lula, being the most important figure of that party, Lula is the boss, and therefore, if Lula is the boss, says the prosecutor, “I do not need proof to convict him.” He can keep the conviction for himself and his followers but it is not for me.

Certainly a thief would not be demanding evidence. He would be with his tail hidden, his mouth closed praying that the press would not mention his name. I have had more than 70 hours of the National Journal pulverizing me. I have more than 70 magazine covers attacking me. I also have thousands of pages of newspapers and news attacking me. I have the record of attacks. I also have the bandits attacking me, I have the provincial radios attacking me. And what they do not realize is that the more they attack me, the more my relationship with the Brazilian people grows.I’m not afraid of them. I even said that I would like to have a debate with Moro about the complaint he made against me. I would like him to show me some kind of proof. I already challenged the judges of the TRF-4 to go to a debate at the university of their choice to prove that I committed in this country. But I am a dreamer. And sometimes I have the impression that all of this was because I am a dreamer.

A long time ago I dreamed that it was possible to govern this country involving millions and millions of poor people into the economy, of sending millions of people to universities, creating millions and millions of jobs in this country, I dreamed, I dreamed that it was possible that a metallurgist, without a university degree, cares more for the education than the diplomats and bankrupt who governed this country. I dreamed that we could reduce infant mortality by bringing milk, beans and rice so children could eat every day. I dreamed that it was possible to take the students from the periphery and put them in the best universities in this country so that we do not have just elite judges and prosecutors. I dreamed that we will have judges and prosecutors born in the favela of Heliopólis, born in Itaquera, born in the periphery. We are going to have many people from the Landless, from the MTST [Movement of Workers without a Roof], from the CUT [Single Central Workers] graduates.

I committed that crime

I committed that crime that they do not want me to commit anymore. Because of that crime they already have about ten cases against me. And if it were for those crimes, to place poor people in the university, blacks in the university, that the poor eat meat, buy cars, travel by plane, that the poor do their small agriculture, be micro entrepreneurs, and have their own house. If that is the crime I committed, I want to say that I will continue to be a criminal in this country because I will do much more. I will do much more.

Compañeros and compañeras, in 1990, in 1986 I received the most votes for constituent deputy in the history of the country. And we discovered that, inside the PT, Manuela, comrades, Ivan was from the PT at the time, there was a distrust that in the PT only those with a mandate had power. Then, comrades, when I perceived that there was distrust in the people and some who thought that only those who were deputies from the PT had value, you know what I did? I stopped being a deputy. Because I wanted to prove to the PT that I would continue to be the most important figure of the PT without a mandate, because if someone wanted to win me over from the PT there is only one way: to work more than me and to like the people more than me, because if they do not like them, they will not win.

Well, we are now in a delicate situation. I may live the moment of greater indignation that a human being lives. It is not easy what my family suffers. It is not easy what my children suffer. It is not easy what Marisa [Lula’s wife] suffered and I want to say that the anticipation of Marisa’s death was due to the immorality and the rampage that the press and the Public Ministry committed against her. I have that certainty. These people, I believe, have no children, have no soul and no idea of what a mother or father feels when they see a child being massacred, when they see a child being attacked. So, comrades, I am resolved to hold my head hight.

I don’t want to you think that I’m against Lava Jato, no. Lava Jato, if you catch bandits, you have to catch bandits, who stole and take them to prison. We all want that. All our lives we said: “they only catch the poor, and never catch rich.” And I want to continue capturing the rich. Now what is the problem? It is that is not possible have trials that are subordinated to the press. Because deep down, deep down, people in society are slandered, the image of people are destroyed, and then the judges will judge and they will say “I cannot go against the public opinion that is asking us to hunt them down”. Who wants to vote based on public opinion, take off the toga and be a candidate for deputy, choose a political party and be a candidate. Now, the toga is lifelong employment. The citizens  vote only based on the records of the process, on the other hand, I believe that a Supreme Court minister should not give statements about how he is going to vote. In the US the voting ends and you do not know by whom the citizen voted for exactly, so that he is not a victim of pressure.

Imagine a person being accused of homicide and knowing that he or she was not the murderer. What does the dead man’s family want? To see him or her dead, want him to be condemned. Then the judge must have, differently from us, the coldest objective mind, he must have more responsibility to make an accusation or to condemn. The Public Ministry is a very strong institution. That is why those boys who enter the university very young, take a law course and then three more year of study because the father can pay, those kids needed to know a little about life, a little about politics to hold the position they do in Brazilian society.

There is a thing called responsibility. And do not think that when I speak like that, I’m against it. I was president and I appointed four prosecutors and made the speech in all the inaugurations saying, “The stronger the institution, the more responsible its members must be”. You cannot condemn a person through the press and then judge them by it. You remember when I went to testify there in Curitiba, I said to Moro: “You do not have conditions to absolve me because Globo is demanding that you condemn me and you are going to condemn me”.

Well, I think that TRF4 and Moro, Lava Jato and Red Globo have a consummate dream. The consummate dream is that, in the first place, the coup, did not end with the dismissal of Dilma. The coup will only end when they achieve the goal that Lula cannot be a candidate for the presidency of the Republic in 2018. It’s not that I will not be, but they do not want me to participate because there is a possibility that everyone will be elected, they do not want Lula again in the presidency because for them the poor cannot have rights. The poor cannot eat prime meat, cannot travel by plane, and cannot go to the university. The poor were born, according to their logic, to eat and have left over things.

So, compañeros and compañeras, the other consummate dream they have is the photograph of Lula being arrested. Ah, I imagine the excitement of the magazine Veja putting my photograph imprisoned on the cover. They are going to have multiple orgasms.

They decreed my prison. And I tell you one thing, I’m going to comply with the order. I will comply with it because I want to transfer the responsibility to them. They think that everything that happens in this country is my fault. I was already sentenced to 3 years in prison because a judge in Manaus thought that I do not need to have a weapon, so they have to quiet me down, because if they do not, I would continue saying things like “the moment is coming when the panther drinks water and if the peasants kills the landowner”, it was because they thought it was a code.

They tried to arrest me for obstruction of justice, but they did not succeed. And now they want to grab me in a preventive prison, something very serious because there is no habeas corpus. Vaccari [João Vaccari Neto] was incarcerated three years ago. Marcelo Odebrecht spent 400 million reais [120 million dollars] and had no habeas corpus. I will not spend a cent. But I go there with the following belief, they are going to discover for the first time what I am saying every day. They do not know that the problem of this country is not called Lula, the problem of this country is all of you.

The consciousness of the people, the Workers’ Party, the PcdoB [Communist Party of Brazil], MST [Movement of Rural Workers without Land], MTST, they know that there are many people. And that is what our pastor said and what I say in all the speeches, it is not worth stopping my dream, because when I stop dreaming, I will dream through your minds and through your dreams. It is not worth it, they believe that everything will end when Lula suffers a heart attack, which is nonsense, because my heart will beat in the hearts of you, there are millions of Brazilian hearts.

It’s not worth it, they think they’re going to stop me, I’m not going to stop because I’m just a human being, I’m an idea, an idea mixed with your ideas, I’m sure that the compañeros like the Sin Tierra, the Sin Techo, the compañeros of the Central Única de Trabajadores (CUT) and the trade union movement know, and this is a test, I will fulfill the order and you will have to transform, each of you will not be called Panchito, Pepito, Juanito and Albertito … all of you, from now on, everyone will become Lula and they will walk and do what they have to do, everyday! Everyday!

They have to know that the death of a combatant does not stop the revolution. They have to know. They have to know. They have to know that we are going to definitively regulate the media, so that the people are not victims of their lies every day. They have to know that you, who know…are smarter than me, and that you will burn tires, will organize demonstrations, will organize occupations in the countryside and in the city. The occupation in São Bernardo seemed difficult, but tomorrow you will receive the news that they have won the land they reclaimed.

Comrades, I had the opportunity, when I was in Uruguay, on the border between Livramento and Rivera, people said “Hey, Lula, you pretend that you are going to buy ‘whiskey’ and go to Uruguay with Pepe Mujica, not go back to Brazil and ask for political asylum. You can also go to the embassy of Bolivia, of Uruguay, of Russia and from there you can keep talking … But I’m too old for that anymore. At my age I will face them accepting to fulfill the order.

I want to know for how many days they think they are arresting me for because the longer I stay there, the more Lulas will be born in this country and more people will fight for this country, because in a democracy there are no limits, there is no certain time to fight. I told my comrades, if it depended on my will, I would not show up, but I will turn myself down because tomorrow they can say that I am a fugitive, that Lula is hidden, but no! I’m not hiding, I’m going there to let them know that I’m not afraid, that I’m not going to run away, and they know by that I’ll prove my innocence. And that they do what they want. I am going to quote a phrase I heard from a 10 year old girl in Catanduva in 1982, “The powerful can kill one, two or three roses, but they can never stop the spring”

They have to know that we want more homes, more schools, less mortality, we do not want to repeat the barbarity that happened to Marielle in Rio de Janeiro, with the black children of this country. We do not want more mortality due to malnutrition. We do not want more that young people having no hope of going to the university, because this country is so foolish that it was the last country in the world to have universities. The last! All the poorest countries had universities before us, but they did not want Brazilian youth to study. They said it cost a lot, you have to wonder how much it cost not to create universities 50 years ago.

I want you to know that I have a lot of pride, a lot, deep, of having been the president of the Republic that created more universities in the history of this country to show these people that they do not confuse intelligence with the number of years in school that is not intelligence, it is knowledge. Intelligence is when you are not afraid to discuss with colleagues what the priorities are, and the priority is to ensure that this country returns to have equal citizenship.

They will not sell Petrobras! We are going to make a new Constituent! We are going to revoke the oil law that they are creating! We will not allow the sale of the BNDES, of the Federal Economic Fund, we will not allow the Bank of Brazil to be destroyed! And we will strengthen family farming, which is responsible for 70% of the food we eat in this country.

And with this belief, comrades, with our head up, just as I am here talking to you now, I will get there and I will say to the delegate, “I am at your disposal”. And the story, in a few days, will prove that who committed the crime was the delegate who accused me, it was the judge who tried me and it was the Public Ministry that was light with me. For all this, comrades, there is no place in my heart for everyone, but I want you to know that if there is one thing I learned to like in this world, it is my relationship with the people.

When I hold the hand of one of you, when I embrace you … because now I kiss men and women just the same … when I kiss some of you, I do not do it with ulterior motives, I kiss you because when I was president, I said: I will go back to the place where I’ve come. I know who my eternal friends are and who the casual friends are, those who wear ties, who sought me, and who now have disappeared.

And who are with me are my friends from before I was president of the Republic. They are those who ate oxtail with me in the bar of Zelão, who ate polenta with chicken in Demarchi, who took ‘mocotó’ in Zelão, those are still my friends. My friends are those who have the courage to invade land to build housing, are those who have the courage to organize a strike against the reform of pensions, and are those who occupy the field to create productive haciendas.

Colleagues, I’m going to tell you something. You will perceive that I am going to get out of this situation much bigger, stronger, truer, and innocent, because I want to prove that they are the ones who committed a crime, the political crime of persecuting a man who has 50 years of political history, for my story I am very grateful. I don’t know how to thank you for the gratitude, affection and respect that you have given me during all those years.

I want to say to you, Guilherme [Boulos] and Manuela [D’Ávila], to both of you, that for me it is a matter of pride to belong to a generation, which is already nearing its end, and to see two young people born in this country disputing the right to be president of the Republic. For this reason, a big hug, and know that this neck here does not come down, because I’m going to come out with my head up and my chest out because I’m going to prove my innocence. A hug, colleagues, thank you, thank you very much, for all the help you gave me. A kiss with love, thank you very much!

Source: Cubadebate, translation by Resumen Latinoamericano, North America Bureau