The African Initiative at the Lula Institute in 2013

After leaving the Presidency of Brazil in 2010, Lula resolved to continue helping to expand the relations and increase the cooperation between Brazil and the African countries, with special emphasis given to the successful experience of Brazil in the fight against hunger and poverty.

During Lula’s two terms in office (2003-2010) Brazil greatly increased its diplomatic relations and trade and political initiatives for cooperation with the African countries. Trade flows multiplied by five during this time, from US$5 billion to US$25 billion per year. New Embassies were established on the continent. Brazil set up an office for Embrapa (the agricultural research company) in Ghana and an antiretroviral drug manufacturing plant in Mozambique, where an open University was also created thanks to the partnership between Mozambican and Brazilian institutions.

In many African countries Brazilian social programs aroused great interest on a continent that has 300 million middle-class income inhabitants, but that today still confronts enormous challenges in the fight to end hunger, in health and in the production and access to food and energy.

To share experiences and knowledge between Brazil and the African countries the Lula Institute created the African Initiative, which working as partners since 2011, has engaged in a continuing dialog with civil society, multilateral institutions and governments on the continent. This was accomplished by organized events in Brazil and overseas as well as through the visits of the former president to African countries.

In 2013, the Lula Institute worked to increase the contacts and knowledge about Africa in Brazil and vice versa, especially with regard to the experiences in combating hunger. This effort culminated in a high-level meeting lasting three days in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, to push the fight to end of hunger in Africa by 2025, organized by the African Union and the FAO, in partnership with the Institute. In addition to Ethiopia, Lula visited six other African countries in 2013, (Equatorial Guinea, Ghana, Benin, Nigeria, Malawi and South Africa), talking with heads of state, civil society and business leaders about the experience of Brazil in combining the fight against poverty, democracy and economic development.

“The principal focus is on social issues. The best way for Brazil to collaborate is to share its successful experiences with public policies, especially in the fight to end hunger, with the African countries,” explains Celso Marcondes, the coordinator of the African Initiative.

The work on the project continued in 2014 at a follow-up meeting of the African Union in January, where the leaders of the Continent renewed their commitment to the goal of eradicating hunger in Africa by 2025.

In Brazil, Lula participated in activities sponsored by the Valor Econômico newspaper, the magazine Carta Capital, the municipal government of the city of São Paulo and the Faculdade Zumbi dos Palmares, to promote the meetings and exchange experiences between Brazil and Africa. In addition, the series “African Presidents”, shown on Cable as well as network television with host Franklin Martins, a journalist and member of the board of the Lula Institute and honored by the Associação Paulista de Críticos de Arte (APCA) was shown representing a rare opportunity for Brazilians to learn more about contemporary Africa, a subject that still gets very little attention in the media.

And, at the headquarters of the Institute, the former president and his team hosted delegations, visitors and African diplomats, social movements and nongovernmental organizations, businessmen and multilateral institutions that are working on the continent.

“In these three years of activity, the Institute has become a point of reference and a meeting place for persons interested in the dissemination of knowledge and improving the relations between Brazil and the African countries,” said Marcondes.

The high-level meeting in Addis Ababa, “New Unified Approach to End Hunger in Africa by 2025”

On June 29 and 30 and July 1 a high-level meeting “The Way to African Rebirth: A New Unified Approach To End Hunger In Africa By 2025, under the scope of the CAADP (Comprehensive African Agricultural Development Program)” was held.  The meeting, sponsored by the African Union, FAO and the Lula Institute, brought together seven Chiefs of State and African governments, dozens of ministers from practically every country on the continent, representatives of other countries like China and Vietnam, former presidents, representatives of international organizations, NGOs like the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and dozens of representatives of African popular movements.

The meeting was coordinated by representatives from the African Union, FAO and the Lula Institute who organized the proposals of the meeting, and developed a schedule of activities. Four countries were chosen for pilot initiatives for the implementation of approaches to end hunger proposed at the meeting: Angola, Ethiopia, Malawi and Niger. http://www.institutolula.org/eng/?p=473

The meeting was also important in helping the African countries to become better aware of the experience of Brazil in ending hunger as well as the production of food. Participating in the meeting was the Minister of Social Development, Tereza Campello, who reported on the programs initiated during the administrations of presidents Lula and Dilma, that significantly reduced poverty in Brazil, such as Brazil Without Misery, and the Bolsa Família together with the Food Acquisition Program (PAA) and other initiatives in support of small family farming. Also attending the meeting was the chief of the international relations department of Embrapa, Márcio Porto, who described the capabilities of the company in tropical agriculture that permitted Brazil to become a large producer of food, and the potential for transferring Brazilian agricultural technology to African countries.

At the meeting, former President Lula argued forcefully that the poorest citizens should be the focus of attention and included in government budgets.

The joint communiqué of the meeting stressed the urgency of joining together and coordinating the efforts of FAO, the African Union and the chiefs of state present at the meeting to increase the resources invested in and social programs and the commitment not just to reduce, but to end hunger in Africa by 2025. http://www.fao.org/news/story/jp/item/164794/icode/

Activities in African countries (links below in Portuguese only)

Lula visited six African countries in 2013 in addition to Ethiopia.

Malawi Lula visited Malawi in June and attended a meeting of UNAIDS, the United Nations commission that deals with policies to combat HIV. At the meeting, Lula spoke about the Brazilian experience of the distribution of medication free of charge to HIV-positive patients and the need to combine the fight against AIDS and poverty in an in-dissolvable manner. http://www.institutolula.org/a-producao-de-medicamentos-nao-pode-representar-apenas-interesses-economicos-mas-tambem-humanitarios-defende-lula-em-debate-sobre-combate-a-aids-no-malaui/#.UrHiiPRDtz4

In March the former-president made a six-day visit to four African countries: Equatorial Guinea, Ghana, Benin and Nigeria.

Ghana In the Ghanaian capital Accra, Lula met with President Dramani Mahama, who praised the Brazilian model of development with social inclusion. http://www.institutolula.org/em-encontro-com-lula-presidente-de-gana-elogia-modelo-brasileiro-de-desenvolvimento/#.UrHmxPRDtz4. He participated in a discussion with former president of Ghana, John Kufuor, with whom he shared the World Food Prize de 2011 for the role that the two played in reducing hunger and increasing the production of food and their countries.

Nigeria and Benin In Lagos, Lula met with political and union leaders and participated in a debate sponsored and promoted by The Economist in Lagos, Nigeria. In Cotonou, Benin, he was welcomed by President Boni Yayi and his entire cabinet.

For more information about the contacts and details of the visit see this link: http://www.institutolula.org/lula-na-africa-o-brasil-precisa-estar-junto-da-africa-neste-processo-de-crescimento/#.UrHir_RDtz4

Nelson Mandela In December, at the invitation of President Dilma Rousseff, he joined with the other former presidents of Brazil (José Sarney, Fernando Collor and Fernando Henrique Cardoso) and went to Johannesburg in South Africa for the funeral ceremony to honor South African leader Nelson Mandela.

In addition to his travels to the African countries, in April Lula went to Washington for the award ceremony of the Africare Prize, given by the North American NGO that works on social projects in Africa. The award from the organization, given to Lula in 2012, was given in 2013 to Sudanese philanthropist Mo Ibrahim. Lula made the presentation speech for Mo Ibrahim, who heads a foundation that is working to improve public administration in Africa.

Activities is Brazil

Lula and the Institute sponsored and participated in activities in Brazil about Africa in an effort to contribute to increase knowledge in Brazil about the current situation of the African countries. On May 22, Lula participated in a seminar entitled Brazil’s Relations with Africa, A New Frontier for Global Capitalism organized by the Valor Econômico newspaper that took place at the headquarters of the National Confederation of Industry in Brasilia at a meeting of Brazilian business leaders to discuss investment possibilities on the African continent. Lula encouraged Brazil to participate more actively around the world. “Nobody can remain a global actor while remaining in a shell.” To learn more about the event and listen to the complete speech by the former president, see: http://www.institutolula.org/lula-encerra-seminario-sobre-relacoes-brasil-africa/

On the same day, May 22, Lula attended a dinner in his honor hosted by the ambassadors of African countries in Brazil, in recognition of his efforts to improve Brazil-Africa relations and to celebrate “Africa Day”.

Five days later, in São Paulo, together with Mayor Fernando Haddad, Lula attended another ceremony in honor of Africa Day and the start of a working group to implement a federal law from 2003 regarding the teaching of African history (http://www.institutolula.org/eng/?p=508 )

Alongside Nobel Peace Prize winner, Liberian activist Leymah Gbowee, Lula also attended an event entitled “A World without Hunger: Strategies for Overcoming Extreme Poverty” sponsored by Carta Capital magazine. The discussion was focused on “democracy, peace and social justice in Brazil and in Africa”, and moderated by former minister Franklin Martins. Gbowee made an emotional speech about the impact of armed conflicts on the lives of African families, and for this reason underscored the importance of peace. See: http://www.institutolula.org/nao-se-pode-ignorar-o-papel-das-mulheres-no-combate-a-fome-afirma-nobel-da-paz-em-mesa-com-lula/#more-4155

The Lula Institute, in conjunction with the Bank Workers and Metalworkers Unions of the ABC in São Paulo also sponsored three conferences entitled “Conversations About Africa”, with professor Luiz Felipe Alencastro about the importance of Africa in the formation of Brazil, (http://www.institutolula.org/o-brasil-e-um-pais-de-colonizacao-africana/#more-4106), a second with journalist Franklin Martins, who presented the television series “African Presidents” (http://www.institutolula.org/os-proximos-anos-serao-de-descoberta-da-africa/#more-4454), and a third with social representatives to discuss the Pro-Savanna Program in Mozambique.

In November, at the Faculdade Zumbi dos Palmares, Lula was awarded the “Raça Negra” prize and took part in a discussion with the president of Guinea, Alpha Condé, along with the American Reverend Jesse Jackson and Angolan Deputy Irene Neto.  (http://noticias.terra.com.br/brasil/lula-jesse-jackson-e-presidente-da-guine-se-unem-pela-igualdade-racial,d0ec05af44a62410VgnCLD2000000ec6eb0aRCRD.html)

Meetings and Diplomatic Missions

During 2013, the Lula Institute hosted visits by 19 diplomatic missions from 13  different African countries as well as representatives of multilateral organizations, NGOs, businessmen and academics. In addition, 49 meetings were held with different institutions, proponents of cultural, educational and cooperation projects, journalists specializing in Africa and students.

Why Brazil Is the Land of Opportunity – article by Lula at Valor Economico

Five years have passed since the start of the global crisis, and the world is still dealing with the consequences, but it is already preparing for a new cycle of growth. Attention is focused on the emerging markets like Brazil. Our model of development with social inclusion has attracted and continues to attract investors around the world. Now it is time to let the world know of the great opportunities Brazil offers, in a stabie environment that few other countries can match.

Over the last 11 years, Brazil has made giant economic and social strides. GDP in dollars has risen by 4.4 times and now exceeds US$2.2 trillion. Foreign trade has increased from US$108 billion to US$480 billion per year. Brazil has become one of the top five recipients of direct foreign investment. Today we are one of the world’s largest producers of automobiles, agricultural equipment, pulp, aluminum and airplanes; and we are world leaders in the production of meat, soybeans, coffee, sugar, oranges and ethanol.

We have lowered inflation rates from 12.5% in 2002 to 5.9%. For 10 consecutive years inflation has been kept within the established limits, and we continue in our efforts to bring inflation to the center of the target in an environment of economic growth and increases in employment and consumption. We have cut net public debt practically by half; from 60.4% of GDP to 33.8%. Expenditures for personnel, interest on debt and financing of Social Security have all declined in comparison to GDP

What other country has come through the global economic crisis while promoting full employment and an increase in income for the population?

We have placed the poorest of our citizens at the center of economic policies, adding dynamism to the market and reducing inequality. We have created 21 million jobs, 36 million people have moved out of extreme poverty and 42 million people have moved into the middle class.

How many countries have managed so much, in so little time and yet with complete democracy and stable institutions?

The big news is that Brazil has ceased to be a vulnerable country and has become a global competitor. This causes some discomfort; it goes against vested interests. There is no other explanation for the fact that Brazil’s accounts and the activities of its government have become the object of more and more rigorous investigation and, in some cases, clearly speculative analyses. But a strong country is not intimidated by such criticism, it learns from it.

Gross public debt, for example, gained prominence in these analyses. But how many countries are there in which gross debt has remained constant in terms of GDP, while maintaing an appropriate debt maturity profile, like Brazil. Since 2008, Brazil has had an average primary surplus of 2.58%, the best among the major economies. And the administration of President Dilma Rousseff has just announced the fiscal program needed to continue the trajectory of debt reduction in 2014.

We have accumulated US$376 billion in foreign exchange reserves: 10 times more than in 2002 and 10 times the size of the short-term debt. What other large country, except for China, has reserves equivalent to more than 18 months of imports? Unlike times in our past history, Brazil today is able to deal to external fluctuations, adjusting the exchange rate without artifice and without instability. These adjustments, which are necessary, contribute to strengthening our productive sector and will improve the performance of our external accounts.

Brazil has a solid financial system and has expanded the supply of credit through prudent measures that increase the security of credit while broadening the universe of borrowers. In the last 11 years, credit has increased from R$ 380 billion to R$ 2.7 trillion; in other words from 24% to 56.5% of GDP. What other countries have had an increase in credit of this order of magnitude while reducing the rate of default?

Investment by the public sector increased from 2.6% of GDP to 4.4%. The rate of investment in Brazil increased on average 5.7% per year. Deposits and savings accounts have increased for 22  consecutive months. More needs to be done: simplifying the tax structure and removing the bureaucracy, increasing the competitiveness of the economy, continuing to reduce the support for public banks, and extending the social inclusion that Brazil’s growth in based upon. But there can no longer be any doubts about a country that has done so much in only 11 years.

What other country has doubled its harvests to become one of the most dynamic agricultural economies in the world? What other country has doubled its production of motor vehicles? What country has seen its shipbuilding industry emerge from nothing to an industry that employs 78,000 people and is the third largest in the world?

What other country has increased its installed capacity for electricity generation from 80,000 MW to 126,000 MW and built three of the largest hydroelectric power plants in the world?  – bringing electricity to 15 million people in rural areas – and embarked on the construction of 3 million housing units, half of which have already been delivered?

What country in the world has increased its investment in education by a greater amount, according to OECD figures? And tripled the federal budget for the sector; expanded and financed access to higher education, and with Prouni, FIES and quota systems, doubled university enrollments to a total of 7 million matriculations? And what other country has sent 60,000 young people abroad to study at the best universities around the world? In Brazil we opened more technical schools in the last 11 years than had been opened during the entire 20th century. The Pronatec vocational education program trained more than 5 million workers. We spend 75% of the royalties from the petroleum industry on education.

And which is the country that the United Nations and other international organizations point to as an example of how best to combat inequality?

Brazil and other countries could have achieved more had it not been for the impact of the global crisis on credit, the exchange rate and on international trade, which remained stagnant. The economic recovery in the United States is welcome news, but at this time the world’s economies are reflecting the impact of the withdrawal of the Fed stimulus. And even in this adverse environment, Brazil continues to be among the eight countries of the G-20 that had GDP growth of more than 2% in 2013.

The most impressive fact is that since 2008, according to the International Labor Organization, while the world economy destroyed 62 million jobs Brazil was creating 10.5 million jobs. The unemployment rate is the lowest in its history. I believe that there is no stronger indicator of the health of an economy.

What other country has emerged from the worst crisis of all time, while continuing to promote full employment and an increase in the income of the population?

We made mistakes, naturally, but the good news is that we recognize them and we are working to correct them. The government listened, for example, to the criticisms of the concession model and made it more balanced and fair. The result: we granted concessions to 4200 km of highways at a price that was much lower than expected. We have enjoyed successful auctions in the petroleum industry, in addition to the six airport concessions and 2100 km of power transmission lines.

Brazil has a US$ 131 billion logistics investment program. Petrobras is investing US$ 236 billion in order to double its production by 2020, which will put Brazil among the six largest producers of petroleum in the world. How many countries offer opportunities like these?

The Brazilian middle-class, which consumed US$ 497 billion in 2013 according to data from Serasa/Data Popular, will continue to grow. How many countries have a consumer market of similar size that is showing such vigorous growth?

I recently spoke to global investors at the Council of the Americas in New York about how Brazil is prepared to make even greater strides in this new stage of the global economy. I returned with the conviction that they have an objective view of Brazil and its potential, which is quite different from the pessimistic outlook. The Brazilian people are building a new era – an era of opportunities. Those who continue to believe and invest in Brazil will earn even more as they grow together with our country.

Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva is the former president of the Republic and honorary president of the Workers Party (PT)

Brazil‘s model school nutrition program

Over the last 10 years, Brazil’s policies to combat hunger and poverty have become an international reference point and the focus of important international partnerships. During the last decade, the Ministry of Social Development and Fight Against Hunger (MSD) alone has had visits by delegations from 63 countries, 25 of them African, interested in learning more about the Bolsa Família Program. The demand for Brazil’s social technology has led the United Nations to open its only Center for Excellence against Hunger of the World Food Program (WFP) in Brazil. This exchange of information has already led to some concrete partnerships. In Ghana, for example, an income transfer program, the Livelihoods Empowerment Against Poverty (LEAP), was developed after the preparation of a registry of beneficiaries was installed in 2008 after close cooperation on the issue with Brazil in 2007. Continue lendo

Each one Real invested in the Bolsa Família returns R$ 1.44 to the economy, says Minister

Brazil still has many challenges ahead of it, but they are much different than those of 10 years ago. This is the view of the Minister of

Social Development, Tereza Campello, who is currently responsible for the Bolsa Família program in Brazil. “For the first time Brazil has been able to grow and reduce inequality at the same time,” she said. And this result was no accident but rather the result of a series of political decisions made by the Brazilian government.

Minister Tereza Campello, along with former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, Liberian Nobel peace prize winner Leymah Gbowee and the former sub regional coordinator for West Africa and representative of the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), at a conference entitled “A World Without Hunger: Strategies For The Elimination Of Poverty”, sponsored by Carta Capital magazine in São Paulo. The conference presented an opportunity not just to discuss the social achievements in Brazil, but also to present the results of the seminar “New Unified Approaches for the Eradication of Hunger in Africa by 2025”, held at the end of June in Ethiopia to the Brazilian public.

Listen to former president Lula’s speech (in Portuguese):

The Bolsa Família program marks its 10th anniversary in October of this year. “Today the absences from school by poor children in Brazil is much less than the average level of absences for the rest of the public school system, and this is possible thanks to the Bolsa Família (…) We have moved 36 million people out of extreme poverty (…) We have managed to show that for every R$1 that we invest in the Bolsa Família, R$1.44 is returned to society. So who wins? The winners are the beneficiaries and the children. But the community also comes out a winner,” she said.

The data presented by the Minister show that income increased throughout Brazil during the last decade, but that this increase was even greater in the social segments that have historically been disadvantaged, such as women, afro-Brazilians and those with lower educational levels. The results are the fruit of a series of programs that have been developed by the government in various areas. The “Light for All” program has already made electric power available to 3 million households, the professional training of those enrolled in the single registration program is celebrating a total of nearly 700,000 beneficiaries and the Bolsa Família program has already moved 36 million Brazilians out of extreme poverty.

“I hope that in 10 years I will be able to return and report to you the success of the battle against hunger in Africa, the way you have done here in Brazil,” said Mafa Chipeta, after the Ministers speech. He said that Brazil can assist the African continent, but first is necessary to think about what kind of help the continent really needs. He believes that what is needed is cooperation in the preparation of policies to combat hunger and not just donations of food.

According to Chipeta, governments have a crucial role to play in the development of social policy, but this [role] cannot be considered in isolation. “In Africa it is not possible to think about social policies without discussing economic growth.” In addition, “permanently including these policies as part of the [Government] budget is essential,” said Mafa Chipeta, echoing former president Lula.

Democracy, peace and social justice in Brazil and in Africa
A recognition of the importance of women, respect for local knowledge and establishing a relationship of equals. These are the essential features for developing an effective campaign against hunger and poverty said Leymah Gbowee, the winner of the Nobel Peace Prize. She was extremely critical of persons who come from abroad and try to solve local problems without bothering to learn about local realities. She pointed out that learning about and incorporating local knowledge and customs is extremely important for understanding how the battle against hunger could take place in practice. A posture of “equal to equal” in a mutual learning relationship is also essential so that local society can be involved in the process. A major point in her talk was the crucial importance of women in policies to combat hunger because they are the ones most affected by the problem.

Lula
Lula began his speech by emphasizing that the Bolsa Família program recognizes this and for this reason the benefits are distributed primarily to women. The former president pointed out that the question of hunger cannot be treated as merely numbers and indicators. “I have always said that to eradicate hunger it is necessary to transform it into a political problem.” With regard to the cooperation with the African continent, the former president said that he has a great concern that “we do not repeat the errors of the colonizers.” “We have to show that it is possible to let them have their own experiences,” he pointed out. “Africa knows very well how to take care of its own. We need to give them the opportunity to solve their own problems.”

Democracy is also a central part of the equation to eradicate hunger, said Lula. “I am convinced that with democracy and public involvement in political decisions we will be able to find a way.” He said that this is an area in which Brazil could cooperate with the African countries and also spoke of the importance of thinking about democracy on a global scale. “We need to take the question of democracy in today’s globalized world more seriously. We need to think about global governance.”

“There is only one solution to the crisis: more growth”, says Lula at seminar in Brazil

Aside

Former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva believes that Europe will only begin to emerge from the crisis when it returns to economic growth, when it generates more employment and income. He argued that the solution to the crisis does not depend on technical experts but rather on political leaders who need to put into practice the good decisions that they make in international meetings, such as the G8. The former president spoke for half an hour, at the side of former Spanish Prime Minister Felipe Gonzalez at the meeting entitled: “new challenges for society”, sponsored by the newspaper Valor Econômico in São Paulo on March 26.

The crisis as an opportunity
Lula said that the crisis comes at an important moment and shows that the financial system cannot continue operating without regulations the way it has been. Lula recalled that Brazil for decades listened to the opinions of international experts who believed that the market regulates everything, “even education”. According to the former president, the crisis struck down two myths: one that “the market works for everything”, and the other that “the state does not work for anything”. “Neither of these two statements is true”, he concluded recalling that the market appealed for state intervention to assist the banks at the beginning of the international financial crisis.

“There is only one solution to this crisis: more economic growth, more jobs and more generation of wealth.” The crisis, according to Lula, also represents opportunities, if governments understand that the inclusion of millions of people who do not have access to basic goods in the consumer market has to be part of the solution. “You have to finance [the consumption] of these people.” Citing numbers from the Family Grant Program (“Bolsa Família”), he says that the program cost the Brazilian government approximately R $23 billion (a little more than US$11 billion). He compared this amount with the estimated US$9.5 trillion that have already been spent on the crisis. “Imagine what could be possible if we used just a part of this money for development, recovery of the private sector and the generation of employment”.


Watch the video (Portuguese only)

Crisis of political leadership
The former president was severe in his criticism, pointing to a crisis of political leadership in Europe. “They have outsourced policy” to technicians, when what is needed is leadership to put into practice good solutions. “The problem is not technical it is political.” Lula said that many European leaders preferred to send weak representatives to the European Union for fear that they might be eclipsed by these representatives, and criticized what he called a pact of mediocrity. “It is a mistake to think that the weaker is my representative the stronger I will be. The weaker my representative is, the weaker I will be.”

A speech by Felipe González the former prime minister of Spain was cited as an example. “Felipe González said, in an interview with Valor, that the crisis in Greece, which in 2009 could have been resolved with less than US$30 billion, is one that cannot be solved today with US$200 billion.” As a result, today the New York Stock Exchange is concerned with what is happening in a little country the size of Cyprus.

Lula pointed out that the G-8 decided to confront the crisis by putting an end to trade protectionism, creating five million jobs, and by doing away with tax haven countries. “Five years have gone by and nothing has been done.” According to the former president, this happened because politicians are more concerned about local issues and elections in their own countries than they are about taking seriously the decisions of the G-8.

Europe must not go backwards
The former president stressed that the gains in human rights and the quality of life that Europeans enjoy “must be considered as part of the patrimony for mankind” and should not be used as bartering chips to combat the crisis. “It is simply not possible to want to impoverish the people to readjust the economy and then work to try and see that people can earn a living again. We must start from the current level.” And he observed that Latin America still struggles to achieve the qualities of life that Europeans have enjoyed for some time.

Lula spoke directly: if Spain does not grow it will not emerge from the crisis.” And he stressed that a country with the history that Spain has cannot simple accept compliance with economic policy guidelines that have not worked anywhere in the world,” referring to the pamphlet endorsed by those who favor austerity programs along with the IMF. “In the past, all those international experts arrived and while still here at the airport began to tell us what we had to do.” He pointed out that the crisis in Europe proved that those who thought they knew everything in fact knew nothing.

Confidence in politics
Lula  closed by saying that the “crisis is not the fault of government, it is the system that has failed. And he argued in favor of more democracy and that the inclusion of the young and union members is needed so that the political solutions are acknowledged and have a practical effect.  “It is often clearly wrong, and is sociologically backward, when the press tries to deny politics. You can criticize the politician or the party …  you can say whatever you want, but you cannot negate politics because after politics there is only disaster.”

 

“With the Bolsa Familia Program, we included a country in our economy, much the way you did with the fall of the Berlin Wall”, Lula told the Deputies of the European Union

In a meeting on Friday afternoon April 5 with the Foreign Affairs Committee of the European Parliament, former president Lula pointed out that the inclusion accomplished by the Family Grant Program (“Bolsa Família”) in Brazil was the equivalent of that by Germany with the fall of the Berlin wall. Lula cited data that showed that more than 40 million Brazilians were included socially and economically under the program.

To download high-resolution photographs, visit Instituto Lula’s Picasa.

“The European Union represents a democratic heritage for mankind.” Lula also stressed the crucial importance of the European Union. He emphasized that Europeans should not let the crisis erode the social achievements that they had achieved so far. Portuguese deputy Ana Gomes agreed with the former president and said: “Europe is more than an economy, it is a project for peace.”

Commenting further on the crisis, Lula said that “it is time for politicians to return to making policy.” He was vehement in his criticism of the outsourcing of policy to technicians and bureaucrats, and said that he believed the problems could be resolved if all of the political leaders sat down to talk. “Someone always wins and someone always loses, but it is important to think about what is best for the future,” he said.

“All this money that is circulating without creating a single ball-point pen needs to be channeled to production” Lula believes that one of the principal causes of this crisis is financial speculation and the lack of control of financial markets. He argues that the circulation of money just for the business of speculation does not produce anything real, does not generate jobs and does not stimulate the economy. The former president has argued on various occasions that relief from the crisis must come through growth and the generation of jobs.

“We make decisions in multilateral organizations, but then when we return to our countries the only thing that matters are our voters” The issue of multilateral organizations was also raised during the meeting. Lula said that if the decisions taken at the G20 meeting had been carried out, many problems today would have been resolved. The problem is that each president returns to his country where the important thing all the domestic elections.

The delegation from the Foreign Affairs Committee of the European Parliament that visited the Lula Institute this afternoon consisted of Elmar Brok (Germany), José Ignacio Salafranca (Spain), Francisco Millán Mon (Spain), Ana Gomes (Portugal), Jelko Kacin (Slovenia) and Robert Kowal (Poland). This is the first visit by the committee to Brazil and the objective is to establish regular relations with the Congress and Brazilian political leaders.

 

Bono challenges Lula: Let us together create a planetary Family Grant Program “Bolsa Família”

What was to have been a visit between two friends became a productive working meeting. This Tuesday afternoon, April 9, in London, former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva and Irish musician Bono, vocalist for the U2 band, spoke for an hour and talked about the Family Grant Program (“Bolsa Família”), food security, hunger in Africa and, of course, soccer – a passion shared by both.

To download high-resolution photographs visit Instituto Lula’s Picasa.

At the request of the rock star and social activist, Lula summarized the programs for social inclusion realized in Brazil during his administration that permitted more than 30 million people to emerge from a state of absolute poverty. Pencil in hand, the former president made an astonishing calculation for Bono:

“Add the US$9.5 trillion spent to save North American and European banks to the US$1.7 trillion wasted by the United States in the Iraq war and you have more than US$11 trillion. This means that the funds thrown at the banks and on the invasion of Iraq would have been sufficient to set up a mega Family Grant Program that would meet the needs of all the world’s poor form 150 years.”

Bono thinks that since former South African president Nelson Mandela withdrew from politics because of poor health, Lula emerged naturally as the worldwide spokesman for the poor:

“Lula, you are the only interlocutor capable of speaking with both capitalists and socialists, with the leaders of rich countries and the leaders of the Third World.”

The musician suggested that the efforts of the Lula Institute and the nongovernmental organization, ONE, created and led by Bono to spread and encourage programs to combat hunger and poverty in African countries should be combined. He also revealed that with the support of Bill Gates and investor George Soros, ONE has been setting up a project for the production of food in the savanna of Tanzania inspired by the work of the Brazilian company Embrapa in Ghana.

At the end of the encounter, Bono challenged the former president of Brazil:

“You are the only person today capable of leading an international crusade to transform the “Bolsa Família” into a worldwide program to serve all the poor of the world! Come on, I will join with you and we will do this together!”

Lula and Bono agreed to meet again soon to exchange reports of their respective activities, and have already made the firm commitment: the two will be together in the stands of the new Corinthians soccer stadium for the opening of the World Cup 2014.

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Video

Bono also recorded a video with a message for the Brazilians. “Lula inspires us”, says the singer at the message. Watch the full video below:

Lula: “it is absurd” that there is no contact between Brazilian and Nigerian unionists

Former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva met in Lagos Monday morning, March 18, with the presidents of the two national unions of the African country, Abdulwahed Omar, of the Nigeria Labour Congress and Peter Esele, of the Trade Union Congress.

To download high resolution images please visit Picasa do Instituto Lula.

Nigeria is the last stop in a four-country visit by Lula in Africa.  The former president is making contacts with the leaders of political and social movements as well as with governments and businessmen to promote closer relations between Brazil and Africa.

In his meeting with the union leaders, Lula said that it was “absurd” that the workers of the two most populous nations in South America and Africa had not made contact before this.  The former president discussed public policies in Brazil and the relationships between his administration and unionists and civil society.  The Nigerian Unionists talked about the social situation of the workers and Nigerian Unions.

The former president invited Abdulwahed Omar and Peter Else to visit Brazil and to get in contact with CUT and other Brazilian national unions.  The idea is to establish the relations between Brazilian and Nigerian workers as quickly as possible and cooperate to strengthen the Nigerian union movement and its contribution to the improvement of living conditions in that country.

“This crisis is calling upon us to make the big political decisions that we have forgotten how to make,” Lula says in Paris

If the multilateral courts cannot enforce their decisions, then something is wrong

Former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva said in Paris Wednesday (December 12) that the international crisis has created an opportunity for governments to assume their responsibilities and make the decisions that they should have made long ago. “This crisis is calling upon us to make the big political decisions that we have forgotten how to take after long period of social welfare,” said Lula. The former president pointed out that the new political geography of the world should be respected and reflected in the makeup of multinational agencies, and he questioned the use of the dollar as the international currency standard. “We need to have greater representation and democracy in the United Nations so that we can make the organization more valuable today.” Former president Lula and former French Prime Minister Lionel Jospin gave their talks at the closing of the “forum for social progress. Growth as a solution to the crisis” organized by the Lula Institute and by the Jean-Jaurès Foundation in Paris.

To download high resolution photos, visit Lula Institute’s Picasa.

In an improvised and good-humored speech, Lula evoked laughter from the audience at various points and was applauded 10 times during his speech of around one hour and 20 min. (áudio completo aqui). Lula recalled that for a long time in Brazil the idea that first the pie had to grow before it could be shared was widely accepted. “Except that in my country, the pie grew a number of times, and some people ate while the others went hungry. We proved that sharing the pie helps it to grow. We had to distribute the pie in order to make it grow.” The former president said that he was proud that his government had managed to prove that it was possible to increase salaries and raise incomes without increasing inflation. “I’m not here to try to tell France or Europe what they should do, I only want to show what Brazil did.”

The former president’s speech is in line with the thinking of French president François Hollande and Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff as they opened the discussions that included comments from intellectuals and politicians from various countries. During the discussions the need for a new [system of] international governance, providing an opening for developing countries and for additional economic participants were constant themes along with calls for more support for employment and stimulus for economic growth as a means of overcoming the international crisis.

Lula recalled, for example, that he emerged very optimistic from the G-20 meeting in London in 2010. “It was the best G-20 meeting ever held.” Lula said that there were a number of decisions taken at that conference that dealt precisely with the need for preserving jobs and economic growth as the weapons to combat the crisis and anticipated the need for the regulation of the financial system and the restructuring of international decision-making organizations. “The problem with the G-20 is not the lack of ability to make decisions. It is that when the presidents return to their countries nothing happens,” he said sadly, remembering that national and local elections wound up immobilizing many governments. “The only thing that is not being globalized is politics which continues to be subordinated to the electoral decisions of individual countries,” he completed.

At the end of his speech, Lulu stressed that this is not a crisis that was caused by workers at it is unfair that they should be asked to pay for it with unemployment and recession. He praised both Dilma and Hollande because, he said, instead of holding a meeting among presidents, they were willing to open up the discussion at the conference organized by the Lula Institute and the Jean-Jaurès Foundation. “We are going to listen to everyone, and if there are more radical or less radical people it’s not a problem. You know why? Because this crisis is not mine nor is it yours, it is the responsibility of people that we don’t even know,” remembering that he has never seen a banker’s face in the newspapers “because they are the ones [the bankers] that pay for the advertising that appears there.”

In Paris, Dilma and Hollande say that employment and growth are the solutions to the world economic crisis

Aside

Arguing in favor of a progressive agenda to combat the international crisis, presidents Dilma Rousseff and François Hollande opened “The Forum for Social Progress. Growth as a Solution for the Crisis” in Paris on December 11. The two presidents agreed that the solutions to the crisis involve a commitment to the creation of jobs, to social justice and to the environment. And further, they said that austerity measures, in addition to worsening the crisis, punish the population, and especially the workers.

Hollande said that it was necessary to reform the banks and review speculative activity, and suggested that “An Economic and Social Security Council along the lines of the United Nations Security Council” be created.

To see more pictures and download high resolution images visit Lula Institute’s Picasa.

President Dilma Rousseff said that the use of Orthodox measures has not resolved the problems of this crisis and that the emerging countries would not hesitate to use fiscal stimulus policies to confront it. “I agree with Hollande in the certainty that what is needed is more cooperation and much dialogue, but above all a commitment to growth and to employment.” The president pointed out that despite the slowdown in growth, over the last two years Brazil created 3.7 million jobs. Dilma Rousseff argued that what the euro needs is an effective bank union. “A true European Central Bank, with the power to defend the euro, issue securities and be a lender of last resort” is needed, she said. The president also said that both the maintenance of the euro and the resolution of the crisis in Europe are crucial for Brazil.

After the opening, there was a roundtable of intellectuals to discuss “Sustainable Growth: A Worldwide Challenge”. The discussions in this session concerned the need to return to growth using policies that attempt to reduce inequalities and create sustainable development from the social, economic and ecological point of view.

The discussion commenced with a statement by Nicholas Stern, professor of the London school of economics. In his talk, Stern stressed the need for the creation of new social indicators that would go beyond GDP to measure the actual welfare of the population and pointed out that times of crisis are also times for innovation and the creation of new alternatives.

Anthony Atkinson, a professor at Newfield College, Oxford, said that the economy should not be concerned only with efficiency but should also be concerned with the distribution of income, and a half who should pay for the investments that must be made.

Brazilian economist Luiz Gonzaga Belluzzo, professor at Unicamp, said that he could not understand how Europe could come to abandon the social welfare state and begin to adopt austerity programs that: “in addition to being inefficient, are cruel by nature.”

Smaïl Goumeziane, former foreign trade minister of Algeria, said market regulation was needed. Roger Guernerie, professor of the Collège de France, said that this is neither good nor bad but is something that either works or does not work. Rounding out the discussion, Damos Silvers, the director of strategy and special advisor to the American Federation of Labor And the Congress of Industrial Organizations, (AFL–CIO), spoke of the importance of listening to, and including, workers. Daniel Cohen, vice president of the École d’ Économie de Paris and the chairman of the Committee for Scientific Guidelines of the Jean-Jaurès Foundation, served as the moderator.

The discussions continued on Wednesday (December 12) with four roundtables and summaries by former President Lula and former Prime Minister of France Lionel Jospin.

The entire seminar is being transmitted live with links on the site of the Instituto Lula and the Fundação Jean Jaurès.