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
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 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.”
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.”
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.
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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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:
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.
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.
Former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva spoke on Friday to approximately 600 German union representatives at a Congress of the German metal workers union, IG Metall, in Berlin. In an improvised speech, Lula traced his political career, from union activist to president of the Republic and recalled that the German union movement has always shown great solidarity with Brazilian workers, dating from the time of the large strikes at the ABC in the 1980s.
To download high-resolution photos, visit Lula Institute’s Picasa.
The international Congress “Changing direction for a better life” featured discussion sessions focused principally on the possible solutions to the crisis and on improving the quality of life of working people. Lula spoke prior to the start of the discussions. The theme of his speech was “The road to a more just world”. The former president argued that the maintenance of employment and stimulus to growth of the poor countries represented ways to resolve the crisis and criticized the use of austerity policies that punish the worker. “The magnates of the financial system never want to share their earnings, but when they lose they want to share the losses with everyone.” Luna argued that politicians need to get over their fear of the exercise of democracy and listen to what the people want, instead of giving priority to saving the banks.
“Latin America today is experiencing an era of peace and prosperity that they have not had for long time. We continue to be poor and how many problems, but for many years we have not had such progress, mainly through the growth of democracy. And Europe, which once was a cradle of tranquility, is now nervous and apprehensive, principally because of the young people. And why has this happened? Because many politicians have outsourced policy. And policy cannot be outsourced.
Lula believes that the greatest legacy of his eight years in government is in the relationship between organized society and social movements in Brazil. “I spent part of my life losing election after election. I grew tired but I never quit.” When he finally succeeded, Lula said that he wished to show the civil society in Brazil and around the world, that a simple metal worker and union activist was capable of being president. Not only that, but this President was able to help Brazil advance economically and socially. “I wanted to prove, that as president, that I could achieve the goals of the agenda that I had set when I was a union leader and a member of the opposition.”
As he traveled, Lula said that he realized that he was one of the only presidents who talked with the workers. “Today, still, in many countries the first thing that workers ask is that I intercede so that the government leaders would talk to them.” He recalled that during his government, he received rag pickers, the homeless and [representatives of] social movements while continuing to meet with foreign governments and representatives of business.
Optimistic, Lula said that he believes that “for 2020 the future Brazil lies in the growth in employment and even greater achievements by Brazilian society.” “Brazil is only interested in being the fifth-largest economy in the world if this serves to improve the lives of its people,” and continued: “you who have achieved the standards of living that you have do not have the right to remain silent when you see these rights being withdrawn.”
Lula remembered that the decisions of the meetings of the G-20 in which he participated in London and Seoul were not implemented. These decisions said that the maintenance of employment and the stimulus for growth in the poor countries were crucial for overcoming crises. And suggested a longer period for the fiscal adjustment to take place Spain and Greece, warning that an accelerated adjustment process would lead to recession and a resurgence of even more problems and even questioning the results already achieved. “I fear that in Europe you are beginning to reject even the European Union. The European Union represents a singular international heritage, because it managed to overcome 1,500 years of conflict.”
In his improvised speech, that was discussed at the roundtable so followed by politicians and union leaders, Lula praised democracy in Brazil, remembering that dozens of conferences held by his government provided an example that a living democracy is better than a democracy and continues in silence. Democracy occurs when the entire society participates.”
Later on Friday, Lula participated in talks with leaders of the SPD, the German Social Democratic Party, at the Friedrich Ebert Foundation.
Former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, in a conversation today at the Friedrich Ebert Foundation with the leadership of the German Democratic Party – SPD, said that dialog is the principal instrument of international policy.
For photographs and to download high-resolution images please visit Institute Lula’s Picasa.
With the former German Minister of Foreign Relations and leader of the SPD, Frank-Walter Steinmeier at his side, Lula said that the refusal to include developing countries as permanent members of the United Nations Security Council, and the reluctance to engage in dialogue are part of the same resistance to change in the relations between international powers. “The problem is that those who are there [in power] have no desire to share that power. It’s very comfortable just the way it is.”
He believes that politics can find a way to resolve international conflicts such as, for example, in the Middle East, but the great powers also influence the decisions of the agencies of international government: “I think there are people in the world that have no interest in peace. The people want peace but there are those in government who need conflict to be important. If not, there would be no reason not to have peace in the Middle East. Why can’t the same United Nations that created the state of Israel create a Palestinian state?”
Frank-Walter praised the changes in foreign policy in Brazil and said that he had witnessed Brazil’s efforts to put its desire for dialogue into practice. “What Presdent Lula showed us in South America was that despite the differences in interests between countries his choice was always to dialogue, even with difficult partners. This policy of including all partners [in the dialog] changed South America. And I believe it changed for the better,” he said.
It was the belief that politics should be used to promote world peace that led him to Iran in 2010, said the former president of Brazil. “I left Brazil and went to Iran against the advice of everyone. I was convinced that it was possible to persuade Iran and get them to sign the agreement that the [International Atomic Energy Agency] needed. They said to me: ‘Lula, you are naïve. You believe Ahmadinejad, and he does not tell the truth’. And I replied, I may be naïve, but I believe in politics. Because once I asked, at a meeting in Princeton: Obama, have you talked to Ahmadinejad? No. Sarkosy, have you talked to Ahmadinejad? No. Angela Merkel, have you talked to Ahmadinejad? No. Berlusconi, have you talked to Ahmadinejad? No. Now, if no one is talking to this man, what kind of policy is that?”
He then said the he got him to sign a document that the Agency needed, a commitment to the peaceful use of nuclear energy. “Then I thought that the United Nations Security Council would express their appreciation because we achieved what they had not been able to achieve, and they made a huge demonstration of jealousy and further, resolved to punish Iran,” he said
At another point in the conversation, former President Lula talked about the role of the IMF and the inability of that institution the deal with the crisis in the rich countries and suggested rethinking the role of the Financial System.
“When the Berlin Wall fell, many people were depressed. And I said, thank God, the world is free to think differently. I believe this crisis is not a call of desperation it is a call for us to discuss new ideas, to discuss the role of the financial system in the world. The bank should not exist simply to trade securities, it has to finance the productive sector,” he argued.