“More than a political act, this is a call to action”: Lula to team up with Alckmin in bid for presidency

In a speech, Lula advocated for uniting a broad political spectrum against Bolsonaro in order to “reclaim democracy and recover sovereignty”

May 09, 2022 by Brasil de Fato
Lula defended the PT legacy in Brazil and called on the population to rebuild the country during the launch of the Let's Go Together for Brazil Movement in São Paulo - Ricardo Stuckert

This Saturday, May 7, the Workers’ Party of Brazil (PT) officially announced the pre-candidacy of Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva for the presidency of Brazil. This will be the sixth time that the former metal worker will run for president. Lula’s vice-presidential candidate will be the former governor of São Paulo, Geraldo Alckmin (PSB), an unprecedented alliance given a humorous title by the PT: “Lula with Chuchu”.

Despite being opponents in the past, both Lula and Alckmin quoted the educator Paulo Freire, who once said, “it is necessary to unite the divergent, to better confront the antagonistic”.

“We want to unite those who believe in democracy, of all origins and races, of the most varied political backgrounds, of all social classes and all religious beliefs. This serious moment that our country is going through, one of the most serious in our history, obliges us to overcome possible differences in order to build an alternative path to the incompetence and authoritarianism that governs us,” said the former president.

The pre-candidacy was made official during the Let’s Go Together for Brazil event, at the Expo Center Norte, in São Paulo’s West Zone. Only Lula, Alckmin and Rosângela da Silva (Janja) spoke, but the event was attended by different leaders of popular movements, public figures, parliamentarians and political parties that support the PT’s ticket, including PCdoB, PSB, Solidariedade, PSOL, PV and Rede.

Lula is currently leading the polls and may return to the presidential palace twenty years after the first time he was elected.

Lula’s speech, focused on defending national sovereignty and rebuilding the country’s democracy, drew a comparison between the achievements of the years when the PT was in government with what has been “deconstructed,” as Lula defined it, under the government of Jair Bolsonaro. He also spoke of the dreams and the hope to change the country.

“We have a dream. There is no greater force than the hope of a people who know they can be happy again. That they can eat well again, have a good job, decent wages and rights. That they can improve their lives and see their children grow up healthy.”

Lula highlighted topics such as the defense of state-owned companies, the defense of public banks and coordination with the rest of Latin America, along with issues such as support for indigenous resistance, the denunciation of the killings of black youth, the defense of the environment, culture, and labor laws.

In defending the legacy of his presidency, Lula posed a question to an auditorium packed with militants from various regions of the country: “Brazil will have the opportunity to decide what country it will be for the next few years and generations: The Brazil of democracy or of authoritarianism? Of knowledge and tolerance or of obscurantism and violence? Of education and culture or of guns and rifles?”

In another moment, Lula criticized the attitude of the current president of the republic, especially in light of the more than 600,000 victims of the pandemic. “Enough threats, enough absurd suspicions, verbal blackmail, artificial tensions. The country needs calm and tranquility to work and to overcome the current difficulties. And the country will decide freely, at the time that the law determines, who should govern it.”

The speech also made room for criticism of the handling of the pandemic and the situation of the Ministry of Health, pointing out, above all, the “false Christianity” of Bolsonaro, who, according to Lula, “does not love his neighbor.” Lula criticized the direction of the Ministry of Education, which has been the focus of accusations of corruption in recent months.

“In [the PT-run] governments, we tripled the investments in education. They jumped from R$49 billion in 2002 to R$151 billion in 2015. But the current government has been reducing it every year. The result is that the Ministry of Education budget for 2022 is the smallest it’s been in the last ten years.”

Lula also referenced the instances of Bolsonarist violence. “We will not be afraid of provocation, or be afraid of fake news. We will win this dispute for democracy by spreading smiles, love and affection,” said the former president, who had his car surrounded by Bolsonarist thugs and extreme right-wing protesters as he left a condominium in Campinas, São Paulo, on May 5.

The now-official pre-candidate for president of Brazil concluded his speech by recalling that the PT governments have made a peaceful revolution in the country and called on the population to find this path again.

“More than a political act, this is a call to action. To men and women of all generations, all classes, religions, races and regions of the country, to reconquer democracy and recover sovereignty.”

Alliance with Alckmin

The event also formalized the nomination of the former governor of São Paulo, Geraldo Alckmin (PSB), as a candidate for vice-president. As he had contracted COVID-19, Alckmin did not attend the event in person, but entered live, via video call. In his speech, he classified this alliance as “a call to reason”.

The former governor defined the current moment as a great opportunity for Brazil to rediscover the path of economic development, environmental preservation, and social justice. Finally, he responded to the criticism he received for this alliance with good humor: “the fashionable dish now will be Lula with Chuchu” (Lula, the nickname of Luiz Inácio da Silva, in Portuguese means calamari, while Chuchu, the nickname of Alckmin, is a vegetable, chayote).

For his part, Lula pointed out that this election will require a very broad alliance with various political spectrums. “Alckmin was governor when I was president. We were adversaries, but we also worked together and maintained institutional dialogue and respect for democracy.”

Broad alliance

On stage were party leaders, governors, former governors, and parliamentarians from the groups that have endorsed Lula’s candidacy, such as PSB, PCdoB, Rede, PV, Solidariedade, and PSOL. Former President Dilma Rousseff was also at the event, and Lula thanked her and praised her for her political importance.

Leaders of the Trade Union Centers, popular movements, intellectuals and artists also expressed their support for the project Let’s Go Together for Brazil. In the states, the Popular Struggle Committees, party headquarters, and popular movements organized activities to follow the broadcast of the pre-candidacy launching event.

This article was written by Afonso Bezerra and first published in Brasil de Fato.