On Sunday January 1, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva of the Workers’ Party of Brazil (PT) gave his first speech to the Brazilian people as president at the National Congress. In the speech, he presented a brief diagnosis of the situation and conditions of the country that he will govern over for the next four years.
“It’s appalling,” said Lula, about the conditions in which he receives the country from his predecessor, former president Jair Bolsonaro of the Liberal Party, who abandoned the country and went to the US just before the inauguration. “They have emptied out the resources for health. They have dismantled the Education, Culture, Science and Technology [sectors]. They destroyed environmental protection. They left no resources for school lunch, vaccination, public security.”
Lula recalled his first victory, in 2002. “When I was elected president for the 1st time, together with José Alencar, I started my inauguration speech with the word ‘change’. The change we wanted was simply to make the constitutional precepts a reality. The right to a dignified life, without hunger, with access to employment, health and education.”
“On that occasion,” the president continued, “[I said] my life’s mission would be fulfilled when every Brazilian could have 3 meals a day. Having to repeat this promise today is the most serious symptom of the devastation that has been imposed on the country in recent years.”
Hunger as the central issue
The fight against food insecurity appeared once again, indicating that it is among the central priorities of the incoming government. “Our first actions are aimed at rescuing 33 million people from hunger and rescuing more than 100 million Brazilians from poverty. They have suffered the harshest impacts of the project of national destruction that is ending today.”
Lula also announced the first of the measures to combat Bolsonarism. “Public security forces will act to promote peace where it is most urgent, in poor communities, vulnerable families, [places of] organized crime, militias, violence wherever it comes from. We are repealing the criminal access to weapons and ammunition that have caused so much insecurity and harm.”
The Expenditure Ceiling, a hallmark of former president Michel Temer’s administration, will also be targeted by the Workers’ Party government. “The SUS is probably the most democratic of the institutions created by the 1988 Constitution. Certainly for this reason it has been the most persecuted since then, and it was also the most damaged by a stupid thing called the Expenditure Ceiling, which we will have to revoke.”
Also on the list of measures announced by the Brazilian president are the “renewed, stronger and fairer Bolsa Família Program, to serve those who need it most,” and the “energy and ecological transition to sustainable farming and mining, stronger family farming, greener industry.”
The commitment to the environment also appeared in Lula’s speech. “Our goal is to achieve zero deforestation in the Amazon and zero emission of greenhouse gas in energy [distribution and production], in addition to stimulating the reuse of degraded pastures. Brazil does not need to deforest to maintain and expand its strategic agricultural frontier.”
This article was published in Portuguese first at Brasil de Fato.