Lula’s historic speech before his illegal imprisonment
(After finishing his speech, Lula was carried shoulder high by the people. Photo: Francisco Proner).
LULA’S HISTORIC SPEECH IN SÃO BERNARDO
Transcription in Portuguese by Brasil de Fato | São Paulo (SP), 7 April 2018 at 14:50
Translated by Eoin O’Neill
“In 1979, this trade union went on one of the most extraordinary strikes. And we managed to make an agreement with the automobile industry that was perhaps the best possible. I had a factory commission with 300 workers. The agreement was good. So, I decided to bring this agreement to the Assembly. I also decided to ask the factory commission to arrive earlier to talk with the workers. I also had the assembly held in the morning to avoid them drinking a little in the afternoon, because when we drink a little, we become more daring.
Nevertheless, I could not prevent them from bringing a litre of brandy in their bags and after I had passed from having a ‘swig’ for their throats to feel better – something that does not happen these days.
Well, we put the agreement to the vote and 100,000 people in Vila Euclides did not accept the agreement. It was the best possible. We did not lose any holiday pay, we did not lose the thirteenth salary, and got a 15% pay rise. But the workers were so radicalized that they wanted 83% or nothing. And we did not manage. We spent a year being called pelegos by the workers.
We did not manage to have the proposal I considered good accepted and people began to disrespect the union leaders. I would go to the factory gates and no one would stop.
The press wrote: “Lula’s words are falling on the workers’ deaf ears.”
We spent a year recovering our prestige with that group. So, I began to think with an air of vengeance: “The workers think that they can go on strike for 100 days, 400 days, that they will last to the very end. I will test them in 1980.”
So, we had the biggest strike in our history. The biggest strike. 41 days of strike. After 17 days I was arrested. After a few days the workers began to break the strike. I know that Tuma, I know that Doutor Almir, I know that Teotônio Vilela would come to the prison and say this to me: “Lula you have to end the strike, you have to tell them to end the strike.” I would say: “I am not going to end the strike. The workers will decide themselves.”
The concrete fact is that no one can last 41 days because in practice their partner has to buy milk, pay the electricity bill, pay for gas, their wives begin to demand money for bread, so they begin to come under pressure and cannot put up with this. However, it is funny because in defeat we win much more without winning economically than when we just wineconomically. This means that it is not money which resolves the problem of a strike, it is not 5%, it is not 10%, it is what is built in to the political theory, the political knowledge, and the political thesis in a strike.
Now we are almost in the same situation. Almost in the same situation. I am being prosecuted and I have clearly said: “The court case about my apartment, I am the only human being who is prosecuted for an apartment which is not mine.” And he knows that Globo lied when it said it was mine. The Federal Police of Lava Jato lied in the investigation when they said it was mine, the Ministério Público lied in its accusation saying that it was mine, and I thought that Moro would resolve this, but he lied saying that it was mine and condemned me to nine years in jail.
For this reason, I am indignant, because I have done many things during my 72 years. But I will not forgive them for having given society the idea that I am a thief. They let criminals have pixulecos all over Brazil. They let criminals call us petralhas. They allowed a climate of war be created, denying politics in this country. Every day I say: none of them, none of them, has the courage, or sleeps with the clear conscience of honesty, of innocence with which I sleep. None of them.
I am not above justice. If I did not believe in justice, I would not have created a political party. I proposed a revolution in this country, but I believe in justice, in a just justice, in a justice in which cases are based on the court records, on the information of the accusations, the defence, on concrete proof which shows the crime.
What I cannot admit is that a prosecutor produced a Powerpoint and went on television to say that the PT is a criminal organization which was born to rob Brazil and that Lula, since he is the most important figure in this party, Lula is the boss, and thus, if Lula is the boss, the prosecutor says, “I do not need evidence, I have conviction.” I want them to keep their conviction for their friends, accomplices, for their minions, but not for me. Certainly, a thief would not be demanding evidence. With a skeleton in the closet, he would keep his mouth closed hoping that the press would not speak his name.
I have more than 70 hours of Jornal Nacional destroying me. I have more than 70 magazine covers attacking me. I have thousands of pages of newspapers and reports attacking me. I also have Record attacking me. I also have Bandeirantes attacking me, I have the small town radio stations attacking me. But they do not realise that the more they attack me, the more my relationship with the Brazilian people grows.
I am not afraid of them. I have even said that I would like to hold a debate with Moro about the denunciation he made against me. I would like him to show me some evidence. I even challenged the judges of TRF4 to go to a debate in a university of their choice, in the course of their choice, to prove which crime I committed in this country.
And I, at time, have the impression – and I have the impression because I am a builder of dreams. A long time ago I dreamed that it would be possible to govern this country by involving millions and millions of poor people in the economy, involving millions and millions of people in universities, creating millions and millions of jobs in this country. I dreamed it would be possible for a steelworker, without a university degree, to take better care of education than those with decrees and who have passed state exams who govern this country and are responsible for education. I dreamed it would be possible for us to reduce child mortality by bringing milk, beans, and rice, so that children could eat every day. I dreamed it would be possible to take students from the peripheries and place them in the best universities of this country, so that our judges and prosecutors would not just be from the elite, and in a little while we will have judges and prosecutors born in the favela of Heliopólis, born in Itaquera, born in the periphery. We will have many people from the Sem Terra, MTST, and CUT with degrees.
This is the crime I committed.
I committed this crime and they do not want me to commit more such crimes. It is because of this crime that there are about ten court cases against me. And if it is because of these crimes, putting the poor in the university, blacks in the university, the poor eating meat, the poor buying cars, the poor traveling by plane, the poor working on their own small farmers, having small businesses, having their own homes. If this is the crime I committed I want to tell you that I will continue being a criminal in this country, because I will do much more. I will do much more.
Companheiros and companheiras, in 1986, I was the best voted deputy in the constituent assembly in the history of the country. At the time there was a suspicion that only those who had mandates held power in the PT… So companheiros, when I realised that the people suspected that only those who were deputies were important in the PT, Manuela and Guilherme, do you know what I did? I stopped being a deputy. Because I wanted to prove to the PT that I would continue being the most important figure in the PT without having a mandate because if anyone wanted to beat me in the PT there was only one way: working more than me and liking the people more than me, because if you do not like them you will not work.
Well: now we are facing a delicate task. I am perhaps facing the greatest indignation that a human being faces. What my family has been suffering is not easy. It is not easy what my children have suffered. It is not easy what Marisa suffered and I want to say that the Marisa’s early death was a result of the shamelessness and the dirty tricks that the press and the Ministério Público practised against her. I am certain of this. I think these people do not have children, do not have souls, and have no idea of what a mother or father feels when they see a child massacred, when they see a child being attacked.
So, companheiros, I decided to raise my head. But do not think I am against Lava Jato, no. Lava Jato, if it catches criminals, it has to catch criminals who have robbed and arrest them. We all want that. For all of our lives we have heard: “The Judicial System only arrests the poor, it does not arrest the rich.” We all have said this. And I want that it keeps arresting rich people. I want this. So, what is the problem? It is that you cannot have trials subordinated to the press. It is because deep down, deep down, you destroy people in society, the image of people, and afterwards the judges will try them and say, “I cannot go against public opinion which is asking to hunt them.” Any judge who wants to find someone guilty or innocent based on public opinion should throw away their legal robes and go and run for deputy, choose a political party and be a candidate. Well, the legal robe it is a lifelong job. They have to make judgments based only on the case itself, on what is presented in court. In fact, I think that Supreme Court judges should not give declarations of how they will decide. In the US, the judgment ends and you do not know what the individual judges decided, precisely so that they will not be the victim of pressure.
Imagine someone being accused of murder but not being the murder. What do the family of the dead person want? That he be killed, that he be condemned. So, the judge has to have, different from us, a cooler head, more responsibility to make accusations or to condemn. The Ministério Público is a very strong institution. For this reason these kids who enter very young, do a law course and afterwards do three years trying public exams because their parents can pay. These kids need to discover a little of life, a little of politics to do what they do in Brazilian society.
There is something called responsibility. And do not think that I am saying this because I am against it. I was president and I appointed four prosecutors, and I made speech when they all took office, and I said: “The stronger the institution the more responsible its members have to be.” You cannot condemn someone in the press and try them afterwards. You remember when I want to give my testimony in Curitiba, and I said to Moro: “You cannot absolve me because Globo is demanding that you condemn me, and you will condemn me.”
I think that the TRF4, Moro, Lava Jato, and Globo, they all have this dream. Their dream is that first: the coup did not end with Dilma. The coup will only end when they manage to convince everyone that Lula cannot be a candidate for the presidency of the republic in 2018. And they do not want Lula back because in their heads the poor cannot have this right. The poor cannot eat the best meat. They cannot fly on planes. They cannot go to university. According to their logic, the poor were born to eat and have second class things.
So, companheiros and companheiras, their other dream is to photograph Lula under arrest. Ah, I image Veja being turned on placing me on their cover under arrest. I imagine Globo being turned on photographing me under arrest. They will have multiple orgasms.
They have decreed my arrest. And let me tell you something: I will comply with this. And I will comply because I want to transfer responsibility. They think that everything that happens in this country happens because of me. I was condemned to three years in prison because a judge from Manaus understood that I did not need a gun. I have a sharp tongue, so I have to shut myself up, because if I do not, I will continue to talk and say things like I have just said. It is time for the jaguar to drink water, and the peasants killed a rancher, and they believed that was the key.
They tried to get me for obstruction of justice, but it did not work out. Now they want to put me in prison preventively, which is worse, because there is no habeas corpus. Vaccari has been in prison for three years. Marcelo Odebrecht spent R$ 400 million and did not get habeas corpus. I will not spend a penny. But I will go there with the following belief: they will discover for the first time what I have said 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 conscience of the people, the Workers’ Party, the PCdoB, MST, MTST, they know we have many people.
I have said in all my speeches: it is no use trying to stop me from going around this country, because there are millions and millions of Boulos, of Manuelas, of Dilmas Rousseffs in this country to walk around for me.
It is no use trying to end my ideas, they are hovering in the air and they cannot be stopped.
It is no use stopping my dream, because when I stop dreaming, I will dream in your heads and in your dreams.
It is no use thinking that it will stop the day that Lula has a heart attack. This is rubbish, because my heart will beat in your hearts, and there will be millions of hearts.
It is no use for them to think that they will make me stop. I will not stop because I am not a human being, I am an idea, an idea mixed with your idea, and I am certain that companheiros such as the sem-terra, MTST, the companheiros of CUT and the trade union movement know this. And this is proof, and this proof. I will comply with the prison order, and you will have to transform yourselves, each one of you, you will not call yourselves Chiquinho, Zezinho, Joãozinho, Albertinho… All of you from now on will become Lula and will go around this country doing what you have to do, every day! Every day!
They have to know that the death of a soldier does not stop the revolution.
They have to know. They have to know that we will definitely regulate the means of communication so that the people are no longer victims of lies every bloody day.
They have to know that you, who knows, are more intelligent than me, so set fire to the tyres that you have burned so much, go on protest marches, occupations in the countryside and the city; the occupation of São Bernardo seemed difficult, but tomorrow you will receive the news that you have won the land that you invaded.
Companheiros, I had the chance, recently I was in Uruguai, between Livramento and Vera, and the people there said this to me, “Lula, pretend that you are going to buy a ‘whiskey,’ and go to Uruguay with Pepe Mujica, go and do not come back, ask for political asylum. You can go the embassy of Bolivia, Uruguay, Russia, and from there keep talking …”
I am too old for this. My age is to face them eye to eye, and I will face them by accepting the order for prison.
I want to know for how many days they will think that they are keeping me in prison. And the longer they leave me there the more Lulas will be born in this country, and the more people will want to fight in this country, because in a democracy there is no limit, there is no precise time for us to fight. I said to my companheiros: if it were just up to me, I would not go, but I will because they will from tomorrow on that Lula is a fugitive, that Lula is hiding, but no! I am not hiding, I will be in their faces so that they know I am not afraid, that I will not run, that I will prove my innocence.
They have to know this.
And let them do what they want. Let them do what they want. I will tell you something which I heard in 1982 from a 10 year old girl in Catanduva, and this saying has no author.
The powerful can kill one, two, or three roses, but they will never stop Spring.
Our fight is in search of Spring.
They have to know that we want more houses, more schools, we want less infant mortality, and we do not want to repeat the barbarity they did to Marielle in Rio de Janeiro.
We do not want to repeat the barbarity done to black kids in this country.
We do not want more mortality due to malnutrition in this country. We do not want any longer for a young person to have no hope of entering university, because this country is so stupid that it was last country in the world to have a university. The last! All the poorer countries had, because they did not want the Brazilian youth to study.
They said it would cost a lot. And it has to be asked: how much did it cost not to do this 50 years ago?
I want you to know that I am proud, deeply proud, of being the only president of the Republic who does not have a university degree, but I am the president of the Republic who most opened universities in this country to show these people that you cannot confuse intelligence with the amount of years in school, this is not intelligence, it is knowledge.
Intelligence is when you have a side, intelligence is when you are not afraid of discussing with your companheiros what are the priorities, and to priority is to guarantee that this country has citizenship again. They will not sell Petrobras! We will hold a new constituent assembly! We will revoke the Oil Law that they are making! We will not let them sell BNDES, we will not let them sell Caixa, we will not let them destroy Banco do Brasil! And we will strengthen family farming, which is responsible for 70% of the food we eat in this country.
And it is with this belief, companheiros, with our heads held high, that I am speaking to you, that I want to go there are say to the delegado: ‘Here I am.’
And history, very soon, will prove that who committed the crime was the delegado who accused me, it was the judge who tried me, and it was the Ministério Público which was ill-intentioned towards me.
For this reason companheiros, I do not have a place in my heart for everyone, but I want you to know that if there is one thing I have learned to like in this world, it is my relationship with the people.
When I hold the hand of one of you, when I hug one of you … and because now I kiss men and women the same, I do not mix any more… When I kiss one of you, I am not kissing with second intentions, I am kissing because when I was president, I said:
“I will return to where I came from.”
I know who my eternal friends are and who are the temporary ones. Those with suits who came after me, they have now disappeared. And those who are with me are those companheiros who were my friends before I was president of the Republic. Those who ate rabada in Zelão, who ate chicken with polenta in Demarchi, those who had mocotó in Zelão, these continue being our friends. They are those who had the courage to invade land to build a house, they are those who had the courage to go on strike over social security, they are those who occupied land to make a farm productive, they are those who actually needed the state.
Companheiros, I will tell you one thing: you will realise that I will leave this greater, stronger, truer, and innocent, because I want to prove that it is them who have committed a crime, a political crime of persecuting a man who has a 50 year political history, and for this I am very grateful.
I cannot repay all the gratitude, the care, the respect that you have given me all these years. I want to tell you Guilherme and Manuela, you two, that for me it is a motive of pride to belong to a generation, which at its end is seeing two young people born disputing the right to be president of this country. For this reason, a big hug and be sure: this head of mine will not drop. My mother made my neck short, so I cannot drop my head, and it will not fall, because I want to leave there with my head held high and my chest out, because I will prove my innocence.
A hug companheiros, thank you, and thank you very much to those who helped me, a kiss, thank you very much!”