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Posted on December 10, 2010


Lula da Silva: “Before being a socialist, you have to be a capitalist”

Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, in an interview with Spanish newspaper El Pais, mused about various aspects before leaving office next December.
After eight years in office, Lula said: “A head of state is not a person, an institution, (…) he has to carry out the agreements that are possible. I’ve learned that in power and I think has been good for Brazil. “
He further expressed that it is unacceptable that a president has a certain inclination with others with their own ideological bent: “I get along with Aznar and Zapatero, I have to relate to Pinera in Chile like I did with Bachelet. The exercise of power, I am a citizen, how can I say…? Multinational, multi-ideological, right? “.
He described the situation when he was elected Brazilian president: “The country had no credit, had no working capital or financing or income distribution. What kind of capitalism was that? A capitalism without capital. I decided then that it was necessary to first build capitalism, then make socialism, we must have something to distribute before doing so. “
In this vein, the president added that “if the country does not have anything, there is nothing to distribute, and employers need to know that they have to pay slightly higher wages so that people can buy the products they manufacture. Henry Ford already has said this in 1912. “

At night, when I am no longer president, I’ll think of many things that I should have done and didn’t do. But I’ll also remember important things that I did do. For example, I’m the first president in the history of Brazil without a university degree, and I’m also the president who created the most universities. I created the most technical schools. In a century, the Brazilian elite set up 140 technical schools; in eight years, I set up 214 technical schools, 14 new public universities and 118 additional university facilities [extensões universitárias]. I brought a university to each of the cities in the country’s interior. We created the ProUni, which 704,000 students are attending. We created the Reuni [Reestruturação e Expansão das Universidades Federais; the Restructuring and Expansion of the Public Universities], which doubled the number of places for students. There had been 113,000 places a year; this year there were 250,000. We made extraordinary investments in science and technology. Brazil has overtaken Holland and Russia in the publication of articles in scientific journals. For sure, whoever comes after me is going to have to do a lot more, because we need to catch up. That’s why we’ve put the oil money in an education fund. This country was the last in South America to have a university. Peru had a university 300 years before us.

I think the country is ready, that we are aware and mature. In a year’s time, when I am no longer president, come here and we’ll do an interview and I will tell you what I regretted not doing, and what I did that I regretted having done.

But you can be sure of one thing: I’m leaving. When I was elected president, I thought a lot about Lech Walesa, because he was synonymous with failure. He had no political party, he led the strikes against communism, and he rode that wave to the presidency. Four years later he was a candidate for re-election, and he got 0.6% of the vote. An absolute and utter failure. And I’m going to end my second term with more than 80% approval. I think that matters.

And why was I afraid of making a mistake? Because I was aware that if I did, it would take another 200 years for a worker to say he wanted to be president of the Republic again. So I had to prove every hour of every day that I was competent to govern the country. And I think we are reaping what we sowed. Brazil’s international relations have improved a lot. I visited Africa more than all the presidents in Brazil’s history, I visited every country in South and Central America, I went to the Middle East more than all the presidents of Brazil. I diversified Brazil’s relations, without losing our relationships with the United States, Europe or Japan. Certainly others will come and do much more, and I ask God that they do ever more.

Now, before ending my term, if I could give one piece of advice to the world’s presidents, it would be: “don’t outsource politics.” Politics can’t be outsourced. Whoever was elected must do the politics. If he sends a proxy in his place, it won’t work.

Any advice for the next president of Brazil?

President: Do politics from the heart, take care of the poorest, and practice democracy to its uttermost ends.


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