November 13, 2019
São Bernardo, 11/09/2019. Lula at the ABC Metal Workers’ Union. Photo: Paulo Pinto / Fotos Públicas.

Last Saturday, former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva gave a speech to a crowd of supporters in a rally at the ABC Metal Workers’ Union, in the town of São Bernardo do Campo.

On his return to the place where he gave his last speech before being imprisoned for 580 days, Lula gave his view on Brazil’s current situation and reaffirmed his commitment to the struggle of the Brazilian people.

In a speech that was hard on president Jair Bolsonaro (from the PSL party), the former president defended the income distribution programs from his administration and attacked the neoliberal actions of the current administration.

Next, the entire transcript:

Dear fellows, you have no idea what this day means for me. The Rede Globo helicopter is up there to talk shit again about Lula and about us.

I was unsure if I was coming here to give a speech or to have a conversation with you, because it was 580 days in solitary where I had two lawyers visiting me: Mr. Rocha, from 10am to 11am, and Mr. Caetano, from 16h to 17h. On Thursdays, I had my children, I had my partner Janja – who is the person with who I’m going to marry as soon as I can. Where’s Janja? She’s already snuck out. And every Thursday from 16h to 17h I had two visits a week… I had a religious visit every Monday, until they cut it. They wanted me to receive as a religious visitor a priest who visited all the prisoners, and I refused to receive him. And only one of these days when they reinstated religious visits.

You know a lot of people did not want me to go to jail on April 7 last year. I remember I had to persuade you to understand the role I had to play. And I want to repeat here, today, something I said that day: when a human being, a man or a woman, is clear about what they wants in life, is clear about what they represent and it is clear that their tormentors, their accusers are lying, I took the decision to go there to the Federal Police.

I could have gone to an embassy, ​​I could have gone to another country but i made the decision to go there because I need to prove that judge [Sérgio] Moro was not a judge, he was a scumbag who was judging me. I needed to prove that [Deltan] Dallagnol does not represent the prosecutors office, which is a serious institution. Dallagnol set up a gang with the Carwash task force even stealing money from Petrobras and the contractors. And I was sure that the agents who ran the inquest against me lied in every word they wrote.

Had I left Brazil, I would be treated as a fugitive. I decided to get near them, face the beasts in order to prove to society.

There are about ten other criminal cases, it’s one lie after another. Did you see one of these days they invented a lie and tried to arrest Dilma. On that day I received Haddad and Freixo. At 6 am in my cell two guys from the Federal Police showed up to hand me over a subpoena. And I said: but I’m already under arrest. I’m already imprisoned. Why do you want to give me a subpoena at 6 am? Why not wait until 8am? But when they went at 6am to Dilma’s house, Rede Globo was already there, since 5:30 in the morning. Because it’s all for show.

And I wanted to tell you, I was born in city ​​of Garanhuns, I left there at age seven to come to Sao Paulo. I was raised by a mother and a father who were born and died illiterate. I have always said since 1979 that the political evolution I had was a result of the political evolution of the working people of this country.

As the workers and the people evolved, I was evolving. So, the only fear i have in my life is that of lying to the working people who believed so much and that made me represent them, over the history of the country. I owe everything I have to this mother who I saw live and die illiterate, I owe to these people from the union and to this union.

I don’t know if you know, this building here, Freixo, was already built with me in the union board. Here in this building, for those who don’t know, I was a director of a school of a very tough school for 1900 students. Do you think I’m illiterate? I was the principal of this union’s school.

And here in this union I graduated politically. Here I took a political science course, here I took an economics course. When I first came here, the first time they announced my name, and I thought they were going to give the microphone, I started to shake. I started to tremble. When I took office in 1975 when I was called to give a speech, I couldn’t hold the paper I was reading, because I was shaking so much. And today I’m so comfortable, talking so much nonsense in front of you.

When I left here, I had a mission. I was in solitary, and for 580 days, I prepared spiritually. I taught myself not to hate, I prepared myself not to be thirsty for revenge. I taught myself not to hate my tormentors. And why did I prepare? Because I wanted to prove that even incarcerated by them, I slept with my conscience a lot cleaner than their conscience.

I don’t know if you noticed, in a slip during Bolsonaro’s speech yesterday or the day before, he got to confess that he owed the elections to Moro. In fact, he owes it to Moro, he owes it to judges who tried me and he owes it to the fake news campaign, fake news they did against comrade Fernando Haddad and against the left in this country.

[…] Folks, let’s have patience, because I spent 580 days with no one to talk to, so I now want to talk, I now want to talk. By the way, there’s a fantastic book from a Bolivian, called Domitila, “If They Would Let Me Talk.” She was a miner. And then I started to realize that we should face this situation. I told you that they were going to arrest a man but the ideas that we built collectively here, in this country, could not be imprisoned. They were going to keep hovering all over the world. Here I am, free as a bird. Free.

Every night, I sleep with the clear conscience of the just and honest. And I doubt, I doubt, Moro sleeps with the clear conscience that I sleep with. I doubt that Dallagnol sleeps with the clear conscience that I sleep with. By the way, I doubt that Bolsonaro sleeps with the clear conscience that I sleep with. I doubt the dream-destroying minister, the job destroyer, the wrecker of Brazilian public companies, called Guedes, sleeps with the clear conscience that I sleep with. I want to tell them: I’m back. I’m back, I’m back, I’m back … I am fighting.

Look, let me tell you something, why was I so happy yesterday? Haddad picked me up there. Gleisi picked me up there. And I was very calm, I wasn’t even in a hurry to leave, I even made friends there. I even made friends there. I won’t say their names so they won’t be persecuted. But why did I want to come back?

See, I read a lot of pieces wondering: will Lula leave prison full of hate? Will Lula be more radical? Will Lula want revenge? I do not want anything. I want to build this country with the same joy that we built when we ran this country.

My dream is not to solve my problems. I’m an unemployed guy today, presidents have no retirement plan, I don’t even have a TV in my apartment. Everything in my life is frozen.

The only thing I’m sure is that I have more courage to fight than I had when I left here. Fight to try to regain our pride of being be Brazilian, fight for so that women can take their children to the store and buy enough for them to eat. Strive for the worker to have a employment with a formal contract and take home at the end of the month the money to secure their families’ food.

Fight for the worker to have the right to go to a cinema, to go to a theater, to have a car, to have a TV, to have a computer, to have a cellphone, to go to a restaurant, and to be able, every weekend, to gather the family. make a barbecue, have a cold beer, you know? Which is, in fact, what makes us happy.

See that I’m not asking for everyone to cheer for my soccer team, they can cheer for Santos, for São Paulo, for Flamengo, they can be anything. But the only thing I’m asking for is this: I see everyone here say it’s hard to get people out on the street. There are people who say they need to take down Bolsonaro, there are people who talk about impeachment. See, this person was elected. Democratically, we accept the result of the election. This guy has a four-year term. Now, he was elected to rule for the Brazilian people, and not to rule for the paramilitary groups of Rio de Janeiro.

He can’t run the investigation on Marielle’s killing. It’s not the evidence provided by his son that counts. There needs to be a thorough investigation, so we can know for once who killed our fighter named Marielle. The great councilwoman of Rio de Janeiro, the great defender of women. He has to explain where is Queiroz. He has to explain how acquired 17 houses.

I was a member of congress, I was president, and if someone shakes me upside down there will not be a coin falling from my pockets. I want to know how these guys got so much money. I want them to explain why they are saying they will no longer raise the minimum wage for two years. I want them to explain why they want destroy our Petrobras, BNDES, Banco do Brasil, Caixa Econômica Federal. Do you know why? If you look at his life, you will realize that while I, at age 13, was working at the Marte screw factory, in Vila Carioca, cutting iron in a press, then going to Senai take metalworking courses, while I was working at Fris Moldu Car in Vila Carioca, working at Independência Metal Works, he found a way not to work. He went to military service. And then decided to create a confusion when he was a lieutenant, then he retired. While he increased the retirement age for workers, he retired very young, and even had a promotion.

So comrades, this person who never worked, this person who says he is not a politician …I even asked Gleisi to do a survey, to know how many speeches Bolsonaro did against my administration. I was in congress for eight years. He never made a decent speech. He could only offend women, offend black people, offend LGBT people, offend the weakest people in society. So I want to know why this person who retired very young wanted to take retirement away from the Brazilian working people. Why has this person who never worked for minimum wage decided they will not raise the minimum wage anymore. Why did this person decide to end the old worker’s contract and create a new one for intermittent jobs. Workers will not be contracted. They have to explain why they are presenting an economic package that will impoverish Brazilian society even more.

When I was arrested, comrade Haddad, I figured my arrest would allow them to recover Brazil. The day before yesterday I saw the IBGE data. The people got poorer. People have less health, people have less housing, people have fewer jobs.

Over 40 million people, almost 50% of the population, is earning at most R$ 413 per month. It would be important for them to do what you do: take R$ 413 and buy food to support the family for the entire month. Pay for transportation to go to work. So I wanted him to pay the water bill with this money, pay the electric bill with that money. I wanted him to go to the doctor, to buy medicine. So I’ll tell you something: I think there is no other way. There’s no other way.

I remember when I got up at 5am to go to the factory doors here in the 1980s. Many times I would arrive at the factory door, take the microphone, start talking, and people didn’t stop. Then I was forced to become angry to make people stop.

I want to tell you, there’s nobody, who can fix this country if you don’t want to fix it. No use getting afraid. No use getting afraid. No use worrying about threats they make on TV, that there will be paramilitary groups, that they will issue decrees overruling the constitution again. We have to take the following decision: this country has 210 million inhabitants, and we can’t allow paramilitary groups to destroy this country that we built. This country that was respected worldwide. This country that was admired worldwide. This country is being destroyed.

He went to Saudi Arabia to sit down with a prince, and mocked women. “I was with a prince, every woman would like to be with a prince.” He was not with a prince. The UN has already stated that prince is the prince who had a journalist killed at the Saudi embassy in Istanbul. He killed and quartered and made ground meat from the journalist. This is the prince he went to talk to.

What we really want is that those people know that this country is ours. I can’t, at 74 years old, see these people destroy the country we built. I cannot see the the number of people sleeping on the street increase. I cannot see grow the number of women, young people, selling their body in exchange for a meal. I can’t see more 14- and 15- year olds being assaulted and being raped, murdered by the police, sometimes innocent or sometimes because they stole a cell phone.

If people have a place to work, if people people have salary, if people have a place for learning, if people have access to culture, violence will drop. And we have to say, against the distribution of weapons by Bolsonaro, that we will distribute books, let’s distribute jobs, let’s distribute access to culture. This is the country we want and we know how to build. It is this country that we see every single day they say we need.

Look, you are noticing the interest rate is dropping. Every day he says “the interest rate has dropped”. But the falling interest rate is the prime rate, which involves the government and its public debt. I want to know if your credit card interest has dropped. I want to know if bank interest has dropped.I want to know if the interest at the stores has dropped. Because it is this interest that directly touches workers’ pockets. It is these interest rates that affect the salary of our people. Because the prime rate fell, but the interest spread did not drop. So, it is necessary, comrades, that we come to a decision. I’m willing to walk this country again. I’m willing, along with Haddad, with Freixo and with Luciana, from PCdoB, with Benedita, with Gleisi, with union leaders, to tour this country. I am willing to travel this country with the union leaders because it is not possible that we live in this country seeing each day more the rich get richer and the poor get poorer.

This week I picked up a magazine called Forbes Magazine, I saw Eduardo Moreira do a show on his YouTube channel, talking about the 200 richest in Brazil. Two hundred people in Brazil have more money than 100 million people. And those people, incredible as it may seem, don’t even live in Brazil. Those people, incredible as it may seem, are trying to fund in some people in Brazil, to create a new ruling class, funded by the owner of Ambev, funded by XP [Investiments], funded by Itaú Bank, funded by Bradesco [Bank], funded by Santander [Bank].

We have nothing against these people. What we want is people formed in the middle of the Brazilian people. People who know how people live in stilt houses, how people live in a slum, how people live in the most impoverished neighborhoods of this country. So when we have this ruler, we can fix the country. Let me tell you something tell you something to wrap up, because otherwise you will say: “arrest Lula again because he is talking too much”.

I want to tell all the fellows who are here, I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart the solidarity from PSOL, comrade Freixo, comrade Boulos. I want to thank the solidarity of the Communist Party of Brazil through comrade Luciana. I want to thank UNE and UJS who are here, and Ubes.

I want to thank not just [Party] President Gleisi, but the whole group of representatives, senators from PT who are here. I want to thank the senators who are here. I want to thank the trade unionists who are on here. And I want to say something to you guys: we will only save this country if we dare to do a little more.

We are seeing what is happening in Chile. Chile is the country model that [Minister] Guedes wants to build. Guedes’s retirement reform is what they have in Chile, which is causing old people to die because they have no salary. That is why in Chile the people are on the street. There are already twenty blind young people who have lost their eye. More than 1,070 people have already been arrested, and the people are going out on the streets because the rulers are not elected to destroy, they are elected to run the administration.

Did you see in Argentina that our fellows Alberto Fernandez and Cristina beat [President] Macri, and they won the elections. You saw what is happening in Bolivia. Fellow Evo Morales won his fourth term. Evo Morales is the person who run the best administration in Bolivia, ever since Bolivia was created. Bolivia is growing 5% per year. Evo Morales has created social policies to take care of women. He was elected but the right wing, as they did here, they don’t want to accept the result. You saw what Aécio did when Dilma Rousseff beat him.

So we have to be supportive of Bolivia. We have to be supportive of the people of Chile. We have to be supportive of the people of Argentina. We have to ask God for Daniel to win the elections in Uruguay, so that neoliberalism does not return there. And we have to be in solidarity with the people of Venezuela.

See, it’s normal that each of us here can have criticisms of any government in the world. Now, who decides on the country’s problem is the people of that country. Let Trump solve the problem of the Americans, and don’t bother the Latin Americans as he is bothering. He was not elected to be sheriff of the world. He should rule the Americans. He should take care of poverty there. But they, who celebrated the fall of the Berlin wall in 1990, are building a wall against the poor. It’s a wall not to let poor people get in United States. And we cannot accept it. We should not accept this.

I, Freixo, was upset because during every debate on television there is no longer anyone from the left. Now it’s just people who think the same thing. In jail, I was forced to watch broadcast TV Silvio Santos’s TV is a disgrace. Record is a disgrace, and Globo continues being the same disgrace. Globo has not yet published a single story from The Intercept, which is denouncing the Carwash operation. The only story they did was to defend [Globo’s host] Faustão, who taught Moro a lesson.

And I want you to know: I want to make a statement to the Brazilian people in about 20 days. I want to think, I will write, draft, because I want to make a statement. I did not want to do it today. Because as I left there, anything harsher that I say, they will say that I am angry, that I am hateful.

And I want to tell you that at age 74 I have no right to hate in my heart. I didn’t really know I was going to fall in love at age 74. So now that I’m 74, with the energy of a 30-yr-old and the drive of a 20-yr-old, I don’t have, I don’t have a reason to be angry. I’m fine with life, and I’m going to fight this country. I just want you to know, the only thing that motivates me in this country is that we already proved that it is possible to govern for the most needy people. We proved that it is possible to put the poor in Universities. We proved that it is possible to put the people in the technical schools. We have proved that it is possible to improve grade school. We proved that in 12 years we generated 22 million formal jobs.

I’m sure Haddad that if we were in the administration, that Ford factory would not have closed. Metalworkers know that in our term we created practically, only in the metallurgical area, more than one million jobs in that country. So, my fellows, I am sorry.

Look, I want to finish by thanking for your presence. I hope Globo films this, I hope they take pictures. Where’s fellow Zanin? Come here! I wanted a round of applause for my lawyers, Valeska and Cristiano.

Look, we haven’t won anything yet, because what we want now is for the a habeas corpus that we filed in Supreme Court to be ruled, annulling all cases against me. Because now there are enough arguments to prove it, and I say it without any grudge, Moro is a liar. Dallagnol is a liar. It’s not because of the Intercept, it’s because of what they wrote in my defense. Everything The Intercept is talking about now is written in my defense from four years ago. And there’s only one explanation for them to do this. It was to get me out of the presidential election.

What he doesn’t know, folks, is that the people doesn’t depend on one person. You depend on the collective. They barred Lula, and Haddad is almost elected President, if they had not lied. And I’m sure if we have any sense and if we know how to work well, in 2022 the so-called left call that Bolsonaro is so afraid of will defeat the ultra right that we so much want to defeat.

This country does not deserve the government it has. This country does not deserve a president who tells his children to lie every day through fake news [crowd: hey, Bolsonaro, go f* yourself] No, no, no, you know … I don’t like it. Do you know why? I don’t like it because it can’t be spoken by us. I wanted to ask you guys… I’m a guy traumatized because I was raised by an illiterate woman but I doubt a son of my mother would swear like they did to Dilma at the opening of the 2014 World Cup. I’ve never imagined. So we don’t have to say swear words to Bolsonaro, no. He is already the swear word. You shouldn’t say those. We don’t have to say them because, you know, the we can’t play that dirty game, the jokes, the hyenas, the lions, that lion he presented, that old lion, all messed up. It has to be a young lion, just like me. Okay, the mane is a little down. But look, we don’t have to fight with them and swear with them, no. What we have to do is to look and to say aloud: we will not allow them to destroy our country. That is what we have to say.

Within a few days, I want you to know that Freixo, that Boulos, that Haddad, that Gleisi, that PCdoB, that the trade union movement, that CUT, that Força Sindical, will be out on the streets and, especially, above all, the youth. Look, the youth either fight now or the future will be a nightmare.

Look, we’re going to do a lot of fighting. And fighting is not to show up one day and then wait three months and come back. Fighting is done every day. It’s every day. It’s every day. So I want you to know: this young man, with drive of a 20-yr-old, the energy of of age 30 and experience of age 70, will be on the street along with you guys. So we do not let country be destroyed.

Guys, I’m going down now, they’re asking for me to come down and walk here in the middle. Look, let me say something to you people: I would really like to give a kiss, a hug in each of you. It’s not possible. You realize that it is not possible. But, look, from next week, I’ll be fixing my life. I don’t know what mess they are going to create, but I want them to know the following, they don’t know how driven I am to fight for this country. They do not know.

And Haddad get ready to walk with me, Gleisi get ready, and look, our representatives will have to become lions in Congress to not let them pass the bad things they want to pass against the working people. It is a matter of honor that we recover this country. We have to follow the example of the people of Chile, of the people of Bolivia, we have to resist. It’s not resisting, it’s actually fighting, it’s to attack and not just defend ourselves. We are very, very much, very calm.

So, folks, look, I want, from the bottom of heart, to thank each one of you. Thank you and tell you can count on me because the only thing I will not do in life is to betray the trust that you have put in me for so many years. A kiss, folks, a hug, God bless you. And until the next time.

Brasil de Fato | Editors: Geisa Marques and Rodrigo Chagas | Translated by Paulo Penteado