Lula’s historic speech in Paris

On 23 June 2023, at the invitation of President Macron, an international summit for a “New Global Financial Pact” was held in Paris with the aim of obtaining more financial support for the poorest countries and the countries of the South, the main victims of global climate change caused mainly by the richest countries of the North…..

At this summit, which was attended on behalf of Europe not only by Emmanuel Macron but also by the German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, the President of Brazil gave a historic speech, speaking without words, in which he openly and frankly pointed out the points that separate rich and poor countries and the demands of Latin America in peculiarity in relation to the European Union and the United States. We present here the full text of Lula’s speech, generated from a public recording of it on Youtube.

Well, first of all I would like to greet President Emmanuel Macron, President of the French Republic, on whose behalf I greet the heads of state and government participating in this high-level dialogue.

I would like to greet my colleague, the former president of Brazil and now president of the new BRICS development bank, through whom I greet all the representatives of the development banks and other financial institutions present. So, comrade Dilma Rousseff, it is a pleasure to have you here.

I would like to tell you, dear Macron, that since last night I have changed my speech. I spent the week in Italy and I prepared a speech, but I have already changed it about ten times and I am not going to read my speech.

I wanted to start with an important warning. In 2025, we will hold COP-30 in an Amazonian country. I hope that all the people who value the Amazon so much, who admire it so much, who say that the Amazon is the lungs of the world, I hope that those people will attend COP-25 in the State of Pará so that they have an idea of what the Amazon really is. Because there are many people who talk about it, but few people know about it. And it is important that people speak with knowledge. The Brazilian Amazon represents no more and no less than 5 million square kilometres.

And in addition to the 5 million square kilometres of Amazonia in Brazil, we have the Ecuadorian Amazon, the Colombian Amazon, the Peruvian Amazon, the Venezuelan Amazon, the Bolivian Amazon, the Guyanese Amazon, the Surinamese Amazon and the French Amazon, French Guyana.

And we are going to have a big meeting on 12 August, in the State of Pará, with all the presidents of South America who make up the entire Amazon region, so that we can form a proposal to take to COP-28, in the United Arab Emirates.

We will certainly want to talk to Congo, we will certainly want to talk to Indonesia, because we want to share a unique proposal among countries that still have large standing forests.

We want to make this a heritage, not only of environmental preservation, but an economic heritage, to help the people who live in the forest. In this Brazilian forest we have 400 indigenous peoples. And of those 400 indigenous peoples, we have 300 languages. And in this same region, we face many adversities: we face mining, we face organised crime, and we face many times people in bad faith who want to try to plant soy, plant corn, raise cattle in this forest, when in fact it is not necessary to do so.

Responsible businessmen know that it is wrong and they know that it will cause a very serious problem for the products they would have to sell to other countries. That is the first thing I wanted to tell you.

Brazil is a country that has an energy matrix that is possibly one of the cleanest in the world: in the electricity sector, 87% of Brazilian energy is renewable, compared to 27% in the rest of the world; in terms of energy as a whole, 50% of Brazilian energy is renewable, while in the rest of the world only 15% is renewable. This means that we are on track to meet our famous campaign proposal, which is to reach zero deforestation by 2030.

And it is not only the Amazon that we have to take care of. We have the Cerrado biome, we have the Caatinga biome, we have the Pantanal biome, we have the Atlantic Forest biome. These are five great biomes that we have to take care of, because all of them are under attack every year: sometimes by fire, sometimes by excessive rainfall, and sometimes by predators who want to plant there what should not be planted there.

I have not come here to talk only about the Amazon. I came here to say that, along with the climate issue, President Macron, we have to address the issue of global inequality. It is not possible that, in a meeting between presidents of important countries, the word inequality does not appear: wage inequality, racial inequality, gender inequality, inequality in education, inequality in health.

In other words, we are in an increasingly unequal world, and wealth is increasingly concentrated in the hands of fewer people, and poverty is increasingly concentrated in the hands of more people. If we don’t discuss this issue of inequality, and if we don’t give it as much priority as the climate issue, we can have a very good climate and people are still starving in various countries around the world.

Not only in Africa but also in Latin America and in Brazil. When I was President of the Republic of Brazil from 2003 to 2010, and President Dilma from 2010 to 2016, the UN recognised that Brazil had left the Hunger Map. At that time, we had lifted 36 million people out of absolute poverty and 40 million people out of the acquisitive power of the middle class.

Thirteen years after, I return to the Presidency of the Republic of Brazil, and again 33 million people are hungry. When we left the Presidency, Brazil was the sixth largest economy in the world, today Brazil is the twelfth largest economy in the world. In other words, the country has gone backwards, as many other countries are going backwards. It depends on the government that is elected, it depends on the government that is preoccupied with social issues.

And we have to be clear about the following: What was created after the Second World War, the Bretton Woods institutions, no longer work, no longer respond to the aspirations and interests of society. Let us be clear that the World Bank leaves much to be desired by the world in terms of what it aspires to. Let’s be clear that the IMF leaves much to be desired in what people expect from the IMF. And many times, the banks lend the money, and that lent money is the result of the bankruptcy of the state. This is what we are seeing today in Argentina: Argentina, in the most irresponsible way in the world, the IMF lent 44 billion dollars to a man who was President, nobody knows what he did with the money, and Argentina is now going through a very difficult economic situation, because it doesn’t even have dollars to pay the IMF.

So, it is important that we have the notion that we cannot continue with institutions that work in the wrong way. Even the UN Security Council, the permanent members no longer represent the political reality of 2023. If they did in 1945, in 2023 they will have to change. The UN needs to become representative again. It needs to have political force. The UN was able to create the state of Israel in 1948, but it is not able to solve the problem of the occupation of the Palestinian state! So, if we don’t change these institutions, the climate issue will become a joke. And why does it become a joke? Who is going to comply with the resolutions of the forums we organise? Is it the nation-state? Let us be frank: who has complied with the Kyoto Protocol? Who has complied with the decisions of COP-15 in Copenhagen? Who has complied with the Paris Agreement? In other words, there is no compliance because there is no global governance with the force to decide things and to ensure that we comply with them. If each one of us leaves a COP and comes back to approve things within our nation-state, we will not approve.

So, we have to be clear that if we don’t change the institutions, the world will stay the same: the rich will stay rich, and the poor will stay poor! That is the way things are. And I say this with regret: because I have a very rich experience of how easy it is to govern for the poor. I have always said that the poor were never a problem. The poor will always be a solution if you put the poor in the budget of the country. But if you forget about the poor and put everybody else in the budget, there will never be money left to take care of the most miserable people, because they have no union, they have no party, they don’t go to rallies, they don’t move, and they live far away from the seat of government, often they live on the periphery. So, these people will always be neglected. And inequality has only increased.
I’ve been hearing for at least 20 years from the FAO that we have 900 million human beings going to bed hungry every day. How are we going to solve this if we don’t discuss it? How are we going to solve this problem of inequality if we don’t talk about inequality?

I am one of those, Macron, who has learned that the world’s political class often only values the poor at election time. At election time, the poor are a country’s most important asset. After elections, the poor are forgotten and life goes on.

That is why it is important, and I want to congratulate you on this meeting here. I, for example, was aware of an African Union scheme, called IFAD. It was a plan to invest 360 billion dollars in infrastructure across the African continent. If the developed world decided to finance companies to build the necessary infrastructure for this plan, Africa would have already made a leap in infrastructure quality.

Yesterday we heard the President of Congo talking about the Congo River. As far as I know, at least three Itaipu dams, which is Brazil’s largest hydroelectric plant, could be built on the Congo River. But there are none because there is no money and no financing. And we have to stop, at the international level, proselytising with resources: “Oh, I’m going to help this little thing here, I’m going to help this little thing there”, when in reality we need to make a leap in quality. We need to invest in structuring things that change the lives of countries.

That is why I am optimistic about the creation of the BRICS Bank. That is why I am optimistic about the possibility of creating the Bank of the South. That’s why I’m optimistic about us talking about trade currencies. Why was the World Trade Organisation dissolved?

Let’s see, everybody here remembers how the World Trade Organisation ended: there was an election in the United States in 2009! And then President Bush walked out of the WTO, and the deal that was about to be done didn’t get done, and the US never came back to the WTO. I imagined that Obama would come back as soon as he took office: he didn’t. And that’s why we have the return of protectionism in the WTO. And so, we have the return of protectionism. Who doesn’t remember the G20 discussion in London, when we discussed how to avoid protectionism, when we discussed that rich countries had to invest in developing and poor countries? What happened? The rich countries went back to protectionism. And we are seeing poverty growing on all the continents.

I will give an example from my country: I was very proud to have left the Hunger Map with President Dilma in 2012. And I am very sad to return now to the Presidency of the Republic: My country was worse from a democratic point of view because it had a fascist ruling the country; it was worse from an educational point of view because it had no money invested in universities; it was worse from a social point of view because it had no social policy; and it was worse from an economic point of view. And now we have to do everything we had already done. Everything. Everything we did between 2003 and 2016, we will have to redo everything so that the country can grow again.

The only thing I want to tell you in this meeting is that the climate issue is not something secondary. And that is why Brazil is going to carry out deforestation control. That is why we are going to make it a point of honour that by 2030 we will have ended deforestation in the Amazon. Brazil has 30 million hectares of degraded land, you don’t need to cut down a tree to plant a soya plant, a maize plant or to raise cattle: you just need to recover the degraded land.

And then we have to deal with international agreements, trade agreements. Trade agreements have to be fairer. I can’t wait to reach an agreement with the European Union. But it is not possible: the additional charter of the European Union does not allow for an agreement! We will make the response, and we will send the response, but we have to start discussing. It is not possible that we have a strategic partnership and there is an additional letter threatening a strategic partner. How are we going to solve this?

If I could, I would take the German Chancellor and make him the Minister of Mines and Energy of my country, so that he would transform all our minerals into products that can be exported as finished products, not just minerals. That was the best thing I heard yesterday at dinner and today here in this meeting. Because it is true. It’s the truth: we are exporters of raw materials and we don’t keep the output of what we produce. In many places in the world, companies that extract minerals do not even reforest the forest: they leave the hole and go away.

That is why I want to tell you that I have returned, after 13 years, to the Presidency of the Republic. Everyone knows that I am 77 years old. But my will to do things is as if I had been 30 years old. And I will deliver, dear Olaf Scholz, I will deliver in 2030, I will invite you to go to the Amazon, you know, with zero deforestation. And again, we will end hunger. Dilma knows what we did for it to make hunger go away. She is now the president of the BRICS Bank. She can already prepare her pen there to sign some loans for Brazil and other poorer countries, so she can make no difference.

And there are people who get scared when I say that we need to create new currencies so that we can trade. I don’t know why Brazil and Argentina have to trade in dollars, why can’t we trade in our own currencies? I don’t know why Brazil and China can’t trade in our currencies. Why do I have to buy dollars? So, this is a debate that is on my agenda and, if it is up to me, it would have to take place at the BRICS meeting in September. And it will also take place at the G20 meeting, because they will have to get more African partners to participate in the G20. As they are doing in the G-7.

I mean, these forums cannot be a luxury group, the political elite. No! We have to bring together the unequal, the different, so that we can address the plurality of problems that the world has. We all, we all have as a parameter what happened in the European Union. You know, Macron, that I believe that the construction of the European Union was a democratic heritage of humanity. After two world wars, if we manage to build the European Union, if we manage to have a parliament, if we manage to live together with differences, but discussing things democratically, that is something I want for South America. It is something I think we need. The African Union is much more organised than we are in Latin America. Much more organised. And we want to create new blocs to negotiate with the European Union.

And here I feel sorry for the World Bank and the IMF: we have to review how they work. There has to be more money, there has to be new management, more people involved in management, because it cannot be the same as in 1945, 1946, 1947 and 1948.

So, dear comrade Macron, thank you for this meeting and be ready because I am more ready to fight in the next three years that I will be governing Brazil. Thank you and good luck!

Redação Portugal