Former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva received this past Monday (2), the title of Honorary Citizen of Paris. Being applauded by the crowd, the award was recognition for his actions against hunger and poverty in Brazil. Lula was invited to Paris by Anne Hidalgo, mayor of the French capital, for a ceremony to make official an honor previously approved by the City Council, while he was detained as a political prisoner.
In her speech, Hidalgo showered the politician with praise, and asserted that having him as an honorary citizen was a great virtue for Paris.
"It is an honor to bestow this title upon a great person such as Lula. It is a title that demonstrates our values, attributed to those who fight for humanity", said the mayor. Shortly thereafter, Hidalgo affirmed that she hopes to witness a "renewed" Brazil, with Lula, former president Dilma Rousseff, and former mayor of São Paulo Fernando Haddad, who were present for the ceremony.
Lula was thankful for the recognition and spoke to hundreds of people. "I am touched to be here in Paris receiving this homage. When I tell you guys I have the energy of a thirty year old, I say that because I am now more motivated than ever to fight for democracy in our country. I thank you very much".
"The people of Paris are today taking me in as one of their own, in acknowledgment of what we've done, arm in arm with so many comrades and with intense involvement from the population, to reduce inequality, and combat hunger in Brazil", added Lula.
The ex-president is the second Brazilian to be given the title of Honorary Citizen of Paris, the first being indigenous kayapó leader Raoni Metuktire. South African leader Nelson Mandela, and the publication Charlie Hebdo have also been awarded.
In his speech, da Silva denounced the "arbitrary and persecutor y" process that removed Dilma Rousseff from the presidency, thereafter turning him into a victim of the Lava Jato (anti corruption) operation.
"When I was notified about this award, I was still in jail and became very happy. What surprised me is that the prison guards that were taking care of me were as well", recounted Lula.
He pointed out that he could have resisted arrest, asked for asylum in some embassy or country, but chose to prove his innocence.
"After my 70 years of age, I couldn't show up on newspaper covers as a fugitive. I went to the Federal Police, because someone had to prove that judge Moro was a liar. That the Public Ministry representatives were liars. That the officers that led the investigations were liars. I had to prove my innocence".
Lula highlighted the accomplishments of 13 years of his party's rule, like the removal of 36 million people from abject poverty, and Brazil from the world Hunger Map.
The politician took the opportunity to speak on the retrocess of the current political situation in Brazil, and to denounce the threats to democracy promoted by the Bolsonaro government.
"What's happening in Brazil is the result of the weakening of the democratic process, stimulated by the greed of a few, and petty disrespect for the rights of the people; a deep rooted disrespect; intrinsically linked to 350 years of slavery", he alerted, followed by applause.
"It is my duty to speak on behalf of those who suffer, my country, with unemployment and poverty, with the usurping of workers rights, and the destruction of the foundations of a project capable of offering opportunity and inclusion to all. It is my duty to speak on behalf of millions of farmers and their families, on behalf of the people living along the rivers and in the forests, the indigenous peoples of the Amazon, to showcase the deliberate destruction of the life sources in our country, due to criminal and irresponsible policies by a government that threatens the planet", exclaimed the former president.
"I would like to say goodbye assuring you that our fight will continue, with the participation of all of you, because it is a fight for democracy, for equality, for the rights of those who have no one to protect them, for humanity and for peace.
Thank you very much".
Edited by: Rodrigo Chagas