SAO PAULO – Former Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva repeated during the first day of the Workers’ Party (PT) National Congress in Sao Paulo, which began on Friday and finished in the wee hours Saturday, that his stand against continuous reelections is to avoid another little dictator being born.
“In my mind, every time political leaders begin to believe they are indispensable or irreplaceable, I cannot accept it,” Lula said in his address that started before midnight Friday and continued into Saturday.
Lula mentioned no names or countries, but again raised the PT talking point on the need for the rotation of power, as he himself observed when in 2010, at the end of his second term and despite his popularity, he launched the candidacy of Dilma Rousseff, the first female president but who was dismissed in 2016.
“If there exists a party identified with democracy in Brazil it is the PT. The PT was born fighting for freedom during the (1964-1985) dictatorship. Our people were persecuted and taken prisoner and this wasn’t the first time I’ve been in jail,” Lula said.
In his long speech, Lula added that “for 40 years PT politicians ran for election peacefully and legitimately in this country. When we lost we accepted the results and took our place as the opposition, as the vote decided, and when we won we governed with social dialogue, popular participation and respect for our institutions.”
Lula recalled that “other parties that talk so much about democracy changed the rules of reelection to their own benefit, as occurred in 1998 when then-President Fernando Henrique Cardoso promoted the possibility of a second straight term, as then happened, and which the PT opposed.
“We rejected that idea, even when we had the approval rating that no government ever had before, because we have always understood that you can’t play around with democracy,” Lula said with regard to his record 87-percent popularity when he stepped down from power in 2010.
At one point he did say, however, that “I am now in solidarity with the Bolivians who were victims of a coup,” a reference to the recent ouster of Evo Morales, who had been president of Bolivia for some 13 years.
The PT National Congress began this Friday in Sao Paulo, inspired by the return of the former president to political life after spending a year and seven months in prison on grounds of corruption. His goal now is to structure opposition to the far-right government of Jair Bolsonaro.
The ex-union leader defended “polarization” against Bolsonaro, calling the PT “the exact opposite” of the current government, which, in his opinion, is “destroying the country built during progressive governments.”