The president of Brazil, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva thanked, the United Nations for the two prizes awarded for his leadership in fighting hunger and poverty with a strong speech condemning rich countries, global speculation and “capitalist myopia”.
During the opening on Monday in Brasília of the Brazil-Africa Dialogue Forum on Food Security and Combating Poverty, Lula said that if world leaders are not committed with the people living in less fortunate conditions, “it’s much more difficult to make decisions to help the poor.”
The Brazilian President recalled that in 2008 the world was taken by surprise by the soaring prices of food for which first the Chinese were blamed “for eating too much”; then oil and the Arabs, but later it was plain clear it was all to blame on a few “wise guys” from the rich countries making fortunes with papers and speculating with food”.
Lula went on to say that when the sub-prime crisis blew up in the United States, it was discovered that the serious financial disorders caused by fraudulent manipulation with these toxic mortgages was mostly behind the global speculation that ended punishing the poorest peoples of the world.
He also pointed out to the dozens of African leaders at the forum in Brasília that when the global crisis went off, the world “was ready to conclude the Doha Round of the World Trade Organization, but with all the turbulence it all went down the drain and again the poor people were the losers.”
“Two years later the round remains stalled which is most disappointing because it was a chance to open a little bit more markets” so that African and Latin American countries “could export more to the richer countries.”
“The free market policies were extraordinary when poor countries were simply buyers,” said Lula with a touch of irony, because “when we wanted to become exporters the market was not as free as they said, which can only be described as the cruel side of the capitalist myopic approach to these challenges.”
Lula said that economics schools in rich countries should teach “the capitalists that the more Africans and Latin Americans feed, make some money, they will consume more of the high value goods they produce”.
“Many times I’ve asked leaders from developed countries to help Africa and Latin America which are the regions with most farm land left in the world which can certainly guarantee food security,” recalled Lula who said rich countries have used up all their good land, as well as water resources, which will be scarce this century but still is abundant in Africa and Latin America.
He called for the “socialization” of water resources and said that African rivers dump into the sea an immensity of water that rich countries could help transform into farm programs by financing them.
Finally, Lula, who leaves office next January 1st, insinuated several times that looking ahead he would like to work helping with the joint development of Latin America and Africa in a “South – South axis” to counterbalance the economic might of the US and Europe.