Brazilian president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, speaking to reporters at a joint press conference with the new president elect, Dilma Rousseff, said that before leaving office he intends to resolve a series of pending issues: the fighter jet purchase, the nomination of a new judge for the Supreme Court and the question of the future of Cesare Battisti. Here is a summary of his remarks.
Eight years ago, outgoing president Fernando Henrique Cardoso made the decision to buy 36 new aircraft for the Brazilian Air Force, but left the choice of which fighter jets in the hands of then president elect Lula. The choice has been narrowed down to the French Rafale, the Swedish Gripen made by Saab and the American FA 18 Super Hornet made by Boeing. Lula declared that he and Dilma will decide together with the minister of Defense, Nelson Jobim.
As for the new Supreme Court justice (“ministro”), Lula pointed out that his or her term will run concurrent with Dilma’s so he intends to discuss a choice with her.
As for Cesare Battisti, Lula said he is waiting for an opinion from the government’s chief prosecutor (procurador-chefe da República), and that he intends to follow his advice.
In a wide-ranging and relaxed press conference, standing next to the president-elect, Dilma Rousseff, Lula, as is his wont, also mentioned a number of other issues:
The new administration – Lula generously declared that it will have to have the face of Dilma. He added that in his opinion the opinion of an ex president is given only after it is asked for.
Economy – He said that Dilma learned at Unicamp (University of Campinas) and in the government, that there is no silver bullet, no magic potion, no rabbits you can pull out of a hat. “It is all about seriousness and commitment and those are things Dilma has plenty of,” he declared.
Exchange rate – Lula said that both he and Dilma favor a floating rate. The other thing both agree on, he added, is that the United States and China are waging a currency war. As for the G-20, Lula said he and Dilma are going there to fight in favor of Brazil. “We are not going to allow our currency to be undervalued.”
The opposition – Lula suggested that the opposition make a distinction between what is in the interest of Brazil and political party interests. He said that often when the opposition makes an attempt to harm the president its actions only hurt the needy and unprotected.
Elections – Lula pointed out that he was the Brazilian politician who had lost more elections than anyone else. “Serra only lost two times. I lost three times (Lula ran for president in 1989, losing to Collor; in 1992, losing to FHC; and again in 1998, losing again to FHC; he was finally elected in 2002, beating José Serra). Lula added: “Now Dilma is another story.”
CPMF – [The financial transaction tax – also called a debit tax.] “I will never forget the people who deprived the government of 40 billion reais (US$ 24 billion) annually for the health sector. That’s 160 billion reais. I think it was a mistake. Mayors and governors know how important it is to have funds for healthcare, good healthcare of quality. We need more funds to deliver better care to the people.”
Minimum wage – “We have a draft bill for a law that will enable us to recover the purchasing power of the minimum wage by the year 2023. It is an extraordinary policy that adjusts the minimum wage based on GDP growth (of two years in the past) plus inflation.” Lula calculated that with projected strong growth over the next few years it might be possible to raise the minimum wage an average of 10%.
2014 – Lula called any talk of the 2014 presidential race at this time nothing but idle talk. “What we need to talk about now is 2011,” he said. As for Dilma, he said that if she does what she knows has to be done, uses her skills and knowledge, and listens to the people, she will earn the right to be the candidate for reelection in 2014.