Brazil is not that "poor little thing" anymore and the country will not allow foreign "busybodies" to tell Brazilians what they should do. That's the message of Brazilian President, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, in response to foreign critics who have been lambasting Brazil for its biofuel program.
According to these voices, Brazil would be responsible, at least in part, for the shortage and high prices of food all around the world. Lula expressed his outrage in Manaus, the capital of Amazonas state, during a ceremony to inaugurate projects from the Igarapés Social and Environmental Program.
The Brazilian president sent the world a message that if Brazil ever needs any help or advice it will make it known and will ask for it. He classified the criticism against Brazil's biofuel program as "pure dirty trick."
"They invented," said Lula, "that it is going to be a shortage of food because biofuel is taking the food's place. This is pure dirty trick. It is pure roguery from those who don't have the capacity to compete withÂ Brazilians. Brazil is no poor little thing and it already knows how to walk with its own legs and we don't want busybodies telling us what to do. If we ever need any advice we will ask for it."
The president reminded that the corn-based alcohol made in the United States and the one extracted from beet in Europe are more expensive and need more room to be grown than Brazil's ethanol, which is made from sugarcane.
Lula called the wold's food scarcity a "good problem." "The truth is," he said, "that we have a food problem, we have more Chinese people eating, we have more poor Brazilians eating, more Latin-Americans eating and I think this is a good problem."
The Brazilian leader also talked about those foreign "busybodies" who criticize how Brazil cares for the Amazon: "There are many people talking about the Amazon nowadays. I've never seen so many people guessworking. If they looked after their own forest as they want to look after ours,Â they wouldn't be bald countries since they have already deforested everything."
Lula announced that he will be meeting eight governors in Brazilian capital Brasília this coming Thursday, May 8, to discuss policies for the Amazon.
Brazil's president has also assured Brazilians that his party, the PT (Workers Party), will make the next president in the 2010 elections and dismissed rumors that he is in favor of a third mandate for himself, something forbidden by the country's constitution.
Rumors about such a constitutional change have intensified recently with the release of polls showing Lula's popularity at 69.3%, an all-time high since his first mandate started in January 2003. The president stressed that he is a democrat, someone who respects the constitution and is against the third term of office.
And in a message to the opposition he told his listeners, "What they have to know now, clearly spelled out, and they can hate me even more for that, is that we are going to make the new president of this country. They can be sure that we are going to do this."
And he continued, "I do not play with democracy, because every time we play with democracy we lose face. Alternation of power is important. Every time a political leader thinks of himself as indispensable and irreplaceable a little dictator starts to grow inside him."
Lula also reminded his public that he had a hard time when he assumed the presidency the first time around and that he didn't get any respect because he was from the Northeast and had very little formal education. People were pessimistic and were saying that Brazil would break under his leadership.
"What they didn't know," said Lula, "is that I was convinced that I knew more than they did and that I could not make a mistake. I was beaten as a mangy dog while learning how to govern. It wasn't easy. I was even afraid of a second term of office, because if I were to be beaten as the first time I would die from the blows."