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The Princess of Asturias Foundation

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Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva

Prince of Asturias Award for International Cooperation 2003

It is an honour for me to attend this meeting of such distinguished figures from the worlds of science, philosophy. literature, arts and communication.

I proudly receive this Award on behalf of the people of Brazil.

I would like to express my gratitude to the Prince of Asturias Foundation through its president, his Highness Prince Philip.

I would equally like to express my gratitude to the University of Oviedo and the Spanish Universities Council for an Award that is recognised throughout the world.

I interpret my winning the Award as an indication of the importance of international cooperation for the Prince of Asturias Foundation as a means of overcoming the major challenge facing the world at the beginning of this twenty-first century: the fight against hunger, poverty and social exclusion.

I heartily congratulate the prominent figures receiving their awards at this ceremony.
I have fond memories of my visit to Spain, where I have had the chance of holding cordial and constructive talks with His Majesty, King Juan Carlos I of Spain.

We recently had the great pleasure of receiving Her Majesty Queen Sofía - whose commitment to social causes is recognised worldwide - in Brasilia.

I see here an opportunity for dialogue about our concerns and our projects, which reflect the hope and the essence of the century that is just beginning.

I believe in dialogue as a tool to prepare the way forward for mankind's common future.

I believe in overcoming our limitations, and in creating a free human being by the might of peace and justice.

Economic absolutism and blind fanaticism ignore the moral values of the civilization that unite us and guide us towards the future.
We are experiencing the apogee of technologies and production.

However, technical development and social democracy do not always go hand in hand.

Progress does not define the final use that wealth is put to. Nor does it exempt man from deciding its ethical significance.

Quite the opposite.

The chasm between technical progress and moral development constitutes one of legacies that the twentieth century has left us.

There is a dangerous built up of tension between opulence, which does not share, and abject poverty, which does not wane.
This is one of the most worrying facets of this incipient century.

Your Highness, ladies and gentlemen,

Before offering answers, a public figure has the obligation to listen to the questions of his times.

And the message that resounds on countries´ agendas, particularly on those of peripheral countries, is sufficiently eloquent for us not to carry on ignoring it.

The heart of the matter is to know why the policies of the nineties - promising growth across the board and cooperative redistribution of the world?s wealth - have failed.

The living standards of a thousand million human beings who are struggling right now to survive on less that one American dollar a day are identical to over twenty years ago, or worse.

Half the world?s population have less than two American dollars a day to live on, while 14% of the richest sector of humanity control over 75% of the material wealth.

The difference between the richest 20% and the poorest 20% was a multiple of thirty in the sixties; now, at the turn of the millennium, it has rocketed to being 74 times higher.

We are talking about stepping backwards here, not just marking time.

In fifty-four countries, per-capita income is lower than in 1990.

Life expectancy in 24 nations has dropped; in twenty-one countries there are more people suffering hunger; and in fourteen, more children than before die before their fifth birthday.

What future is there for peace on a planet oppressed by apathy and indifference.

The international community must assume its collective responsibility, and enlist in the only war we will all end up as winners in: the good fight against poverty and social exclusion.
The fundamental weapon for this is already known: furthering economic, social, cultural and political democracy.

International trade should be rid of protectionist practices, which we all know grants privileges to a few inefficient but powerful groups.

Brazil has signed up with tenacity and determination in the struggle for an international trading system that benefits competitive exporters and provides flexibility for the adoption of development policies.

However, we cannot be naïve.

Subordinating development, commerce and international relations to basic issues of humanism is urgently required:

What progress?
What for?
With what consequences?
Who for?

Your Highness, distinguished Award winners, ladies and gentlemen,

The only real antidote to poverty is a society that does not create more exclusion.

Abject poverty and hunger are not "technical glitches".
They will not be eliminated by inventing a new machine, nor by market measures.

The utopia of achieving human dignity by grandiose promises based on technology has run its course.

This means that democratising progress should be enshrined in the present. It should not remain as the eternal promise for the future.

Development is a delicate combination of choices and opportunities rather than a pre-established destination.

Human life is sacred.

If these foundations are to strengthen the foundations of peace and justice, we must urgently promote reform and strengthen multilateral organisations.

By this I mean the rebuilding of a truly United Nations Organisation.

I mean a forum with enough powers to reinstate the supremacy of dialogue and multilateral consent.

International cooperation above all means fostering equity in relations between states. It means striving for justice in an international context.

If we value democracy in our societies, we cannot abandon the quest to advance democratic coexistence between nations at an international level.

Our responsibility to future generations is to update procedures and the make up of these organisations so that they are compatible with the reality of our times.

Given its urgency, its humanistic nature and its scope, I am convinced that the fight against hunger is one of the levers for this new order based on solidarity.

This is why I proposed creating a Heads of State Committee to the United Nations Assembly in September to coordinate projects under this humanitarian flag.

I exhort the prominent figures here today to unite their talents and influence in this common task of solidarity in favour of life, peace and social justice.

Hunger cannot wait.

I reiterate here the words of John Paul II:

"Postponing the time when poor Lazarus can sit at the rich man´s side to share the same meal, without having to pick up the crumbs that fall from the table is unacceptable."

I am convinced that there is space and abundance enough at Mankind´s table to banish exclusion wherever it exists.

This is, above all, an ethical rather than an economic plan.

Human hands, human reason, human emotions all forge wealth. So why cannot it be placed on an equal footing at the service of human dignity?

If as men and women we are condemned to invent our destiny each day, the time has come to reinvent it based on solidarity.

Your Highness and distinguished guests,

In the eyes of the world, Brazil is one of the key players of a new plot to the story that may change the world, perhaps due to the inequality that has accrued there, perhaps due to the democratic talents of its plural, multi-ethnic and multi-religious people.

We will not let anybody down.

In daily reality, the agenda for solidarity and justice has been crippled for decades, but has not become obsolete.

Long-term cultural plans do not obviate the need for emergency action to confront the scourge of hunger, which knows no frontiers.

This is why I have launched the Hunger Zero programme in Brazil, a series of policies and actions designed to guarantee food supply to the Brazilian population.

I have made food supply the core social policy of my government because I believe that eradicating hunger is a moral obligation and the corner stone of any social policy.

In less than ten months of government, the Zero Hunger programme has already benefited over one million two hundred thousand families, almost five million Brazilian men and women.

We aim to eradicate hunger in our country in four years.

A second stage will involve unifying the government´s social programmes to make them more agile and efficient, to cut overlapping programmes and to guarantee that every real going in to social programmes really reaches the person it was intended for.

I am likewise convinced that the ultimate defeat of poverty depends at bottom on the generation and distribution of wealth.

Brazil is aware of the structural reforms it has achieved in the course of its history "agrarian reform figures amongst them" without which our development would never be synonymous with social justice.
At the same time, a collective change of mentality is called for ? an essential cultural change to move from a society of contrasts towards a fair, fraternal and decent community.

Brazil has demonstrated that it carries a virus that can be cured; its name is inequality.

Major sectors of society have understood that nothing is more urgent than moving from indifference to mobilisation for solidarity as the first essential step towards the peaceful change that society demands.

More than 70% of the Brazilian population is already contributing to the Zero Hunger programme.

I believe that the same cultural revolution can permeate the air of the whole world, imposing humanitarianism on trade globalisation.

We have to recover the self-esteem that will rescue human dignity from the pauper's grave of all that is superficial, which has a price but has no value.

Solidarity is the final trump card, and also a valuable opportunity for a new start.

Your Majesty,
Ladies and gentlemen,

With the emotion of a Brazilian who has had to confront numerous obstacles in the course of his personal and political life, I thank you from my heart for this Award.

It will be a stimulus for me in the quest for a fairer Brazil and an international society mobilised to promote development, social justice and peace.

I would like to share my joy with the people of Asturias and Spain.

Five hundred years of history that unite us as brothers are a source of vitality to achieve shared objectives.

The Brazilians are proud to participate in the Latin American Community of Nations.

South America is a continent where, more than anywhere else, the symbiosis of cultures of Portuguese and Spanish origins - together with indigenous roots and a strong African contribution - have come together to form national identities.

An Iberian origin is not the only point that unites us. Above all, we are united by the values of tolerance, democracy, social justice, which this Foundation has sought to foster over its twenty-three years of history.

This strengthens the human capacity to progress beyond its times and despite its adversities.

We need to provide each and every human being with the opportunity to live a life in all it splendour: life and only life.

Thank you.


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