Speech by the President of the Republic, Dilma Rousseff - Brazilian National Congress - January 1st 2015
Ladies and gentlemen,
Mr. President of the Senate, Renan Calheiros,
Mr. Vice-President of the Republic, Michel Temer,
Mr. President of the Chamber of Deputies, Henrique Eduardo Alves,
Ladies and gentlemen heads of state, heads of government, deputy heads of state and deputy heads of government, who honor me with their presence here today.
Mr. President of the Supreme Court, Justice Ricardo Lewandowski,
Ladies and gentlemen heads of foreign missions and ambassadors accredited to my government,
Ladies and gentlemen ministers of state,
Ladies and gentlemen governors,
Ladies and gentlemen senators,
Ladies and gentlemen federal deputies,
Ladies and gentlemen of the press,
My dear Brazilians.
I return to this House with my soul full of joy, responsibility, and hope. I feel great happiness at having met the challenges that faced me and at having honored the name of Brazilian women – those millions of anonymous female warriors who, through me, have again come to occupy the highest office of this great nation.
I feel I also embody another collective soul, one which further increases my sense of responsibility and hope: that of a national project which has received the most profound and long-lasting popular support in our democratic history. This national project has triumphed and remains in place because of the great results we have achieved so far, and also because the people understand that it is a collective, long-term project. It is a project which belongs to the Brazilian people, and more than ever it is for the Brazilian people, and with the Brazilian people, that we shall govern.
Due to the extraordinary work begun by the government of President Lula, and continued by us, there is now a first generation of Brazilians who have not experienced the tragedy of hunger. We have rescued 36 million people from extreme poverty – including 22 million in my first term of office.
Never before have so many Brazilians risen to join the middle classes. Never before have so many Brazilians entered formal employment. Never before have the minimum wage and other wages risen so consistently and so vigorously. Never before have so many Brazilians become the owners of their own homes. Never before have so many Brazilians had access to technical and university education. Never before has Brazil experienced such a long period without institutional crises. Never before have those institutions been so strengthened and respected; and never before has corruption been exposed and punished with such transparency.
Our governments have fulfilled the fundamental commitment of securing for a huge population of excluded people those basic rights which should be enjoyed by every citizen: the right to work, to feed your family, to get an education for your children and believe in a better future for them. This, which represented so much for a population which had so little, has become little now that the people – finally – have had experience of governments which show them respect and which genuinely strive to offer them protection.
The people wanted us to stay because they saw the result of our work, and realized the limitations imposed on us by a lack of time, and concluded that we could do much more. The message the Brazilian people sent us was not only one of recognition and trust: it was also a message that they wanted more, and better.
Therefore, the most repeated word during the campaign was change, and the issue most frequently raised was reform. So, I repeat today, in this inauguration ceremony, in front of you, ladies and gentlemen: I have been led back to the Presidency to continue the great changes which have taken place in this country, and I shall not betray those hopes. The Brazilian people want change, they want to move forward, and they want more. That’s what I want too. And that's what I’m going to do, boldly but humbly, while counting on the support of this House and on the strength of the Brazilian people.
This inauguration is, first of foremost, a ceremony of reaffirmation and for the expansion of commitments. It is the beginning of a new stage in this historic process of social change in Brazil.
I should also like to renew, in this House, my commitment to permanently and stubbornly defending the Constitution, the law, individual freedoms, democratic rights, and the most extensive freedom of expression and human rights.
In my first term, Brazil achieved a historic feat: we overcame extreme poverty. But, as I said – and I know this is the conviction and the expectation of all Brazilians – the end of extreme poverty is just the beginning. Now is the time to proceed with our project, with new goals. It's time to improve what is already good, to address what needs to be put right, and to do what the people expect of us.
Yes, rather than simply do the minimum required, as was the case throughout our history, we now have to fight to offer the maximum. We – government and society – will need patience, courage, persistence, balance and humility to overcome the obstacles in our path. But overcome them we will.
The Brazilian people want to see the increasing democratization of income, knowledge and power. The Brazilian people want better education, health, and public safety. The Brazilian people also want even greater transparency, and for all kinds of crime – especially corruption – to be combated. They want the strong arm of justice to reach everyone equally.
I'm not afraid to face these challenges because I know I won’t face them alone; I won’t enter this battle alone. I know I can count on your support, ladies and gentlemen parliamentarians, legitimate representatives of the people in this national Congress. I know I can count on the support of my dear vice-president Michel Temer, my partner in every moment. I know I can count on the efforts of the men and women of the judiciary. I know I can count on the strong support of my parliamentary allies, on each party leader among them, and on the ministers who, from today, will be working alongside me for Brazil. I know can I count on the support of every member of my party, the PT [Workers’ Party], and the members of every other party in the governing coalition, represented here by the most outstanding activist and most popular leader in our history, President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva. I know I can count on the support of the social movements and the trade unions; and know how willing I am to mobilize the whole Brazilian population in this effort to achieve another leap forward for our beloved Brazil.
Just as we’ve proved that it is possible both to grow and to redistribute income, we will prove that economic adjustments can be made without revoking rights which have been won or betraying the social commitments we have taken on. We will prove that, having implemented social policies that surprised the world, we can correct any distortions and make those policies even better.
There must be no delay, either, in implementing political practices which are more modern, more ethical, and therefore also healthier. That is what makes political reform urgent and necessary. A profound reform is the constitutional responsibility of this House, but it should also involve the whole of society in a search for new methods and new ways ahead in our democratic life. Political reform which leads the Brazilian people to rediscover their taste and their admiration for politics.
My dear Brazilians,
At this solemn moment of inauguration it is important that I provide some details about concrete actions and attitudes that will guide our second term of office.
The changes the country expects during the next four years depend to a large extent on the stability and credibility of the economy. This, for all of us, is not new. I’ve always based my actions on a belief in the value of economic stability, the central importance of controlling inflation, the imperative of fiscal discipline, and the need to win – and to merit – the trust of workers and employers.
Even in the midst of an international environment characterized by extreme instability and economic uncertainty, our respect for these economic fundamentals has allowed us to achieve positive results. In all the years of my first term, inflation remained below the target ceiling – and that’s how it will continue.
On the economic front there are issues which should concern us but also things we should celebrate. Brazil is now the 7th largest economy in the world, the 2nd biggest agricultural producer and exporter, and the 3rd biggest exporter of minerals. In terms of attracting foreign investment Brazil ranks 5th in the world, and our total currency reserves are the 7th largest. We’re in 3rd place when it comes to internet use.
Furthermore, it is important to note that the net public sector debt is now lower than at the beginning of my first term of office. Our international reserves are at a historic high, at around US$ 370 billion. Foreign direct investment in recent years has reached record levels.
More importantly, the unemployment rate is lower than at any other point in our history. We created 5.8 million formal jobs in a period when the world was sinking into unemployment. But we want to go further and we must do more, and better!
Therefore, in this new term of office we will create, through firm and sober action, an environment which is more favorable to business, to productive activity, to investment, to innovation, to competitiveness, and to sustainable growth. We will fight relentlessly against bureaucracy. And all this will be aimed at our greatest priority: that of maintaining employment and of raising salaries – especially the minimum monthly salary.
More than anyone, I know that Brazil needs to return to growth. The first steps on this journey will be taken through an adjustment to the public accounts, an increase in domestic savings, the expansion of investment, and the raising of economic productivity. We will achieve this with the minimum possible sacrifice on the part of the population – particularly the poorest people. I reaffirm my profound commitment to maintaining labor and welfare rights.
We are aware that the expansion and sustainability of social policies requires fairness and a constant readiness to correct distortions and excesses. We will once again disprove the false argument that there is a conflict between economic stability and social investment, social gains, and investment in infrastructure.
As regards those economic challenges, I’d like to make a point of mentioning the millions of micro and small entrepreneurs in Brazil. In my first term we improved and universalized the Simples and expanded the supply of credit to small entrepreneurs.
In this next term of office I want to go further. I intend to submit to Congress a bill creating a transition mechanism between the Simples categories and the other tax regimes. Let’s do away with the tax gap that makes small businesses afraid to grow. And we know that if the small business doesn’t grow, the country doesn’t grow either. We will devote ourselves to increasing the competitiveness of our country and of our companies.
We will give priority to the development of science, technology and innovation, stimulating and strengthening partnerships between the productive sector and our research centers and universities.
A more competitive Brazil is arising, also, from the huge investments in infrastructure, energy and logistics. Since 2007 there have been two Growth Acceleration Programs – PAC-1 and PAC-2 – totaling about R$ 1.6 trillion in investments in thousands of kilometers of highways and railways; in the further development of ports, waterway terminals and airports; in the expansion of the electricity generating and transmission network; in sanitation projects; and in electricity connections through the Luz para Todos [Light for All] program.
With the Logistics Investment Program we have taken a forward step, building partnerships with the private sector and implementing a new model of concessions which accelerated expansion and also increased the quality of our logistics. We oversaw concessions for airports and for thousands of kilometers of highways, and the authorization for private terminals in our ports.
Now we will launch the 3rd Growth Acceleration Program and the 2nd Logistics Investment Program. In 2015 we will begin a new portfolio of investments in logistics, energy, and social and urban infrastructure, combining public investment and – most importantly – private partnerships. We will fine-tune the market regulation models, guaranteeing, for example, the expansion of the long-term private credit market. We will also ensure there is continued support for those projects which receive large-scale financing.
I also reaffirm my commitment to supporting states and municipalities in the much-desired expansion of public transport infrastructure in our cities. In fact, a R$143-billion portfolio of urban mobility projects, for the whole of Brazil, is already underway.
I should emphasize that during this new term of office we will give special attention to one particular kind of infrastructure which will take us forward to the Brazil of the future: the broadband internet network. In 2014, in a joint effort with this National Congress, we implemented a piece of legislation that is among the most advanced in the world with regard to the internet – the Civil Rights Framework for the Internet. I reiterate my commitment to promoting, over the next four years, universal access to a broadband internet service which is cheap, fast and secure.
I also want to reaffirm our continued commitment to reducing regional imbalances, boosting transversal policies and infrastructure projects, especially in the Northeast and in the Amazon region. It was important that we soften the impact of the current prolonged drought in the northeastern semi-arid region, but even more important will be the completion of the new, transformative infrastructure for our water resources, protecting more than 1,000 km of rivers, combined with the important social investment in more than one million water tanks.
Ladies and gentlemen,
I would like to announce a new motto for my government. It’s simple, direct, and has the power to mobilize. It clearly reflects what our great priority will be, and on which sector the efforts of all sectors of government must converge. Our motto will be: BRAZIL, A COUNTRY OF EDUCATION!
It’s a motto with a double meaning. When we declare "BRAZIL, A COUNTRY OF EDUCATION!" we’re saying that education is the top priority, but also that we must seek to convey, in everything the government does, a civic sense, a commitment to ethics and a republican sentiment.
Only education liberates people and opens the doors to a prosperous future. Democratizing knowledge means achieving universal access to quality education at all levels – from kindergarten to postgraduate. It also means making quality education available to the most marginalized sections of the population, to blacks, to women – to all Brazilians.
During this new term of office, education will start to receive more resources deriving from royalties on oil and from the pre-salt social fund. Alongside our political will there will therefore also be more resources and investment.
We will continue to expand access to crèches and to preschools – achieving our aim of providing, by 2016, preschool facilities for all 4- and 5-year-old children. We will follow up on the implantation of literacy at the right age, and of full-time education. This is necessary in order to make effective our emphasis on high-school education, through which, in partnership with the state governments, we will introduce curriculum changes and improve teacher training. We are aware that this is a weak link in our educational system.
By 2018 the Pronatec program will provide 12 million places, giving our young people more opportunities to get better jobs and make a greater contribution to the competitiveness of our economy. I will give special attention to Pronatec Young Apprentice, which will allow for a micro or small company to take on a young employee.
We will continue to support our universities and to encourage them to have a close relationship with the most dynamic sectors of our economy and society. The Science Without Borders initiative will continue to provide scholarships at the best universities in the world for 100 thousand young Brazilians.
Brazil will continue to be a world leader in transformative social policies. We will to guarantee that the beneficiaries of the Bolsa Família program continue to have access to the social policies and to new opportunities to augment their incomes. There will be an emphasis on vocational training for adult beneficiaries and on education for the children and young people.
In the third phase of the Minha Casa, Minha Vida we will have another 3 million new homes built, in addition to the 2 million homes delivered up to 2014 and the 1.75 million which are already being built and will be delivered during this second term of office.
In the area of healthcare, I reaffirm our commitment to strengthening the SUS [public health system]. There can be no doubt that the government’s most outstanding policy, during my first term, was the implementation of the Mais Médicos [More Doctors] program, through which basic healthcare was extended to more than 50 million Brazilians in the most vulnerable areas of the country. We will continue with this policy, increasing the number of places for degrees in medicine and for post-degree training so that a greater number of young Brazilians can become doctors and provide care to the population. In this second term I will implement the Mais Especialidades program so as to ensure care is received, at the appropriate time, by patients who need to see a specialist and to undergo examinations and other procedures.
Alongside all my compatriots I will take on a commitment to redoubling our efforts to improve the public security situation in our country. We will install Command and Control Centers in all state capitals, expanding the capacity of our police forces and integrating intelligence-gathering departments with those directly responsible for public security. Through our Strategic Border Program, in partnership with the Armed Forces and the federal police, we will reinforce our actions and presence at our national borders so as to combat drug and arms trafficking.
I will, above all, propose to the National Congress that we should alter the Federal Constitution so as to treat public security as a common concern shared by all federal entities, enabling the Union to establish directives and general norms which will be valid for the entire national territory, to establish uniform policies throughout the country and disseminate the adoption of good practices in policing.
Ladies and gentlemen,
We have invested greatly, throughout the country, but without for one moment relinquishing our commitment to the environmental sustainability of our development. And there are figures which demonstrate this commitment: in the four years of my first term of office we achieved the four lowest rates of deforestation in the Amazon region.
During the past four years the National Congress has approved a new Forest Code and implemented the Rural Environmental Registry, the CAR. We will extend the modernization of our environmental legislation and, starting this year, we will engage energetically in the international climate negotiations so that our interests are taken into account in the process of establishing global parameters for emissions reductions.
Our role on the international stage will continue to be defined by the defense of democracy, the principle of non-intervention and respect for the sovereignty of nations, the negotiated settlement of conflicts, the defense of human rights, the combating of poverty and inequality, the preservation of the natural environment, and multilateralism. We will continue with the struggle to reform the principal multilateral bodies, the governance of which fails to reflect the current correlation of global forces.
We will continue to give priority to South America, Latin America and the Caribbean, which will be reflected in a determination to strengthen Mercosur, Unasur and the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (Celac) without any form of ideological discrimination. Indeed, I wish to thank my dear Latin American colleagues and leaders for their presence here today. Emphasis will also be given to our relations with Africa, with Asian countries, and with the Arab world.
With the BRICs, our global strategic partners – China, India, Russia and South Africa – we will move forward on trade, science and technology partnerships, diplomatic initiatives, and the setting up of the BRICs Development Bank and also the contingent reserve arrangement.
It is very important that we improve our relationship with the United States, given its importance in economic, political, scientific and technological terms, not to mention the volume of our bilateral trade. The same applies to our relations with the European Union and Japan, with which we have fruitful ties.
In 2016, with the Olympic Games, the eyes of the world will turn again towards Brazil. We’re sure that once again, as with the World Cup, we will demonstrate Brazil’s organizational capacities – and also show off one of the world’s most beautiful cities, our Rio de Janeiro.
Everything we are saying, everything we are proposing, converges upon one great objective: to expand and strengthen democracy; to truly democratize power. Democratizing power means fighting to achieve political reform, listening carefully to society and to social movements, and seeking to consult public opinion so as to reinforce the legitimacy of the actions of the Executive. Democratizing power means vigorously tackling corruption. Corruption robs the people of their legitimate power. Corruption offends and humiliates workers, entrepreneurs and every decent, honest Brazilian. Corruption should be wiped out.
Brazil knows that I’ve never put up with any unlawful activity or wrongdoing. My government has done more than any other to fight corruption – by creating stricter laws, through incisive and unhindered actions on the part of the organs of internal control, through the absolute autonomy of the Federal Police as an institution of the State, and through the ever-respected independence of the Public Prosecutor’s Office. The governments and the justice system will be performing the roles expected of them: punishing, in exemplary fashion, the corrupt and the corrupting.
The battle we have been waging against corruption, and especially against impunity, will gain even greater momentum through the package of measures I committed to during the campaign and which I shall to submit to the National Congress in the first half of this year.
There are five measures: to make it a criminal offence – subject to rigorous punishment – for public officials to make financial gains without due justification or without demonstrating the origins of those gains; to change our electoral legislation so as to outlaw the practice of off-book accounting; to create a new kind of lawsuit that allows the confiscation of assets acquired illicitly or without proof of legitimate origin; to amend our legislation so as to expedite the hearing of cases involving the misuse of public resources; and, in negotiation with the Judiciary, to create a new structure which will bring greater speed and efficiency to investigations and proceedings against those who have previously enjoyed exclusive procedural benefits.
In essence these measures are intended to ensure faster legal processes and tougher punishment – but they shall never detract from the right to a legal defense or from the adversarial system of trial; nor shall they ever signify that anyone can be judged guilty in advance.
I am proposing a great national pact against corruption – one which involves all levels of government and all the nuclei of power, both in the public and the private arenas.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Now, just as I did in my investiture, I want to turn to the subject of Petrobras, a company with 86 thousand dedicated, honest and serious employees, but which also, lamentably, had some members of staff who did not live up to the company’s good name, and who have been caught up in the drive against corruption.
Petrobras was already undergoing a vigorous process aimed at fine-tuning its management. The current situation only serves to reinforce our determination to implant at Petrobras the most efficient and rigorous structure of governance and control that any company has ever had in Brazil.
Petrobras is capable of that, and indeed of much more. It became the world's biggest company in terms of technical capacity for deepwater oil exploration. This led to the biggest oil discovery since the turn of the millennium, the pre-salt fields, whose exploration, which is already a reality, will make Brazil one of the biggest oil producers in the world.
We have many reasons to preserve Petrobras and to defend it both from internal predators and external enemies. So let us rigorously investigate all the wrongdoing that took place, and strengthen the company further. Let us, above all, create mechanisms which prevent these events from ever happening again. We should also recognize that Petrobras is the company of greatest strategic value to Brazil; the company which invests more, and provides more employment, than any other.
So we have to investigate and we have to punish, but without weakening Petrobras or diminishing its importance either in the present or the future. We cannot allow Petrobras to be the target of a speculative siege conducted by interests opposed to the adoption of the production-sharing regime and to the local content requirements which have secured for the Brazilian people control over our oil resources. Petrobras is bigger than any crises it might encounter, and therefore has the ability to overcome them and to emerge even stronger than before.
Brazil will not always be a developing country. Your destiny is to be a developed and just country, and that is the destination we, together, are increasingly working towards. A nation in which all people have the same opportunities: to study, to work, to live in decent conditions either in the city or the countryside. A country that respects and preserves the environment, and where all people can have the same rights: to freedom of information and opinion, to culture, to consume goods and services, to dignity, and to equality regardless of race, creed, gender or sexuality.
I will stubbornly devote all my efforts to taking Brazil into a new historical cycle of change, opportunity and prosperity, based on the strengthening of economic policies which are stable, solid, intolerant of inflation, and which lead us back to robust and sustainable growth, with better public services. I hereby declare my commitment to a Brazil that produces and a Brazil that works.
I also reiterate my respect for, and trust in, the Judiciary, the National Congress, the political parties, and the representatives of the Brazilian people. I reaffirm my faith in politics – a politics that changes for the better the lives of the people. I would ask the ladies and gentlemen parliamentarians that we join hands together for the good of Brazil, because most of the changes the people demand must originate here, in this big house which belongs to them.
A few times I've been rather close to death, and those situations have made me a better, stronger person.
I was once the opponent of a system of power which caused me pain and which left me scarred, but I am in no way motivated by revenge. That process never destroyed my dream of living in a more democratic country and my desire to fight for and build a better Brazil. That’s why I always become emotional when I say I’m a survivor. I have also suffered diseases but, if you permit me, I want also to say that I belong to a winning generation. A generation which saw on the horizon the possibility of democracy, and then saw it become a reality.
These two characteristics, they connect me with the Brazilian people – they’re also survivors, and they’re also victorious. They never give up on their dreams. They fight to make them come true.
God placed in my chest a heart full of love for my country. First of all, as the song goes, having a brave heart doesn’t mean we’re not afraid of anything, it means we control the fear. A heart that beats with the energy that comes from love, from dreams, and most of all from the possibility of building a developed Brazil. I'm not afraid to declare to you that we will overcome all our difficulties, because we have the key to overcome them, to overcome all those difficulties.
This key can be summarized in a verse, and this verse has, in a way, the flavor of a prayer, which reads as follows:
“The impossible is already being achieved; only miracles have to wait until later.”
Thank you very much.
Long live Brazil, and long live the Brazilian people!