Speech delivered by the President of the Republic of Brazil, Dilma Rousseff, before the National Congress during the Constitutional Oath Ceremony - English version
National Congress, Brasília-DF, January 1, 2011
My dear Brazilians,
By the sovereign decision of the people, today will be the first time that the Presidential sash encircles the shoulders of a woman.
I am immensely honored by this choice the Brazilian people have made, and I recognize the historic significance of this decision.
I also recognize that the green and yellow silk of the Presidential sash may appear to be soft, but it carries with it an enormous responsibility for the nation.
To take on this responsibility, I have with me the strength and the example of the Brazilian woman. I open my heart to receive, at this moment, a spark of her immense energy.
And I know that my presidential term must involve the most generous interpretation of this brave vote that the people have made: after electing a man of the people, of the working class, to the presidency, they have decided to call on a woman to take the helm in the country’s destiny.
I am here to open doors so that in the future many other women can also be President; so that, today, all Brazilian women may feel proud and happy to be themselves.
I am not here to boast of my own life story, but rather to praise the life of every Brazilian woman. My greatest commitment, I repeat, is to honoring our women, protecting our most vulnerable people, and governing for everyone.
I am here, above all, to carry on the greatest process of affirmation that this country has experienced in recent times.
I am here to consolidate the transforming work of President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, with whom I have had the most vigorous political experience of my life and the privilege of serving the country, at his side, for the last few years.
He is a President who changed the way our Brazilian people were governed and led them to believe more in themselves and in the future of the country.
The greatest tribute I can pay him is to broaden and take forward his government’s achievements. To recognize, believe and invest in the strength of our people was the greatest lesson that President Lula bequeaths to all of us.
Under his leadership, we Brazilians crossed over to another shore, another time in our history.
My mission now is to consolidate this passage and to advance along the path taken by a nation that generates such wide-ranging opportunities.
At this moment, I want to pay tribute to another great Brazilian, the indefatigable fighter and comrade who has been at President Lula’s side for the last eight years: our dear Vice-President José Alencar. What an example of courage and of love for life this great man has given us! And what a partnership we had in President Lula and Vice-President José Alencar, for Brazil and for our people!!
Vice-President Michel Temer and I feel the full responsibility of continuing on the road that they have started.
A government builds on the accumulation of achievements that are won over the years. It will always involve change and continuity in its own time. Therefore, while acclaiming the extraordinary progress made recently, led by President Lula, it is also fair to recall that many people, in their own time and in their own way, have made huge contributions to the achievements of today’s Brazil.
We are living through one of the best periods of our nation’s life: millions of jobs are being created; our growth rate has more than doubled and we have ended a long period of dependence on the International Monetary Fund, at the same time as overcoming our external debt.
Above all, we have cut our historical social debt, rescuing millions of Brazilians from the tragedy of extreme poverty and helping millions of others to join the middle classes.
But in a country as complex as ours, we always have to wish for more, discover more, create innovative new directions and always seek new solutions.
It is only thus that we can guarantee that those who have seen improvements in their lives will be able to accomplish still more; and to prove to those who are still struggling to emerge from destitution that they will indeed change their lives and reach a new level, with the help of the government and of all society.
That we can, in fact, be one of the most developed and least unequal nations in the world – a country with a solid and entrepreneurial middle class.
A vibrant and modern democracy, full of social commitment, political liberty and creativity.
My dear Brazilians,
To face these great challenges we have to maintain the foundations that guaranteed our arrival at this point.
But, equally, we must include new tools and new values.
In politics reform is an indeclinable and urgent task to bring about changes in the legislation so that our young democracy can move forward, strengthen the direction taken by political parties and fine-tune our institutions, restoring values and providing more transparency in all types of public activity.
To make the current cycle of growth last, it is necessary to guarantee stability, especially price stability, and to go on ironing out the wrinkles that still hold back our economy’s dynamism. We need to facilitate production and stimulate our people’s entrepreneurial capacity, from the large corporations down to the small local businesses, from big agribusiness to family-run smallholdings.
We cannot, therefore, put off implementing a set of measures that will modernize the taxation system, led by the principle of simplification and rationality. The intensive use of information technology should be put at the service of an increasingly efficient system that is marked by its respect for the tax-payer.
Valuing our industry and increasing its strength in exportation will be an ongoing target. The competitiveness of our agriculture and livestock, which makes Brazil a major exporter of quality products to every continent, deserves all our attention. In the most productive sectors the internationalization of our corporations is already well underway.
Support for our big exporters is not incompatible with providing incentives, development and support for smallholders and micro-businesses. Small companies are responsible for the greatest number of permanent jobs in our country. They will merit ongoing tax and credit policies.
Giving value to regional development is also imperative in a country of continental dimensions. We must sustain the vibrant economy of the North-East; preserve, respect and develop the biodiversity of Amazonia in the North; provide conditions for the extraordinary agricultural production of the Middle-West, the industrial output of the South-East and the vigor and pioneering spirit of the South.
First, however, it is vital to create real and effective conditions that can better use and realize the potential that lies in the immense creative and productive energy of the Brazilian people.
In the social arena, inclusion will only be fully reached with the universalization and improvement of essential services. This is one decisive and irrevocable step toward consolidating and broadening the great achievements obtained by our people during President Lula’s government.
It is therefore indispensable that we undertake a renovating, effective and integrated action among the federal, state and municipal governments, especially in the areas of health, education and security, as is the express wish of the Brazilian population.
My dear Brazilians,
My government’s most determined fight will be to eradicate extreme poverty and create opportunities for all.
We have seen significant social mobility during President Lula’s two terms. But poverty still exists to shame our country and prevent us from affirming ourselves fully as a developed people.
I will not rest while there are Brazilians who have no food on their tables, while there are desperate families on the streets, while there are poor children abandoned to their own devices. Family unity lies in food, peace and happiness. This is the dream I will pursue!
This is not the isolated task of one government, but a commitment to be embraced by all society. For this, I humbly ask for the support of public and private institutions, of all the parties, business entities and workers, the universities, our young people, the press and all those who wish others well.
Overcoming extreme poverty demands that a long period of growth is given priority. It is growth that generates the jobs needed for current and future generations.
It is growth, together with strong social programs, that will enable us to vanquish inequality in income and in regional development.
This means – and I repeat – maintaining economic stability as a basic value. Our recent culture involves the conviction that inflation disorganizes the economy and erodes the worker’s income. It is absolutely certain that we will not allow this poison to return to corrode our economic fabric and castigate the poorest families.
We will continue to strengthen our external reserves to guarantee balanced external accounts and prevent external vulnerability. We will act decisively in multilateral forums in the defense of healthy and balanced economic policies, protecting the country from unfair competition and the indiscriminate flow of speculative capital.
We will not make the slightest concession to rich countries’ protectionism, which suffocates any hope of overcoming poverty in so many nations that strive to do so through their production efforts.
We will continue working to improve the quality of public spending.
Brazil has opted, throughout its history, to build a State that provides basic services and social welfare.
This involves high costs for the whole of society, but it also means that everyone is guaranteed a pension and universal health and education services. Therefore, improving public services is also imperative as we improve our government spending.
Another important factor in the quality of spending is an increase in levels of investment in terms of overheads. Public investment is essential in leveraging private investment and as a regional development tool.
By means of the Growth Acceleration Program and the ‘My House, My Life’ Program, we will continue to keep investment under the strict and careful scrutiny of the Presidency of the Republic and the Ministries.
The Growth Acceleration Program will continue to be an instrument that brings together government action and voluntary coordination of structural investments made by the states and municipalities. It will also be the vector that gives an incentive to private investment, valuing all the initiatives to constitute long-term private funds.
In their turn, the investments expected for the World Cup and the Olympics will be made in such a way as to achieve permanent gains in quality of life for those in all the regions involved.
This principle will also guide our air transportation policy. There is no doubt that our airports must be improved and made bigger for the World Cup and the Olympics. But it is already essential to improve them right now, to deal with the growing use of this means of transport by more and more sections of the Brazilian population itself.
My dear Brazilians,
Together with the eradication of extreme poverty, my government will make a priority of fighting for quality in education, in health, and in public safety.
In recent decades Brazil made primary and middle school education a universal right. However, we still need to improve its quality and to increase the number of places available in pre-school and in senior high school.
To do this, we will help the municipalities to increase their supply of crèches and of pre-school facilities.
At senior high school level, as well as increasing public investment we will extend the successful experience we have had with PROUNI to senior high school professional training courses, accelerating the supply of thousands of places, so that our young people may receive educational and professional training of a high standard.
But high quality teaching will only exist if teachers are treated as the real authorities in education, with ongoing training, appropriate remuneration and the solid commitment of both teachers and society to educating children and young people.
Only with progress in the quality of our teaching can we produce young people who are truly ready to deal with the technology and knowledge society.
My dear Brazilians,
Consolidating the Public Health System (SUS) will be the other great priority of my government.
To do this, I will personally follow the development of this sector that is so essential to the Brazilian people.
The SUS must target providing a real solution that reaches the actual people who use it. For this, all the available tools for diagnosis and treatment should be used, making medication accessible to everyone, as well as strengthening policies for preventive action and for health promotion.
I will indeed use all the strength of the federal government to keep under scrutiny the quality of the service provided and the respectful treatment of the users.
We are going to establish partnerships with the private sector in the area of health, ensuring reciprocity in the use of SUS services.
Another essential target for the system to function well is that health professionals should be trained and present in the appropriate numbers distributed throughout all the regions of the country.
My dear Brazilians,
Integrated action at all levels of government, plus the participation of society, is the way to reduce the violence that constrains our society and Brazilian families.
My government will carry out an ongoing action that guarantees the State’s presence in all the regions most affected by criminal and drug-related action, working in a close partnership with the states and municipalities.
The state of Rio de Janeiro has shown how important it is in resolving conflicts to have coordinated action from the security forces at the three levels of government, including – when necessary – the decisive participation of the Armed Forces.
The success of this experience should stimulate us to unite our security forces in the unrelenting battle against organized crime, which constantly increases the sophistication of its firepower and its techniques to ensnare the young.
We will also seek to increase federal-level capacity-building in intelligence and border control, using modern technologies and constant professional training.
I reaffirm my commitment to act in combating drugs, especially against the advance of crack, which tears our young people apart and leads families to despair.
The Pre-Salt layer is our passport to the future, but it will only be fully that, my dear Brazilians, if it produces a balanced synthesis of technological advances, social progress and environmental concern.
Its very discovery is the result of Brazilian technological progress and of a modern policy of investing in research and innovation. Its development will be a factor in adding value to our national corporations, and their investments will generate thousands of new jobs.
The prime agent of this policy was and is Petrobras, the historical symbol of Brazilian sovereignty in the production of energy and of petroleum.
My government will have the responsibility of transforming the enormous wealth from the Pre-Salt layer into a long-term savings account. This must be capable of providing current and future generations with the best part of this wealth, transformed as time goes on into effective investments in public service quality, in the reduction of poverty and in our precious environment. We will not spend in haste, leaving our future generations with only debts and shattered hopes.
My dear Brazilians,
Many things have improved in our country, but we are still at the threshold of a new era. It is the wake-up call to a new Brazil.
I turn to the words of a poet from my homeland: “that which must be has great strength”.
For the first time Brazil is faced with the real opportunity to become, to be, a developed nation. A nation with the inherent stamp of Brazilian culture and style – love, generosity, creativity and tolerance.
A nation in which the preservation of its natural reserves and immense forests, together with rich biodiversity and the world’s cleanest sources of energy, allow it to forge an unprecedented project for a developed country with a strong environmental component.
The world is living at an ever-increasing rate of technological revolution. This is seen both in the deciphering of the codes that reveal the basis of life and also in the explosion of communications and information technology.
We have made strides in research and technology, but we need to go much further. My government will support scientific and technological development in the mastery of knowledge and innovation as an instrument of productivity.
But the way forward for a developed nation is not only in the economic field, pure and simple. It involves social progress and valuing cultural diversity. Their culture is the soul of any people, the essence of their identity.
We are going to invest in culture, increasing nationwide the production and consumption of our cultural assets and expanding the exportation of our music, cinema and literature, living emblems of our presence in the world.
To sum up: we have to combat extreme poverty, which is the most tragic form of backwardness and, at the same time, to make progress in investing solidly in the most modern and sophisticated areas of technological invention, intellectual output and artistic and cultural production.
Social justice, morality, knowledge, invention and creativity should be, more than ever, living ideals in the daily life of the nation.
My dear Brazilians,
I consider that Brazil has a sacred mission to show the world that it is possible for a country to grow rapidly without destroying the environment.
We are and will continue to be the world champions in clean energy, a country that will always know how to grow in a healthy and balanced fashion.
Ethanol and hydro-energy sources will be greatly encouraged, as well as alternative sources: biomass, wind and solar energy. Brazil will continue to give priority to preserving natural reserves and forests.
Our environmental policy will benefit our action in multilateral forums. But Brazil will not let its environmental action be conditioned by the success and fulfillment, by third parties, of international agreements.
Defending the environmental balance of the planet is one of our most universal national commitments.
My dear Brazilians,
Our foreign policy will be based on the Brazilian diplomatic tradition’s classic values: to foster peace, to respect the principle of non-intervention, to defend human rights and to strengthen multilateralism.
My government will continue to engage in the struggle against hunger and extreme poverty throughout the world.
We will go on forging still closer ties with our South-American neighbors; with our brothers in Latin America and the Caribbean; with our African brothers and with the peoples of the Middle East and Asia. We will maintain and deepen our relations with the United States and the European Union.
We will pay great attention to emerging countries.
Brazil firmly and decisively reiterates its decision to link its economic, social and political development with that of our continent.
We can transform our region into an essential component of the newly multipolar world, giving increasing consistency to the existence of Mercosur and UNASUR. We will contribute to international financial stability, with highly qualified interventions in multilateral forums.
Our tradition of defending peace does not allow us to be indifferent to the existence of enormous nuclear arsenals, to nuclear proliferation, to terrorism and to transnational organized crime.
Our political action abroad will continue to work for the reform of entities for international governance, especially the United Nations and its Security Council.
My dear Brazilians,
I said, at the beginning of this speech, that I would govern for all Brazilians, men and women. And that is what I shall do.
But it is important to remember that the destiny of a country cannot be reduced to the action of its government. It is the result of the work and the transforming action of all Brazilians. The Brazil of the future will amount to what we do for it today. It will amount to the participation of each and every one of us:
Of the social movements,
of those who toil in the fields,
of the liberal professionals,
of the workers and the small entrepreneurs,
of the intellectuals,
of the public servants,
of the business executives,
of the women,
of those of African descent, of the Indigenous Peoples, and of the young,
of all those who fight to overcome various types of discrimination.
I want to be beside those who work for the good of Brazil in the Amazonian loneliness, in the Northeastern drought, in the immense spaces of the Cerrado, in the vast stretches of the Pampas.
I want to be beside those who live in the metropolitan agglomerations, in the wilds of the forests, inland or on the coast, in the capitals and on the borders of Brazil.
I want to call on all of you to take part in the effort to transform our country.
Respecting the autonomy of the powers and the federative principle, I want to count on the Legislative and Judiciary powers, and on the partnership of Governors and Mayors, so that we continue developing our country, improving our institutions and strengthening our democracy.
I reaffirm my unbending commitment to the full guarantee of individual liberties; freedom of worship and of religion; freedom of the press and of opinion.
I reaffirm what I said during my campaign, that I prefer the noise of the free press to the silence of dictatorships. Anyone who, like me and like so many of my generation, has struggled against the imposed will and censorship of the dictatorship, naturally loves the fullest democracy and the intransigent defense of human rights, in our country and as a sacred banner for all peoples.
Human beings are not just about practical accomplishments, but about dreams; not just rational caution, but courage, inventiveness and daring. And these are fundamental elements for the collective affirmation of our nation.
My Vice-President Michel Temer and I were elected by a broad party coalition. We are building with them a government where professional capacity, leadership and a willingness to serve the country will be the fundamental criteria.
Once again I hold out my hand to the opposition parties and to those sections of society that were not with us on the recent electoral journey. There will not be any discrimination, privileges or clientelism on my part or on the part of my government.
From this moment forth I am the President of all Brazilians, under the aegis of Republican values.
I will be strict in my defense of the public interest. There will be no tolerance of diverted funds or wrong-doing. Corruption will be combated ceaselessly, and the entities that control and investigate these matters will have my full backing so that they can act with firmness and autonomy.
My dear Brazilians,
We have come to the end of this long speech.
I would like to tell you that I have dedicated my whole life to the cause of Brazil. I gave my youth, as did many of you here present, to the dream of a just and democratic country. I bore the most extreme adversities inflicted on all of us who dared to stand up to oppression. I have no regrets, no resentment or rancor.
Many of my generation fell on the march, and they cannot share the happiness of this moment. With them I share this achievement, and I pay them tribute.
This sometimes hard journey has made me value and love life all the more, and above all it has given me the courage to face even greater challenges. Again, I turn to the poet of my homeland:
“The flow of life (he says) envelops everything. Life is thus: it heats and cools, tightens and loosens, calms and then agitates. What it wants of us is courage.”
It is with courage that I shall govern Brazil.
But a woman is not just courage. She is also affection.
Affection which I dedicate to my daughter and to my grandson. Affection with which I embrace my mother who is beside me and who gives me her blessing.
It is with this immense affection that I want to take care of my people, and to them dedicate the next years of my life.
May God bless Brazil!
May God bless all of us!
May there be Peace in the world!