“Brazil was a source of pride, today that period is over and its leaders are demoralized – this pack of stray dogs,” he told his supporters.
Former Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva was enthusiastically greeted by about 30,000 people in Mossoro, the second most populous city in the state of Rio Grande do Norte.
The crowd was Lula’s largest audience yet in his “Caravan of Hope” bus tour across northeastern Brazil. A much poorer region than the rest of the country, the northeast has been a reliable base for the Workers Party and Lula, who was born in the poverty-blighted state of Pernambuco.
“What is at stake today is Brazil and the defense of our sovereignty,” Lula told the crowd, noting that his administration managed to save the country’s Federal Savings Bank, known in the country as Caixa, as well as Brazil’s National Bank for Economic and Social Development or BNDES.
“Now they want to sell everything,” he added, pointing to the stated intention by unelected President Michel Temer to sell Electrobras as a sign that the massive sale of public assets has begun.
Last Wednesday, the neoliberal Temer administration announced that 57 public companies and airport terminals would be privatized with the objective of reducing the country’s fiscal deficit, which amounts to nearly US$500 billion. The comment drew fire from ex-President Lula, who told media outlet Globo that “when they have nothing to sell, they are going to sell their souls to the devil.”
Lula was clearly in his element as he fired up the Mossoro crowd, who were drawn from the region’s rural poor and urban working class.
“When I left the presidency, we were not only self-sufficient in oil – we had the second largest oil company in the world,” he explained to the people of the oil-rich region.
“Brazil was a source of pride, today that period is over and its leaders are demoralized – this pack of stray dogs,” he added.
“Brazil only has a nation if it has people, and that is what this government is destroying and selling out to foreign companies!”