Inaugural speech

Dora Longo Bahia. Revolutions (calendar project), 2016 Acrylic, water-based pen and watercolor on paper (12 pieces). 23 x 30.5 cm each
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By SILVIO ALMEIDA*

We will not allow a Ministry created to promote human rights policies to continue being used for the reproduction of lies and prejudices

"Ladies and gentlemen;

Good morning everybody. It is an immense joy to be here. I think anything I could say wouldn't be enough to describe this moment of celebration and joy; but, also, a moment of responsibility in which I assume this portfolio because of the trust given to me by President Lula.

I want to thank everyone who came and everyone who couldn't get in here. We did not imagine that so many people could come here on this day, and this demonstrates, including our government, how the issue of Human Rights cannot be left aside. It is a central issue: an issue that concerns all of us.

I cannot fail to congratulate the authorities present here, such as the congressmen, my colleague Maria do Rosário for her beautiful words, Benedita da Silva; to all parliamentarians, deputies and senators, judicial authorities. I feel very prestigious.

I am honored and want to highlight two names: Minister Maria Thereza de Assis Moura, who I call a teacher, because I believe that being a teacher is the most beautiful title anyone can receive. I'm a lawyer, I'm a Minister of State – but being a teacher is the thing I'm most proud of being. I also want to thank the Brazilian judiciary in the figure of my friend, Minister Benedito Gonçalves.

Finally, I would like to thank all the former ministers present here.
As I address all of those present, I feel compelled to share a message that resonates not only in the dimension of time we call the present. Our past and our future are also at stake in this new stage of the country that now opens before us.

An old Yoruba saying says: “Exu killed a bird yesterday, with a stone that he only threw today”. Present, past and future are intertwined realities and, at this crossroads we find ourselves at, I would say that they are also inseparable. We do not move only in one plane, so that we never forget the grandeur of our struggles. Our connection is with past, present and future.

Therefore, I want to leave a message here that can have repercussions in these three dimensions of time to be able to talk about what this Ministry will be. My first message, therefore, is the past. But when I speak of the past, I am speaking of what we are and what we can be: it is not the past that imprisons us, but that which serves as a catapult towards the present and also launches us towards the future.

So my first message is reverence for the fight for memory, truth and justice.

Today I assume the role of Minister of State for Human Rights and Citizenship. I am aware that I don't do it alone and I don't even do it for myself. I am the result of centuries of struggle and resistance by a people who have not bowed their heads even in the face of the worst crimes and horrors in our history.

We do not surrender. For we are the people who, more than a century before Pastor Martin Luther King, used to say, with Luiz Gama, that they had a dream: to see “the American Brazil and the lands of Cruzeiro, without kings and without slaves!”.

And we are these people, among other things, for knowing that Luiz Gama would not have dreamed if not for his mother, Luíza Mahin, and she would not have dreamed if not for her ancestors, who carried forward the breath of life for their children and grandchildren. For this reason, brothers and sisters, never make a mistake: our strength is, above all, the strength of our ancestors.

In that force, which also inhabits me, I carry with me, like my brothers and sisters, the pains, the joys and, above all, the struggle and strength of a people that, despite everything and everyone, survived and still survives, bequeathing the this country an indescribable tangible and intangible heritage, whether in the arts, religion, football, samba, universities or in every brick laid on brick in this country, from the humble brickworks on the outskirts to the most sumptuous palaces from which we were often chased away, as if we had nothing to do with the beauties raised by our hands.

Make no mistake. There have always been those who wanted, there are those who still want, to separate us from our creation, but in our work our blood pulsates, in our deeds, our faces shine and, in our memory, our strength shines. There will be a day when we will no longer be alienated from the fruits of our work and our ingenuity and we will finally be able to enjoy our talents and our free time in even greater inventions. Today, I humbly place myself as a worker writing another chapter of this dream.

For that, I apologize and bring with me my father and mother, a black man and woman, who in their humility and wisdom taught me the value of love, everyday struggles and human dignity. I also bring my brothers, uncles, nephews, my partner, friends and all those who contributed to a project of which I am today, at the same time, part and witness.

I also bring the struggle of Zumbi, of Dandara, of the already mentioned Luiz Gama and Luíza Mahin, of Abdias, of Guerreiro Ramos, of Lélia Gonzales, of Milton Santos, of Marielle Franco, of Pelé – who was Minister of State, also, this Brazil. And so many others who allowed me to be here today, a black man, Minister of State, at the service of a fight that was also theirs one day.

I cannot say that his struggles will not be forgotten, because he does not forget what is present. But I can and I want to say that your fights will be honored by me and by my team that, here, is, in this space for which I become, from now on, the main responsible.

This means, among other things, not forgetting the lessons of history, the struggles against slavery, against hunger, against death, for decent work and housing. It means not forgetting the struggle of those who were arrested, tortured and killed by the authoritarianism of the Brazilian State, whether in the Empire, in the so-called Old Republic, which criminalized all aspects of our existence, or in the Military Dictatorship, which cut off the best years of true patriots who dared to rise up against the cowardice of the powerful.

Ladies and gentlemen, we are finally aware that the stories bequeathed to us are still being written. Not just because we have a responsibility to take them forward, but because they are still being lived and woven into their meanings. We are part of this process and we are all connected by a myriad of visible and invisible threads, ties that are both beautiful and painful at the same time, which we are not always willing to look at with sincerity.

As a Minister of State, I dare say that Brazil has not yet satisfactorily faced the horrors of slavery, as well as other traumas that are looming over us, which allows the work of slavery to perpetuate itself in racism, hunger, underemployment and violence. against the black and poor men and women of this country. Like many, I want to move on. I want to move on. But we will never accept the price of silencing and injustice. True peace will be the one we build with the truth, with the cultivation of memory and the realization of justice.

Now I want to speak about my second message addressed to the present.

Today I receive a devastated Ministry. Participation councils were reduced or closed, many voices in society were silenced, policies were discontinued and the human rights budget was drastically reduced. As a final cruelty, the administration that ends tried to extinguish, without success, the Commission of Dead and Disappeared. Failed. In this sense, I want everyone to know – and, for that, I will rely on the commitment of my special advisor Nilmário Miranda, who greatly honors me – that every illegal act, based on hatred and prejudice, will be reviewed by me and by the President Lula – who has always been committed to Democracy.

We will not allow a Ministry created to promote human rights policies to continue being used for the reproduction of lies and prejudice. We reached the height of seeing the National Human Rights Ombudsman being used to propagate speeches against vaccination policies. No more. That era ends right now. He finished!

This moment also ends the era of a president who, if he once said he was proud to “defend torture”, used his position, supported by his Minister of Human Rights, to attack the National Mechanism for the Prevention and Combat of Torture. As is known, the members of the body were exonerated and their remuneration was extinguished, a situation that was only partially reversed by a court decision. That's over. Starting today, we will guarantee the full functioning of this national mechanism for preventing and combating torture.

I am, however, fully aware that, given the desolate scenario in which I receive the Ministry, I will not have facilities or magic to offer. However, I offer myself the unprecedented effort of my team and I extend a hand to all those who are willing to be part of this reconstruction process. We will be the Ministry of dialogue, cooperation and joint efforts. Any legitimate interest brought to the Ministry will be discussed. As the poet Carlos Drummond de Andrade said, “let's not move away…let's go hand in hand”.

I would, however, like to establish a first compromise here. This Ministry's commitment to the struggle of all groups that are victims of injustice and oppression, which, nevertheless, resisted and will resist all attempts to silence their voices. Therefore, allow me, as a first act as Minister, to state the obvious, the obvious that, however, has been denied in the last four years: Brazilian workers, you exist and you are valuable to us. Women of Brazil, you exist and are valuable to us. Black men and women of Brazil, you exist and you are valuable to us. Indigenous peoples of this country, you exist and you are valuable to us. Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, transvestite, intersex and non-binary people, you exist and are valuable to us.

Homeless people, you exist and are valuable to us.

Disabled people, elderly people, amnesty recipients and children of amnesty recipients, victims of violence, victims of hunger and homelessness, people who suffer from lack of access to health, fellow domestic workers, everyone who suffers from lack of transportation, everyone who has their rights violated, you exist and are valuable to us. With that commitment, I want to be Minister of a country that puts life and human dignity first.

As an academic, I always say that Brazil has three structural problems: authoritarian violence, racism and economic dependence. As a Minister, therefore, my greatest commitment could be none other than to fight for the Brazilian State to stop violating its citizens. As President Lula said during his inauguration, it will be up to this Ministry of Human Rights to “ensure and act so that every citizen has their rights respected, in access to public and private services, in protection against prejudice or before public authority. Citizenship is the other name of democracy”. Therefore, this is the Ministry of Human Rights and Citizenship. As Congresswoman Maria do Rosário said: Human Rights is not a moral agenda, it is a political agenda; an institutional agenda. It is the only way to comply with the 1988 Constitution and offer Citizenship.

To President Lula, “Good morning President, Lula!” Thank you for your trust and my admiration for everything you've been through, everything you've built and everything you still have to build for this country. I also greet the vice-president, Geraldo Alckmin, my colleagues and my fellow ministers with gratitude and confidence for everything that, together, we will do for the people and, mainly, with the Brazilian people.

As I said before, our greatest commitment will be to fight against violence, especially state violence. This means, among other things, fighting against the murder of poor and black youths, fighting against an administrative right that robs street vendors, expels children from school, closes health clinics, collects belongings from homeless people, and allows aggression against everyone. the excluded and marginalized of our society.
For this fight to prosper, it is necessary to rebuild institutions and commit the entire Public Administration to human rights policies, which even in their best years remained insulated in State structures.

Constitutional law developed under the aegis of the 1988 Constitution managed to advance several branches of law. Administrative law, however, remained relatively untouched, legitimizing violence against the poor and allowing the dismantling of public policies not to encounter impeding obstacles. It is now time to transform it.

In the same sense, we cannot think of human rights only as chains to action or an instrument to remedy tragedies. We need to impregnate public administration with the defense of the rights of all and promote human rights as instruments for the creation of a new Brazil.

Our administrative reform will not involve scrapping, privatizing and dismantling public services. And President Lula said that. It will be the one that will place the rights and delivery of quality public services as a driving force of the Brazilian people. That's why I want to tell my friend, Minister Esther Dweck, to count on me and this Ministry for the project entrusted to her. We want to see human rights respected by all the Public Administration in this country and this same Administration working for those who need it most.

And such a project can never do without public servants. State workers, male and female workers in public services, especially those of this Ministry: my recognition and thanks are due to you. We will work for the valorization of the servers, for the fight against all types of harassment and for you to be recognized.

Even if my Ministry does not currently have the structure to directly implement policies in this regard, I will immediately seek Minister Flávio Dino, Minister Anielle Franco, Cida Gonçalves and other fellow Ministers to join an effort that must be part of the entire Federal Government and , at the same time, of all Brazilian society.

I would also like to record, in the same sense, my commitment to the reconstruction of programs for the defense of life headed by the Ministry of Human Rights, especially the Program for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders.

In addition to the program itself, in memory of Dorothy Stang, Dezinho, Maria do Espírito Santo and José Claudio, Nicinha, Dom Phillips and Bruno Pereira, Antônio Tavares, Almir Muniz and many others. We also present a national plan for the protection of human rights defenders, with the participation of civil society, observing the provisions of international human rights conventions, mainly in the United Nations Declaration on the Right and Responsibility to Protect and in the recommendations of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.

At a time when climate disasters are being talked about so much, Minister Marina Silva would like to emphasize that, in the new Program for Human Rights Defenders, special attention will be given to the situation of environmental defenders, who, according to the numbers we have, are the who die the most at the hands of criminals who want to stop the course of history, but who cannot do so.

Before the reformulation of the mentioned programs, our first days at the Ministry, however, will be dedicated to rebuilding everything that was dismantled by this true project of national destruction that we previously called government.

We will guarantee the functioning of the collegiate bodies of the Ministry, revoking and/or editing new normative acts and recognizing them as legitimate spaces for participatory management.

We are also going to create conditions to guarantee the full functioning of the National Mechanism for the Prevention and Combat of Torture and the National Committee for the Prevention and Combat of Torture, revoking all the acts that tried to prevent the full functioning of these institutions.

We want to give prestige to the recently instituted National Secretariat of Policies for the LGBTIA+ population and recreate and deepen the LGBTIA+ Policy Council so that it works more adequately and efficiently, to guarantee the institutional dialogue of those who need it most from the Brazilian State.

Finally, with regard to the end of the dismantling era, we want to say to the world: Brazil is back. We are going to resume and raise our country's leading role in the international human rights agenda and effectively reactivate international cooperation in matters pertaining to this Ministry.

We also want to move forward in policies aimed at people with disabilities, resuming a national plan for the promotion of their rights and combating all forms of ableism. We will also seek to advance in promoting the rights of the elderly, Secretary Alexandre, establishing and recognizing care practices and work as a fundamental and valuable part of the national infrastructure.

At a time when extremism, racism and the malicious production of false news are spreading in the face of the absence of public policies, it will be essential to also resume a human rights education plan and promote a culture of respect, equality, democracy and peace .

I'm sure there will be many difficulties. And many problems will remain at the end of our term. Challenges of all sorts await us. But one thing I can guarantee: I will not forget the forgotten. I will also remember my dear Emicida: “they remember me. They feel the tears flowing from my voice, they hear the music of my soul”.

My last message: We have to honor the struggles that brought me here, however, it means not just rebuilding what was destroyed and not just improving what was once done for good. It also means pointing to the future, pointing to a project that is yet to come.

In this sense, it should be remembered that the black, poor and peripheral population of that country actively fought for redemocratization and for the Constitution. We benefited in part from the creation of the SUS, the expansion of the educational network and recognition for the criminalization of racism.

During democratic and popular governments, we conquered, among other things, income transfer programs, the Law on Teaching Afro-Brazilian and Indigenous History, and quotas in universities and public services. We can never underestimate these achievements and all the changes they have generated in the lives of poor black girls and boys in Brazil.

As a verse by one of our best minds says, my friend Mano Brown, “I came from the jungle, I am a lion, I am too much for your backyard”. Access to education and affirmative action were fundamental to denaturalize “the place” of black men and women in this country. We don't fit in anyone's backyard and we want and will occupy all spaces in Brazilian society.

On the other hand, it was in the rhymes of national rap that I understood that some of the great changes experienced by Brazilian society after redemocratization did not extend to the poor, black and peripheral population, to the excluded of that country. Many male and female workers in this country continue to be condemned to unemployment and underemployment, homelessness, lack of mobility and lack of basic sanitation.

I come to propose paths: the first of them, as already indicated, is to disassociate the concept of human rights from a single Ministry. Our efforts will be of little use if human rights are not present in health, education, social assistance and in many other areas. In this sense, we will not be able to build a comprehensive protection network for children and adolescents in this country, for homeless people and other publics under the responsibility of this Ministry. We will hold a broad national dialogue, involving the Federal Government's portfolios and a broad national concertation.

Even more important is that human rights are present in the conduct of this country's economic policy. Here, I want to extend my hand to my fellow Ministers Fernando Haddad, Simone Tebet and Vice-President Geraldo Alckmin, so that together we can think of a development project that is inclusive, sustainable and radically democratic.

Finally, the global South needs to propose a new concept of the right to development, which dialogues with our realities, with the needs of our people, and points to concrete possibilities for overcoming material deprivation and building common prosperity. If the grammar of human rights says nothing to those who feel hungry, to those who are unemployed, to those who survive with precarious work, our efforts will be worthless and we will open again, as it happened, the doors to the fascism that awaits us.

Therefore, we want to break down the barriers of communication about human rights that we have not yet been able to overcome. We need to build a human rights language that speaks not only to international organizations, organized movements and direct beneficiaries of our public policies.

I want to be minister of human rights in a country where this concept resonates in the hearts of ordinary men and women, informal and precarious workers, a country where we can carry our message forward.

In this sense, I want to express here my commitment and concern for children and adolescents orphaned by Covid-19. A Ministry of Human Rights will be of no use if it does not work for these children. We take the lives of the Brazilian people seriously and, above all, with absolute priority, the lives of our children.

We will also build a Statute for victims of violence in this country, a commitment that has always been on the horizon of the human rights movement, whether in the fight against the dictatorship, or in the fight for the rights of women, children, indigenous peoples and other segments that are victims of violence. violence in this country. We will move forward in this construction.

As a last commitment for the future, I emphasize the need to place human rights at the center of the discussion on public security in this country. Several public policy systems underwent profound reforms, being built and rebuilt from the constituent process. In public security, without denying successful experiences, these reforms remained incomplete. For the lives of the boys and girls of this country, we will also make our contribution in this field, in everything we can.

So, I end by sending a special message to my secretaries and advisors, who honored me greatly by accepting this task, I want to thank all the secretaries and secretaries, advisors and advisors of this ministry: at the Executive Secretariat, Rita Cristina de Oliveira, at the National Secretariat for the Rights of Children and Adolescents, Ariel de Castro Alves, at the National Secretariat for the Promotion and Defense of Human Rights, Isadora Brandão Araujo da Silva, at the National Secretariat for the Promotion and Defense of the Rights of LGBTQIA+ People, Symmy Larrat, at the National Secretariat for Rights of Persons with Disabilities, Anna Paula Feminella, at the National Secretariat for the Rights of the Elderly, Alexandre Silva; the Chief of Staff, Marina Basso Lacerda, and the Special Adviser for the Defense of Democracy, Memory and Truth, with Nilmário Miranda, in Legislative Affairs, Carlos David Carneiro Bichara, and the national ombudsman for Human Rights, Bruno Renato Teixeira.

As Luther King said, of whom I spoke at the beginning, there is no peace without memory and there is no peace without justice, and justice is struggle. He said: I have a dream, I also have a dream. And I want to dream it with all the Brazilian people. I dream of a future in which we've already won. We are the victory of our ancestors. We are the victory, too, of those who will come after us.

Thank you very much. Long live Brazil!”

*Silvio Almeida is Minister of Communications.

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