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Lula da Silva collects the Catalunya international prize and asks Europeans “to fight” for the Welfare State

The former President of Brazil, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, has collected the ‘Premi Internacional Catalunya’, a prestigious prize recognising individuals who have greatly contributed to the development of cultural, scientific and human values around the world with their work. In the award ceremony held in the Palace of the Catalan Government, in Barcelona, Lula da Silva has asked Catalans and Europeans “to fight to guarantee the Welfare State”, which was achieved with so much effort. He also praised Catalonia as “a moral and political model for all democratic people” and “a world symbol of the fight for freedom and social progress”. The award was announced in April but the ceremony was postponed due to Lula da Silva’s recovery process after he suffered from cancer.

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13 December 2012 11:43 PM

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ACN / Gaspar Pericay Coll

Barcelona (ACN).- On Thursday evening in Barcelona, the former President of Brazil, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, collected the \u2018Premi Internacional Catalunya\u2019, a prestigious prize recognising individuals who have greatly contributed to the development of cultural, scientific and human values around the world with their work. In the award ceremony held in the Palace of the Catalan Government, Lula da Silva asked Catalans and Europeans \u201Cto fight to guarantee the Welfare State\u201D, which was achieved with so much effort. Citizens \u201Ccannot allow, at any moment, a backward step of the conquests achieved after many decades\u201D of \u201Cmany fights, many protests, many meetings, hundreds and hundreds of strikes by the workers\u201D, said the former President, who was a trade union leader fighting against the dictatorship in Brazil. \u201CWe are currently fighting to conquest this; you have to fight not to lose it\u201D, he emphasised. Lula da Silva also asked them \u201Cnot to believe that the crisis caused by an irresponsible international financial system is greater than the hope and the capacity of a people\u201D. In addition, after reminding the audience that he had just come from Germany and France, the former Brazilian President stated that he considers \u201Cthe European Union to be a world heritage in the area of democracy\u201D and asked Europeans to correct the current \u201Cdefects\u201D of the EU to preserve the project. Furthermore, the dignitary also praised Catalonia as \u201Ca moral and political model for all democratic people\u201D and \u201Ca world symbol of the fight for freedom and social progress\u201D, especially emphasising the fight against Fascism in the 1930s but also referring to the resistance during Franco\u2019s dictatorship and the decades of democracy. The award was announced in April but the ceremony was postponed due to Lula da Silva\u2019s recovery process after he suffered from cancer. The Acting President of the Catalan Government, Artur Mas, praised Lula da Silva\u2019s job as President of Brazil for his work in \u201Cfostering social justice\u201D and \u201Creducing poverty\u201D. The former President of Brazil\u2019s candidature has been distinguished among 177 candidates, from 59 different countries, and presented by 179 different institutions. The prize comes with \u20AC80,000 and the sculpture \u2018La clau i la lletra\u2019 (The key and the letter) by Catalan artist Antoni Tàpies.


Honouring \u201Cthe Brazilian Catalan\u201D Pere Casaldàliga

Lula da Silva has been honoured with the 24th \u2018Premi Internacional Catalunya\u2019 for his work towards creating \u201Cfair economic growth, developing a middle class and achieving fairer wealth distribution\u201D as stated in last April\u2019s official announcement. The jury\u2019s Delegate President, the philosopher Xavier Rupert de Ventós, praised Lula da Silva\u2019s trajectory when he opened the award ceremony. The Acting Catalan President, Artur Mas \u2013 who closed the ceremony \u2013 emphasised that Lula da Silva has been \u201Ca great transformer, starting from reality\u201D in order to improve the life of millions of citizens in his country. Mas also referred to \u201Cthe Catalan and Brazilian-adopted Pere Casaldàliga\u201D, the bishop who has been working for more than 40 years with the poorest people at Mato Grosso. In fact, Lula da Silva\u2019s, in his earlier speech, had also praised the work of \u201Cthis Brazilian Catalan\u201D, \u201Cwho saw God\u2019s face on the face of each person\u201D, he said. The former Brazilian President stated that Casaldàliga had brought to the South-American country \u201Cthe Catalan spirituality\u201D.

The prize's two objectives

The \u2018Premi Internacional Catalunya\u2019 (Catalonia International Prize) recognises the individuals who have contributed to the development of cultural, scientific and human values around the world with their hard work. As Artur Mas explained at the ceremony, the prize has two objectives. One is for \u201CCatalonia to contribute to improving the world, adding our sand grain\u201D. With this award, Catalonia \u201Chonours the people who have made humankind in its entirety  move forward. It honours the individuals who have made people more cultured, living in better conditions, freer [\u2026] it honours the individuals who have made people be better people\u201D. \u201CAs a thousand-year-old culture and nation, Catalonia is part of the world\u2019s mosaic; a small part, but we are part of the world\u2019s mosaic [\u2026] We have the legitimate ambition to make the world a better place, to change this mosaic\u201D, Mas stated. The second objective of the award is to place Catalonia on the world\u2019s map, to raise awareness of its existence. \u201CWe are 300 times smaller than Brazil in terms of area and 30 times smaller than Brazil in terms of population\u201D, explained Mas, \u201Cbut we are not small\u201D. \u201CWe are known and appreciated\u201D, said the Acting Catalan President, and he reminded the people of Lula da Silva\u2019s words praising Catalonia\u2019s creativity, innovation, culture, commitment to social progress and democracy.

Lula da Silva was unanimously voted by the jury

Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva had already been in the running in previous prize years but this time he was unanimously voted by the jury to receive the 24th \u2018Premi Internacional Catalunya\u2019. Last year, Catalonia\u2019s international prize, which is awarded by the Catalan Government following the decision of an international jury made up of prestigious professionals, chose the distinguished Japanese writer Haruki Murakami. In its 24-year-history, some of the winners have included the former US President Jimmy Carter, the leader of Myanmar\u2019s opposition Aung San Suu Kyi, the anthropologist Claude Lévi-Strauss, American writer Harold Bloom, French oceanographer Jacques Yves Cousteau, British philosopher Karl Popper, Indian economist Amartya Sen, former Czech Republic President and writer Václav Havel, and former European Commission President Jacques Delors, among others.

This year\u2019s international jury was coordinated by the Catalan philosopher and former Harvard professor Xavier Rubert de Ventós. It was made up of 14 professionals from Catalonia and abroad. The jury\u2019s Chairperson was the Catalan President and the jury\u2019s delegate chairperson was the philosopher Xavier Rupert de Ventós. Other members were architect Ricard Bofill, art critic Juan Manuel Bonet, writer Josep Maria Castellet, historian Agustí Colomines, politician Jacques Delors, soprano Barbara Hendricks, philosopher Edgar Morin, diplomat Ambler Moss, philologist Mary Ann Newman, philosopher Josep Ramoneda, sociologist Richard Sennett, philosopher Gianni Vattimo, biologist Anna Veiga and physicist Jorge Wagensberg.

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  • Lula da Silva receiving the prize from the Acting Catalan President, Artur Mas (by O. Campuzano)

  • Lula da Silva receiving the prize from the Acting Catalan President, Artur Mas (by O. Campuzano)