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.
Barcelona (ACN).- On Thursday evening in Barcelona, the former President of Brazil, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, 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, Lula da Silva asked Catalans and Europeans “to fight to guarantee the Welfare State”, which was achieved with so much effort. Citizens “cannot allow, at any moment, a backward step of the conquests achieved after many decades” of “many fights, many protests, many meetings, hundreds and hundreds of strikes by the workers”, said the former President, who was a trade union leader fighting against the dictatorship in Brazil. “We are currently fighting to conquest this; you have to fight not to lose it”, he emphasised. Lula da Silva also asked them “not to believe that the crisis caused by an irresponsible international financial system is greater than the hope and the capacity of a people”. In addition, after reminding the audience that he had just come from Germany and France, the former Brazilian President stated that he considers “the European Union to be a world heritage in the area of democracy” and asked Europeans to correct the current “defects” of the EU to preserve the project. Furthermore, the dignitary 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”, especially emphasising the fight against Fascism in the 1930s but also referring to the resistance during Franco’s dictatorship and the decades of democracy. The award was announced in April but the ceremony was postponed due to Lula da Silva’s recovery process after he suffered from cancer. The Acting President of the Catalan Government, Artur Mas, praised Lula da Silva’s job as President of Brazil for his work in “fostering social justice” and “reducing poverty”. The former President of Brazil’s candidature has been distinguished among 177 candidates, from 59 different countries, and presented by 179 different institutions. The prize comes with €80,000 and the sculpture ‘La clau i la lletra’ (The key and the letter) by Catalan artist Antoni Tàpies.
Honouring “the Brazilian Catalan” Pere Casaldàliga
Lula da Silva has been honoured with the 24th ‘Premi Internacional Catalunya’ for his work towards creating “fair economic growth, developing a middle class and achieving fairer wealth distribution” as stated in last April’s official announcement. The jury’s Delegate President, the philosopher Xavier Rupert de Ventós, praised Lula da Silva’s trajectory when he opened the award ceremony. The Acting Catalan President, Artur Mas – who closed the ceremony – emphasised that Lula da Silva has been “a great transformer, starting from reality” in order to improve the life of millions of citizens in his country. Mas also referred to “the Catalan and Brazilian-adopted Pere Casaldàliga”, the bishop who has been working for more than 40 years with the poorest people at Mato Grosso. In fact, Lula da Silva’s, in his earlier speech, had also praised the work of “this Brazilian Catalan”, “who saw God’s face on the face of each person”, he said. The former Brazilian President stated that Casaldàliga had brought to the South-American country “the Catalan spirituality”.
The prize's two objectives
The ‘Premi Internacional Catalunya’ (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 “Catalonia to contribute to improving the world, adding our sand grain”. With this award, Catalonia “honours 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 […] it honours the individuals who have made people be better people”. “As a thousand-year-old culture and nation, Catalonia is part of the world’s mosaic; a small part, but we are part of the world’s mosaic […] We have the legitimate ambition to make the world a better place, to change this mosaic”, Mas stated. The second objective of the award is to place Catalonia on the world’s map, to raise awareness of its existence. “We are 300 times smaller than Brazil in terms of area and 30 times smaller than Brazil in terms of population”, explained Mas, “but we are not small”. “We are known and appreciated”, said the Acting Catalan President, and he reminded the people of Lula da Silva’s words praising Catalonia’s 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 ‘Premi Internacional Catalunya’. Last year, Catalonia’s 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’s 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’s 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’s Chairperson was the Catalan President and the jury’s 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.