“I hope to follow your example and make Colombia a more just country”, Santos says to Lula
On Tuesday, June 4, Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos discussed the social policies of the Colombian government with former president Lula. At a ceremony that included statements from people who benefited from the programs, Santos explained what had been done to reduce poverty in his country and said that he sees former president Lula as an example.
One of the programs highlighted by President Santos was “Families in Action”, which is similar to Brasil’s “Bolsa Família” (Family Stipend) and now provides benefits to 2,700,000 Colombian families. From the time of its creation through May 2013, 3.5 billion pesos have been invested. Social programs are the responsibility of the Department of Social Prosperity, created only 18 months ago by President Santos.
“For the first time in the last two years we have shifted away from an economy that grows and creates more inequality. The most recent data show that we have reduced inequality, that we and Ecuador are the countries that most reduced income inequality,” said Juan Manuel Santos. The President said that he hopes to do in Columbia want Lula “did with great success in Brazil” and achieve similar results to the eight years of the Lula government.
Santos said further that, when asked in 2011 about the government that he would like to have, he responded: “I want to be like President Lula.” He said that he hopes to and his mandate in a way similar to that of the former president of Brazil.
After listening to President Santos and the statements from various beneficiaries of social programs, Lula spoke of the pleasure he felt in seeing what is being done in Columbia. “The poor, when they have money, education and opportunity, cease being a problem and begin to be part of the solution,” he said, recalling the importance of social policies for the Brazilian economy. “The poor of the world are not seeking favors – they want opportunities.”
Lula said further that this process is happening in various countries in Latin America: “this happened in Brazil and is happening in Colombia, Ecuador, Mexico and Bolivia. For the first time in a long while, we have governments treating the poor with care,” he pointed out.
The former president also spoke of the importance of the negotiations for peace in Colombia. “If Columbia, this extraordinary country, has come so far despite 50 years of conflict, they will go much farther in peace,” he said.
Listen to the start of the speech by President Juan Manuel Santos:
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