Lula da Silva, the former president of Brazil, released a statement in support of Venezuelan president Nicolás Maduro on the occasion of the one year anniversary of the death of Hugo Chávez. In the letter, Lula discusses Chávez’s legacy in the region, saying that he fought for “a more just and sovereign Latin America,” and expresses his confidence in Maduro as a leader who is defending the principles of Venezuelan democracy. Of course, Lula’s message comes at a time when tensions are high in Venezuela as segments of the opposition wrestle for power after having lost two major elections in 2013.
Below is a translation, you can read the original in Spanish here.
Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva
Ex President of the Federative Republic of Brazil to His Excellency
President Nicolás Maduro Moros
Sao Paulo, 5 March 2014
To my friend President Nicolás Maduro:
I am writing to you on this sad date for the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela to offer my vows of respect and sorrow over the death, one year ago, of the unforgettable and beloved friend, Hugo Chávez Frías.
We fought together in the battles for a more just and sovereign Latin America, for the integration of our nations, for the building of an independent and democratic continent. In good times and in bad, in agreement or in divergence, Chávez was a great friend, a brother who shared in my struggle and dreams for the future.
He exited the scene too young, carried by a malaise that he fought like a warrior, but his legacy will be eternal. Under his leadership, Venezuela broke with an economic and social model that concentrated wealth in the hands of a few groups and relegated the majority of the country to misery and poverty.
For 15 years Venezuelans have traveled a path of socially inclusive development, deepening democracy and distribution of income. Along this trajectory Venezuelans have confronted crises and difficulties that they knew how to confront with popular participation, with respect for the Constitution and with the determination to defend popular interests.
Never did Venezuelans depart from path that respected democracy and the sovereignty of one’s vote. Perhaps no other country, in the last decades, has had so many elections and consultations at the ballot box. Even when they had to confront forces ready to violate the constitutional order, they maintained their promise of peace and legality.
These are some of the conquests and lessons we inherit from our friend Chávez. I have no doubt, my friend Maduro, that this body of ideas and experiences constitutes a guide of conduct for your government and for the Venezuelan people in this delicate moment in your history. At this time a dialogue is necessary among all the democrats that want the best for the country. Only in that way will Venezuela realize her dream of a just, fraternal and egalitarian society.
The best way to honor the memory of El Comandante is to continue onward in the direction of peace, of social justice and of democracy, in the direction of continental integration and of autonomy for our countries. In this struggle we are always united.
I leave you with a brotherly hug and send my greetings to the Venezuelan people.