Instituto Lula

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Instituto Lula's 25-year struggle for democracy and against world poverty

Jun 9, 2016 6:53 PM

Although Instituto Lula was only created in its current format in 2011, it has a 25-year history of achievements focusing of the issues of social inclusion, poverty, hunger and the fight for the democracy.

Its predecessor, the Instituto Cidadania (Citizenship Institute), was started when Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva decided to turn his experience as a trade union leader, fighter for workers' rights and the return of democracy and presidential candidate into a programmatic construction of public policies aimed at alleviating the suffering of poorest and the most fragile segments of society.

In the early 1990s, Lula gathered specialists, academics, political and trade union leaders in a nationwide debate and a so far unheard-of caravan to the four corners of Brazil to more deeply understand the needs of the Brazilian population the then recently re-democratized country.

The prominent focus on the fight against hunger helped the Brazilian President Itamar Franco implement some public policies, but it would be during Lula's two presidential terms (2003-2010) that several social programs, based on discussions within the Instituto Cidadania, were more deeply implemented, resulting in a profound change in Brazil's social structures, crowned in 2015 when Brazil was taken out of the United Nation's Hunger Map.

No less important, Lula's promotion of the so-called “South-South” dialogue during his two presidential terms opened expanded relations between Brazil and African and Latin American countries, as well as the strengthening of the BRICS community, led to important and lasting commercial, political, cultural and social exchanges and ties, which guide many of Lula's and Instituto Lula's activities to this day.

After leaving office in 2011, former president Lula decided to continue his political activities and, mirroring similar institutions created by prominent world political leaders, transformed Instituto Cidadania into Instituto Lula, which also included the preservation of his personal and presidential archives to offer to the Brazilian society a source of information about the Brazilian people's struggle for democracy, to guarantee rights and the fight against poverty and misery.

With a team of specialists, Instituto Lula, is nowadays recognized as leading promoter of public policies and debate about humanity's continuing struggle against poverty and hunger. Instituto Lula, and Lula himself, are not only frequently invited to seminars, debates and events across the globe, but are also currently preparing and organizing all the historic material into several initiatives – such as Democracy Memorial and Brazil of Change – to become a reference for the historical fight for democracy and dignity for all the world's population.

In the following pages you can read a detailed report of Instituto Lula's 25-year history, with a registration of the most important activities and initiatives and their results. Or you can download the full 25-year report of all activities with details about agreements, partnerships, projects and awards (in Portuguese).


Throughout its history, the Instituto Cidadania has gone through several stages, following the political career of Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva until he reached the presidency.

The Institute had its origins in the so-called Parallel Government, which was created under Lula's leadership after his defeat in the 1989 elections, and between 1990 and 1992 offered critical alternatives to the public policies of the Fernando Collor de Mello government. In this first stage, the Institute provided structural and legal support for the Parallel Government.

Later came the Citizenship Caravans and public discussions, activities, studies, research, information and public policies in depth were prepared, always taking care to assure a pluralistic focus approach that marks a nonpartisan institution.

In 2005, the Institute began to scale down its activities. With the end of President Lula’s second mandate in 2011, it became the place where he prepared the creation of the Lula Institute.

It was at the Institute that Lula matured his ideas and his projects and engaged in the practice of democratic dialogue with society for the development of public policies. And today it is where he is structuring the organization where he will carry on his work after eight years as president of Brazil.

The beginning: the Parallel Government (1990-1992)

Inspired by the British experience, the Parallel Government was formed as a means of political action with the exercise of a qualified opposition to the recently elected Collor Government. The goal was to maintain the connections between the political forces that coalesced around Lula’s candidacy for the second round of the 1989 election and carry out democratic monitoring of the new administration.

The Parallel Government prepared proposals for strategic alliances resulting in intense discussions involving various diverse social actors coordinated by leaders from culture, science and social democratic popular opposition, such as Antonio Candido, José Gomes da Silva and Aziz Ab’Saber, among many others.

After the impeachment of President Collor, when the reasons that led to the creation of the Parallel Government began to subside, the Instituto Cidadania became a place for discussion and drafting of public policy proposals. In the following years, seminars were held to present an analysis of the political and economic situation and the discussion of specific issues such as drought, combating corruption, industrial development and the others.

The Citizenship Caravans (1993-1996)

Between 1993 and 1996, the Instituto Cidadania helped to organize the Citizenship Caravans, an experience that was virtually unknown in Brazilian political tradition. A team of political and labor leaders, and technicians and specialists, joined Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva in five Caravans that visited a total of 359 cities in 26 states, with the objective of deepening the awareness of the present reality, listening to forgotten communities, sharing positive experiences and articulating viable proposals for the development of these areas. This contact with the reality of the entire country was a great learning experience for Brazil, and was an essential part of the experience of the future president, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.

The first caravan left Garanhuns (PE), where Lula was born, and ended in Vicente de Carvalho, a poor district of Guaruja (SP), to which his family had migrated in 1952.

A virtually unprecedented experience in Brazilian politics, the Caravans were an innovative way to contribute to awareness and the spread of citizenship rights of millions of inhabitants deep in the heart of Brazil.

Later, in 2001, three new caravans traveled seven states and 47 cities.

Two books and a video report an important part of the knowledge acquired during these journeys - Viagem ao Coração do Brasil (Journey to the Heart of Brazil) published by Scritta with a video prepared by TV dos Trabalhadores (Workers’ TV) and Diário de Viagem ao Brasil Esquecido (A Diary of a Journey to Forgotten Brazil) (also published by Scritta).

Projects (1999-2002)

In 1999, the Instituto Cidadania began to intensify its activities. In addition to seminars and debates the Institute went on to work with extensive issue-oriented projects that resulted in more accurate analyses and comprehensive proposals for public policy. These projects involved the interaction of diverse political actors and experts in each area in a bipartisan environment. Among the issues discussed were as housing, electricity, public safety, political reform, nutritional security and youth-related issues.

By 2002, the Instituto Cidadania had a staff of economists and sectoral working groups that performed analyses of the national economic and political situation, as well as a communications team, responsible for press relations and publications.

Lula Government (2003-2010)

When taking office, president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva assigned the responsibility for directing the Institute to businessman Jose Alberto de Camargo

The Institute continued to work on the issues, projects, seminars and debates, often in partnership with other institutions. In 2003 and 2004, the Institute created and carried out the Projeto Juventude (The Youth Project), a comprehensive analysis and a set of proposals for public policy focused on Brazilian youth.

The Instituto Cidadania also monitored the development of various government policies and projects that it created. The Projeto Moradia (Housing Project) led to the creation of the Ministry of Cities, the National Council of Cities, and housing and sanitation programs. The Projeto Segurança Pública (Public Safety Project) gave rise to the Unified Public Safety Program, under the Ministry of Justice. The Projeto Energia Elétrica (Electric Power Project) provided the basis of the national energy program. The Projeto Reforma Política (Political Reform Project), was submitted to the Special Committee on Political Reform of the Chamber of Deputies, and provided valuable insights on the proposal that is being discussed in the Legislature. The Projeto Fome Zero (Zero Hunger Project) led to a federal program for nutritional security and hunger and is now carried out by various ministries and is a part of the Bolsa Familia (Family Allowance) program.

Between 2003 and 2005, the Instituto Cidadania provided support for holding monthly meetings with leading intellectuals to reflect on the overall direction of the country. The group provided critical monitoring of the national situation, evaluated the actions of the government and discussed the role of social movements, the university and the intellectuals themselves in society.


After leaving office in January 2011, Lula, met with historic partners and comrades to discuss how to continue his struggle for justice and social inclusion. The idea to restart the activities of the Instituto Cidadania arose from these meetings, but now with the prospect to go even deeper in the process of social transformation that Brazil went through from 2003.

In this new stage, the Institute define three lines of action that marked Brazil's former president Lula's international projection: stronger relations with African countries, advances in the integration of Latin America and the elimination of hunger in the world.

It was also decided that institute would organize and preserve the personal documents from the presidential period according to the Brazilian law. This 1991 legislation requires that all former presidents be responsible for the preservation and free access to documents of historical interest during their governments.

Including there objectives in its mission, from August 15, 2011, the Instituto Cidadania was renamed Instituto Lula, and continued to operate from the same address in the city of São Paulo. Instituto Lula continued to be a non-profit organization kept by personal or corporate donations.

During this time, Instituto Lula saw the participation in its activities of various academics, union leaders, businessmen, young people, religious leaders, ambassadors, artists, technicians and cultural producers, social network activists, journalists, bloggers, and representatives from NGOs as well as public authorities and government representatives from Brazil and various other countries.


The model for the workings of Instituto Lula was based on the analysis of several institutions linked to prominent politicians in Brazil and in other countries. Former heads of state, presidents and prime ministers around the world founded institutions after the end of their mandates and kept themselves active in politics.

This is the case of the former heads of states of the UK Tony Blair and the US Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter; of France, Jacques Chirac and Nicolas Sarkozy; of Russia, Mikhael Gorbatchev and of Poland, Lech Walesa, among others. Similar posthumous institutions were created by the families, friends and parties to honor and preserve the legacy of prominent politicians. This is the case of the foundations François Mitterand, former president of France; Konrad Adenauer, former chancellor of Germany; Franklin D. Roosevelt, of the United States and Olof Palme, former prime minister of Sweden, among many other. In Brazil, the president of Instituto Lula, Paulo Okamotto, and director, Paulo Vannuchi, met with former Brazilian president Fernando Henrique Cardoso at the Instituto FHC. This institute was also created to comply with the 1991 law which regulates the maintenance of the archives of former presidents in Brazil, allowing company and personal contributions and donations.

The Directors of the Instituto Lula also visited the Nelson Mandela Foundation in Johannesburg, the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum in Boston and the Clinton Foundation in New York.

In all, the experiences of more than 40 institutions were appraised – foundations, archives, memorials etc. - which were kept by former heads of state or heads of governments, politicians and other renowned leaderships.

Dozens of institutions of similar nature in Brazil and other countries are kept by company and personal donations. This was the model adopted by Instituto Lula which, from 2011, received contributions from dozens of companies. Following its statute, Instituto Lula the contributions and donations were all declared to Brazil's national revenue service.

The companies that made donations to Instituto Lula operate in several different sectors of the economy: finances, education, health care, engineering and services, among other. Instituto Lula doesn't accept contribution from governments, political parties and state-controlled companies.

It also has never used cultural incentive mechanisms commonly used by sponsor such as the Lei Rouanet (Brazil's cultural incentive law), although this is legally permitted and is used by similar institutions.



Thanks to corporate and personal support, agreements and partnerships with other institutions to promote seminars and events, Instituto Lula has been promoting an intense and diversified agenda which is regularly published in its site and sent to the press.

Activities for the preservation of Lula's presidential archives have been implemented through partnership with the Preseu Abramo Foundation and the Workers' TV (TV dos Trabalhadores) both of which built teams of specialists to catalog, preserve and reproduce an immense amount of documents, photographs, films, videos, digital images, books, diplomas, presents and various other objects that former president Lula received during his eight-year government tenure.

Another important activity is the recovery of Brazil's political memory which was started by Instituto Lula in 2013. This the the Democracy Memorial, a virtual history of the popular organizations and of the struggle for democracy in Brazil. This was produced by a team of historians, researchers, journalists and web designers. The Democracy Memorial includes thousands of texts, documents, photographs, recordings, films, maps and graphics that contribute in documenting and bringing to the public the historical process of the construction of democracy, civil rights and the struggles and conquest of the Brazilian society, specially of the Brazilian workers.

The first stage of the program, which covers the 1964-2002 period, is already available on-line, which includes guidelines for teachers to used in schools, trade unions and associations.


One of Instituto Lula's activities is the sharing and debate of successful experiences in public policy, social programs and initiatives that promoted social justice and inclusion. In the past few years, the combination of economic development with democracy and the eradication of social exclusion in Brazil has become reference for political leaders throughout the world, specially in Africa and Latin America.

In the last four years, former president Lula and the directors of Instituto Lula received ambassadors of 37 different African countries and nine Latin American nations, as well as representatives from the United States, France, Canada and China among others.

Instituto Lula has participated and helped organize dozens of meetings, lectures, seminars and debates in Brazil and other countries. It also signed pacts, agreements and partnerships with NGOS and multilateral organisms.

In four years, former president Lula traveled throughout Brazil and made 77 international trips to India, the US, France, Italy, Germany, Spain, 16 Latin American Countries and 10 African nations.

Lula took part in 132 meetings and audiences with current and former heads of states and prominent personalities in international politics.

During and after his presidential terms, Lula was given 93 honorary titles from Brazilian and foreign universities (28), among them form the Sciences Politiques, in Paris, and from the universities of Salamanca, Coimbra and San Marcos in Peru, the oldest university in the American continent. He also received dozens of international prizes, including the World Food Prize (US), Indira Gandhi (India), Africare (US) and the Lech Walesa prize in Poland.

In his international trips, former president Lula always speaks about the promotion of multilateral dialogue, construction of peace and support for social development and democracy. He also speaks out against hunger and poverty.


The personal archives of former president Lula are organized and kept by a team of specialist within Instituto Lula. It is made of presents, gifts and souvenirs received in the first first four years of activities of Instituto Lula and also all the memorabilia that came from Brasilia which were given to Lula during the eight years of his tenure as president.

They are made up of thousands of letters, books, CDs, tapes, paintings, pictures, and engravings which were given as gifts by high international authorities, institutions, companies and common people as well a prizes, medals and titles that Lula received and continues to receive in his travels and meetings with several sectors of the Brazilian society.

This material has been cataloged, packed and stored. The aim of the Instituto Lula is to create as soon as possible the conditions to grant access to the items for public visitation and consultation.


Lula's political struggle for a more just society, for the rights of workers, for democracy and peace started well before he was elected president. It goes back to the 1970s when Lula started participating in the Union of Metallurgy Workers of the ABC.

From then on, when he took a seat within the board of the trade union and was elected president, Lula's trajectory started being registered in several different ways. Video recordings – in formats that don't exist anymore -, films, photographs, newspaper stories, TV newscasts, audio tapes, texts and even academic research.

Lula then left the union to work on the creation of the Trade Union Confederation (CUT), the Workers' Party (PT) and take on an important role in the growing struggle for the end of the military dictatorship, for the full amnesty of accused under the dictatorship and in the struggle for direct presidential elections. Lula moved on to become a candidate for governor in the state of São Paulo in 1982, a constitutional assembly member and three times presidential candidate before being elected in 2002.

The history of Lula's 40 years of public life has no equal in Brazil and is being preserved by Instituto Lula. Through agreements signed with Fundação Perseu Abramo and with the Workers' TV, teams of professionals are researching, organizing, digitalizing, recovering, treating and cataloging thousands of hours of footage and millions of photographs, as well as all the art pieces such as posters, pamphlets and bulletins that registered Lula's activities.

Our Democracy Memorial, which will soon be fully published in its virtual format, already uses some of this material and can be seen by all on the Internet.


Instituto Lula believes that it is the job of governments and of the organized society of each country, through adequate public policies, to taken on the fight against poverty and hunger. Our actions aims to help share with governments, social movements, political parties and multilateral organizations the expansion of the social programs of the Brazilian government, stimulating actions to fight hunger and showing that it is possible to win this war.

Before Lula's first term, the Instituto Cidadania and its collaborators were specially dedicated to the issues of hunger and misery. The National Food Security program was handed over to president Itamar France in 1993 and he created the Committee and Campaign to Combat Hunger. In 2001, with new data and more specialists involved, the Institute launched the Programa Fome Zero (Zero Hunger Program), which inspired new actions by the government from 2003. It is of special note that the Bolsa Familia program is today known and recognized in almost all the world and was acclaimed by several multilateral organizations and several instances of the United Nations.

This led Instituto Lula to participate in the promotion of a high level seminar about food security in Africa, which occurred in Addis Ababa in 2013. Organized with the African Union and FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations), the seminar counted on the participation of seven heads of states, 400 authorities and representatives from multilateral organizations and academics.

The seminar created a schedule of actions aiming to eradicate hunger by 2025, a proposal which was later ratified, in January 2015, at the African Union's Conference.

Instituto Lula is now part of the coordination of this movement and continues to dialogue with

governments and entities responsible for the implementation of this ambitious target over the coming 10 years.

Former president Lula participated in events that took place several Latin American countries invited by governments which pushed forward programs to combat hunger and misery, among the Mexico, Colombia and El Salvador.


One of greatest legacies left by former president Lula's government was bringing Brazil closer to Africa once more, promoting a history of reconciliation between the peoples which played a fundamental role in the ethnic, social and economic formation of our country. In a ceremony of great significance in 2015, in the Gorée Island, Senegal, Lula asked for pardon for the slavery of the African people in Brazil. The Africa Initiative of Instituto Lula works to improve relations between Brazil with the countries in the African continent in the areas of cooperation, struggle for peace, for the construction of democracy, respect towards human rights and for the intensification of cultural and commercial interchange between the two continents.


Throughout former president Lula's government, Brazil actively participated in the process of Latin American integration, starting with efforts to make the Mercosur trade block more dynamic through to the creation of new bodies for the promotion of integration: Unasul, the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (Celac) and the Counsel for the Defense of the South.

The Latin American Initiative of the Instituto Lula works to deepen this process, promoting studies, debates and exchange of experience between institutions, social movements, governments and the region's multilateral organizations.


The international recognition of former president Lula and the credibility acquired by the Instituto Lula resulted in partnerships with some of the most important multilateral organizations and global institutions. These partnerships help increase the visibility and the engagement in the defense of public policies to fight hunger and poverty and have contributed to the promotion of the so-called “South-South” relations, in the amplification of cultural, commercial and political interchange between the Latin American and African countries for the development of greater social inclusion and peace.


After leaving the presidency of Brazil, Lula undertook more than 70 trips throughout the world, taking part in social, cultural, political activities as well as corporate events, always defending Brazil, its development potential and the social policies that improved the lives of tens of millions of Brazilians. All the trips were work trips, excepting those to the burial ceremonies of Nelson Mandela and Hugo Chavez, in which he was accompanied by Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff. In none of Lula's trips he used Brazilian official planes. In all his travels, Lula continued to work hard, now as former president, to expand Brazil's relations with the world. For Lula, the defense of the the poorest is an ethical imperative and the true solution for the global crisis that affects the economy since 2008.