"Almost three years ago, I left this institution to turn myself into the police. I went against my will because I knew I was innocent. But after so many years of fighting for the Brazilian people, I could not allow my image to appear on the front pages of local outlets as a fugitive," Lula said at the Metalworkers Union headquarters in Sao Paulo.
"I was sure that this day would come. Finally, Brazil acknowledged I was a victim of the biggest legal lie ever told in 500 years of history. I am psychologically wounded and full of scars. I lost loved ones to whom I could not say goodbye,” the Workers' Party leader said.
However, Lula emphasized that his suffering was insignificant compared to the pain felt by the relatives of 268,000 COVID-19 victims and millions of citizens who have fallen into extreme poverty due to President Jair Bolsonaro's mismanagement of the pandemic.
"My pain does not compare to the anguish that the Brazilian people live thanks to an inept President who has dedicated no efforts to control the pandemic and calls 'faggots' those people who are afraid to go out in the streets and get infected," Lula added.
"These three years of personal sadness do not compare to the daily suffering of those people who lost their jobs during the pandemic and have no food or money to support their children," he assured.
Lula explained that the health and economic crisis in Brazil was caused by the government, which has been absent and unresponsive to the people's needs.
In March 2020, Bolsonaro should have created a committee of experts to provide daily information on the epidemiological situation and tell the people what measures to take to prevent contagion.
"At all times, Bolsonaro downplayed the pandemic's impact. He refused to buy vaccines in time, promoted the use of Hydroxychloroquine even when experts did not recommend it to treat the disease, and condemned local governors' decisions to impose quarantines and social distancing," Lula recalled.
The former president also asked himself, "for how many years has Brazil not heard the words investment or development? Bolsonaro doesn't care about these issues. He just wants people to buy weapons as if they need them. He wants to encourage violence."
"Today the truth won. I want to be close to the people for the days I have left to live. I will never give up," Lula said.