On Tuesday, former President of the Federative Republic of Brazil, Luiz Inacio Lula Da Silva, became the 16th Doctor Honoris Causa of the Institut d’Etudes Politiques Paris and the first Latin American to receive this academic title.
Warmly greeted to the sound of the Batuka by Sciences Po students, former president Lula entered the Emile Boutmy amphitheatre amidst the applause of hundreds of students, including a number of Brazilians. Nearly 200 students from Sciences Po’s Euro-Latin American campus in Poitiers had come to Paris specially to attend the ceremony.
President of Sciences Po Richard Descoings hailed Lula for his contribution to Brazil’s social and economic development before an audience of students, teachers and dignitaries such as the former Portuguese Prime Minister José Socrates.
He declared: “You fought to give Brazil an international status. These days it is hardly possible to discuss any major issue without consulting the Brazilian authorities.”
Jean-Claude Casanova, President of the Fondation Nationale des Sciences Politiques, then gave a speech underlining the importance of the positivist movement in laying the foundations of the French and Brazilian republics at the end of the 19th century. Mr Casanova spoke of a number of positivist thinkers: “who seem to still underpin the soul and actions of Brazil. Positivism prefers industry to war, solidarity to struggle. It respects the independence of scholars. It privileges the spiritual – that is to say, science and knowledge – over the temporal – action. It makes simple courtesy a preserve of the authorities to foster the admiration of true virtues. It raises the proletarian to the same level as the engineer and submits the force of man to the gentle rule of women /…/ In the cultural heritage of Comte, we find only hope and generosity.” Mr. Casanova underlined the role played by President Lula in returning Brazil to economic prosperity, increasing its presence on the world stage and making Brazilian society more just and better educated.
Former president Lula opened his address by mentioning some of the achievement of his presidency, particularly in the field of education. “I am the first President of Brazil without a degree to open 14 universities, 126 university campuses and 214 technical schools.” His successor Dilma Rousseff has undertaken to increase the budget of the Ministry of Education from 5 to 7% of GDP. Lula concluded his speech by exhorting Sciences Po students to participate in political life after a parenthesis on the current European crisis. “What is happening in Europe requires political and not economic solutions.”
The ceremony concluded with a standing ovation from the audience.