FISL10 day 3 – the day I met the President

Posted by – 28/06/2009

I am a little behind on the reports on FISL, but so much has got my attention during it that blogging was just put in second. I will catch up today, hopefully.

So, during the night of day 2, all those measures I mentioned had to be put in place. That was when I learned that I was suppose to be one of the selected lecturers to meet President Lula in private, representing small free software companies (how awesome!). Others include Peter Sunde, Bdale Garbee, Jon ‘maddog’ Hall, Richard Stallman, Marcelo Tosatti, Pau Garcia-Milá, Sérgio Amadeu, Marcos Mazoni, Ana Amorin, Bruno Souza, Marcelo Branco, Sady Jacques and Mário Teza.

I was told to dress accordingly… I asked what “accordingly” meant (we were in a free software event: jeans and t-shirt seemed “accordingly” to me)… but no reasoning was taken: I had to wear a tie.

Next day I went to PUCRS early, in order to prepare some lines and gather some data I could mention to the President. Something like Free Software adoption rate, which is around 26% per year, or the 134 million USD that this market moved just last year. I would also ask the President to enforce the Free Software priority in training programs sponsored by the Federal Government. I knew I would not have time for a speech or the like, and that this would be more an informal meeting… This, though, was even more difficult to prepare (I would prefer a speech!).

So, I got my pin and went to the Arena to wait for the scheduled evacuation, after which, I was told to wait in the private room, for the President arrival. I was there with the rest of the selected lecturers, so I couldn’t see when he arrived. People told me that he went all around the exposition area, and the user group area, shaking hands and being photographed with everybody there. He even entered the Programming Arena and told the contenders they were “genius” (after all, the Programming Arena was his idea, 3 years ago). People in Debian booth told me he entered the booth and wore a Debian hat…

When he finally entered the private room, everybody had about 2-3 minutes with him in the middle of a circle. Presidential photographer took lots of pictures we were told will be sent to us later this week, but of course some of us also took our own pictures. Some of those are below, taken from Sergio Amadeu’s camera:

Marcelo Branco, President Lula and I

Peter Sunde, Sérgio Amadeu, Marcelo Tosatti - in blue, behind Sérgio -, Richard Stallman, I, Bdale Garbee, Dep. Paulo Pimenta, and President Lula

Jon ‘maddog’ Hall gave him a Tux pin and a DVD with a animation produced only with Free Software (I cannot recall the title). Richard Stallman gave him a printed version of his book. Marcos Mazoni gave him a small totem with the stamp celebrating 10 years of FISL (the stamp was an idea I had two years ago but that we couldn’t do by ourselves – Mazoni’s SERPRO had the same idea and actually did it), and all others (including myself) just told him what we where there for. For me, in particular, he asked where I was born and how I went from being a doctor to own a free software company. I had the impression somebody already told him about me beforehand (Mário or Marcelo, for sure). I told him I was doing both right now… he smiled, hugged me and went on to the next of us.

After that, we were told to take our places in the audience room (FISL3 room in the map), where we heard Marcelo Branco, FISL10 coordinator, Dilma Rousseff, minister of Civil House (and appointed to succeed Lula), and President Lula. It’s easy to find this audience in youtube. Most interesting part of Lula speech, IMHO, can be loosely translated into English as:

I remember the first meeting we had at Granja do Torto [which is the presidential country residence – similar to Camp David, but less aristocratic], in which I understood absolutely nothing about what these people were discussing, and there was an enormous tension between those defending the adoption of Free Software by Brazil and those defending we should just do what we always did – remain the same, buying and paying for others’ intelligence. Thanks God, in our country, the decision to adopt Free Software prevailed.

He also said many things that pleased the audience. People raised a banner asking him to block Azeredo’s bill, and he said the bill was equivalent to censorship and that in Brazil it is “forbidden to forbid”.

After those speeches, he went to some other appointments, and the day 3 of FISL10 was over. I just wish that, if any President comes to FISL again, we’d be warned in advance, so we can prepare the map accordingly, and not have to run last-minute preparations. All in all, a great participation. I think all the hassle we had because of his coming were hugely compensated by what he said.

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