In major cities, citizens have taken to the streets to protest against the judicial farce that led to the sentencing of former president Lula da Silva
Thousands of protesters gathered in São Paulo to reject the partisanship of the judicial system. Just hours after the sentencing of the former President Luiz Inácio “Lula” da Silva to nine years and six months for alleged corruption charges without any evidence, trade unions and social movements called a demonstration in protest against the judicial farce that condemns Lula, but frees congressmen and senators accused of much more serious crimes to vote against workers’ rights. According to the organisers, thousands of people gathered in the centre of São Paulo to reject the partisanship shown by the judge Moro and to show solidarity to Lula.
Guilherme Boulos, coordinator of the Workers’ Homeless Movement, described the sentencing as a mockery. The federal judge Sergio Moro acted like a political party. “The objective is to remove Lula from next year’s presidential election. When the judicial system behaves like a political party something very strange is happening.”
With over 30% of voter first-round intention, Lula has a clear lead in Brazil’s 2018 presidential race. Vagner Freitas, president of CUT (Brazil’s largest trade congress) told the crowd that "what has been done today has nothing to do with justice. It was only an attempt to prevent Lula from running for the presidency, for they know that Lula will be elected by the Brazilian people.”
According to the former minister for public policies, Eleonora Menicucci, Lula’s sentencing “represents the consolidation of the coup we suffered in 2016," referring to the process leading to the impeachment of Dilma Rousseff (PT). "The coup was not against the president, it was against a project that has Lula as the greatest leadership.”
Lula’s project tried to reform Brazilian society within the limits of neoliberalism. Interest rates were kept high and agribusiness did very well out of the commodity boom. Meanwhile, the poorer sections of society benefitted from income and wealth distribution programmes. Brazil was removed from the UN’s poverty map. The hatred the Brazilian establishment has towards Lula shows how little they are willing to give. His sentencing shows the limit of electoral politics.
This is an attack on democracy. As Boulos points out, “what is on the agenda now isn’t whether we agree with the positions Lula defends or not. What is important is that we have a clear position in condemning this farce.”
The condemnation of Lula’s sentencing is not limited to left-wing leaders and organisations. Former governor of the state of Paraná and member of the PMDB (Temer’s party), Roberto Requião, described the sentence in a very brief statement: "Lula is condemned...Temer is protected, …The worker is enslaved, the market triumphans, until Brazil rises up."
Menicucci added, “the coup would have no meaning without preventing Lula from running for president in 2018. They have no interest in arresting him, only in preventing his candidacy. However, there will be no democracy in our country if the right of Lula [to run for president] is revoked." Menicucci also recalled the Senate's approval of the Labour Reform bill which strips workers of any rights. Lula’s sentence serves the purpose of diverting the focus of public opinion away from the attack on labour rights.
Demonstrations in other major cities are being held in solidarity with Lula and against the judicial farce.
Orlando was born in Brazil and was involved in the successful struggle for democracy in the late 1970s and 80s in that country. He teaches A level Economics. He is a member of the NEU, Counterfire and Stop the War.
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