Brazilian left unites in response to arrest of Lula

15 April 2018

By Liga Socialista, Brazil

THESE ARE tense days in Brazil. The political instability, which began with the parliamentary coup, heightened in the days leading up to the Federal Supreme Court hearing of Lula’s request for Habeas Corpus last Wednesday, April 4.

On the eve of the trial, the Army General, Villas-Boas, issued a social network communiqué threatening military intervention if Habeas Corpus, which would guarantee Lula’s liberty, were granted. The participation of Rede Globo, the main TV network in such plans was clear by the tone of its reporting on this threat. The message was very clear; either arrest Lula or face a military coup.

The Court’s voting on the case was a clear demonstration of hypocrisy. This was highlighted by the vote of Minister Rosa Weber, who explicitly recognised that Lula’s arrest at this stage of procedure would be unconstitutional but that she supported it in Lula’s case! Her vote meant the Court was evenly divided, for and against arrest, thus it was the vote of the Court’s President, Carmen Lucia, that resolved the issue, evidently against the granting of Habeas Corpus.

The incoherent and hasty vote had the single and exclusive goal of removing Lula from political activity before this year’s elections by sending him to prison even before he had exhausted his right of Appeal.

According to the polling of Estadão – Ipsos, released on March 4, Lula’s support is at 42 percent, slightly down on the 44 percent of the previous month, but within the margin of error anyway.

This puts him ahead of Marina (Rede) with 29 percent, Bolsonaro, PSC, with 24 percent, the governor of Sao Paulo, Geraldo Alckimin, PSDB, with 20 percent and Ciro Gomes PDT, on 18 percent. Only Luciano Huck, the Rede Globo presenter, is ahead of Lula with 56 percent approval.

The situation is made even more absurd by the fact that the same Supreme Court cleared various leading members of the MDB and PSDB who were facing serious charges which, unlike in Lula’s case, were based on hard evidence.

This makes it even clearer that this is a political persecution of Lula and the Workers’ Party, PT.

The day after the vote, Judge Sergio Moro issued the arrest warrant establishing a deadline for Lula to surrender to the Federal police in Curitiba by 5.00 pm on April 6.

There was an immediate militant response. Former president Lula, who followed the Court’s proceedings and heard the final vote in the Institute Lula, went to the offices of the Metalworkers’ Union, ABC, and remained there for nearly 2 days, “protected” by an immense army of militants. It is important to highlight the presence of the OCP which has led a great campaign against the condemnation and arrest of Lula.

The left parties, with the exception of the PSTU, have taken positions in support of the former president. The OCP, PCB, PC of B, PSOL and PDT, released a public statement of support for Lula and participated in the solidarity demonstrations. Candidates for the presidency, such as Manuela Dávila (PC of B), Guiherme Boulos (PSOL) also sided with Lula. The slogan that unites the left at the moment is defence of democratic rights. For all forces on the Left, apart from the PSTU, the condemnation and arrest of Lula is a political persecution and an attack on democratic rights.

The CUT showed its ability to mobilise the working class and acted with greater agility and certainty than even against the labour “reform”. Confrontation was inevitable. Police opened fire with live ammunition against MST militants who closed over 50 highways in 24 states. By contrast, the demonstrations supporting Lula’s arrest were weak, with many demonstrators paid to attend.

Lula said he would not appear in Curitiba on Friday. He slept in the union offices and the next morning after, coffee, he attended the memorial Mass for his late wife, Marisa, surrounded by a large number of militants who went there to ask him not to surrender. Several artists and party leaders from the Left and unions were present to give greater support to the former president.

Soon after Mass, Lula delivered a speech in which he demonstrated firmness and said he knew that “they” wanted to see his head bowed, defeated and ashamed. But that he would not give “them” that pleasure. He also said that he would not give himself up because he is not a thief and will not accept to be called one. He said he would report to the Federal police.

When he got into a car and was going to leave, the crowd of militants surrounded it and would not let it pass and tried to close the huge gate. Lula had to retreat and return to the Union where he waited for a few more hours. When the mood of the militancy cooled down, he decided to leave and walked through the militants who still tried to stop him, but eventually gave in to his will and he entered the car of the Federal police who had been waiting for him.

Lula was taken to the airport and thence to Curitiba where he was arrested at the headquarters of the Federal police. From dawn, militants had been gathering in front of the building to show their support for Lula and had been attacked by the military police, injuring 8 people with gas and rubber bullets. After the arrival of Lula, as a prisoner, the Federal police attacked the left-wing militants with a disproportionate violence, in which a woman and four children were injured.

Later, those who came to support the arrest of Lula were received with smiles and applause from the Federal police.

We in the Socialist League have always been critical of the PT’s governmental strategy with its policy of conciliation between the classes that led to granting the bankers and multinationals exorbitant profits, even during the 2008 crisis.

We know that the PT, up to this point, has still not broken openly with the right-wing parties that planned this coup, and that Lula was looking for a businessman to be his deputy on the slate. But right now, it’s very difficult for any entrepreneur or politician on the right to accept being a prisoner’s deputy.

Lula is angry but not beaten. The PT is organising committees for the freedom of Lula throughout the country. Caravans of militants from various places in the country are being organised to go to Curitiba to join the militants there to support Lula. The PT states that there is no plan B for the elections, in other words, Lula and the PT will not appoint anyone to replace him. Then we will have great possibilities of Lula being a candidate even though he is in jail.

We have news that Lula’s conviction and arrest is being condemned by the international press, such as the Washington Post and Le Monde. Left-wing politicians such as Maduro and Melecon have also expressed support for Lula.

It is now likely that the agitation and political confrontation in Brazil will last for a long time and that the 2018 elections will be held in a very different atmosphere from the calm we have seen in recent decades.

The left has so far failed to build any unity for this electoral process, but it is now unified in the fight for the freedom of Lula.

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