Representatives of Brazilian organizations in the left-wing coalition Frente Brasil Popular met yesterday (9) in Curitiba to plan new mobilizations around the country to support ex-president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. Around the world, the International Front of Brazilians Against the Coup is calling for protests against Lula’s imprisonment. Lula is being held at the Federal Police headquarters in Curitiba since Saturday (7).
In Curitiba, supporters have set up camp outside the Federal Police building to stage a vigil for the former president and decided to stay even after a police crackdown on the first day of the protest.
Social movements and unions that are members of Frente Brasil Popular and another left-wing coalition, Povo Sem Medo, are planning to stage a nationwide demonstration tomorrow (11). “The focus of our action right now is to fight for freedom for ex-president Lula,” said Milton Rezende, a director of Central Única dos Trabalhadores (CUT), Brazil’s largest labor union federation.
The coalitions issued a statement saying the ex-president is a political prisoner. Pedro Gorki, a director of the Brazilian Secondary School Students’ Association (UBES), agrees. “Lula’s imprisonment is a political imprisonment. Our role is to say we do not accept a dictatorship or a state of exception in Brazil anymore, and on this day, the 11th, from now on our political struggle will be focused on turning the tables,” Gorki said.
Around the world, demonstrations were reported in New York City, Paris, Buenos Aires, Berlin, Santiago, Washington D.C., Bogota, Oslo, London, Mexico City, Barcelona, and other cities. New protests are scheduled this week for New York City, Madrid, Dublin, Brussels, London, and Frankfurt.
In Brazil, João Pedro Stedile, from the Landless Workers’ Movement (MST), informed other camps will be set up in Brasilia and Rio de Janeiro.
Stedile also said there are demonstrations scheduled for cities around the country tomorrow (11), when Supreme Court justice Marco Aurélio Mello is expected to request the country’s top court to rule on actions to prevent individuals from being imprisoned while appealing their cases after an appellate decision, which is the case of ex-president Lula.
Frente Brasil Popular organizations are also discussing the possibility of scheduling a national one-day strike next Tuesday (17), and a large rally with jurists and important international personalities on Wednesday (18) in Curitiba.
“The Right and Globo [Brazil’s largest media conglomerate] were constantly demanding Lula’s arrest. Lula is in prison, now what? Now it’s up to us to make a political move and the coup plotters have nothing left to advocate for,” Stedile said.
Another activity scheduled in April will take place on the 21st, a national holiday in honor of Tiradentes, who fought for Brazil’s independence from Portugal. According to Beatriz Cerqueira, chairwoman of CUT in Tiradentes’ home state Minas Gerais, activists in the state want to use the date to recall historical injustices against people’s leaders. “We want to have protests on this day to say Lula is innocent and that we want him freed,” she said.
According to movement leaders, even if the ex-president is freed, they will continue to organize for the country’s elections in October. The Workers’ Party says Lula is still the party’s presidential candidate.
Edition: Diego Sartorato | Translated by: Aline Scátola