Defend Lula

April 16, 2018

UE's officers have issued the following statement on the jailing of Brazilian Workers Party leader Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva:

The “conviction” and jailing of Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, leader of the Brazilian labor movement and Workers Party candidate for President in the upcoming election this fall, is a travesty and crime against the people of Brazil and working people around the world.

Lula, who served as President of Brazil from 2004-2012, has been jailed by a right-wing, anti-worker government without evidence or proof. In all of the judicial proceedings concerning his alleged illegal acts there was no evidence that he acted unlawfully or that he or his family profited from his position as President. Brazilian journalist João Filho summed up the case for The Intercept: “Lula, who came out with 89% popularity after 8 years in office and is now Brazil's favorite candidate for the next election, is on his way to jail for a conviction much more grounded in convictions than in evidence.”

The anti-labor, anti-worker drumbeat by a vicious and entrenched corporate media and right-wing business interests is trying to make a mountain out of a mole hill. The same forces came to power in 2016 by carrying out a legal coup against Workers Party President Dilma Rouseff, impeaching her for fabricated and unproven non-crimes.

In June 2016 the UE General Executive Board denounced the coup against the Rouseff administration, declaring that “The real reason for her removal was dramatically revealed on May 23 when the country's largest newspaper, Folha de São Paulo, published leaked transcripts of phone conversations a few weeks before the coup between then-Senator Romero Jucá (later a minister in the coup government) and a former oil executive in which they agree that Rousseff must be removed in order to end the investigation of corruption which threatens them and their cronies. In the conversations Jucá described a ‘national pact’ in which the Brazilian military, most of the Supreme Court, and other powerful institutions had agreed to back the removal of the elected president.”

On 17 May 2017, secretly taped recordings leaked by O Globo, a leading national newspaper, revealed that Michael Temer, the present President of Brazil and architect of the coup against Rouseff, discussed hush money pay-offs with a Brazilian business man who runs the country's biggest meat-packing firm, JBS. Subsequently, the Brazilian Senate took steps to protect Temer from indictment and prosecution for this crime.

These same right-wing business forces, supported by the U.S. government and corporate interests, are determined to stop Lula from becoming the President of Brazil again. In his previous two terms, he brought millions of Brazilians out of poverty, and his administration created 15 million new jobs.

UE has had a strong relationship with the Brazilian metalworkers union (Confederação Nacional dos Metalúrgicos-CNM) and their federation the CUT (Central Única dos Trabalhadores) for decades. We understand the challenges faced by workers and peasants in Brazil and the hope that Lula, the Workers Party, and other progressive parties bring to their communities.

UE denounces the Brazilian government’s attempts to silence the leaders of the Workers Party and send Brazilian society back to the days of dictatorships. We deplore the support they have received from the Trump administration. We call on the Trump administration and Congress to denounce the jailing of Lula and to call for his immediate release and reinstatement as a Workers Party candidate for President in the upcoming national elections.

Peter Knowlton
General President

Andrew Dinkelaker

Gene Elk
Director of Organization