labor Lula Turns Himself in to Federal Police, a New Phase of Resistance Begins in Brazil
On Saturday night, after delivering a historic speech to thousands of activists outside the Metal Workers Union headquarters in São Bernardo do Campo, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva made his way to Curitiba, a city in the south of Brazil, where he turned himself in to the Federal Police. The thousands who gathered outside the office of the police in solidarity with Lula as he arrived at Curitiba, were attacked with tear gas and rubber bullets by the riot police. At the same time, the small group of anti-Lula protesters at the same location were left undisturbed.
Lula will begin his 12 year prison sentence at the Federal Police Headquarters while his defense team continues to explore various legal avenues in the appeal process.
At the same time, tens of thousands of activists from different social movements will be congregating in Curitiba outside the police headquarters to take part in a permanent resistance camp until Lula is liberated.
Regina Cruz, State-level president of the Central Única dos Trabalhadores (CUT- Unified Workers’ Central), said the organizations calling for the resistance camp will guarantee the necessary structure to maintain a permanent vigil. “The mobilization is beautiful. We already have a shelter built. Many comrades here from the neighborhoods are helping and opening up their homes. We have water and food; everything will be provided for the comrades that come here. It is a permanent vigil. There is no end date. The people that are here today will not leave and they will stay for an undetermined time”, she affirmed. She said that as of Sunday, nearly 30 buses full of people were heading towards Curitiba from different parts of the region.
The focus of the resistance camp is on the freedom and innocence of Lula, but also on the development of a united fight among the Brazilian left and the diverse social movements in the country. Many leaders and cadres have commented that in the past week, there has been an unprecedented level of unity and commitment to struggle, and that the central fight of the organized sectors in Brazil now has to be and will be centered around Lula, because fighting for Lula means fighting for democracy and against the continuation of the neoliberal coup.
The Brazil’s People’s Front said in a statement: “Lula’s arrest is an essential part of the coup that is underway against the Brazilian people. The conservative offensive that led to the impeachment of President Dilma also led to the murder of Marielle Franco, and manifests itself in the imprisonment of President Lula. Lula is a political prisoner. His imprisonment inaugurates a new cycle of the coup and challenges us to expand our capacity for struggle and resistance.”
Lula’s case has also gained substantial attention internationally. In countries like Argentina, Venezuela, the United States, Catalonia, Colombia, Mexico, Uruguay, France, and others, people have been protesting Lula’s imprisonment in front of the Brazilian embassies and in public spaces.
Nobel Prize winner from 1980 Adolfo Pérez Esquivel, has started an international campaign to nominate Lula for the 2018 Nobel Peace Prize. He highlighted in his nomination letter that Luiz Inácio “Lula” Da Silva, “throughout his social commitments to trade unions and as a politician, developed public policies to overcome hunger and poverty in his country, [that has among] the most structural inequality in the world”.
Prominent international leaders such as Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro, Bolivian President Evo Morales, ex-President of Ecuador Rafael Correa, and Lucía Topolansky, the current Vice-President of Uruguay, have all voiced their support for the ex-president and trade unionist.
This is the beginning of a new period in Brazil, a moment of total unity in the struggle of the left to defend Lula, democracy and Brazil. At the same time, it is also a moment of crisis for the right wing, which has played its last desperate card to continue its coup d’etat from 2016. Their objective may have been attained and Lula may be in prison, but now is the time of the left, which must rise up to the challenge of intervening in the situation, and explore new possibilities to meet the crisis head-on.