In this Dossier:
1) DC activists join multi-city “Free Lula!” protests today (August 13) — from Union City, the publication of the Metro Washington Council, AFL-CIO
2) Free Lula! — Lula Candidate! — An Election Without Lula is Fraud!: Statement by PT Paraná State Executive Committee member Anisio Homem (distributed at the PT’s 15th National Convention on Aug. 4)
3) “Defending Democracy in Brazil” – Complete July 26 Statement of the National Executive Council of the AFL-CIO
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1) DC activists join multi-city “Free Lula!”
Protests are being held today, August 13, in Washington, New York City, Boston and Montreal to protest the political imprisonment of Lula, the popular former President of Brazil. Lula, a former union president, focused on the needs of the poor and working people during his two terms and, despite being jailed on April 7 for “undetermined actions,” is seeking the presidency as a leader of the Workers Party (PT). The AFL-CIO released “Defending Democracy in Brazil” on July 26 to support free democratic elections, human and labor rights in Brazil. [See text below.] The Solidarity Center called Lula’s jailing “a politically motivated attempt to disqualify him as a candidate for president.”
(reprinted from Union City, the publication of the Metro Washington Council, AFL-CIO)
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2) FREE LULA! — LULA CANDIDATE! — AN ELECTION WITHOUT LULA IS FRAUD!
Statement Distributed to the Delegates Attending the 15th National Convention of the Workers Party of Brazil (PT) in Sao Paulo on August 4, 2018
The delegates to this National Convention of the Workers Party (PT), on behalf of the thousands of PT members from across Brazil, have the responsibility to confirm with their votes and decisions the aspirations of the party’s rank and file, who are demanding, “Free Lula, Lula Candidate, Lula President!”
The PT has already decided: Lula is our candidate for President of the Republic on October 7. The opinion polls also show that a significant portion of the electorate supports Lula as their candidate for president.
The coup plotters, with the illegitimate government of Temer/PSDB at the helm, seek to prevent the Brazilian people from freely choosing whom to vote for in the elections of October 7.
Our answer must be: We will not allow the Trump administration; the FIESP; the Rede Globo [TV]; the Moro court; the judicial manipulations of TRF4, STF and TSE [judicial and electoral commissions]; the Federal Police, or the high military hierarchy inherited from the dictatorship to decide whether Lula can or cannot be a candidate.
Only the members of the PT have the right to decide who will be their candidate. They are the workers, the youth, the landless peasants and the family farmers, the unemployed and the homeless … they and only they must decide. And they’ve already made a sovereign decision: Lula Candidate for President, An Election Without Lula Is Fraud!
And they want Lula to be their candidate so that he can repeal the measures of social regression implemented by the illegitimate coup government of Michel Temer, on behalf of international finance capital:
They want to reverse all the privatizations and take back the privatized companies. They want to repeal the labor law “reform” to reclaim and advance our rights. They want to revive the law of secondary-level education and save the public schools. They want to repeal EC 95 and prevent the collapse of the public healthcare, education and sanitation systems, to name only a few.
They want to prevent the destruction of the public housing sector through a privatizing “reform” of the welfare system. They want to reclaim 100% state ownership of Petrobras [national oil corporation] to assert sovereign control over the immense wealth of the deep-water oil reserves. They want the democratic right to an Exclusive and Sovereign Constituent Assembly to enshrine within it their aspirations — which are the aspirations of the overwhelming majority of the people — and to establish a political system free from the interference of the military dictatorship and free from the manipulations of large corporate financing.
They don’t want anyone else to decide in their place, as occurred in Pernambuco, where the majority of the delegates to the State Convention of the PT decided that Marília Arraes should represent them, not the coup governor of the PSB.
In 1985 the military dictatorship and Big Capital imposed a presidential “election” under the tutelage of a tightly controlled electoral college, which was nothing other than the National Congress [of the military dictatorship]. The PT, heeding the will of the people who were holding huge mass mobilizations to demand “diretas já!” — that is, Direct Elections Now! — rightly refused to participate in the election charade, as the outcome of the vote had been decided in advance. It was this decision by the PT — this refusal by the PT to go along with a prearranged vote — that opened the doors to direct elections in the country.
In 2018, the same economic interests of big foreign and national Capital, and the same politicians linked to them, are preparing a fraudulent election. They are doing this by thwarting the democratic will of the workers and of the majority of the people; they are doing this by deciding in advance who can and who cannot be a candidate.
In his article published widely on July 19 titled, “Take Your Hands Off Me and Shut Up!” Lula was crystal clear: “Do you want to defeat me? Then go ahead and do it cleanly, in the voting booths!”
The PT has already said it, and they must reaffirm it: An election without Lula is Fraud!
All the candidates for president who claim to emanate from and represent the working class, such as Boulos (PSOL) and Manuela (PCdoB), should be contacted and asked not to participate in what could only be an electoral farce if Lula is prevented from running for president.
It is essential to organize a big mass action in Brasília [Brazil’s capital] on August 15, the day of registration of the Lula candidacy at the Electoral Commission, with similar demonstrations throughout the country. To prepare these actions and to organize the follow-up of this struggle — in which the CUT, MST, UNE, and other popular organizations must be involved together, with the PT — it is vital to create “Free Lula, Lula Candidate, An Election Without Lula Is Fraud” committees in places of work, residence, and study throughout the country. The committees of PT candidates for governor, deputies and senators must also act accordingly.
Anisio G. Homem – PT delegate of Paraná to the National Convention of the Workers Party (PT), member of the PT Paraná State Executive Committee
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3) AFL-CIO Demands Lula Released / Allowed to Run for President
(July 26 Statement of the National Executive Council of the AFL-CIO)
For the past two years, Lula has been the target of mainstream media attacks and persecuted by politically motivated parts of the judiciary. He has been denied the presumption of innocence and his right to a fair trial and appeals.
The AFL-CIO’s Executive Council recently issued a statement in solidarity with Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. We at Brasil Wire are happy to see the largest labor union federation in the Western Hemisphere demonstrate so much knowledge and clarity on the current political context in Brazil. We support the 12 million workers of the AFL-CIO and the global solidarity movement to free Lula and allow him to run for President. The following is the complete statement, which was released on July 26th, 2018.
Defending Democracy in Brazil
For years, the AFL-CIO and its unions have developed strategic alliances with Brazilian unions through mutual support in campaigns with multinational employers and building unions committed to democracy and racial and gender equality. As right-wing authoritarian populism that seeks to divide and disempower workers while consolidating corporate power and privilege increases in our democracies, the AFL-CIO commits to working with Brazilian union partners and the global labor movement to defend democracy in Brazil and support the country’s return to the progressive course it pursued in the first 15 years of this century.
From 2003 to 2015, the governments of Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva and Dilma Rousseff embraced social, gender and racial inclusion, brought 40 million Brazilians out of poverty, and implemented policies advancing collective bargaining and systematic increases to the minimum wage to increase workers’ share of the wealth they create. Domestic and other excluded workers achieved full labor rights. New higher education policies increased access and affordability for more working people and more Afro-Brazilians. Affordable housing was built, electricity came to areas where there was none, sanitation improved remarkably and there were remarkable reductions in child and forced labor. These policies were combined with stable economic growth. In short, the Brazilian people regained their hope for the future. The AFL-CIO and others looked to Brazil as leaders of the global fight for democracy and equality and governing with a workers’ and citizens’ agenda. In four successive elections, Brazilian citizens voted Lula and his successor Rousseff each into office twice, voicing their support for these policies.
Since 2015, corporate interests, major media and right-wing forces have organized an assault on these achievements, as well as the leaders who advocated for them. First, Lula’s successor Rousseff was removed in 2016 through a parliamentary coup led by a politician who has since been removed due to a corruption conviction. Dilma was voted out of office by a Senate, which had more than half its members under investigation or convicted of corruption; Dilma, meanwhile, was never charged with corruption. Upon seizing power, the unelected president, Michel Temer, and legislative branch that removed Dilma imposed anti-worker, racist and environmentally devastating policies. Austerity plans have reduced access to health and education, while police violence in predominantly Afro-Brazilian communities has increased. In its first few months, this government changed labor laws to make all of Brazil a “right to work” country, weaken collective bargaining and attack the financial stability of the labor movement. As the International Labor Organization’s Committee of Experts reported in February 2018, the revised labor law “is not based on negotiation, but on the abdication of rights.” Since these changes, collective bargaining has declined by 39.6%.
For the past two years, Lula has been the target of mainstream media attacks and persecuted by politically motivated parts of the judiciary. He has been denied the presumption of innocence and his right to a fair trial and appeals. On April 7, Lula was imprisoned (with a 12-year sentence) in spite of a lack of evidence of corruption and that Brazil’s constitution guarantees personal liberty and the presumption of innocence until the appeals process has ended. These attacks seek to prevent him from running for president in October 2018 and with his restoring the policies of social equality and inclusion.
Last month, from jail, Lula announced his candidacy for president. He continues to lead in all polls, with more support than all of his potential opponents combined. The leading opposition to Lula is a right-wing ex-military officer who defends the 1964-1985 dictatorship and praises those in it who used torture. He explicitly rejects the progressive achievements of the Lula and Dilma presidencies.
For two years, the AFL-CIO and its affiliates have expressed our concerns to the U.S. and Brazilian governments, as well as leading solidarity actions in the U.S. and international forums. The AFL-CIO also has engaged members of Congress to raise their voices in opposition to these attacks on the rule of law, on Brazil’s democracy, and on Lula and Dilma. We will remain active in defense of Brazil’s labor movement, its allies and their democracy, as well as the progressive policies and leaders such as Lula who have brought real change to Brazilian working families.
The AFL-CIO Executive Council thereby calls on the entire government of Brazil, including the Brazilian judiciary, to reverse this travesty of justice, and to protect the fundamental rights to due process of law and to a fair trial by pursuing the following measures:
* Immediate release of Lula until the appeals process has been completed in accordance with the Brazilian constitution.
* An impartial and objective review of Lula’s case by the judiciary with all due process rights guaranteed.
* Allow Lula to run for the presidency in this year’s election. Restore democracy to Brazil, since the people should have the right to vote for the candidate of their choice.
* The AFL-CIO will work in coalition with the global labor movement and other human rights and social justice organizations to support the struggle for democracy and worker rights in Brazil. Our work in such a coalition campaign may include the following actions:
o Host Brazilian democracy and justice activists during visits to the United States and work with the progressive Brazilian community in the United States.
o Advocate for democracy in Brazil on Capitol Hill and other levels and branches of government and international organizations, as well as in national and international labor events.
o Raise awareness of these attacks on Brazil’s democracy through communications and demonstrations.
o Build the alliance of organizations and individuals committed to these goals.
The AFL-CIO recognizes from our own historic and current experience with similar attacks on workers’ rights and on our federation’s commitment to social justice and equality that we must raise our voices with Brazilian workers.