Manifesto of the Free Lula Committee USA

We, progressive leaders, human rights defenders, workers, activists, engaged as individuals or members of organizations of civil society, from different parts of the United States, and who are concerned about democracy and social justice for all, join today in a unison to demand freedom for Brazil’s former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. We, hereby, form the Free Lula Committee USA.

Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva is a trained metallurgist and union leader, founder of the Workers Party (PT) in Brazil, elected as president of Brazil twice (2002 and 2006). His government terms, were marked by broad social advances. The Hunger Zero program, internationally praised, contributed in reducing poverty by over 50% (FGV). Other policies improved family income, increased minimum wage, scaled up affirmative policies for Afro-Brazilians, boosted investments in professional training, health, and education, targeting the most disadvantaged populations. The PT government implemented culture and art policies recognized internationally (Cultura Viva/ Gilberto Gil), that focused on advancing diversity and digital culture inclusion, empowering indigenous, black, and mixed race populations from peripheral territories that are traditionally excluded from cultural centers of big cities. Internationally, Lula’s government led Brazil to gain unprecedented sovereignty and leadership in the Global South, focusing on the strengthening of MERCOSUR and the increase of cooperation between Brazil, Africa, and Asia through BRICS. He also inaugurated a series of procedures to combat corruption at all levels government as per example increasing investments on federal police and creating a anti-corruption agency – CGU.

On April 7, 2018, President Lula was arrested to serve a 12-year sentence, resulting from an unfair trial based on assumptions and false accusations.  His sentence was based on “indeterminate acts” and not on material evidence. This led to his imprisonment, despite the presumption of innocence guaranteed by the Brazilian Constitution.

His entire life, and of his family, as well as of the Institute named after him, continue to be under investigation. No wrongdoing has been found. President Lula never appropriated public resources for personal gain. After decades of holding public office, and years after leaving Brazil’s Presidency, he and his family have kept a modest life. The police and the judges could never associate with Lula any monies, hidden in Brazil or offshore.

For these and other reasons, and with the media manipulation that has accompanied the case, we truly believe that Lula’s persecution was politically motivated and that he is now a political prisoner. He is a victim of Lawfare: the political persecution through the Law.

It was also ruthless persecution, following the illegal impeachment perpetrated in 2016 against the democratically elected president Dilma Rousseff, in order to end the fourth term of the Workers Party. President Dilma’s policies continued to distribute wealth in  Brazil, using the revenues of Petrobras, one of the world’s oil giants, towards health and education.

Lula was also, by a wide margin, the favorite contender of the 2018 Presidential elections. Not only he was unlawfully imprisoned by Judge Sergio Moro, but his lawful right to be a candidate was denied. This removed Lula from the presidential elections run, leaving the path open to the far-right candidate Bolsonaro, who was elected via dubious means of campaign manipulation. After elected, Bolsonaro appointed Judge Moro as the Minister of Justice of his government.  

Four hundred  judges from Brazil released a letter on March 27th, 2019 that states:  

“A damning sentence is something terrible if it falls on an innocent. There is no greater injustice than that represented by an unlawful decision of one of the powers of the State over any citizen. When state power and the monopoly of violence rests on civilian bodies, it is essential that such a decision be legal and legitimate. Former President Lula or any other Brazilian citizen can only be convicted, losing property and freedom, if the materiality of the offense is fully substantiated, the defense widely guaranteed, and all the rules of due process guaranteed. That is not what happened to Lula. From incomprehensible coercive conduct to the illegal disclosure of illegally picked telephone cramps, passing through all sorts of public embarrassments due to selective leaks, citizen Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva experiences a cavalry that never fell on a Brazilian politician.”

Never before in the history of Brazil did a former President, his family, supporters, and friends have experienced such heavy persecution. Nevertheless, they keep resisting with pride and confidence in justice and on the historical process.

Former President’s legal team have reiterated his innocence showing facts that refute all accusations against him. Many were dismissed by Judge Moro. Lula’s rights are under constant violation. In January 2019, when his brother passed away, even the legal right he had to attend his brother’s funeral was purposely delayed and manipulated, until it was granted too late for him to make the trip from jail in time to say goodbye. In March 2019, in the event of the sudden death of his 7-year-old grandchild, he was allowed to attend the funeral. But it was turned into a spectacle of force, with hundreds of police officers and cars heavily armed accompanying Lula. He was treated as a violent criminal or terrorist, much in order to maximize the avoidance of any contact with the people that love and were there to support him.

From the first day of imprisonment, his supporters in Brazil have maintained a Vigil in front of the prison in the city of Curitiba. The vigil has received thousands of visitors, from public figures, Nobel Prize winners, religious and community leaders, activists and academics from around the world. Like the committee we are forming here today in the United States, hundreds of committees to free Lula have been formed all over Brazil, as well as in Europe, Africa and South America.

We demand “Free Lula”  because his arrest is unconstitutional.

We demand “Free Lula” because any consolidated democracy in the world would repel the nomination of Judge Sergio Moro to the Ministry of Justice. This clearly shows Moro’s bias in the process with clear political motivations. Lula’s case should be dismissed and he should be set free.

We demand “Free Lula” because his trials involved vicious practices of Lawfare, endangering Brazil’s democratic values and weakening its institutions.

We demand “Free Lula” to regain a judiciary system that respects the Brazilian Constitution.  

Lula has said that his “biggest crime was to wish to end poverty in my country, and to help the poor”.

This grotesque lawfare spectacle against Lula is a direct attack on what he represents and on the people he served for over 50 years.

History will not forgive, and it will hold accountable those who are committing such injustice.  

We demand “Free Lula”

We will work together.

We will resist together

We will only rest when Lula is Free

Free Lula     Free Lula    Free Lula!

Organizations members of the committee:

  • US NDB – US Network for Democracy in Brazil – Free Lula Working Group 
  • The People’s Forum – NY
  • Defend Democracy in Brazil Committe – DDB NY  
  • PSL NYC- Party for Socialism and Liberation
  • United Steelworkers (USW) 
  • UFCW – Global Strategies – United Food and Commercial Workers International Union 
  • Coletivo Boston Contra o Golpe
  • Coletivo Humanas 
  • UMASS Free Lula Committe
  • Coletivo Alerta NY
  • Brazilians Expat for Democracy – Washington


Link: https://www.facebook.com/Lulastruth/posts/2368305436548540

As attorneys for former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, we reiterate on this date (April 7, 2019), one year after his wrongful and incompatible with the Federal Constitution imprisonment, that the acquittal and re-establishment of Lula’s complete freedom are the results being imposed when it comes to the appeals and procedures pending before the National and International Courts. There is also the need for the gross violations of Lula’s fundamental guarantees to be remedied by Brazilian agents who have accepted, with the proven help of US agents, to promote “lawfare” against Lula and against the rule of law in the country.

Therefore, today it is important to recall that:

The judgment of conviction on which Lula’s imprisonment that took place on April 7, 2018 was based, was preceded by legal measures that were arbitrary and against the Rule of Law, such measures were required by the Curitiba Car Wash Prosecutors and authorized by former Judge Sergio Moro – whose court was chosen on the unrealistic grounds that Petrobras’ resources were allegedly involved in the case –, with emphasis on:

(a.1) the invasive measures adopted against Lula, his relatives and collaborators on March 4, 2016; on that date, in addition to other arbitrary acts on the part of Car Wash, Lula was arrested for about 6 hours in order to give a testimony that he had never refused to give, only to convey to the public and society an artificial atmosphere of guilt, something which is typical of “Lawfare”; the “bench warrant for compulsory interrogation” of suspects was considered unconstitutional by the Federal Supreme Court in an injunction granted on December 17, 2017 and confirmed by the Full Court on April 6, 2018, but this decision had no repercussion when it came to former President Lula’s case;

(a.2) the wiretapping of the main telephone landline of our firm and real-time monitoring of the entire defense strategy of Lula’s lawyers; the recorded conversations were sent by the Federal Police to the Clerk’s Office of former judge Sérgio Moro’s Court with annotations and organizational charts on the measures being considered and debated by the attorneys of record, possibly for them to take action against them (https://www.conjur.com.br/…/25-advogados-escritorio-defende…); none of those involved were punished and the complaint filed by Lula against former judge Sergio Moro for abuse of authority and violation of the Telephone Interception Act (Law no. 9206/96) was shelved by the Regional Federal Court of the 4th Region (https://www.conjur.com.br/…/trf-rejeita-queixa-crime-ex-pre…);

(a.3) when examining the decisions of former judge Sérgio Moro that authorized telephone interceptions against Lula, his relatives, collaborators and lawyers, the 4th Region Appellate Court decided that there was no irregularity because Car Wash “is without a question an unprecedented situation, deserving an exceptional treatment” (https://www.conjur.com.br/…/lava-jato-nao-seguir-regras-cas…).

Despite all the arbitrary acts against Lula, his relatives, collaborators and lawyers between February and September 2016, there was no material evidence produced by the authorities against the former President; such a situation, however, did not prevent Lula and his wife from being victims of an insane dispute between some members of the São Paulo Attorney’s Office and the Curitiba Car Wash to accuse them of crimes they did not commit; the National Council for the Public Prosecutors agreed with Lula’s defense that prosecutors cannot choose the case they will be acting in, but such a decision had no effect on the case of the former President (https://www.conjur.com.br/…/apesar-ver-irregularidade-cnmp-…);

On September 14, 2016, the Curitiba Car Wash made the bizarre “PowerPoint” presentation against Lula, accusing him of being the head of a criminal organization; the subterfuge for this initiative was unreal, since the complaint filed at that time about the “triplex apartment” did not bring this accusation against the former President;

This PowerPoint presentation sealed a definitive alliance between the Car Wash and media sectors with the purpose of convicting Lula on the grounds of headlines and news reports based only on the account of the Federal Prosecutors involved, without any material evidence, another characteristic of lawfare;”

The procedure that brought Lula to prison has always had its result predefined by the members of the Judiciary involved in it; at the end, after the rejection of the evidence required by the defense and the testimony of 73 witnesses who never confirmed the prosecution’s theory, the interrogation of one of the executives, Leo Pinheiro, was postponed for a week without any explanation and his testimony was later used as grounds for the conviction of the former President;

Before the testimony of this co-defendant, the media had already announced he was being pressured by some authorities to mention Lula’s name in exchange for benefits; as Lula’s lawyers, we requested an investigation, but the case was briefly closed (https://www.conjur.com.br/…/lula-protesta-mp-relatos-pressa…);

In his judgment, former Judge Sérgio Moro convicted Lula of practicing “unspecified acts” and on the grounds of US appeal court judgments that defended that there could be a crime of corruption without the necessity of proving the commission of an official act on the part of a public agent (which have already been overcome by decision of the Supreme Court of that country); Moro acknowledged that he had never identified any amount connected to Petrobras’ contracts meant for Lula, as it has always been stated by his defense, nevertheless, he still held the jurisdiction chosen by the Car Wash Prosecutors and convicted the former President (https://reinaldoazevedo.blogosfera.uol.com.br/…/xiii-moro-…/);

The judgment of conviction also ignored the evidence of innocence produced by Lula’s Defense: in 2010 OAS sold (through secured fiduciary sale) 100% of the economic and financial value of the triplex to a fund managed by Caixa Econômica Federal (https://jornalggn.com.br/…/nem-de-lula-nem-da-oas-triplex-…/); that is to say, the apartment could never have been given or “attributed” to Lula in 2014 without proof of payment of the corresponding amount in a Caixa account which was specified in a contract;

During the course of the appeal before the 4th Region Appellate Court, we presented relevant new facts that were clearly ignored by that Court, such as: a handwritten statement by Joao Vaccari Neto which belied Leo Pinheiro’s account and also presented videos of former US prosecutors confessing that they had informally helped – which is, therefore, unlawful, and goes against the International Treaty that provides for the relationship between the countries – the Car Wash prosecutors build the case against Lula and convict the former President (https://jornalggn.com.br/…/em-video-procurador-dos-eua-adm…/);

Although the “triplex” case brings together more than 250 thousand pages, Lula’s appeal before the Appellate Court of the 4th Region was processed in record speed (https://www1.folha.uol.com.br/…/1912821-recurso-de-lula-foi…), in addition to the negative result being announced by the Chief Judge of the Court even before the filing of the appeal (https://politica.estadao.com.br/…/geral,sentenca-que-conden…);

Lula was arrested before the exhaustion of all the appeals he could file with the appellate court (https://br.reuters.com/article/topNews/idBRKCN1HC31Y-OBRTP); the Federal Constitution (article 5, LVII) ensures that the presumption of innocence can only be dismissed after a final judgment of conviction (res judicata);

Petrobras participated throughout the whole procedure as an assistant to the prosecution against Lula, claiming to be a victim; in the United States, however, it signed an agreement with prosecutors pleading guilty;

In the attachment in which they narrated the illicit facts that based the confession of guilt, Petrobras made reference to former employees, businessmen and politicians; but, as opposed to the position adopted by the oil company in Brazil, there is no reference to Lula or to any participation of the former President in the criminal scheme (https://jornalggn.com.br/…/defesa-de-lula-ve-motivo-para-a…/);

In 2018, Brazil refused to comply with the interim measures granted by the UN Human Rights Committee, which ordered the country, with binding force, to guarantee Lula’s political rights, unless there was a final judgment of conviction based on a “fair trial” (https://nacoesunidas.org/comite-de-direitos-humanos-da-onu…/); these decisions were delivered as part of an individual communication that we filed with the Committee in July 2016 (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bDIqNNw10RI) and which could have been tried this March, if it weren’t for the statement requesting the postponement presented by Brazil on March 19, 2019;

The appeals we have filed with the Higher Courts (the Superior Court of Justice and the Federal Supreme Court) contain solid legal grounds, aligned with the current precedents of said Courts, so that the sentence imposed by Moro and confirmed by the Regional Federal Court of the 4th Region on Lula be dismissed and for him to be released.

We must emphasize today, given the presented background, that defending the acquittal and re-establishment of former President Lula’s complete freedom means defending the redemption of the Rule of Law in the country.

Cristiano Zanin Martins / Valeska Teixeira Martins