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!