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Brazilian trade union movement repudiates order of imprisonment against Lula

06 April 2018
On Thursday 5 April, federal judge, Sergio Moro, decreed the imprisonment of former Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. Convicted without evidence on two charges of corruption, Lula leads the polls for the presidential elections this October.

The Brazilian trade union and social movement and many respected personalities and jurists have spoken out against what they see as the political persecution of the former president, aimed at preventing him from running in the elections. In the early morning of Thursday, the Brazilian Supreme Court (STF) turned down the habeus corpus application presented by Lula's defence team by a majority of six to five. The ruling violates the Constitution and the Penal Code, which only allows imprisonment after the appeal system has been exhausted.

"Regardless of the reasoning behind the accusations against Lula, it's clear that the ex-President is a victim of political persecution by the right-wing, mainly because he is leading the polls for the presidential elections to be held in October this year. The imprisonment of Lula at this precise moment serves an agenda that goes against all the social achievements that Brazil has reached in recent years - an election without Lula would be a fraud," says PSI's General Secretary Rosa Pavanelli.

Brazil's main trade union centres issued a press release on Thursday denouncing the persecution of the former Brazilian president. Read here (in Portuguese ) the note issued by the Central Única de los Trabajadores (CUT) and here (in Portuguese) the joint press release issued by a further five trade union centres. On Friday 6 April, the Trade Union Confederation of the Americas (TUCA) also issued a note in solidarity with Lula (in Spanish).

The three statements show that the Brazilian and Latin American trade union movement are clear that the conviction, imprisonment and probable ineligibility of Lula da Silva, whose case was dealt with in record time, are part of the government’s attack on labour rights begun after the removal from office of President Dilma Rousseff in 2016. 

"In this context, the conviction and imprisonment of Lula represent continuity with the parliamentary coup and a definitive break with democracy. The former president was sentenced without evidence in a major judicial farce that explicitly restricted and manipulated his right to defend himself", says Juneia Martins Batista, a Brazilian trade union leader who is a member of the World Executive Committee of Public Services International (PSI). 

"We now face the biggest political crisis since the military dictatorship. If we are to overcome this crisis, it will be crucial to guarantee the freedoms of organisation and expression and free, democratic and sovereign elections with the participation of all political forces. We do not accept authoritarian vetoes. The country is very divided and the persecution of Lula, combined with public dissatisfaction with living and working conditions could result in more radical reactions", warns João Domingos Gomes dos Santos, also a Brazilian trade union leader on the PSI World Executive Committee.

International solidarity is now crucial in the fight to ensure Lula’s release and political rights.

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