222 days after political imprisonment, Lula speaks

With Bolsonaro’s new Justice Minister Sergio Moro claiming he was on vacation, Lula testified to a substitute judge in Curitiba on charges involving an allegedly illegal kitchen remodeling which took place after he left public office in a house that the courts do not claim he ever owned, located in a state outside of their jurisdiction. The former President said that he is being used as a trophy.

by Brian Mier

After 222 days in solitary confinement, barred from speaking to other prisoners or to the press, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva was finally allowed to speak in public on November 14th, during a testimony in the Paraná 13th Criminal Court in Curitiba as part of the US Department of Justice-backed Lava Jato investigation, on accusations that he enabled illegal remodeling of a kitchen in a country house that he does not own, after he left public office. Lula, who led all polls for the presidency by a wide margin until his candidacy was barred one month before the election, resulting in victory for neofascist candidate Jair Boslonaro and his team of military advisers, announced to the courtroom and the video cameras that he feels like a trophy.

“Doctor, I only want to ask, for my own clarification,” he said, “am I the owner of this property or not? Because I am willing to answer all and any questions. Am I the owner of this property?” The answer was “no”.

US-backed judge Sergio Moro, who is both leading the investigation and ruling on it, pulled a stunt to avoid showing up, declaring that he was on vacation. Moro, who illegally wiretapped and leaked phone calls between Lula and President Dilma Rousseff and leaked previously discarded plea bargain testimony to the media damaging to Lula’s replacement candidate, Fernando Haddad, one week before the elections, recently shocked the international journalists who have treated him as an impartial judge by agreeing to serve as Justice Minister in the openly neofascist Bolsonaro government after condemning his leading election opponent with no material evidence.

With a crowd of hundreds of social movement and union activists standing in front of the court room in solidarity with a man who they say is a political prisoner, Lula was finally allowed to speak in public. During a testimony that lasted several hours, during which substitute judge Gabriela Hardt only let him speak 40% of the time, he continually expressed his frustration with a case that, technically speaking, does not even fall within the geographical jurisdiction of the Curitiba court system. In the subtitled, linked video filmed during the testimony, Lula complains that he is being used as a trophy.

“I get really, really upset with the lies that were made about me in the power point presentation,” he said. “I get very irritated. I don’t know if I will live long enough for the truth to come out because I am 73, and nature is unforgiving when it comes for us. I ask God that at some moment in the history of this country the truth come out about what happened in the Lava Jato investigation, which could have been something done correctly to capture thieves, arrest corrupt people, and it went off track – in my case, I am talking about my case – and so I hope that we can prove this. I am not involved in any issue that should cause me to be here today. I thought I was here because of the vacation property, but I guess I’m not, the property isn’t mine but I am here because of a reform that was made on a property that isn’t mine. I shouldn’t be here because of the apartment in Guarujá, but they invented an offshore company in Parana and used it to summon me here, then they disconnected Petrobras [Petroleum company] from the case, but I stayed here.. And so on. And you see there is an obsession and I consider myself to be – you know what, your honor- a trophy. I was the trophy that Lava Jato had to deliver. I don’t know why they don’t like me, but it was a trophy that they had to deliver. I saw so many journalists say, over and over, “if they don’t arrest Lula it’s no good, if he doesn’t go to jail its no good, they have to arrest Lula”. I told judge Moro I’m sorry but from what has happened so far, for everything that was set up, you wouldn’t have had any alternative but to condemn me.”


By Brian Mier

Writer, geographer and former development professional who has lived in Brazil for 26 years. Former directorate member of the Fórum Nacional de Reforma Urbana (National Urban Reform Forum). Has lived in São Luis, Recife, Salvador, Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo. Author of “Os Megaeventos Esportivos na Cidade do Rio de Janeiro e o Direito á Cidade” (CEPR: Porto Alegre. 2016). Editor of "Voices of the Brazilian Left" (Sumare: São Paulo. 2018). Editor of "Year of Lead: Washington, Wall Street and the New Imperialism in Brazil" ((Sumare: São Paulo. 2019) Irregular correspondent for the Chicago radio show This is Hell.