Behind bars, Lula announces candidacy

Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, who has been behind bars for 2 months on charges of committing undetermined acts with no material evidence, announced that he is the PT party’s pre-candidate for the presidency, in a race that he is leading in all election polls. If Brazilian electoral law is respected, his candidacy can only be barred by the court system after the elections. On Saturday, June 9th, he wrote this letter to the Brazilian people justifying his choice to run for President as a political prisoner.  

Manifesto to the Brazilian People

Two months ago I was unjustly imprisoned without having committed any crime. For two months I’ve been barred from traveling through the country I love and bringing a message of hope for a better and more just Brazil with opportunities for all, as I have always done during my 45 years of public life.

I was prevented from daily interaction with my sons and my daughter, my grandsons and granddaughters, my great-grand daughter, my friends and comrades. But I have no doubt that I was put here to block me from interacting with my larger family: the Brazilian people. This gives me the most anguish because I know that, on the outside, every day there are more and more families returning to live on the streets, abandoned by the state that should protect them.

From where I find myself now, I want to renew the message of faith in Brazil and in our people. Together we know how to overcome difficult moments and grave financial, political and social crises. Together, in my government, we overcame hunger, unemployment, a recession and enormous pressure from international capital and its representatives in our country. Together we reduced the centuries old sickness of social inequality that marked the formation of Brazil: the genocide of the indigenous peoples, the enslavement of black people and the exploitation of workers in the city and the country.

We fought injustice with no mercy. With heads held high we became known as the most optimistic people in the world. We deepened our democracy and, due to this, achieved international protagonism through the creation of UNASUL, CELAC, the BRICS and our solidarity relationship with African nations. Our voice was heard in the G-8 and in many important world forums.

I am sure that we can rebuild this country and return to dream as a great nation. This is what inspires me to keep fighting. I can’t conform with the suffering of the poorest and the punishment that is striking against our working class, just as I cannot conform with my situation.

Those who accuse me in Operation Car Wash know that they are lying because I was never the owner, never had the deed and never passed a single night in that apartment in Guaruja. Those who condemn me, Sérgio Moro and the judges in the 4th Federal Regional Court, know that they set up a judicial farce to arrest me because I showed my innocence in the trial and they were unable to present any proof of the crime they accuse me of.

To this day I ask: where is the proof?

I was not treated by the Lava Jato investigators, by Moro and the 4th Federal Regional Court as a citizen equal to the others. I was always treated as an enemy.

I do not harbor hatred or rancor, but doubt that my tormentors can sleep with a clear conscience.

I have the constitutional right to appeal against all injustices in freedom, but this right was denied to me, until now, with the only reason being that I am named Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.

This is why I consider myself to be a political prisoner in my country.

When it became clear that they were going to take me by force, without a crime or any proof, I decided to stay in Brazil and confront my tormentors. I know my place in history and know what place will be reserved for those who persecute me today. I am certain that justice will make the truth prevail.

During the caravans that I made recently throughout Brazil I saw hope in the eyes of the people. I also saw the anguish of those who are suffering from the return of hunger and unemployment, malnutrition, abandonment of schools, rights stolen from the workers and the destruction of constitutionally guaranteed social inclusion policies which are now denied in practice.

I am running for President of the Republic again to end the people’s suffering.

I take on this mission because I have a big responsibility to Brazil and because Brazilians have the right to vote freely for a national project with more solidarity that is more just and sovereign, that perseveres with a project for Latin American integration.

I am a candidate because I sincerely believe that the electoral courts will maintain coherence with their precedents of jurisprudence that, since 2002, have not given in to the blackmail of exception just to wound my right, and the right of the electorate, to vote for who best represents them.

I have had many candidacies in my trajectory, but this is different: this is the commitment of my life. Whoever had the privilege to see Brazil advance in benefit of the poorest of the poor after centuries of exclusion and abandonment, cannot omit themselves from this, our people’s most difficult hour.

I know that my candidacy represents hope and we will take it to the final consequences because we have the force of the people on our side.

We have the right to dream again, after the nightmare imposed by the 2016 coup.

They lied to take down legitimately-elected President Dilma Rousseff. They lied that the country would improve if the PT left the government and that there would be more jobs and more development. The lied to impose a program that was beaten in the ballot boxes in 2014. They lied to destroy the project of extreme poverty eradication which was started during my government. They lied to hand over our national resources in favor of the economic and financial power brokers in a scandalous betrayal of the people’s will which was manifest in the most clear and unequivocal manner during the elections in 2002, 2006, 2010 and 2014.

The hour of truth is coming.

I want to be president of Brazil again because I proved that it is possible to build a better Brazil for our people. We proved that the Nation could grow in benefit to all if the government put the workers and the poor at the center of its attention and did not become a slave to the interests of the rich and powerful. We proved that only the inclusion of millions of poor people can make the economy grow and recuperate.

We governed for the people and not for the market. It is the opposite of what our adversaries’ government is doing, at the service of the financiers and the multinationals, which suppressed the historic rights of the workers, lowered the minimum wage, cut investments in health and eduction and is destroying programs like Bolsa Familia, Minha Casa Minha Vida, Pronaf, Luz para Todos, Prouni and Fies, among other social justice actions.

I dream of being President of Brazil to end the suffering of those who don’t have enough money to buy a tank of cooking gas, who have returned to cooking with firewood or, even worse, are using rubbing alcohol and becoming victims of grave accidents and burns. This is one of the most cruel setbacks caused by the policy of destroying Petrobras and national sovereignty conducted by the PSDB, which supported the 2016 coup and loves to hand over our natural resources to the foreigners.

Petrobras was not created to generate profit for the gamblers on Wall Street in New York, but to guarantee self-sufficiency in petroleum for Brazil at prices that are compatible with the national economy. Petrobras has to return to being Brazilian. You can be sure that we will end this story of selling off its assets. It will no longer be held hostage to the petroleum multinationals. It will return to perform its strategic role in the development of our country, including earmarking the profits from the pre-salt offshore reserves for education, our passport to the future.

You can also be sure that we will block the privatization of Eletrobras, Banco do Brasil and Caixa Economico, the draining of the Brazilian National Economic and Social Development Bank (BNDES) and all the instruments that the country has to promote development and social welfare.

I dream of being President of a Nation in which the judge pays more attention to the Constitution than newspaper headlines, in which the State of Law is the rule, without measures of exception.

I dream of a Nation in which democracy prevails over arbitrary decisions, the monopoly of the media, prejudice and discrimination.

I dream of being President of a Nation in which everyone has rights and nobody has privileges. A Nation in which everyone can return to having three meals a day; in which all children can go to school; and in which all have the right to work with a dignified salary and legal protection. A Nation where every rural worker can return to having access to land to produce on, with financial and technical support. A Nation where people return to having trust in the present and hope for the future. It is for this that we will, once again, be respected internationally, return to promoting Latin American integration with cooperation with Africa and to exert a sovereign position in international dialogue about commerce and the environment, for peace and friendship among peoples.

We know what path will transform this dream to reality. Today it passes through the realization of free and democratic elections, with the participation of all of the political forces, without rules of exception to block just one specific candidate.

Only in this way will we have a government with legitimacy to confront the great challenges, that can dialogue with all sectors of the nation supported by the popular vote. And it is this mission that propels me to accept the Presidential candidacy for the Workers’ Party.

We have already shown that it is possible to make a government of national pacification in which Brazil works for Brazilians, especially the most poor and the workers.

We made a government in which the poor were included in the Federal Budget with more income distribution and less hunger; with more health and less infant mortality; with more respect and affirmation of rights for women, Afro-Brazilians and diversity and less violence; with more education at all levels and fewer children outside of school; with more access to universities and technical schools and fewer youth excluded from a future; with more popular housing and fewer land conflicts in the cities; with more agrarian reform settlements and land distribution and less conflict in the countryside; with more respect for indigenous populations and maroon communities; with more salary gains and guarantees of workers’ rights; and with more dialogue with the unions, social movements and business organizations and less social conflict.

It was a time of peace and prosperity that we had never had in history.

I believe, from the bottom of my heart, that Brazil can return to happiness. It can advance much farther than what we conquered together when the government was of the people.

To achieve this goal, we have to unite the democratic forces in all of Brazil, respecting the autonomy of the parties and the social movements, but always having, as a reference, a project for a more just Nation with solidarity that rescues the dignity and the hope of our suffering people. I am sure that we will be together at the end of this journey.

From here, where I am, with the solidarity and the energies that come from all corners of Brazil and the world, I can assure you that I will continue working to transform our dreams into reality. It is for this that I am preparing myself, with faith in God and great confidence, for the day when I will reunite with my beloved Brazilian people.

This reunion will only fail to happen if my life ends.

See you soon, my people

Viva Brazil! Viva Democracy! Viva the Brazilian People!

Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva

Curitiba, June 8th, 2018

This letter was translated from Portuguese by Brian Mier and can be read in its original form here.

Artwork by Cristiano Sequeira


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.