On the morning of Wednesday, April 18, PT (Workers Party) President Gleisi Hoffman conducted a series of interviews with foreign television networks about the political imprisonment of ex-President Lula, the leading presidential candidate for 2018, who is serving a 12 year prison sentence based on charges that he received illegal reforms on an apartment, after he left political office, that prosecutor-judge Sergio Moro was unable to prove he ever owned or set foot in. Hoffmann spoke with journalists from CNN, EFE (Spain), BBC and Al Jazeera. During the Al Jazeera interview, she stated that Lula is a political prisoner and asked for solidarity from the Arab people in working for his release.
Shortly after the interview aired, Senator and Journalist Ana Amelia (PP-Rio Grande do Sul), apparently confusing Al Jazeera with Al Qaeda, accused her of associating with terrorists and calling on IS to attack Brazil. Congressman Major Olimpio (SP-PSL), a far-right former Military Police officer, joined in the accusations against Hoffman and filed a complaint with the Federal Attorney General’s office. Shortly thereafter, the Attorney General opened a preliminary investigation against Hoffmann, to decide if she has “entered in negotiations with a foreign government or group, or its agents, to provoke acts of hostility or war against Brazil.”
Later that afternoon Hoffmann responded to the accusations on the Senate floor, saying that it wasn’t the content of the interview which bothered Amélia but the fact that it was done with an Arab TV network. “I can only attribute this to ignorance, prejudice and xenophobia against the Arab people,” she said, “but more than this, it is an example of bad faith and lack of character by this Senator – the same one who called for people to violently attack Lula’s campaign rallies.”
With ignorance, stupidity and fear their primary weapons, putschist groups such as Vem Pra Rua and MBL, both with links to foreign capital, have echoed nonsensical calls for Gleisi Hoffman and the PT to be investigated.
As the issue quickly spread through the social media, thousands of Brazilians showed their disgust with the accusations, which added to fears that this was an attempt to criminalise the PT. One commentator on Facebook, Sandra Necchi, said, “This is absolutely ridiculous! I’m watching Brazil literally descend into pre-1989 fascism – inevitably they’re going to come out and outlaw the PT itself and make it illegal for anyone to be a member of the PT.”