In the early hours of Saturday Morning, April 28th, as hundreds of protesters were sleeping in their tents at the Lula Livre Democratic Vigil outside the Parana Federal Police headquarters where Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva is being held in solitary confinement, gunmen opened fire injuring two activists, one critically. As in the case of the assassination of Marielle Franco and the shots fired against the Lula convoy in Parana in March, no suspects are in custody. According to witnesses, 20 shots were fired at the sleeping activists.
In a video recorded early this morning, PT National President Gleisi Hoffmann said, “this fascist attack is a result of this process of persecution against President Lula, against the PT and against the Leftist social movements.” Since the 2016 Coup, violence against leftist activists has increased dramatically in Brazil, with 11 assassinations in the last 5 months. In a public note issued at 9 AM this morning, the PT Executive Committee said, “after the Coup d’Etat which toppled democratically elected president Dilma Rousseff, the number of attacks and assassinations against social movement leaders has increased in the cities and the countryside. Together, they have been followed by unacceptable collusive neglect from the authorities and the Coup mongering media, which remains silent in the face of growing barbarianism.”
The rise in fascism in Brazil is a direct result of the breakdown of the rule of law since the 2016 coup, which has led to the political imprisonment of the nation’s most popular presidential candidate, Lula, on charges that he received illegal reforms, including construction of an elevator, in an apartment which the US-backed prosecution team led by Judge Sergio Moro was unable to prove he ever owned or set foot in. Furthermore, when the MTST social movement occupied the apartment in question which the prosecutors had denied access to by the press and Lula’s defense lawyers, on April 18, they took photos and filmed, proving that no reforms had ever taken place and no elevator had been installed.
According to Professor Paulo Amar, from the University of California at Santa Barbara’s Global Studies Department, the criminalization of leftist activists and politicians in Brazil is a result of a long character assassination campaign led by the far right that started during the lead up to the 2016 Coup:
“In Brazil, the resurgent right-wing launched accusations of “Bandidolatria.” By this they meant the idolatrous “worship” of thugs and bandits by the Left and liberals, and the human rights community’s supposed contempt for the rights of police officers and soldiers. “Bandidolatria” discourse was one way through which the right wing painted Pink Tide-era leaders as responsible for both corruption and crime crises. The term “bandidolatria” associated progressive social movements and their social-democratic political economies with notions of inherent crime, urban deviance, and “anti-Christian” values. “
The Lula Livre Democratic Vigil is one of 4 solidarity camps which have been set up across Brazil by members of the MST, the CUT labor union federation and other unions and social movements. Every day, thousands of people pass through the Curitiba camp, which is located in front of the Federal Police Headquarters where Lula is being held in solitary confinement and denied visitation rights in violation of the UN’s Mandela Law, to which Brazil officially adheres.
As Curitiba prepares for the first ever protest in which Brazil’s 7 largest labor union federations will act together under the same causes – Freedom for Lula and rejection of the coup governments Labor and Pension austerity reforms- protesters at the camp say that they are not leaving.