“What are you afraid I will say?” says Lula

“An illegitimate government in its final months of power hurries to liquidate as much of the nation’s assets and sovereignty as possiblethe pre-salt petroleum reserves, gas pipelines, energy distribution companies and petrochemical plantsand opens the Amazon region to foreign troops. While hunger resurfaces and children’s vaccination levels plummet, part of the judiciary fights to keep its rent subsidies…”

From solitary confinement, banned from giving interviews, held on charges that he committed undetermined acts by a US-backed judge who was allowed to rule on his own prosecution, leading presidential candidate Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva writes an article for Brazil’s largest newspaper, Folha de São Paulo. He names it after a line in Chico Buarque and Gilberto Gil’s song, “Cálice”. During the military dictatorship, Buarque and Gil tricked the censors with a play on words: “Cálice” means chalice, but “Cale-se” means “shut up”. In an ambiguous manner the song either begins meaning, “Father, pull this chalice of blood-red wine away from me”, or “Father, pull this bloody ‘shut up’ away from me”. In the article Lula says, “What are the people who don’t want me to speak afraid that I will say? It isn’t enough for them to arrest me, they want to silence me.”

– editors.

Get this ‘shut up’ away from me

By Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva

I have been in jail for more than 100 days. Outside, unemployment increases, more mothers and fathers have no way to support their families, and an absurd policy of fuel prices caused a trucker strike that depleted Brazilian cities. The number of people burned while cooking with alcohol increases because of the high price of cooking gas for poor families. Poverty is growing, and the country’s economic prospects are getting worse every day.

Brazilian children are imprisoned and separated from their families in the United States, while our government humiliates itself to the American Vice-President. Embraer, a high-tech company built over decades, is sold for such a low price that even the market is shocked.

An illegitimate government in its final months of power hurries to liquidate as much of the nation’s assets and sovereignty as possible – the pre-salt petroleum reserves, gas pipelines, energy distribution companies and petrochemical plants – and opens the Amazon region to foreign troops. While hunger resurfaces and children’s vaccination levels plummet, part of the judiciary fights to keep its rent subsidies and – who knows – even get another raise.

Last week, Judge Carolina Lebbos ruled that I can not give interviews or record videos as pre-candidate for the Workers’ Party – the country’s largest – which nominated me as its presidential candidate. It seems that arresting me wasn’t enough. They want to silence me.

I ask you who don’t want me to speak, what are you afraid I will say? What is happening to our people today? You don’t want me to talk about solutions for this country? After years of slandering me, you don’t want me to have the right to defend myself?

Is this why you — the powerful without ideas or votes — overthrew an elected president, humiliated the country internationally, and arrested me for a judgment that has no evidence with a prison sentence for “indeterminate acts” after four years of investigations against me and my family? Did you do all of this because you are afraid that I will give interviews?

I remember when the Supreme Court President said “shut up has already died”. I remember Grupo Globo, who is not worried about this impediment to the freedom of the press – on the contrary, it celebrates it.

Lawyers, former heads of state from countries around the world and even political opponents recognize the absurdity of the legal proceedings that convicted me. I may physically be in a prison cell, but the people who convicted me are prisoners to their lie. Powerful interests want to turn this absurd situation into a consummate political fact, against the recommendations of the United Nations Human Rights Committee, and prevent me from running in the elections.

I already lost three presidential races- in 1989, 1994 and 1998 – and always respected the results by preparing myself for the next one.

I am a candidate because I did not commit any crime. I challenge my accusers to to show proof of what it was that I did to be in this prison cell. Why do they talk about “indeterminate acts” instead of showing what I did wrong? Why speak of an apartment that is “attributed”, instead of presenting proof of ownership of an apartment in Guarujá which belonged to a company and was used as collateral for a bank? Will they prevent the course of democracy in Brazil with such absurdities?

I speak of this with the same seriousness with which I told Michel Temer that he should not embark on an adventure to overthrow President Dilma Rousseff and that he would regret it. The people most interested in my running for office should be the ones who don’t want me to be President.

Do you want to beat me? Do this cleanly at the polls. Discuss proposals for the country and take responsibility, especially at this moment when the Brazilian elites are flirting with authoritarian proposals from people who openly defend the assassination of human beings.

Everyone knows that, as president, I relied on dialogue. I did not seek a third term when my disapproval rating was the size of Temer’s approval rating today. I worked so that social inclusion could became the engine of the economy, so that all Brazilians had the rights – not only on paper- to eat, study and have housing.

Do you want the people to forget that Brazil has had better days? Do you want to prevent the Brazilian people – from whom all power emanates, according to the Constitution – from choosing who to vote for in the October 7th elections?

What are you afraid of? The return of dialogue, development and the time in which the nation had the least social conflict? When inclusion of the poor made Brazilian companies grow?

Brazil must restore its democracy and free itself from the hatred that they planted to remove Workers Party from the government, remove pension and labor rights, and bring back the unbridled exploitation of the poor. Brazil needs to find itself and become happy again.

You can arrest me. You can try to shut me up. But I will not lose my faith in the Brazilian people and the hope of millions to have a better future. I am sure that the faith in ourselves, as opposed to an inferiority complex, is the solution to the crisis we are living in.