On 11 September, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, the metalworker leader and a founder of the Workers’ Party, who was elected to the highest office of president of the country for two terms during 2003 till 2011, had to withdraw as candidate from the elections, despite polls showing great support from the population.
Reforms carried out while Lula was in power granted massive access to university education for poor people, while the social welfare programmes Bolsa Família and Fome Zero helped to eradicate hunger and extreme poverty, bringing hope for the future to the vast majority of poor Brazilians. A real increase in the minimum wage by 73 per cent on top of inflation and a general wage increase boosted growth, generating over 20 million jobs and reducing unemployment to a historical low of 4.3 per cent. Lula became the workers’ symbol in Brazil, Latin American and the entire world.
The illegitimate government, now in power for two years, destroyed most of these achievements, attacking workers’ rights and causing economic chaos. The country has an unemployment rate of around 14 per cent today.
Upon consideration of Lula’s case, the United Nations Human Rights Committee, a panel of independent experts, in August requested the Brazilian government to allow Lula to exercise his political rights as a presidential candidate.
Now, as the election date of 7 October approaches, Lula, 72, is in jail after a corruption conviction. Even though the appeal process is not yet over, the authorities denied Lula his right to vote or be elected, in violation of the national Constitution and international norms.
According to international lawyers, the conviction was a set up to deny Lula’s candidacy and prevent him from running for re-election. Polls indicate that Lula has vast support from the population, despite the allegations and campaign of defamation against him.
Lula was incarcerated in clear violation of legal procedures. His phones and those of his defence lawyers were illegally wiretapped. The indictment was issued after 23 hearings, during which none of the 70 witnesses made any statement that could provide proof in favour of the indictment.
However, right-wing forces hiding behind the rhetoric of national sovereignty and in violation of all national and international legislation denied any justice to Lula, including participation in the elections.
With the view to continue the struggle for the workers’ cause, the Workers’ Party announced a new candidate, Fernando Haddad. Through the public support extended by Lula, Haddad, academic and former mayor of the city of São Paulo, is now leading the pre-election polls.
The international trade union movement, including IndustriALL Global Union and affiliates, has expressed its full support to Lula and the people of Brazil. IndustriALL’s most recent Executive Committee in May adopted a special resolution in support of former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva.
The results of the elections will define the future of the country: whether it will democratically serve the interest of its vast population, or will be in the hands of right-wing forces supporting a new oligarchy whose only objective will be to enrich themselves at all cost.