Interview with Luis Inacio Lula

1. In your opinion, what was the reason for the coup against Dilma Rousseff?

As a matter of fact, the conservative forces never accepted the outcome of the 2014 elections. The majority of the people voted for the continuity of the popular government and rejected the return of neoliberalism, but the right-wing refused to respect the people’s democratic choice. They have the media monopoly and an enormous economic power, so they were sure they were going to defeat us. But despite the massacre of the press against us, the population did not allow itself to be manipulated. They voted to stop the historic setback announced by the tucanos [members of the PSDB], they voted so the country would keep following the path of national independence, development, income distribution and social inclusion. Just the day after the election, the sabotage against Dilma's government and the conspiracy to overthrow it, began. It was damaging agendas after damaging agendas, both in the Chamber of Deputies and in the Senate, to cripple the economy, to scare investors and consumers, while government projects, so necessary to the country, did not pass or were completely disfigured. What has become more clear by now, even for many people who have been deceived by the lies of the press, is that it was not a coup only against Dilma or the Workers' Party [PT]. It was a coup against public education and healthcare, a coup against the rights of workers and pensioners, a coup to privatize public enterprises and the Pre-Salt, a coup to denationalize the Amazon, a coup against the country.

2. How do you evaluate the role of the media and more specifically of Rede Globo in the Coup?

The great communications monopolies were decisive for the coup. Rede Globo, in particular, was one of its main articulators and its great propagandist. The coup would not have been possible without the systematic attack and sordid campaign of demoralization that Rede Globo made against Dilma's government and the PT. To ease the path the coup, it helped stifle the accusations against the coup leaders (the shielding of Aécio Neves is a blatant example of this), which would only appear after the President was overthrown. Globo did not hesitate to ally itself with Eduardo Cunha to sabotage the government and scandalously protected him until he finished his dirty work. It sold to the country the false idea that all of the nation’s problems were created by the PT, and that removing the PT from the government would suffice - even if it would hurt the rule of law and democracy - for Brazil to become a marvel. Today, without any shame, it tries to convince the workers and poor people that the people will live better without labor rights and retirement.

3. Sérgio Moro, a judge from a lower court, convicted you in the legal action regarding the apartment in Guarujá. You are also being prosecuted in other judicial processes. Why are you being prosecuted by Justice?

Judge Moro says, in the sentence that condemned me, that the said apartment is not mine, but that it does not matter. Those responsible for the Car Wash [Operation] have said that there is no evidence against me, but that they have the personal conviction that I am guilty. For years, they've scoured my life down, and they have been unable to find a single illegal act of mine as President, but that does not matter to them, either. Everyone knows that a basic principle of law, which is sacred in all true democracies, is that the burden of proof lies with the accuser, not the accused. For others, this principle holds true. Not for me. My innocence is more than proven in the records, but this is simply not taken into account. I have 40 years of public life, dedication to the workers, the poor, the country. Is this my crime? Having taken Brazil off the hunger map? I can not settle for so much arbitrariness. What is the reason for this partisan type of justice? I even think that those who have plotted the coup cannot accept that Lula will run for the presidency again ...

4. If elected, what steps will you take to improve the lives of the people and the course of the country?

It's early to speak as a candidate, much less as an elected representative. Rather, we must prevent the coup plotters from destroying the social rights that were hard won by the Brazilian people in the last decade. And prevent them from privatizing, at a despicable price, public enterprises. And it is also necessary to ensure that the next elections are indeed free and democratic, that the attempt to criminalize left-wing and popular movements does not prevail. But I do not doubt that Brazil has a way. I really trust in the future of Brazil. A new government, a legitimate one, the fruit of the popular vote, with a progressive vision for the country, can perfectly take Brazil out of the quagmire in which it is today. We have already ruled the country and proved in practice that Brazil could be a sovereign nation, with real economic growth, job creation, income distribution, social inclusion and expansion of educational opportunities at all levels. For this, it is necessary to believe that the popular classes are not a problem, but a solution. When the poor of the city and the countryside can buy again, that is when business will sell again, and industry will produce and with that, investment will return. It will also be very important to elect a better Congress than the current one, with more representatives of the workers, peasants, women and young people.

5. For all that Brazil has been through - such as the coup, unemployment, corruption, media manipulation - many people do not believe in politics anymore. What should we do in the face of this hopelessness?

I do not think we have the right to give up. My mother taught me that. We always have to fight, always try to make tomorrow better. I'm 71, and I do not want to give up, so a young man has no right to give up. I did not give up surviving when I was born in a region where many children died before the age of five. I did not give up organizing the workers during the dictatorship. I built with my companions the largest political party in Latin America, and I was president of Brazil for two terms, the best evaluated by the people until today. If I got all this without a college degree, no rich dad, why should a young man give up? If you think politics is bad, get into politics and try to yourself, be the militant or political leader you dream of for Brazil.

6. Today, who are the main adversaries so we can have a country with social justice, solidarity and opportunity for all?

I think today there are a lot of people resentful in Brazil, many people who are in a bad mood, thinking that selfishness will solve something. Many entrepreneurs want to take the rights of workers and retirees without realizing that if the worker and retiree do not have money, they will not consume what is produced. The great strength of our economy is the internal market. Then he may think he's going to do well as an enemy of the workers and eventually his sales will fall. Some people resent the improvement of the life of the poorest and want a country for the few, only for a third of the population. Some people defend almost going back to slavery. These people need to understand that this is not good even for them because a country for a few is a weak, insecure, unstable country. Such a country does not attract foreign investors, it attracts only parasites in search of quick wealth, that come to extract natural resources or buy cheap companies. A society of solidarity is not only a matter of justice - even if it is the most important - but also of necessity. When the poor and the workers improve their lives, the whole society lives.

7. What do you recommend regarding organization and focus to the Brazil Popular Front [Frente Brasil Popular] to advance the fight against the setbacks and for democracy?

I think the Front is an extraordinary thing because it brings together different sectors of society - workers from the countryside and the city, women's movements, racial equality movements, against sexual discrimination, environmentalists, young people, not to mention the progressive intelligentsia - to analyze Brazil and to fight for its transformation. It has been fundamental in resisting the political and social setbacks. And it certainly can be very important in the recovery of a popular project for the country. I think the focus of the Brazil Front is correct, combining formulation and permanent mobilization. I also think it is very important that we explain to the people what we are advocating. Even for those who have been in favor of the coup, so they can realize that they have been deceived and are also losing their labor rights and their retirement benefits. It is necessary to give hope to the people that another Brazil is possible and that, with a popular government, better days will come.

8. Often, politicians decide the lives of Brazilians and the country in closed in offices in Brasilia. You have already made many trips through the countryside of Brazil, in caravans like this one, now, in the second semester. What did you learn about our people in these experiences?

I learned that the Brazilian people are very strong and are very generous and that one cannot govern the country from Brasilia, from the Paulista Avenue or the south zone of Rio. For someone living in these regions, a program like Lights for All may mean nothing. But it brought electricity, brought many Brazilians to the 21st century. Without light, a young man cannot study. Without feeding himself, with a good lunch at school, the young man cannot study. We have created the Food Acquisition Program, which supports local farmers and reinforces the school lunch with healthy food, and today it is being destroyed. The children have to eat, but they also have to have clothes to go to school. To receive the benefit, the Bolsa Família requires that the children go to school. Without transportation, a young man from the countryside cannot study. We created the Caminhos da Escola program, which took school buses through the countryside of Brazil. Without water, how can you live, even more, study? We installed millions of cisterns in the hinterland. And if you do not have a college, how do you study? We expanded universities, Federal Institutes of Education, technical schools, bringing them to the countryside. There were hundreds of new university extensions in every state of the country. Bahia had only one federal university; today, it has four. I know the size of this country personally, that it is not small, and whoever governs it cannot have a small mind or soul. You have to listen to the people, take the road, talk, seek solutions, give strength to civil society. And you have to open the palace to the people, to make civil society participate in the construction of solutions for the country.

9. How do you evaluate the US government's threats in the face of the situation in Venezuela? How should Brazil have acted in the peace process in Venezuela?

It is unacceptable that Trump makes military threats to Venezuela. In fact, to any country, in any region of the planet. Venezuela has the right to self-determination. It is the Venezuelan people who must freely decide the fate of the country. If there is an institutional crisis, it is necessary to overcome it through dialogue and political negotiation, but always respecting the rulers who were elected by popular vote, within the democratic rules, as was the case of President Chávez and as is the case of President Maduro. In 2003, when Venezuela was experiencing a similar crisis, I proposed the formation of a group of friendly countries of Venezuela, quite plural, that ended up contributing to the restoration of normality and peace. Today, unfortunately, Brazil has no moral authority to help. It is ridiculous that a putsch government, illegitimate, enemy of its own people, wants to teach democracy lessons to Venezuela. When we return to having a democratic and popular government, Brazil will once again collaborate, without undue interference with the sovereignty of our neighbors, to consolidate peace and democratic stability in South America

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Protests in Several Brazilian Cities Against Temer's Labor Reforms

Social movements aim to stop labor reforms passed by the lower chamber and set to be voted on in the senate.

Demonstrations are taking place throughout Brazil Thursday as momentum builds in support of former Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva who was sentenced to nine years and six months on charges of corruption and money laundering by judge Sergio Moro.

RELATED: Sao Paulo Forum, Meeting of Latin America’s Left, Defends Venezuela

Organized by the Popular Front of Brazil, the Worker's Party and a host of unions and other social movements, Thursday's demonstrations also build off previous demands by the Brazilian people that include the immediate removal of current president Michel Temer, free democratic elections, and an end to approved labor reforms and pension reform proposals.

The FBP stated that it wants "to relate the persecution of the ex-president with the agenda of regression in the labor laws and to reaffirm, against this picture of intense political and institutional crisis, the need for direct elections for the presidency of the Republic."

According to the FBP, there is no evidence supporting the charges against the former head of state. Following the decision, Lula's lawyers appealed the court sentence, contesting ten of the deciding factors in the case, while the Federal Public Ministry filed an appeal against the ruling Monday.

President Vander Freitas of the Central Worker's Union, said, "For the 'Casa Grande', Lula represents the danger of a popular and workers' government coming back to power to restore democracy, equality, justice and social inclusion."

"The condemnation of Lula by (Judge Sergio Moro) is a further blow to the already weakened Brazilian democracy because when justice takes sides, condemns without evidence, acts only for presumption of guilt and a judge becomes accusatory, there is something serious happening," said Guiljerme Boulos, the national coordinator of the Landless Workers' Movement.

RELATED: Brazil: Lower House Committee Rejects Charges Against President Temer

During a televised press conference July 13, the 71-year-old Workers’ Party leader said that his prosecution is politically motivated and is intended to destroy his group’s reputation ahead of the 2018 elections.

However, despite the trial and his pending sentence, surveys conducted ahead of Brazil’s 2018 presidential elections puts Lula as the top choice for voters in the country.

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Cuba Defends Lula, Maduro at Sao Paulo Forum in Nicaragua

The 23rd Sao Paulo Forum meets in Managua this week to advance the unity of Latin America's left in the face of renewed attacks by global capitalism.

The Cuban delegation at the 23rd Sao Paulo Forum reaffirmed their support for Venezuelan President Maduro and former Brazilian President Luiz Inacio "Lula" da Silva Sunday, claiming both leaders were victims of an “imperialist offensive."

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In an interview with Prensa Latina, Jorge Arias, deputy head of the Department of International Relations of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Cuba, emphasized the Cuban delegation's solidarity with Lula and Venezuela's Bolivarian process.

Arias argued the attacks against Maduro's government and the recent ruling against Lula were part of an “imperialist offensive” waged by the oligarchic right to besiege the region and reverse the gains made by the left during the past two decades.

Arias' comments come just days after former Lula's politicized conviction on corruption charges and in the midst of continuous attempts to derail the Bolivarian Revolution in Venezuela, which faces a crucial democratic test later this month as representatives are elected to the country's National Constituent Assembly.

The Cuban delegation was joined by delegates representing social movements, popular bases and leftist parties across Latin America and the Caribbean at the 23rd Sao Paulo Forum, convened Sunday in Nicaragua's capital Managua.

The objective of the three-day conference is to further advance the regional, ideological and practical unity of the continent's left in its fight to consolidate its national liberation goals in the face of a renewed offensive by global capitalism against the peoples of the region.

Upon arriving in Managua Saturday, Puerto Rican independence leader and recently-released political prisoner Oscar Lopez Rivera stressed the importance the forum in remarks to reporters.

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"My freedom was achieved due to the solidarity of people like (those in) Nicaragua, who love freedom and justice," said Lopez Rivera, who was released in May after spending 36 years in prison for his fight to liberate Puerto Rico from U.S. colonialism.

The forum will also officially adopt the Consensus for Our America, a 24-page document dedicated to late Cuban revolutionary leader Fidel Castro that lays out the principles, purpose, objectives and priorities of the forum's participants. The forum's participants hope that the text, drafted collectively in past work sessions, will serve as a key programmatic document for progressive forces in not only Latin America, but the entire globe.

“The accumulation of capital is leading to the concentration and centralization of it (through) neoliberal policies focused on privatization and private appropriation of state enterprises, as well as the use of public funds to socialize the losses of private enterprises,” the document points out, adding that global capitalism seeks to eliminate any progressive or leftist presence from the world's social, institutional and political spaces.

Founded by the Worker's Party of Brazil in 1990, the Sao Paulo Forum was established in a bid to unify the efforts of the world's major leftist forces in the wake of Soviet socialism's collapse and the advance of neoliberalism, which stripped workers and poor people of hard-fought gains while privatizing previously off-limits sectors of national economies and the global commons alike.

The forum will entail various working groups and plenaries before ending Tuesday, a night prior to Wednesday's celebration marking 38 years since the triumph of the Sandinista Revolution. The revolution deposed U.S.-backed dictator Anastasio Somoza and brought the Sandinista Liberation Front to power, ushering in a period of sustained economic progress, poverty reduction, peace and stability in the Central American nation.

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Lula Says He'll "Do More and Better" as President of Brazil

Lula emphasized that democracy “demands commitment. Democracy entails that our capacity to listen is equivalent to our ability to speak.”

During a ceremonial launch of the second phase of the Lula Institute Democracy Memorial, former Brazilian President Luis Inacio Lula da Silva emphasized that speaking about “democracy at this moment is very important and necessary. It's almost like the air that we breath.”

RELATED:  Rapporteur Recommends Sending Brazilian President to Trial

The statement came Monday as Lula addressed the crowd about the need to discuss the terms of democracy during the current political climate.

“For inasmuch as we remain silent and accept what's being told to us on a daily basis, such measures start to gain traction,” he said. In the same breath he noted, “soon, we start to believe the world to be normal and soon enough we start to believe that somebody like Bolsonaro, the result of hate spewed by Globo Television Network, to be normal.”

Lula was referring to Jair Bolsonaro, a congressman and 2019 presidential hopeful who, like U.S. President Donald Trump, has become renowned for his abrasiveness. Some of his more infamous statements include that the error committed by Brazil's military dictatorship “was to torture and not kill," adding that “Pinochet should have killed more people.”

In contrast to his presidential opponent, Lula emphasized that democracy “demands commitment. Democracy entails that our capacity to listen is equivalent to our ability to speak.”

RELATED: Right-Wing Brazil Govt Continues Attacks on Indigenous Agency

Acknowledging that Brazil is far from building a just democracy, Lula promised that he wouldn't return to serve as president to “do the same” but to “do more and better.” He stressed that one of the things that he could have done better in his previous administrations was in “relation to the media.”

Also on Monday, Lula signed a petition titled, “Brazilian People's Manifesto for the Annulment of the Impeachment – Dilma Return.” The document demands the revocation of the impeachment of former Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff.

It reads, in part, that Rousseff, having been democratically elected by 54 million voters, should be reinstated as president to complete her term. “We speak on behalf of those who chose her to govern Brazil and also on behalf of those who didn't elect her but who perceive the impeachment as a coup against democracy.

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Men’s Poreč medalists upset in Gstaad

There might not have been a medal hangover for Sarah Pavan but try telling that to all three of the men’s medalists from Poreč who suffered shock defeats in the pool play in Gstaad today.

It was 13 unlucky for the Poreč champions from Brazil Pedro Solberg and Guto Carvalhaes as they went down in straights to last year’s Mexican Olympians Ontiveros/Virgen 16-21, 19-21. The defeat ended a run of 12 successive wins for the South American duo who had to battle through country quota and qualification for a second tournament running.

For the silver medalists on the Croatian coast, Italians Lupo/Nicolai, it got from bad to worse as they suffered a second successive defeat in the mountains. They might have ended the Poreč Major with a medal but the pair were disappointed with their final set against Pedro Solberg/Guto – and their bad form has continued here as the lost again on Thursday to Chilean cousins Estaban and Marco Grimalt.

For Poreč Major bronze medalists and Olympic champions Alison/Bruno they went down to a surprise straight sets defeat to Cubans Nivaldo/Gonzalez. The men from the Caribbean were in awesome form as they destroyed the Brazilians in just 34 minutes. Nivaldo/Gonzalez restricted their illustrious opponents to just 13 points in an incredible first set. And they cruised to victory, and secured a place in the elimination round by winning the second 21-19.

The Brazilians now face Swiss pair Beeler/Krattiger on Center Court on Friday needing to win to stay in the competition.

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In Latest Scandal, Brazilian President Temer Accused of Buying Votes to Block Impeachment

Temer is accused of buying support to block the trial against him for corruption that could lead to his suspension or impeachment.

Brazilian President Michel Temer is facing accusations that he bribed lawmakers to assure their support ahead of his possible trial for corruption, a decision which is currently in the hands of the Lower House of Congress.

RELATED: Brazil's Temer Won't Resign and Says Nothing Will Destroy Him

Lawmakers from the leftist Worker's Party, or PT, will deliver the formal accusation to the Attorney General's office on Wednesday.

Paulo Pimenta, Wadih Damous and Paulo Teixeira allege the appointed president used his position and power to secure support against the corruption charges presented by Attorney General Rodrigo Janot to the Supreme Court, which is now being evaluated by the Lower House.

This week Temer received at least 30 lawmakers in the Planalto Palace in Brasilia according to the official agenda.Among them were 11 members of the Constitution and Justice Commission of the Lower House, who will decide if the charges against the president will proceed or not, according to Brasil 247

Temer's lawyer Antonio Claudio Mariz de Oliveira is expected to present part of his defense to the commission on Wednesday. For the accusation to be admitted it needs to have the vote of 34 of the 66 members of the commission.

RELATED: Second General Strike against President Temer's Reforms

After this, it will have up to five sessions to debate and vote on the final report by the commission speaker, Sergio Zveiter, who also belongs to Temer's ruling PMDB party.

The report will then be submitted to the Lower House for a vote, that needs the approval of 341 of the 513 lawmakers to be accepted.

Temer and his aide Rodrigo Rocha Loures are accused of receiving and approving bribes in the largest corruption investigation in the country known as Operation Car Wash.

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Brazil's Temer Could Lose Power as Fraud Accusations Pile Up

Temer is increasingly under pressure to resign, while court processes threaten to further jeopardize his executive power.

As multiple corruption scandals continue to swirl around Brazilian President Michel Temer and his government, the country's top electoral court has relaunched a case that could remove the president from office over alleged illegal financing in his 2014 campaign as running mate to former President Dilma Rousseff. 

RELATED: Brazil's Temer Defies Calls to Step Down over Wiretap Scandal

The court entered its second day of debates Wednesday, and analysts predicted the process could take weeks as several judges have requested more time to study the case to continue the hearings.

Just hours ahead of the scheduled start of the hearing Tuesday, Brazil's federal police sent Temer Monday an interrogation document with a list 84 questions as part of a separate investigation probing the president over accusations of corruption, organized crime and obstruction of justice.

Initially, Temer had 24 hours to respond to the questions, a deadline that ended Tuesday afternoon at 4:30 p.m. local time. 

But his lawyers requested an extension as they argued it was "absolutely impossible to demand a manifestation of the President of the Republic in the short term of 24 hours." The new deadline is set for Friday afternoon 5:00 p.m. local time.

Protesters with face masks of Brazil's politicians. Photo: Reuters

Protest against Temer in Sao Paulo. Photo: Reuters

Police patrol in front of the federal court in Brasilia. Photo: Reuters

As the election financing case moves forward and other corruption allegations continue to crash down around the president, protesters gathered outside the federal court in Brasilia to demand Temer's resignation and call for direct elections to choose the next president of Brazil.

The accusations stem from an explosive wiretap, reported May 17, in which Temer was heard appearing to give his approval to bribes to buy the silence of the jailed former president of the lower house of Congress, Eduardo Cunha, the chief mastermind behind the impeachment of Dilma Rousseff last year and a powerful witness in government corruption cases.

RELATED: Protesting Austerity, Brazil's Workers to Shut Down Cities in General Strike June 30th

The conversation was recorded by Joesley Batista, chairman of JBS, the largest meatpacking company in the world, which was also involved in a large corruption scandal for bribing Brazilian politicians, as part of a bid to win a plea bargain deal with prosecutors.

The bribes were intended to keep Cunha silent about embarrassing secrets that could jeopardize the legitimacy of Temer's presidency. In the leaked wiretap, Temer is heard telling Batista about the payments: “Look, you've got to keep that up.”

The president said the recording wasn't proof of wrongdoing. He said that he didn't report the bribery references to authorities because he did not believe them. The case was delayed as authorities investigated the source of the audio.

Attorney General Rodrigo Janot has accused Temer of corruption, criminal organization and obstruction of justice as a result of the wiretap. Temer separately faces accusations of irregular campaign financing and has also been named in the central corruption investigations, known as Operation Car Wash, probing a bribery scheme in the state-run oil campany, Petrobras. 

According to  Brazilian Constitution, if Temer resigns or is dismissed, Congress must approve an indirect election to choose the person who will continue the electoral period that Rousseff began in 2015 and that ends on Jan. 1, 2019. Tuesday's electoral financing trial could unseat the president, or he could face an impeachment process over corruption accusations. Both processes would likely be lengthy. 

Brazilians have taken to the streets to demand Temer's resignation and for immediate direct elections to be held to allow Brazilian voters to elect the next president. Temer has reiterated that he will not be resigning.

According to a new poll released Monday by the country's largest labor union, known as the CUT, nine out of 10 Brazilians prefer direct general elections and 75 percent reject Temer's administration.

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Brazilian Workers' Party 6th National Congress to Nominate Lula for President

The congress opened with calls for free, democratic elections and included speeches by Rousseff, Lula and others.

The Workers' Party of Brazil commenced its 6th National Congress Thursday, which is expected to officially nominate former President Luis Inacio Lula da Silva as its presidential candidate for the 2018 general election.

RELATED: Brazil Mainstream Media Admits Spreading Fake News About Lula

The congress, which will go on until Saturday, opened with calls for free, democratic elections. A slideshow featuring images of the late Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, Che Guevara, and other revolutionaries, accompanied those calls.

Party affiliates, numbering more than 1,000 during the congress opening, reiterated their unity in the face of a government plagued by seemingly endless scandals and corruption.

During the congress, party members will discuss strategies to overcome the dangers to democracy presented by current selected president Michel Temer and his administration.

“I have my candidate. My candidate is Lula!” said Dilma Rousseff, former Brazilian president who was ousted due to what many describe as a parliamentary coup.

Key architects of her removal such as Eduardo Cunha, former speaker of Brazil's lower house of representatives; Aecio Neves, former congressman, and Temer himself have been denounced for receiving bribes, approving bribes, their involvement in a slew of corruption scandals, and other crimes.

"Opening of PT's 6th Congress: "Only direct elections can return democracy back to the people."

Lula also spoke at the opening of the congress. “They want to convict me for everything that I'm proud to have done,” adding, “I've already proven my innocence.” Brazil's former, most popular president concluded by saying, “The time has come to end the foolishness. This country can't take any more destruction.”

Luciano Santos, president of the Communist Party of Brazil, repeated his support for the coalition uniting his party and the PT, Rural Landless Worker's Movement, Central Worker's Union, and Brazil's Popular Front.

  • Published in World
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