Free Lula National March Closes People's Siege on Brasilia

Nearly 5,000 members of the Landless Rural Workers'' Movement (MST), grouped in three columns, are participating in the Free Lula National March that end in a ''popular siege'' on Brasilia today.

The march departed from the towns of Formosa and Luziania, in the state of Goias, and Engenho das Lages, in the Federal District, last Saturday to walk nearly 50 kilometers to Brasilia to accompany the registration of the presidential candidacy of Luis Inacio Lula da Silva, who has been held in prison for 130 days.

On Monday, the Peace Nobel Prize winner Adolfo Perez Esquivel joined the march in solidarity with the Brazilian people and for the release of Lula, 'who is a political prisoner', he stressed. Perez Esquivel noted that the efforts to exclude the founder and historic leader of the Workers' Party (PT) by force from the presidential elections in October is not a maneuver that is used in Brazil only, but in the entire Latin American continent.

The extreme right wing is advancing in the domination of the peoples, said the human rights activist in statements to the newspaper Brasil de Fato. He underlined that 'we demand to free Lula, to run in the elections and that the people chose what party has to rule'.

Perez Esquivel also noted that there is great international solidarity with the cause of the former Brazilian president, who was sentenced without evidence to 12 years and one month in prison and has been held in custody since April 7 at the Federal Police Superintendence in Curitiba, the capital of the state of Parana.

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Workers' Party insists Brazil's Lula will run for president

Brazil's Workers' Party insisted Monday that it plans to register ex-president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva as its presidential candidate despite his imprisonment.

The registration "gives a political and judicial signal" to those who said the prison sentence would end Lula's political career, Gleisi Hoffman, the party's president, told foreign correspondents at a press conference.

The two-time president started to serve a 12-year prison sentence for alleged corruption in April, which derailed his plan to run in October elections.

Lula has denied charges that he received a luxury beachfront apartment from Brazil's construction giant Odebrecht in exchange for lucrative contracts.

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Lula's Absence Is Evident at TV Debate among Presidential Candidate

The absence of the absolute leader in all surveys on vote intention, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, will undoubtedly be evident today at the first TV debate among presidential candidates in Brazil.

Although the Workers' Party (PT) appealed on Wednesday to the Regional Federal Court of the Fourth Region (TRF-4), which sentenced Lula to 12 years and one month in prison, so that he could participate in the debate, the Court had not issued a ruling at midnight on Thursday.

Last Monday, Judge Bianca Arenhart claimed procedural issues to reject a request in that regard and directed the recourse to TRF4 President Carlos Eduardo Thompson Flores, who interfered to annul a judicial order to guarantee the immediate release of the former president in July.

Yesterday's appeal against judge's decision underlines that the 'unjust, illegal and unconstitutional provisional execution of the sentence' on former President Lula by that court cannot deprive him of his political rights or his freedom of expression and communication.

It also demanded that the former president's participation in the debate be guaranteed, either in person or on a video conference or on videos previously recorded at the Superintendence of the Federal Police of Curitiba, where he has been a political prisoner since April 7.

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Five Days of Hunger Strike for Lula's Release from Prison

Brasilia, Aug 4 (Prensa Latina) The six members of Brazilian popular movements who are demanding the release of former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva by the Supreme Federal Court (STF) are today on their fifth day of a hunger strike.

After four days without eating food, the strikers suffer from more fatigue, more frequent headaches, alteration in blood pressure and weight loss of up to 1.3 kilograms, according to the second medical report issued on Friday night.

Some of them have lost mass from fat reserves and when they decrease they can begin to lose part of the muscle mass, which will have to be followed more closely, said Dr. Ronald Wollf, who accompanies their evolution and was quoted by the newspaper Brasil de Fato.

Wollf, who has experience in three other hunger strikes, explained that one of the strikers had symptoms of polyuria, a urinary disorder that makes the body produce an abnormally large amount of urine.

One of the strikers, the leader of the Movement of Small Farmers (MPA), Fray Sergio Görgen, told the newspaper that the hunger strike makes sense when all the other methods were used and the result was not achieved, which is the case in Brazil.

'Justice is blocking the legitimate legal solutions that could and should have been taken' to resume democratic normalcy and make Lula leave prison, as he is the victim of a fraudulent process, he is a prisoner without crimes and he is politically persecuted, he said.

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Lula Party Reach Neutrality Pact With Socialists in Brazil Vote

The pact is a blow to center-left presidential candidate Ciro Gomes, who is running third in early polling and sought the backing of the PSB to boost his chances of making the run-off between the two most voted candidates on Oct. 7.

Brazil's former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva's Workers Party (PT) has reached a neutrality pact with the Brazilian Socialist Party (PSB) that will end their rivalries in several states in the October general elections.

RELATED: Largest US Union Federation Releases Manifesto Supporting Lula

The Workers Party announced the move in a statement on Wednesday, while the PSB must still ratify at its convention on Sunday a commitment not to back any presidential candidate since it is not fielding its own.

It also confirms that Brazil's left will enter the election divided, which could help the business-friendly center-right candidate Geraldo Alckmin and far-right hopeful Jair Bolsonaro, who is currently the front-runner riding on voter anger with political corruption and rising crime.

In Brazil's most uncertain race in decades, the Workers Party plans to nominate Lula at its convention on Saturday, even though he cannot campaign and will almost certainly be barred from running due to a contested corruption conviction. Lula, who is still Brazil's most influential politician, is expected to name a stand-in at the last minute in mid-September.

The Workers Party will withdraw Marilia Arraes, its candidate for governor who was threatening the re-election of Paulo Camara in the PSB's most important state, Pernambuco.

In return, the PSB will not run against the Workers Party governor of Minas Gerais, Fernando Pimentel, party officials told Reuters.

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Brazil's Lula da Silva sends message of gratitude to Sao Paulo Forum in Havana

Former Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva sent a message to participants in the 24th Meeting of the Sao Paulo Forum, a space for political agreements of the Left in Latin America and the Caribbean that Lula helped to found together with Fidel Castro in 1990.

Lula affirms in his message that he will not be silenced, and thanks the Havana forum for the support and solidarity shown to him and his Workers' Party, subjected to persecution in Brazil by a right that, he said, does not know how to live in democracy.

Lula recalled that he and Fidel were clear about the importance of that first forum in 1990 in the city of Sao Paulo, convened so that the Left in Latin American and Caribbean could evaluate the impact on the region and the world of the rise of neo-liberal free-market economics.

In his letter to the Havana forum, the former Brazilian president condemns the U.S. blockade against Cuba and the manner in which Washington treats Puerto Rico and other islands in the Caribbean.  He also repudiates the sanctions applied against Venezuela and the threats of armed intervention made by U.S. President Donald Trump.

Lula da Silva voices his wishes for a good meeting in Havana and regrets that his “absurd and Kafkaesque” imprisonment prevents him from personally delivering his message to the gathering.

Edited by Pavel Jacomino
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Brazil: Lula Vows Not To Compromise Dignity On 'Free Lula' Day

Thousands gathered in cities across Brazil to demand the former president be released from prison on the 'National Day of Struggle to Free Lula.'

Thousands of Brazilians mobilized on Friday to demand the release of President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, as the embattled Workers' Party leader declared he will never sacrifice his dignity for his freedom.

RELATED: Brazil: Lula Absolved of Obstruction of Justice Charges, but Kept in Prison

"I'm not going to exchange my dignity for my freedom," Lula told his former minister Celso Amorim. The imprisoned leader said his opponents wish to "prevent the people from hearing" what he has to say.

Meanwhile, thousands gathered in various cities across Brazil to demand Lula be released from prison in Curitiba, where he is being held. The protests were being held to mark the 'National Day of Struggle to Free Lula.'

Lula began his 12-year prison sentence for alleged corruption – charges he vehemently denies and says are politically motivated to keep him out of the looming presidential elections – in April.

In early July, a regional court judge ruled that Lula should be released until his appeals run out, but the decision was shot down less than a day later by a federal court, shattering the raised hopes of millions.

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Brazil: Nobel Laureate Calls Trump's Immigration Policy 'Cruel'

Pakistan's Malala Yousafzai was visiting Rio de Janeiro to kick off the expansion of her education charity, the Malala Fund, into Latin America, starting with Brazil. 

Nobel Peace Prize laureate Malala Yousafzai described as "cruel" a policy launched by U.S. President Donald Trump to separate children of illegal immigrants from their families, during her first visit to South America to promote girls' education.

RELATED: Pakistan: Awami National Party Defiant Despite Assassination

More than 2,300 children were separated from their parents after the Trump administration began a 'zero-tolerance' policy on illegal immigrants in early May, seeking to prosecute all adults who cross the border illegally from Mexico into the United States. Trump stopped separating families last month following public outrage and court challenges.

"This is cruel, this is unfair and this is inhumane. I don't know how anyone could do that," Yousafzai told Reuters on Wednesday. "I hope that the children can be together with their parents."

Her stern words contrasted with her effusive praise last year for Canada's embrace of refugees under Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. At the World Economic Forum in Davos this year, Malala also questioned Trump's record on women's rights.

Yousafzai, known widely by her first name, was visiting Rio de Janeiro to kick off the expansion of her education charity, the Malala Fund, into Latin America, starting with Brazil. 

Her aim in Brazil, Latin America's largest economy, is to advocate for more public spending on education, a tall task after the country passed a constitutional amendment freezing federal spending in real terms for two decades in order to reduce public debt.

She also hopes to get an estimated 1.5 million girls currently not in school into the classroom, with a special focus on minority groups who lag white children on key indicators like literacy and secondary school completion.  

"It is important for us to reach the Indigenous and the Afro-Brazilian population in Brazil. Those girls are facing many challenges," Malala said.  

In 2014, Malala was made the world's youngest Nobel laureate, honored for her work with her foundation, a charity she set up to support education advocacy groups with a focus on Pakistan, Nigeria, Jordan, Syria and Kenya.

The group's Brazil presence kicked off with a US$700,000 three-year grant for three Brazilian female activists focused on education issues. Malala says she hopes to expand elsewhere in Latin America.      

Earlier this year, the 20-year-old returned home to Pakistan for the first time since a Taliban gunman shot her in the head in 2012 over her blog advocating girls' education.

Weeks ahead of presidential elections in Pakistan, Malala is ruling out politics for herself for now "I'm still talking to leaders and ensuring that they prioritize education in their policy," she said. "It's easier that way than when you're on the inside."

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