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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Argentinean Lawmaker Highlights Importance of Forum of Sao Paulo

Buenos Aires, Jul 11 (Prensa Latina) Argentinean lawmaker Monica Macha, who represents Unidad Ciudadana in the Argentinean Congress, highlighted the role of the Forum of Sao Paulo in the construction of a ''Patria Grande'' (Common Motherland) in Latin America.

Macha, who was invited to the event to be held in Havana next week, told Prensa Latina that she was happy to be a representative of her organization, and stated the Forum is very important at times when we need to think about political processes based on inclusion.

'At times in which neoliberal policies are being pushed forward in several countries of the continent, including Argentina, with new strategies that had not been used before, it is fundamental that those who want to restore policies that foster inclusion come to the Forum to discuss new ideas,' she said.

Macha voiced pleasure because the 24th edition of the Forum of Sao Paulo is going to be held in Havana, to accompany Cuba when it is updating its system and consolidating what has been doing since the triumph of the Cuban Revolution in 1959.

The Argentinean delegation to the 24th edition will be headed by different personalities, among them lawmakers Horacio Pietragalla, Mayra Mendoza and Argentinean Representantive before Mercosur Jorge Taiana, besides several political and social organizations.

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If Temer falls, who is going to take his place?

Writing nowadays about Brazil is a problem because…where to begin? There are lots of things going on right now inside the South American giant that demand our attention. Such events certainly show how the Empire is messed up in its own actions aiming for a change in democratically-elected governments and therefore, rooting for governments that follow neoliberal standards.

You may ask yourself: why is still Temer there? Taking into account that his “popularity” fell somewhere between 3% and 7%. Not to mention that 80% of the electorate disapproves his work, even Center-Right voters.

Backed by the U.S., following the orders, he has been loyal to everything Washington has commanded in order to avoid Brazil joining efforts with China and Russia —BRICS members— to spread the positive influence of trade and investment.

Brazil’s subdued economical growth —barely more than 1%— during Temer’s two years in office, was achieved thanks to a severe fiscal adjustment that limited public spending, including those meant for health and education.

Temer implemented a labor reform fought off by labor unions that limited the rights earned decades ago by Brazilian workers. He also insisted on other unpopular reform to change the pension systems that finally did not see the light of day.

The recovery of the Brazilian economy, nonetheless, has not been evident to the population. The number of unemployed citizens grew from 11,4 to 13,7 millions in two years.

The Public Prosecutor’s Office demanded two judicial processes against him, but the Supreme Court was prevented from doing so due to the Chamber of Deputies, where Temer has strong support and has the final word on any demand against the Head of State, closed both cases.

The Prosecutor’s Office is working on a third cause against Temer due to corruption and his two years in office coincided with the leak of a witness testimony who claims to have given high sum of money in cash to the office of a man close to Temer.

However, these sorts of men rarely face trials and go to jail and it happens when they are not useful to the Empire anymore. Others are in jail without substantiated evidence because they are annoying to Washington, and feared by the country’s oligarchy and owners of its wealth. We are talking about former president Inacio Lula da Silva, who has the green light —legally— to run for Brazil’s presidency next October.

Lula should serve a 12-year sentence for confusing crimes, with no substantial evidence against him and handled by even sworn enemies. He has the highest approval and popularity rate and even though he is still in prison, the main political parties of the opposition fear him, including Temer’s.

Temer has thought about running for the office again. But he would only take the job under false pretences. Nevertheless, the strong candidature of Lula, the growing opposition movement and the Empire’s dealings to find a “decent” successor, are against his wishes.

The deaths of disabled people in places where they must have had special care as well as the deaths of young people in a fire inside a detention facility portray the degree of abandonment in which Brazil is immersed in. Not to mention the “illegal” truck drivers’ strike, men who protest against the rising diesel fuel prices.

According to the statement from the Oil Workers’ Federation (FUP), one of the goals of the strike is “to lower the prices of cooking gas and fuel”, and thus, to prevent the privatization of PETROBRAS.

The mobilization, led by FUP and related labor unions, already achieved the resignation of PETROBRAS chairman, Pedro Parente, who “plunged the country into an unprecedented crisis.”

The union members of oil companies announced that cuts and delays will be experienced in four oil refineries and fertilizer plants that are under a sale process.

There is much to be said about Temer. He is clearly backed by the Empire, but a new successor must be found in a hurry. Its faithful and loyal collaborator in the illegal “soft coup” to bring Dilma Rousseff’s government down cannot stand it any longer.

Translated by Sergio A. Paneque Diaz // CubaSi Translation Staff

Minrex: Cuba expresses solidarity and support for Lula


Declaration from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs' director general for Latin America, Eugenio Martínez Enríquez.

The Federal Republic of Brazil's Federal Supreme Court rejected the habeas corpus appeal presented by the defense team of the country's former President and leader of the Workers Party, Luiz Inacio Lula Da Silva.

As has just been confirmed, this decision opens the door to Lula's possible immediate detention, an act that would be extremely serious.

The decision is a new expression of the ongoing, unjust campaign against Lula, against the Workers Party, and progressive, left forces in Brazil.
Polls indicate that Lula is the overwhelming favorite in upcoming Presidential elections. Photo: TELESUR

Lula continues to enjoy broad popular support, international recognition and affection, as a result of the successes of his administration that benefited the vast majority, who are now facing an attempt to deny them the right to elect him again as President, to open the way for neoliberal forces and reverse his accomplishments.

Once again, we express our solidarity and support of compañero Lula.

  • Published in Cuba

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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Brazil Students Occupy Schools to Protest Neoliberalism

Students protest drastic educational cuts proposed by the unelected government of President Michel Temer. 
 

Students protesting the neoliberal educational reforms of Brazil's unelected President Michel Temer have expanded their nationwide occupation to at least 1,108 public schools and universities across 19 states, and the Federal District that contains the capital of Brasilia.

RELATED: Brazil Is About to Institutionalize Neoliberalism For 2 Decades

The protests are led by the Brazilian Union of Secondary Students, known as Ubes, and other local organizations critical of the Temer administration's revisions to the high-school system and the so-called PEC reform, which among other things will end public subsidies to students older than 20 years.

In the state of Paraná alone, students have occupied 851 schools, another 66 in Minas, 13 in Rio Grande do Sul and 10 in Rio Grande do Norte, and Goias. In the Federal District, and Rio, there are seven occupied schools apiece and in the largest state of Sao Paulo, five schools.

The Brazilian constitution stipulates that 18 percent of the country’s total federal tax budget be allocated to education. But the Senate is trying to reduce that figure.  

If approved, PEC 241 would cut government expenditures over the next two decades, reducing it as a percentage of national GDP, which critics argue would translate into an onerous burden on the poor.

RELATED: Brazil Teen's Tragic Death Sparks Backlash at Student Movement

Michel Temer, who led the parliamentary coup against President Dilma Rousseff, has introduced a series of sweeping privatization proposals and cuts in education health and other social programs, since he was sworn in last August.

Temer faces very low approval ratings at home among Brazilians. He is scheduled to complete Rousseff’s presidential term until the next scheduled election in late 2018, and his government is pressing accusations of corruption against Lula, who is the odds-on-favorite to recapture the presidency.

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Brazil's Lula Faces More Charges and Possible Imprisonment

The former president's defense team said the fresh charges were part of a campaign “to destroy the image of the most popular former president in the country's history.”

Brazil's Supreme Court approved a request to probe former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva alleged involvement in a corruption ring involving the state-run oil company.

RELATED: The former president's defense team said the fresh charges were part of a campaign “to destroy the image of the most popular former president in the country's history.”

Brazil's Supreme Court approved a request to probe former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva alleged involvement in a corruption ring involving the state-run oil company.

RELATED: Amid Crisis, Post-Coup Brazil Votes in Local Elections

The top court also approved a request by prosecutors to split the investigation of dozens of politicians implicated in the sprawling Petrobras corruption scandal by grouping them by the main parties that prosecutors allege received kickbacks.

In a decision made public on Thursday, Supreme Court Justice Teori Zavascki agreed to the request by Brazil's chief prosecutor Rodrigo Janot that the investigation be divided into four probes focusing on the Workers Party (PT), which was ousted from government in August, the Progressive Party (PP) and the PMDB in the Senate and in the lower chamber.

Justice Teori Zavascki authorized the inclusion of Lula into the list of PT politicians under investigation for alleged membership in the embezzlement ring at the state-run oil company.According to a report by Cuba Debate, the Supreme Court also approved a resolution that would see those charged to be held in preventative detention as their case proceeds.

Should Sergio Moro — the controversial judge overseeing the corruption probe — decide to proceed with the case against Lula, the former president could be jailed.

That would spell disaster for Lula's political future, as it would limit his ability to run in presidential elections in 2018. 

Lula, who denies all wrongdoing, has previously said that his persecution is driven by political interests who want to prevent his candidacy.

However, the court's decision to approve the separation of the investigation by political parties is also seen as bad news for de facto President Michel Temer because it will focus the investigation directly on politicians of his Brazilian Democratic Movement Party.

RELATED: Brazil's Coup Government Set to Privatize 34 Public Companies

Among the politicians who will be under the new spotlight is the leader of the Senate, Renan Calheiros, whose help Temer needs to pass an austerity program through Congress.

In an earlier announcement, police said Lula will face additional charges connected to a case involving contracts obtained by building and engineering conglomerate Odebrecht in Angola. Under Brazilian law, only prosecutors can formally charge someone after a police investigation and those charges must then be approved by a judge.

Lula has already been charged twice in connection to a massive anti-corruption investigation centered on state oil company Petrobras.

The former president's defense team criticized the leak of the charges to the press and said it was another example of the “media massacre campaign to make headlines in the press and try to destroy the image of the most popular former president in the country's history.”

 
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