Apr 16, 2018
By a vote of six against five, on April 5 the Brazilian Supreme Court ruled that former president Lula must go to prison. Following after many politicians, big bosses, and high officials, the ex-president has fallen victim to the Petrobras scandal.
Lula is the target of a dozen investigations, but the judges didn’t find any major, concrete evidence against him. He is not being sent to prison for twelve years for purely legal reasons.
The condemnation of Lula, leader of the Workers Party, is above all political. We can understand the indignation of those who demonstrate against his imprisonment, because dozens of politicians who are openly corrupt and were caught at it are still governors of states or continue to sit in the senate or the national assembly. Michel Temer, the current right-wing president, only got his position because Dilma Rousseff, from the same party as Lula, was removed from power. Temer is also accused of serious corruption, but the national assembly refuses to launch an investigation.
Forty years ago, Lula was a worker, a militant, a leader of strikes that shook the dictatorship. Even though he was not a revolutionary, for years he represented the hope of a better world in the eyes of Brazilian workers, a world where the military and the bosses would not be all-powerful.
Later, as president from 2003-2010, Lula benefitted from a healthy economy to give the poor a few more social programs. But he also deceived the voters of his own party, the Workers Party. He gained power promising a clean and transparent government, but he ran the government just like his predecessors. Lula, and then Dilma Rousseff, governed in an alliance with the right.
The Workers Party was worn out by having the power. And when there were big demonstrations against that party at the end of 2013, the right saw a chance to take its revenge. Dilma Rousseff was removed from power in 2016, and now Lula is in prison. From the perspective of the coming October presidential election, where they are favored to win, Lula’s opponents are glad to see him isolated.
The bourgeoisie and reactionaries never accepted that a man who came from the ordinary part of the population might become president, and now they want to take their revenge by throwing Lula in prison. But they will not so easily cage the aspirations of the workers and the poor.