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Global #FreeLula protests

11 April, 2019Demonstrations have been held around the world calling for justice and freedom for Brazil's former president Lula da Silva.

In more than 30 cities worldwide, rallies were held between 7 and 10 April in support of the Free Lula Movement. Brazil's former president was imprisoned exactly one year ago in Curitiba, having been the target of unprecedented political and judicial persecution.

"For exactly one year I have been isolated in a prison cell in Curitiba. They have never produced one piece of evidence against me. I am a political prisoner, exiled inside my own country and separated from the Brazilian people, my family and my dearest friends. I have been barred from giving interviews, from speaking and from being heard. They thought the imposition of this long silence would quieten me forever. But it did not, and we will not be silenced, because we are millions of voices."

These were the words Lula wrote in a letter published on 7 April through official channels.

Union leaders from various global organizations held a rally in Geneva on 7 April to show their solidarity with Brazil's former president, calling for justice and demanding his immediate release from prison.

While Lula was in power from 2003 to 2010, his government brought 40 million people out of poverty, reduced child labour, empowered women, raised the minimum wage by 72%, created 15 million jobs and 7 million additional university places, and introduced the "Bolsa Familia" social welfare programme.

Lula achieved all of this while also growing Brazil's economy, since he brought millions of Brazilians into the consumer market. He also ensured that the newly created wealth was fairly distributed.

All polls showed that Lula would have won last year's election – even from his prison cell – if he had not been barred from running for election and unfairly imprisoned. His arbitrary detention undermines democracy and denies the Brazilian people the right to elect their preferred leader.

Since the coup against Dilma Rousseff, both the government of Michel Temer, who initiated the coup, and that of the current president, Jair Bolsonaro, have sought to destroy all of the social reforms and the rights of workers, women, indigenous people and the LGBTQ community.

IndustriALL Global Union's general secretary, Valter Sanches, also took part in the demonstration in Geneva:

"We are all Lula and the project he represents. We stand by his cause and will continue to call for justice, freedom and respect for his political rights.

His political incarceration has also enchained Brazil's democracy. We will continue to fight to restore the rule of law and democracy and to safeguard employment, social policies and sustainable development in the country.”