A historic day, for Brazil and for Lula

Curitiba 10-05-2017 Presidente Lula e Dilma discursam durante ato na Praça Santos Andrade. Foto Lula Marques/Agência PT

Lula, from the top of Santos de Andrade Square, in Curitiba, expressing gratitude to those who had come from far-flung places like the state of Acre in the North of Brazil, proclaimed excitedly:

“I have already taken part in demonstrations with a million people […],

with all kinds and amounts of people you can imagine,

but none, none is as rewarding as

knowing that you trust someone who is being crushed […] “.

May, 10th 2017 certainly was a historic day, for Brazil and for Lula, not only for the fifty thousand people and 700 caravans that had endured a 12 hour struggle in Curitiba, despite of the pressure by the Judiciary, by Curitiba municipal government and by a fascist attack on a MST (Landless Workers Movement) camp.

This gathering, under current circumstances, would, by itself, be part of the country’s history. Moreover, this moment in history represents the apex of a slow changing process in the correlation of Brazilian political forces, to which we can add the increased resistance to Temer’s neoliberal reforms and the popular inauguration of the San Francisco River channeling.

This week, therefore, will be a milestone regarding the resistance to the coup and to Lula’s political imprisonment. But it is not just about this. May 10 will also belong to Lula’s personal history. Not the one that will be told once this period of democratic rupture enters the books. But for Lula himself, when going to sleep, as he rests for another struggling day.

Lula has never been a militant because of his beliefs on Marxist, Leninist or Gramscian lessons. Although seeking equality among people is an important part of socialist ethics for the left-wing militant Lula, his political combat is clearly linked to his principles, values and history. And today he can sleep in peace for he knows that, if Dona Marisa were alive, she would be proud of his husband.

Not only did he respond with proper self-esteem to a five hour testimony; not only did he accuse Globo, Veja, Estadão and other mainstream media companies of persecuting him, in combination with young prosecutors who have little or no understanding of life. He did all this. But he did more. Face to face for five hours, after a long torture process initiated two years ago and now imposed to a 71-year-old man – a survivor, who has lost brothers to Brazil’s Northeastern drought, his first wife to a failed health system, Dona Marisa for political persecution and his mother under military dictatorship – Lula spoke to the country, taking a load off his mind:

“Moro, you may have accidentally entered this process, do you know why?

Because the leak of my conversations to my wife and hers to my children,

it was you who authorized it.

It was not right to have my house disturbed

without being summoned to an audience.

No one had invited me to testify and, suddenly,

I see a platoon of Federal Police officers at my door.

And when I got out they even lifted the mattress of my bed,

thinking I had money in there, doctor.”

Perhaps all this went through his mind when, addressing the tens of thousands on the square, he wept over and over again. And, perhaps unintentionally, he did something unusual for rallies like this: after finishing his speech, when he saw the young Ana Júlia, leader of Paraná state students, he returned to the stage to restart the rally and ask people to hear her speech. The students’ resistance, which occupied highschools last year, spoke to a tired and touched giant.

Lula might have slept in peace. On May 10 he wrote one of the most important chapters in his history and honored Dona Marisa and his entire family.

Daniel Araújo Valença, Law Professor at UFERSA – Federal Rural University of the Semi-Arid, PhD in Legal Sciences at UFPB and contributor of Jornalistas Livres.

Translation by Ricardo Gozzi and César Locatelli, jornalistas livres.