For the democratic rule of law: 24 January – people on the streets, history in their hands

But let justice roll down like waters,

and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream (Amos 5:24)


CESE has repeatedly expressed itself during the political moments when Brazilian democracy has been threatened.  The historical struggle for the defence and effectiveness of Human Rights has been a structural element within its own history and now, with the radicalization of neoliberalism in Brazil and the world, we are debating the setbacks to Civil and Political Rights, which seemed to have been definitively achieved following the 1988 Federal Constitution.

One and a half years since the impeachment – the institutional coup which brought down a democratically elected President, we have seen living conditions worsen, the suppression of basic rights, the offensives of a venal congress promoting social counter-reforms, the downgrading of worker rights to privileges, the deregulation of the economy for the ever more intensive and unsustainable use of natural resources, the criminalization of those who fight for rights and liberty.  These are no longer rights, but are accessed in the form of ‘services’ to be purchased on the market.  And these are the conditions in which we must read the judgement of Lula, which takes place in Porto Alegre on this symbolic date of 24 January, the beginning of an election year.

Removing Dilma Roussef was only the first step.  There were important neoliberal adjustment policies to be made by representatives of financial capital, the Federation of Industries of the State of São Paulo (Federação das Indústrias do Estado de São Paulo: FIESP) and international banking.  As with Dilma’s impeachment, the political condemnatory process of Luis Inácio Lula da Silva is defined by weaknesses, the absence of evidence and actions running counter to Justice and the Law, since other people with clear evidence of corruption have been absolved or their cases have been stalled – in what is known as the “politicization of Justice”, within a scenario of trial by media.

What is at stake is not only Lula and the possible connivance of his government with the powerful corrupting apparatus seen in unequal countries such as Brazil, but what he did for the good – racial quotas, the valuation of the minimum wage, the Maria Penha (Domestic Violence) Law, hundreds of technical schools and new public universities, the Pre-Salt and other national assertion initiatives and – as important as any – the strengthening of a new economic block – the BRICS – a bold foreign policy which prioritized relations with Africa, in all a series of factors which made the PT governments, with all their contradictions and concessions, an affront to the historical domination of the USA – this is the essential question, and explains his popularity, which gave him a wide margin in all the electoral polls, and the enormous international repercussions of this judgement.

In the face of judicial populism, what is at stake is the future of our democracy, with a serious risk of not respecting the popular will for Lula to participate in the electoral process.  An opportunity to review strategies and priorities within the range of alliances, envisaging a government committed to reviewing setbacks and asserting rights, to discussing a new project for the nation, the democratization of democracy, of the economy, of culture, and other dimensions of life.  With the people on the streets, history in their hands.



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