After Defeat in the Supreme, Lula’s Backers Announce: “Waltz Is over, Now It’s War”

    Supporter in a rally for presidential candidate Lula

    Social leaders and politicians across Brazil and the world are voicing their discontent with the Supreme Court decision to deny former Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva’s habeas corpus petition, which will in effect pave the way for his detention on corruption charges.

    “No strip of land will be free of occupation; we won’t give up! There’s not a single public building that we won’t occupy!” said Alexandre Conceição of the Rural Landless Movement, or MST.

    Speaking in the Brazilian capital Brasília shortly after the supreme court’s decision, he evoked the words of slain Black leaders such as Martin Luther King and Marielle Franco, in calling for social movements to initiate a period he dubbed “Red April.”

    He added that: “The waltz is over. From now on it’s punching, it’s war, it’s a struggle and we will win.”

    The Workers’ Party, or PT, and Socialism and Liberty Party, or PSOL, released official statements lamenting the court’s ruling.

    In their statement, PT said that the ruling marked “A tragic day for democracy in Brazil.” According to the party, the court denied Lula the right to defense. They also accused the Brazilian media company O Globo of influencing the decision.

    Juliano Medeiros, president of the PSOL, said the court’s ruling shows contempt for democracy. “It demonstrates the need to form a democratic front against the rise of authoritarianism and violence, the apex of which was the political crime that made a victim of our companion Marielle Franco,” he said.

    Luiz Maranhão, leader of the Workers’ Party in the state of São Paulo, said, “President Lula never requested special privileges. What he demanded were rights guaranteed by the Constitution.”

    Lula has declined to give an official response to the Supreme’s ruling as he and supporters gathered at the ABC Steelworkers Union headquarters in São Paulo to watch the judges deliberate.

    However, allies said the former head of state vented when judge Rosa Weber, appointed to the supreme court in 2011 during the presidency of Dilma Rousseff, voted to deny his habeas corpus appeal.

    Lula mocked the good faith demonstrated by the Workers’ Party, saying he was never hopeful that Weber would cast her vote in his favor, according to Brasil 24/7.

    Of the 11 supreme court justices currently serving on the bench, seven were appointed by Lula or Rousseff. Fernando Britto refers to them in the Diário do Centro do Mundo as “Traitors of the Brazilian people, traitors of those who ushered them to the Supreme (Court), traitors of themselves.”

    Supporters of the former President took Brasília in response to the ruling late Wednesday. Protesters arrived in Brasília from all over the country and marched while declaring their support for the front-runner in all the opinion polls ahead of the presidential election in October.

    The Supreme Court

    Brazil’s Supreme Court has voted 6-5 to deny former President Lula habeas corpus while he appeals his corruption conviction, potentially bringing an end to his re-election campaign.

    The popular leftist leader must now begin serving his 12-year prison sentence for taking bribes, denying his plea to remain free until he has exhausted all possible appeals.

    Lula is still Brazil’s most popular politician, despite his conviction and fighting six separate pending corruption trials. He is the front-runner in all opinion polls for the presidential election in October, but his sentence will likely bar him from running.

    The Supreme Court Justices deliberated for more than ten hours before reaching their final verdict. It is as yet unclear how soon the arrest warrant will be handed down by Judge Sergio Moro.

    While the hearing continued, protests broke out across Brazil, with tens of thousands of Lula’s supporters swamping streets in multiple cities.

    Moro sentenced Lula in July 2017 to nine years in prison for the alleged crime of passive corruption and money laundering.

    In January of this year, the Federal Regional Court of the 4th Region (TRF-4), in Porto Alegre, ratified Judge Moro’s sentence and extended it to 12 years and one month in prison.

    Lula, who enjoyed immense popularity after two terms at the head of the country between 2003 and 2010, was sentenced to 12 years in prison for helping the construction company OAS to obtain state tenders in exchange for the promise that he would receive a triplex apartment in first line of the beach.

    The former leader has always maintained his innocence, noting that this case, like other corruption charges against him still pending trial, are attempts to keep him out of the presidential race. Despite the legal problems that have angered some Brazilians, polls indicates that Lula is the favorite to take power.

    It is the second time that Lula has filed an appeal to avoid complying with the sentence. His first initiative received a setback in January, when an appeals court upheld the sentence and even extended from 9 to 12 the years he was supposed to spend in jail.

    This time it was not different and the highest court in Brazil, which met at 2:00 p.m. and finished at around 1:00 a.m., decided to reject the former president’s request.

    With 6 votes against and 5 in favor, the court gave its negative verdict to the habeas corpus presented by the defense, which argued that Lula should not yet comply with the sentence, because there are still many appeals to demand.

    With this result, the former head of state would have to prove his innocence in prison, which will frustrate his intentions to campaign for the elections on October 5.

    This, because although Lula can present more similar resources, the Brazilian law could force him to start serving his sentence, as ordered by the judge in charge of the Car Wash operation, Sergio Moro – who condemned him – and other magistrates.

    However, although the Supreme Court is the country’s main court, Lula is not going to enter the prison immediately. The former president still has until April 10 to file an appeal before the court of Porto Alegre, but legal experts agree that this stage is a formality and that the probability of success is minimal.

    Lula has not stopped campaigning throughout his legal battle, criticizing his detractors and promising not to surrender. Last week, at a stop in the southern state of Paraná, where he was convicted by Moro, two of his convoy’s vehicles were hit by gunfire, which caused no injuries.

    Independently of his judicial situation, Lula’s nomination to the Presidency will be settled in August, when the Supreme Electoral Tribunal (STE) admits or rejects the candidacies.

    In principle, the candidacy of Lula would be unfeasible, because the law provides that a person convicted in the second instance can not stand for an elective office.

    But, according to specialists in electoral law, it could also present its candidacy protected in precautionary measures of higher courts.

    tS/MP

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