Note from BW of Brazil: I must say, the past few years have seemed like a modern witch hunt. However one feels about embattled former Brazilian President Lula da Silva, we can all agree that the labor leader is clearly a figure that divides the country. A few years ago, we saw all sorts of demonstrations calling for the end of the 13-year rule of da Silva’s Workers’ Party culminating with the impeachment and ouster of the country’s first female president, and Lula’s hand-picked successor, Dilma Rousseff in 2016. And while corruption charges against politicians are nothing new, there seemed to be a desire to see the blood of the man former US President Barack Obama once called “the most popular politician on earth” spilled in the streets.
If you’re not one to follow international politics, let me just tell you that the last few days have been a true spectacle. Yesterday, sometime between 6-7pm, I drove down to “auntie’s house” and took a seat in the living room in front of the big screen TV that was tuned to Globo TV’s all-news channel.
And for the next few hours, I watched a scene of which I can only compare to a certain event in June of 1994 when a former American athlete captivated television viewers with his highway getaway in the infamous white Ford Bronco chase. As I listened to journalists discussing details that led to current event unfolding live, I sat slightly bewildered as I watched both street and helicopter shots showing numerous vehicles and motorcycles accompany da Silva to Federal Police headquarters.
Lula’s habeas corpus to avoid prison sentencing until all appeals were heard was denied in a 6-5 Supreme Court vote on Thursday which gave the go-ahead for his subsequent arrest. But what transpired over the next 24 hours days just added to former president’s mystique. With the order to turn himself in on Friday by 5pm, Lula defied the law and declared he would turn himself in until he was able to attend a Saturday morning mass in memory of his wife, Marisa, who died last year. The defiant labor leader remained holed away at the Metalworker Union’s building in São Bernardo do Campo, in metro São Paulo surrounded by supporters, some of whom camped outside of the building overnight.
On that same Saturday, Lula gave a rousing speech in which he demanded the chief judge leading his prosecution, Sérgio Moro, to show the evidence that would prove his guilt. He, like perhaps millions of his supporters, saw this whole trauma as simply a mechanism to do away with him as early polls showed that if he were to run again in 2018 for the presidency, he would surely win. Lula’s conviction, as well as Rousseff impeachment, were the result of a calculated conspiracy to return Brazil to a land of vast inequalities, which were slowly decreasing under the reign of da Silva’s Workers’ Party.
Da Silva spoke of his “crimes” during his speech. His “crime” of helping millions of Brazilians out of poverty and allowing them the possibility of being to partake in an economy that was booming during Lula’s presidency. In his own defense, Lula went on to say:
“And if the charges are for these crimes, for including the poor in universities, black people in universities, [making it possible for] poor people to eat meat, poor people to buy cars, poor people to travel by plane, poor people to have their small farm, have a small business, have their own home. If that is the crime I’ve committed, then I’d like to say I am going to continue to be a criminal in this country, because I am going to do so much more. I am going to do so much more.” – Read the full speech here.
Some would say the speech was just rhetoric of a corrupt politician trying to deflect attention away from his crimes. But is that the truth? The proof is readily available. Numerous articles on this blog have shown that Brazilian society detests seeing black and poor people in areas where they are believed to be “out of place”. The resentment of the middle class seeing their children attending the same university as the family’s maid. During Lula’s presidency, Afro-Brazilians gained unprecedented access to middle-class consumption in numbers never seen before in the nation’s history, and as one article showed, certain segments of society were “none too pleased about it.”
And then what about what has happened in the aftermath of the exit of Lula from the presidency and the ouster of Rousseff? To put it simply chaos. A President who is fighting his own corruption charges and single digit approval ratings. A tanking economy, which to be fair, was already in a tailspin fall before the impeachment. The return of many who had managed to rise out of poverty back to the ranks of the poor, numerous draconian reform policies that threaten to take Brazil back to the stone ages and a recent decision to send in the army to police Rio’s poor. All of this just to keep the (black and poor) masses “in their place”. Don’t believe me? Check what sociologist Jesse Souza had to say on the issue.
Hatred of the poor is the modern version of the hate of the slave
Sociologist Jessé Souza, author of the bestseller A elite do atraso (The elite of the delay), evaluates that the military intervention in Rio de Janeiro is an open sociology class, with favelados (slum dwellers) being booked by soldiers, who also come from the peripheries; according to him, “hatred of the poor is the modern version of hatred of the slave,” which was the mark of colonial Brazil; according to him, “the PT has not left and is not being persecuted because of corruption, but because it has allocated more resources to the poor”.
The sociologist Jessé Souza, author of the bestseller A elite do atraso, evaluates that the military intervention in Rio de Janeiro is an open sociology class, with residents of the favelas being booked by soldiers, who also come from peripheries (slums). According to him, “hatred of the poor is the modern version of hatred of the slave,” which was the mark of colonial Brazil.
According to Jesse, “hatred of the poor is the main Brazilian political and social problem and comes from 500 years.” He points out that there is “the indiscriminate killing of the poor as an informal policy in all major Brazilian cities.” “It’s not the police, the police only do it because it’s supported by the middle class and the elite,” he says. “Hatred of the poor is the modern version of the hatred of the slave.”
The PT (Workers’ Party) in his view, “didn’t leave and is not being persecuted because of corruption,” but because it has allocated more resources to the poor. “What I say in the book is that a power alliance between the elite and the middle class has been in place since 1930, and that the guarantor of this block is maintaining the distance from the poor. The Lula government diminished this distance, not only giving consumption power to the poorest, but increasing from three to eight million people in the universities.”
Source: Brasil 24/7