President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva changed the face of Brazil during his stay in office from 2003 to 2011. Tens of millions of Brazilians moved out of poverty; children from humble backgrounds increasingly entered into universities that were for centuries a preserve of a small elite. The socialist inspired reforms catapulted the Brazilian economy to become the 5th largest in the world.
However, this success was a bitter pill to swallow for the entrenched bourgeois oligarchy. Brazil was not the example that the capitalist world wanted to see. Socialism had been declared dead and the capitalist hegemony celebrated. The Brazilian project had to be halted, just in case it became inspirational to hundreds of the poverty stricken countries languishing under neo-liberal capitalism. It was a bad example in a capitalist system that survives on greed and the perpetuation of poverty in the periphery countries.
For two months now, Lula is incarcerated – and I am standing some meters away from his prison cell in the 3-million city of Curitiba. Thousands of people are chanting and demanding his release. A vigil involving hundreds of supporters is held each night – enduring cold temperatures that go up to zero degrees Celsius. I want to add my voice to the chants and possibly also endure the freezing, cold temperatures.
Lula is the poor people’s hero. He stands high in the opinion polls of prospective presidential candidates for the 2018 elections. His incarceration on trumped up corruption charges is just as absurd as the parliamentary impeachment that took out Lula’s successor, Dilma Rousseff. Releasing Lula out of prison and allowing him to run as a presidential candidate is not in the best interest of the Brazilian oligarchy. The western imperialist powers, led by Trump’s USA, are part of the collusion. Lula is essentially a prisoner of capitalism – a system that pays lip services to the popular power of the masses and hates the idea of an equitable distribution of wealth.
The Brazilian oligarchy’s objectives are quite apparent: To reverse the social welfare state initiated by Lula and his compatriots; to redistribute wealth in favour of international capital and the local elite; to destroy national sovereignty gained over the decades by pushing the country’s foreign policy into a non-critical pro-USA stance. There are no taboos in the process: The fascist elements of Brazil are now calling for a military coup! They detest the thought of any socialist inspired victory. A military, unconstitutional take over would consolidate the power of the oligarchy and spell doom to the millions who still believe capitalism can be reformed to accommodate a human face. It is a delicate and dangerous moment in Brazilian history.
The working masses of Brazil realise alot is at stake. They are raising their levels of militancy. Street demonstrations organised labour strikes and symbolic acts of defiance have become an every day phenomenon. These actions are often cemented by intense conjectural analysis and debates. The debates build the bridges between urban and rural folks; academia and the working masses; political party cadres and activists of popular movements. They are a learning moment of the Brazilian class struggle and are helping to shape the required unity of purpose as well as raise the levels of political consciousness. Whichever way the process takes, and whether Lula is released or not, the levels of political consciousness of the masses are rapidly being raised. The oligarchy wielding power in Brazil has, by its crude actions, created conditions that enhance resistance. It is just a question of time. The cause of humanity and socialism will soon or later triumph in Latin America’s biggest economy.