Brazil: Sharan Burrow and CUT President Vagner Freitas Visit Imprisoned ex-President Lula

ITUC General Secretary Sharan Burrow, accompanied by Vagner Freitas, President of Brazil’s largest trade union centre CUT, have visited former Brazilian President Lula at the Curitiba police prison where he is being held on fabricated charges, on 9 August. Burrow confirmed the international trade union movement’s solidarity with Lula, while Freitas reaffirmed the full support of the CUT for his candidacy in Brazil’s forthcoming Presidential election.

“Lula is a political prisoner and people know it. The resistance is growing every day to what is a travesty of justice and despite all the attempts to pervert the rule of law, to silence him with imprisonment and deny him political rights, the polls show that he has more than twice the support that any other candidate has. Lula told us clearly he will run for President from his prison cell because he doesn’t want Brazilian people to live in poverty or without education, health, other public services and social protection. He wants to ensure that people have good jobs and decent wages. He will fight all attempts to silence him and although he is denied active political participation, his running mate Fernando Haddad will speak in his name,” said Burrow.

Burrow and Freitas were joined by Korean trade unionist Han Sang-gyun outside the prison at a camp where several hundred people are keeping vigil in solidarity with Lula. Han, former President of national trade union centre KCTU, was released from prison in Korea in May, after serving more than two years of a sentence imposed under the corrupt regime of deposed former Korean President Park Geun-hye.

“Lula is well aware of the growth of authoritarianism around the world, with the lack of good jobs, weakening of employment protections and the corporate greed which is suppressing wages. He understands that the struggle for democratic rights and freedoms is global and expressed his thanks for the international solidarity for his cause. Lula’s struggle for democracy, rights and decent jobs is our struggle too,” said Burrow.

The CUT, working with other progressive movements in Brazil, is mobilising national support for the candidacy of Lula, Brazil’s most popular politician.

“Powerful vested interests are manipulating Brazil’s judicial system to stop people from being able to elect Lula again, and entrench the power and privilege which has been on the rise since his successor, President Dilma Rousseff, was deposed in a coup orchestrated by a parliament riddled with corruption. The international trade union movement stands in full solidarity with Lula and the people of Brazil”, said Burrow.

Photo by Cláudio Kbene.

Free Lula campaign website.

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