Archival photo of ex-president Lula (left) and Fernando Haddad, who was officially appointed as the Workers’ Party presidential candidate this Tuesday. Photo: Ricardo Stuckert
“If they wish to silence our voices and defeat our project for the country, they are fooling themselves. We are still alive, in the hearts and memories of the people. And our name now is Haddad,” Brazil’s former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva wrote in a letter that officially announced Fernando Haddad as the presidential candidate for the Workers’ Party (PT). The announcement was made this afternoon outside the federal police headquarters in Curitiba.
Lula’s lawyer, Luiz Eduardo Greenhalgh, was in charge of reading the former president’s letter next to Haddad and his running mate Manuela D’Ávila, as well as the Workers’ Party chair Gleisi Hoffmann and members of parliament and fellow party members.
“By action, omission, and protraction, the Brazilian judiciary deprived the country of an electoral process with the presence of all political forces. They nullified the right of the people to freely vote. Now they want to prohibit me from speaking to the people and even of appearing on television. They censor me, just like they did during the dictatorship,” Lula wrote.
“Possibly nothing would have happened weren’t I leading all the voting intentions polls. Maybe I would not be in jail if I had accepted to give up my candidacy. But I would never trade my dignity for my freedom, for the commitment I have to the Brazilian people,” the ex-president argued.
“Today, we have become millions of Lulas and, from now on, Fernando Haddad will be Lula for millions of Brazilians,” he wrote. “A man can be unfairly incarcerated, but his ideas cannot. No oppressor can be bigger than the people. That is why our ideas will reach everyone through the voice of the people, louder and stronger than the lies spread by Globo [Brazil’s largest media conglomerate].”
Read the full letter:
LETTER TO THE BRAZILIAN PEOPLE
You surely know by now that the courts have banned me from running for the Presidency of the Republic. Actually, they have banned the Brazilian people from voting freely to change the grim reality of our country.
I have never accepted injustice, and never will. For more than 40 years, I have walked alongside the Brazilian people, advocating equality and the transformation of Brazil into a better and more just country. And it was by walking all over our country that I could see from close the suffering burning the soul and the hope shining again in the eyes of our people. I saw indignation with the many wrong things that are happening and the wish to improve one’s life again.
It was to correct so many mistakes and to renew hope in the future that I decided to be a presidential candidate. And in spite of the lies and the persecution, the people embraced us on the streets and led us to the top of all opinion polls.
I have been in jail unjustly for over five months. I have committed no crime and I was convicted by the press long before I was tried. I continue challenging the Car Wash prosecutors, Judge Sérgio Moro, and appellate court TRF-4 to present a single piece of evidence against me, for one cannot be found guilty for crimes not committed, for money not diverted, for acts not determined.
My conviction is a judicial charade, a political vengeance, always resorting to exceptional measures against me. They don’t want to arrest and ban just the citizen Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. They want to arrest and ban the Brazil project that the majority approved in four consecutive elections, and which was only interrupted by a coup against a legitimately elected president– who did not commit any ‘crime of responsibility’–that ultimately plunged the country into chaos.
You know me and you know that I would never give up fighting. I lost my companion Marisa, grieved with all she had seen happen to our family, but I did not give up, also in honor of her memory. I faced the charges on the basis of the law. I decried the lies and abuses of authority in every court, including the UN Human Rights Committee, which acknowledged my right to be a candidate.
The legal community, at home and abroad, became indignant with the aberrations committed by Sergio Moro and the Porto Alegre court. Leaders across the globe denounced the attempt against democracy in which my process was transformed into. The international press has shown the world what [media conglomerate] Globo sought to conceal.
Still, the Brazilian courts denied me a right guaranteed by the constitution to any citizen, provided he or she does not go by the name Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. They rejected the UN decision, disrespecting the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which a sovereign Brazil had subscribed to.
By action, omission, and protraction, the Brazilian Judiciary deprived the country of an electoral process with the presence of all political forces. They nullified the right of the people to freely vote. Now they want to prohibit me from speaking to the people and even of appearing on television. They censor me, just like they did during the dictatorship.
Possibly nothing would have happened weren’t I leading all the voting intentions polls. Maybe I would not be in jail if I had accepted to give up my candidacy. But I would never trade my dignity for my freedom, for the commitment I have to the Brazilian people.
I was artificially included in the Clean Slate Law to be arbitrarily pulled out from the electoral race, but I will not allow them to make this their pretext to imprison the future of Brazil.
It is in face of these circumstances that I have to make a decision, within an arbitrarily imposed deadline. I am recommending to the PT and to the “O Povo Feliz de Novo” Coalition the replacement of my candidacy with that of my brother Fernando Haddad, who has thus far so loyally carried out the position of vice-presidential candidate.
Fernando Haddad, the Minister of Education in my government, was responsible for a major transformation in our country. Together, we opened the doors of University to nearly 4 million students coming from public schools, blacks, indigenous peoples, the children of workers who had never before had such opportunity. Together, we created the Prouni, the new Fies, the quotas, Fundeb, Enem, the National Education Plan, Pronatec, and we started four times more technical schools than had been started in the preceding one hundred years. We created the future.
Haddad is the coordinator of our Plan of Government designed to get the country out of the crisis, receiving contributions from thousands of people and discussing each point with me. He will be my representative in this battle to reset the course toward development and social justice.
If they wish to silence our voices and defeat our project for the country, they are fooling themselves. We are still alive, in the hearts and memories of the people. And our name now is Haddad.
By his side, running as vice-presidential candidate, we will have our sister Manuela D’Ávila, confirming our historical alliance with the PCdoB, and other forces such as the PROS, PSB sectors, leaders from other parties and, above all, with the social movements, with the workers in the cities and in the countryside, exponents of the democratic and people’s forces.
Our loyalty, mine, Haddad’s and Manuela’s, is with the people in the first place. It is with the dreams of those who want to live again in a country in which all have food on the table, in which there is employment, decent wages, legal protection for those who work; in which the children have schools and the youth, a future; in which the families can afford to buy a car, a home, and keep on dreaming and achieving. A country in which all shall have opportunities and no one shall have any privilege.
I know that one day true Justice will be made and my innocence will be recognized. And that day I will be with Haddad to carry out the government of the people and of hope. We shall all be there, together, to make Brazil happy again.
I wish to thank the solidarity of those who have sent me messages and letters, who have prayed and organized rallies for my freedom, who protest around the world against persecution and for democracy, and particularly those who have been keeping me daily company outside the place I am.
A man can be unfairly incarcerated, but his ideas cannot. No oppressor can be bigger than the people. That is why our ideas will reach everyone through the voice of the people, louder and stronger than the lies spread by Globo.
So, it is from my heart that I wish to ask all those who would vote for me to vote in my brother Fernando Haddad for President of the Republic. And to ask you to vote in our gubernatorial candidates, in our candidates running for representatives and senators, so that we can build a more democratic country, with sovereignty, without privatization of public companies, with more social justice, more education, culture, science and technology, more safety, housing and health, with more employment, decent wages, and with land reform.
Today, we have become millions of Lulas and, from now on, Fernando Haddad will be Lula for millions of Brazilians.
So long, my friends. Till victory!
A hug from your companion of always,
Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva