A Supreme Court judge in Brazil has annulled convictions against former left wing president Luiz Inácio Lula de Silva. This means Lula will now be able to contest the presidential election next year. The judge ruled that four cases against Lula should not have been heard before Judge Sergio Moro after it was revealed that Moro had coached prosecution lawyers on how to build the cases Moro would eventually try. Lula had spent over 19 months in jail before being released to appeal his conviction and will now face a retrial; however, supporters are claiming this is proof of a witch hunt against the Workers’ Party which also led to the impeachment in 2016 of President Dilma Rousseff.
Because of his now annulled convictions, Lula was barred from running in the 2018 Presidential election, which saw the far right Jair Bolsonaro take power. Bolsonaro, a vicious homophobe and misogynist has overseen attacks on the rights of indigenous people and the urban poor. He has also deliberately targeted the Brazilian rainforest in order to massively extend beef farming. Retaining this rainforest is, however, vital to humanity’s struggle against climate change. But it is his criminally cavalier approach to the COVID pandemic – he told the Brazilian people to stop ‘whining’ about the disease – which shows the depths to which the capitalist far Right will go to defend the profit system. Brazil under Bolsonaro has seen the emergence of a new highly infectious and possibly vaccine resistant strain of the virus that has led to the deaths of 266,000 people and 11 million cases so far, the second worst hit country in the world. Now with reports that the health service in Brazil is on the verge of collapse, the situation will only get worse.
It should be no surprise to socialists even the mildest of left wing politicians who pose no real threat to the capitalist system, whether it is Lula in Brazil, Sanders in the US, or Corbyn in Britain, will be subjected to vicious campaigns to discredit them.
It can be expected that Lula will face more attacks if he decides to run in next year’s election, and we have no illusions in his programme or his willingness to break with capitalism. Workers across the world should heed the warnings from Brazil where far Right populists like Bolsonaro pose a serious threat to the working class. Brazilian workers will soon have a chance to dump the abomination that is Bolsonaro and take a move to the left. This, however, must be linked to the socialist transformation of society to prevent another Bolsonaro from emerging again.