ITUC General Secretary Sharan Burrow, and 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.
Freitas reaffirmed the full support of the CUT for his candidacy in Brazil’s forthcoming Presidential election and Burrow underlined the international labour movement’s solidarity with Lula.
Burrow said, “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.”
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. Bro 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. UNI Global Union was vociferous in its call for Bro Han to be freed as it is now in the case of Lula.
UNI Global Union General Secretary, Christy Hoffman, “UNI seeks justice for Lula and calls for his immediate release. His incarceration is a prime example of how democratic spaces are being closed down and workers’ rights attacked, not only in Brazil and Latin America, but around the world.”
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.
UNI Global Union strongly supports Lula and awarded him its Freedom from Fear Award in his absence at its World Congress in Liverpool in June in recognition of his courageous and commitment to democracy in Brazil. Former Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff addressed the Congress in person and gave a message of support to Lula. Rousseff also received the Freedom from Fear Award.
The President of RWDSU, Stuart Appelbaum, who is also the President of UNI Commerce, is travelling to Brazil this week, as part of an emergency delegation from the AFL-CIO.