Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Union members celebrate May Day at the ''Vale do Anhangabau'' in Sao Paulo, Brazil. (Photo by Victor Moriyama/Getty Images)

'Assault on Democracy': Brazil's Supreme Court Rules Presidential Favorite Lula Must Serve Jail Time

"Lula has been subjected to a political prosecution and conviction, ignoring evidence of his innocence, and triggering a crisis of confidence in the rule of law."

Jake Johnson

In what has been denounced as an "assault on democracy," Brazil's Supreme Court on Thursday narrowly ruled that former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva must begin serving a 12-year sentence on corruption charges that many have argued are part of a false and politically motivated campaign against the nation's most popular political figure.

"Brazil's rightwing knows that it wouldn't stand a chance against Lula in this year's elections."
—Mark Weisbrot, Center for Economic and Policy Research
"This latest move to circumvent democratic process and keep a popular candidate out of office is another serious blow to Brazil's democratic institutions,"  Mark Weisbrot, co-director for the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR), said in a statement responding to the ruling. "It's the second in a one-two punch, the first being the unconstitutional impeachment and removal of elected president Dilma Rousseff in 2016 for something that had been done by previous administrations and was not even a crime."

"Brazil's rightwing knows that it wouldn't stand a chance against Lula in this year's elections, just as it twice lost elections to Lula before, and then twice more to Dilma," Weisbrot added. "So, as with Dilma, they are using other means to keep him out of office."

The court's ruling on Thursday—which was accompanied by massive demonstrations in support of Lula—further destabilizes Brazil's already chaotic political scene, as Lula was widely viewed as the frontrunner heading into the October elections.

Responding to the Supreme Court's ruling in a statement on Thursday, Brazil's Workers' Party—which was launched in 1980 by Lula and a group of left-wing intellectuals and unionists—said Lula's campaign for the presidency will continue, even if he is behind bars.

"The Brazilian people have the right to vote for Lula, the candidate of hope," the statement reads. "The Workers' Party will defend his candidacy in the streets in all circumstances, until the end."

In a letter published in the Guardian on Thursday, a group of British members of parliament, academics, and activists denounced the "concerted campaign against [Lula], where his basic human rights have been breached" and said he should be allowed to continue his presidential campaign.

"Lula has been subjected to a political prosecution and conviction, ignoring evidence of his innocence, and triggering a crisis of confidence in the rule of law," the letter contines. "This is not just about one man but the future of democracy in Brazil. We believe he should be allowed to stand and the Brazilian people allowed to decide their own future."


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

... We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

GOP 'Silence Speaks Volumes,' Says Ilhan Omar as Boebert's Bigotry Goes Unpunished

"Normalizing this bigotry not only endangers my life but the lives of all Muslims. Anti-Muslim bigotry has no place in Congress."

Brett Wilkins ·


Africans Should Be 'Applauded, Not Punished,' Say Advocates Amid Omicron Travel Ban

"What is going on right now is inevitable," said African Union Vaccine Delivery Alliance co-chair Dr. Ayoade Alakija. "It's a result of the world's failure to vaccinate in an equitable, urgent, and speedy manner."

Brett Wilkins ·


Biden Drilling Report Blasted as 'Shocking Capitulation to the Needs of Corporate Polluters'

"Greenlighting more fossil fuel extraction, then pretending it's OK by nudging up royalty rates, is like rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic," said one campaigner.

Jessica Corbett ·


UNESCO Members Adopt First Global AI Ethics Agreement 'To Benefit Humanity'

"We're at a critical juncture in history," said Ethics in Tech founder Vahid Razavi. "We need as humans to come together and decide what is the best course of action to take with these technologies before they surpass us in their abilities."

Brett Wilkins ·


Progressive US Lawmakers Mark Black Friday With Calls to Pass the PRO Act

"The right to organize, fight for better working conditions, and fair pay must always be protected."

Jessica Corbett ·

Support our work.

We are independent, non-profit, advertising-free and 100% reader supported.

Subscribe to our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values.
Direct to your inbox.

Subscribe to our Newsletter.


Common Dreams, Inc. Founded 1997. Registered 501(c3) Non-Profit | Privacy Policy
Common Dreams Logo