Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva passing through the crowd of his supporters after his speech in front of ABC Metallurgists Unionin San Bernardo do Campo, Brazil November 9, 2019. (Photo: Felipe Beltrame/NurPhoto/PA Images)

Former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva passing through the crowd of his supporters after his speech in front of ABC Metallurgists Unionin San Bernardo do Campo, Brazil November 9, 2019. (Photo: Felipe Beltrame/NurPhoto/PA Images)

Lula Free, Bolsonaro in Rage

A ruling by the Constitutional Court provisionally released Lula. An important part of the Brazilian people welcomed the news with joy and hope. But Bolsonaro reacted with rage and called him "guilty scum."

Danica Jorden

Last Friday, November 8, 2019, former President of Brazil Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva walked out of a prison in Curitiba and was greeted by throngs of supporters, many of whom had camped out since he was sent to jail more than two years ago. The next day, hoarse from the ordeal and past throat cancer surgery, Lula spoke for 45 minutes before thousands gathered in São Bernardo do Campo, São Paulo, Brazil’s automotive capital and the heart of labor activity in the country. It was a sea of red, as many wore the crimson t-shirts of the Metal Workers Union, whose offices provided the backdrop to the speech.

The Supreme Court of Brazil was finally compelled to admit that Lula had been wrongly imprisoned before his appeal had been heard, in conflict with the country’s constitution. The former president had been accused of accepting a beachfront penthouse apartment as a bribe, just as he announced his candidacy for a return to the presidency. He was swiftly convicted and sentenced to twelve years for corruption, with ultra-conservative Jair Bolsonaro becoming president.

But the penthouse had not even been built and Lula had bought a simpler apartment in a building behind it, away from the beach. Nevertheless, Judge Sérgio Moro found Lula guilty. Moro was subsequently appointed Justice Minister by President Bolsonaro. In June 2019, Glenn Greenwald and David Miranda of Intercept Brasil released “an enormous trove of secret documents” showing “improper and unethical plotting” between chief prosecutor Delton Dallagnol and Moro.

“Bolsonaro needs to understand that he was elected to govern for the Brazilian people, not for the military men in Rio de Janeiro", Lula said, once free.

Lula said that he felt energized about continuing to fight. On Friday night, he said on social media, “I am free to help liberate Brazil from the insanity that is happening in this country.” On Saturday, he displayed the congeniality that endears him to his supporters and also, he said, helped him “make friends” in prison and “spiritually prepare” himself for his return.

Switching between two failing microphones with a hand that lost a finger in a work accident, he described his humble roots in Brazil’s impoverished Northeast and the opportunities the union and worker solidarity afforded him. “I was born in the city of Garunhuns. I left there and came to Sao Paulo when I was seven years old. I was raised by a mother and father who were born and died illiterate. I have always said, since 1979, that my political evolution was the product of the political evolution of the working men and women of this country…. I owe everything to my mother, who died illiterate, and to this union,” pointing to the Metalworkers Union headquarters, where he was offered courses in political science and economics.

“For 580 days in solitary confinement, I prepared myself spiritually” to free himself from hate and the need for vengeance. “I doubt that Moro can sleep with as clear a conscience as I do. I doubt that Bolsonaro can sleep with as clear a conscience as I do. I doubt that the minister in charge of demolishing dreams, destroying jobs and destroyer of the Brazilian people’s corporations, whose name is Guedes, can sleep with as clear a conscience as I do. And I want to tell them that I’m back!”

University of Chicago-educated Minister of the Economy Paulo Guedes has been under investigation for fraud since 2018 concerning his investment and loss of hundreds of millions of dollars in state pension funds.

Lula also called for a proper investigation into the assassination of Rio councillor Marielle Franco and clarified that “Bolsonaro needs to understand that he was elected to govern for the Brazilian people, not for the military men in Rio de Janeiro. We must not allow these military men to wreck our country.”

Current President Bolsonaro reminded his supporters that Lula has yet to be exonerated, admonishing them to not “give ammunition to this momentarily free but still guilty scum.”


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

Danica Jorden

Danica Jorden is a writer and translator of French, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian and other languages.

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.

'Broken' Capitalist Food System Drives Soaring Global Hunger: Oxfam

Criticism from the charity's food policy director came in response to a new United Nations report revealing that around 1 in 10 people worldwide went hungry last year.

Brett Wilkins ·


With Manchin's Backing, Senate Dems Unveil Plan to Let Medicare Negotiate Drug Prices

"This compromise will lower prices, cut costs, and stop the drug corporations from raising their prices faster than the rate of inflation," said Margarida Jorge of Lower Drug Prices Now.

Jake Johnson ·


'Fight for Us Goddamnit': Frustration Grows Over Biden Fecklessness Amid GOP Destruction

"We simply cannot make promises, hector people to vote, and then refuse to use our full power when they do," said Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

Julia Conley ·


EPA Likely Underestimating Amount of Toxic Forever Chemicals in US Water: Analysis

"The EPA is doing the bare minimum it can and that's putting people's health at risk," said the policy director of Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility.

Kenny Stancil ·


'Betrayal!' Uproar After EU Backs Industry Push to Label Gas and Nuclear 'Green'

"This is a step backwards in the fight against greenwashing and a step away from the sustainable future the E.U. has promised, but we are not defeated," campaigners said.

Jake Johnson ·

Common Dreams Logo