NUMSA condemns the Brazilian government for persecuting former President Lula da Silva

The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA) condemns the Brazilian government for persecuting former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. President Lula has been ruthlessly prosecuted through the Brazilian legal system which convicted him of corruption in relation to the “Car Wash” investigations, in July last year. On Friday the Supreme Federal Tribunal denied the former president’s request to stay out of prison while he appealed the corruption conviction. Following a two day standoff with police Lula has handed himself over to authorities in order to begin serving the 12 year sentence handed down for corruption. For two days thousands of Brazilian people have protested and expressed outrage outside the Steelworkers union headquarters where he was staying, in defence of Comrade Lula and the decision for him to go to jail.

NUMSA joins the chorus of voices which have rejected the findings of the court against Lula.  We remain in solidarity with President Lula and the working class of Brazil that have seen through this treachery of the current undemocratic regime of Michel Temer. We draw inspiration from the fact that a people united can never be defeated. The corruption conviction has been widely criticized because of the lack of evidence to back up the allegations. Judge Sergio Moro who was presiding over the case and the investigation has demonstrated extreme bias and prejudice against Lula.


Lula da Silva is being accused of allegedly accepting over a million dollars in bribes from the construction company OAS to pay for the renovation of a beachside apartment in Guarujá, São Paulo state, which was owned by his wife. Throughout the trial, Lula da Silva’s legal team provided evidence that the former president never received any benefits other than his salary and the gifts routinely bestowed upon any head of state. The prosecution failed to provide any proof linking him to any crime. None of the prosecution’s witnesses provided any evidence linking Lula to allegations of bribery or linking the apartment to the former president.

Furthermore Judge Moro has led a campaign of intimidation and trial by media. Moro ordered the tapping of phone lines belonging to the law firm defending president Lula and then released tapes of confidential conversations to the prosecution and to journalists. Even after Moro’s warrant had run out, the phone tapping continued. Details of a private conversation between Lula and former president Dilma Rousseff, who was removed from office in a ‘soft coup’ in 2016, were leaked to the media by Moro.

The power to arrest and detention without bail has been abused by the Car Wash investigators, leading to accusations that witnesses are being coerced into giving false evidence. More than 3 hundred witnesses were interviewed, and yet the case against Lula is based on the evidence of a convicted criminal, the former CEO of OAS, who was himself convicted of corruption. He was offered a reduced sentence in exchange for testifying against the former president. This has prompted leading UK human rights barrister Geoffrey Robertson to take the Brazilian government to the United Nations Human Rights Committee in Geneva. The petition states that Lula is being denied a fair trial and that Brazil is in breach of international human rights law of which it is a signatory.


It is obvious that Lula is the victim of law fare and a political witch-hunt designed to undermine his legacy. The right wing capitalist elite have been manipulating the legal system in order to ensure that Lula is prosecuted, and is ineligible to run for president again. Lula remains one of the most popular political leaders in Brazil. As a metalworker, he worked as a lathe operator in San Bernardo district in Sao Paulo. During his two terms as president he lifted 40 million Brazilians out of poverty and he created millions of jobs. Poverty fell by 27% during his administration by pursuing pro-working class reforms. During his first term he launched the “Zero Hunger” campaign designed to ensure that every Brazilian family had three meals a day. Over 12 million families were beneficiaries of the project. Furthermore Lula was the only president in Brazilian history who did not have a university degree, but who built more universities than any other leader before him.

Former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva delivered a passionate speech on Saturday in front of a large group of supporters before turning himself in to the federal police where he said:

“I’m no longer a human being – I’m an idea. The death of a soldier doesn’t stop the revolution.”

NUMSA will continue to defend and support President Lula and the pro-working class ideals that he fought for. We join our comrades, the Landless Movement in Brazil (MST) and other progressive forces in fighting to protect and defend the gains of the revolution. It is clear that the current neo-liberal administration of Michel Termer will stop at nothing to undermine the good work which President Lula has done for the working class and the poor people of Brazil. We urge all our comrades locally and across the globe to join us in defending Lula and the legacy of the Workers Party (Partido dos Trabalhadores,) which he led. As NUMSA we will do all we can to ensure that Lula’s legacy is protected and that the vision of a socialist society is realized.

Aluta continua!

The struggle continues!

Issued by Irvin Jim

NUMSA General Secretary

For more information

Phakamile Hlubi-Majola

NUMSA National Spokesperson (Acting)