Op:Ed- FITUG says free Lula!

The Federation of Independent Trade Unions of Guyana (FITUG) joins with several international trade union bodies such as the ITUC, the ITF and the WFTU, as well as the Central Workers of Brazil (CTB) and the peace-loving and progressive-minded peoples of the world to express our strongest condemnation over what we contend is a politically-inspired decision by the Brazilian Courts to incarcerate the country’s former president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva. The FITUG, is strongly of the view, that this manifestation is part of the orchestrated campaign to target and sordidly bring down one of the most outstanding and respected leaders of our continent.

It is incredulous, and for us unbelievable, that Lula, who commands such great respect and much admiration by not only millions of his countrymen and women but the downtrodden and democratic forces across the world, has been brazenly hounded by the economic interests, both local and foreign, several sections of the media and the backward section of the military establishment to achieve their economic and political aims which they cannot secure from the ballot box. The FITUG sees these attempts as an ignoble attempt to tarnish and besmirch the proud legacy of President Lula who’s Government and Party implemented policies which lifted millions of Brazilians out of poverty, provided land to the landless and improved his country’s image on the world stage.

We need to recall that the historic developments in South America whereby an anti-imperialist and pro-socialist movement emerged in the early years of the 21st century, and that by the year 2012 several outstanding progressive nationalist leaders had been elected to Government by the South American masses throughout the region: Hugo Chavez in Venezuela; Evo Morales in Bolivia; Rafael Correa in Ecuador; Nestor and Cristina Kirchner in Argentina; Fernando Lugo Mendez in Paraguay; Lula in Brazil; Jose “Pepe” Mujica in Uruguay; Daniel Ortega in Nicaragua; and Michelle Bachelet in Chile and, of course, our own Cheddi Jagan in Guyana. These victories, in several ways, supplemented Fidel Castro’s revolutionary Cuba, which had been carrying the banner of socialism in the Americas and the Caribbean since 1959!

For our region, this was a truly historic development and constituted the high point of the centuries-long historic struggle of the masses of working-class and impoverished South Americans to transform the unequal, elitist, oppressive, capitalistic and oligarchical societies that had been foisted upon them ever since the Spanish, British and other forces colonized the region centuries ago.

Here then was a tremendous breakthrough in the progressive, working-class movement to develop new, just, equal and inclusive South American societies. And the impressive results were there for all to see in the millions of people who were lifted out of poverty and the hundreds of new socially uplifting programs and institutions that were birthed in virtually all of the countries in question, but especially in Venezuela, Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia, Ecuador and Nicaragua.

But of course, the powerful traditional South American oligarchical classes and institutions – and their state collaborators – did not simply fade away! Rather, they, in partnership with the international forces that seek world hegemony, have carried out a vicious and unprincipled counter-offensive in which they have deployed every conceivable weapon – ranging from economic sabotage, to trumped up corruption and impeachment charges – against the South American progressive, anti-imperialist leaders and their governmental administrations.

The tragic outline of this treasonous political, economic and judicial insurgency campaign against the South American progressive and revolutionary forces is as follows:

  1. 2002 – the abortive coup of Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez and the consistent harassment of him and his government;
  2. 2012 – the impeachment of Paraguay’s Fernando Lugo Mendez on ridiculous charges of “insecurity” and “nepotism”;
  3. 2016 – the impeachment of Brazil’s Dilma Rousseff on ludicrous charges of so-called “administrative misconduct” and “disregard for the federal budget” which is described as a ‘coup’ and which was extended to continue efforts to prevent Lula from contesting the up-coming Brazilian elections;
  4. 2016 – the effort by the extreme rightist forces within the opposition in Venezuela to launch impeachment and recall processes against President Nicolas Maduro;
  5.  2017 – the prosecution of Argentina’s Cristina Kirchner on a trumped up charge of “trying to defraud the government”; and
  6. 2017 – the prosecution and conviction of Lula on an equally trumped up charge of accepting a bribe when he was president of Brazil, and so on.

And it should be emphasized that the witch hunts against both Lula and Cristina Kirchner are also “preemptive strikes” that are politically rooted and aimed at denying them to be candidates in their country’s elections which they are favoured to win!

We fully comprehend that in this “war” which is being waged against the nationalist and other progressive forces of South America and the Caribbean that a variety of legal and constitutional processes are being twisted out of shape, bastardized and prostituted and used for illicit political purposes.

With this in mind, we hereby denounce the egregious injustice that has been inflicted on Luiz Inacio “Lula” da Silva! We wish him, the officers and members of the Workers Party of Brazil, and the masses of working-class Brazilians to know that we are in solidarity with them in this struggle.

We call upon all nations and governments that have a commitment to decency and justice to raise their voices and publicly demand that Lula be freed and that he be permitted to compete in the upcoming presidential election in Brazil.

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