“They won’t arrest my thoughts. They won’t arrest my dreams. If they don’t let me walk, I’ll walk with your legs. If they don’t let me talk, I’ll speak through your mouth. If my heart stops beating, it will beat in your heart.” – Luiz Inacio Lula Da Silva.
Overcoming poverty isn't a gesture of charity. It is an act of justice. This is the best sentence to explain the works of former Brazilian president Luiz Inácio da Silva, better known as Lula, the most popular president of Brazilian history, the only president that completed two terms, and the first president from the left, honored with Honoris Causa from Sciences Po, one who served the working class instead of Brazilian elites, first illiterate president who constructed most universities in Brazil. This is how people remember him.
On January 24th, 2018, Federal judge Sergio Moro passed the judgment based on the Lava Jato scandal against Lula and sentenced him to 10 years in prison without any evidence (which became 12 years in prison when he appealed). The whole process was so rigged that the media reported the judgment a few minutes before the Brazilian Supreme Court gave its verdict.
The book is comprised of the interview conducted with Lula in February 2018, just 2 months before his arrest where he exemplified his side, how convinced he was about his works, his views, Lulism (a national movement that United the middle class with the working class in Brazil), Lava Jato scandal, also known as car wash scandal which landed him in prison. The book primarily focused on his trial and politics in Brazil and the coup and failure of his successor Dilma Rousseff. He explains how the capitalist bluffed the Brazilians, how it ruined the society and basic rights of the poor, and how they controlled everything.
It is pertinent to comprehend who Lula is, whom Obama called the most popular leader in the world. Lula was born in 1945 in Caetés located 250 km from Recife, capital of Pernambuco, a state in the Northeast of Brazil, which is one of the most impoverished regions of Brazil. He was born into a poor family and had to quit school after the second grade to work and assist his family. At the age of 12, he worked as a shoe shiner and street vendor. He began to work in a warehouse when he was 14. When 16-year-old Pele became the youngest to score a goal in the world cup final and lifted the Jules Rimet trophy, Lula was a child working in a factory. At the age of 19, he had an accident in an automobile parts factory in which he lost his left hand’s pinky. He had to run to several hospitals before he received the treatment. This juncture shaped his ideas and developed his inquisitiveness in participating in the Worker’s Union.
The days of the American-backed military dictatorship were the darkest period of Brazil’s history, a period which the current Brazilian president Jair Bolosnaro glorifies. This era was characterized by a high level of unemployment, crippling recession, and most importantly the exploitation of the Brazilian proletariat. Lula started as a metalworker in 1966 at Villares Metals S.A, where inspired by his brother Frei Chico he joined the labour movement. His brother was a militant of the Communist Party himself who introduced Lula to labour militancy. He became the president of the Union in 1975.
Lula co-founded the Worker’s Party (PT) in 1980. He faced many hardships, organized labour strikes, and went to jail. He became the most voted lawmaker in 1986. He then ran for 3 unsuccessful presidential elections before becoming President in 2002. His presidency was marked by 76% reduction in chronic poverty, more than 20 million people were lifted from acute poverty, extreme poverty was dropped from 12% to 4.8%, unemployment from 10.5% to 5.7%, tripled the education budget, opened 14 new universities and illiteracy rate dropped from 17% to 9.6%. He later assumed the role of Chief of Staff under President Dilma Rousseff in 2012.
The Brazilian right wing started an impeachment process based on the Lava Jato scandal. This was the time when Jair Bolsonaro (who was very much unknown) broke into headlines when he honoured the notorious and most sadistic Brazilian general, Carlos Alberto Brilhante Ustra, who tortured Rousseff when she was imprisoned. It was a Parliamentary coup and Brazilian democracy faced the biggest threat since the days of the military junta.
Before the 2018 elections, Lula enjoyed 39% of the votes and Bolsonaro 19%, but then Lula was incarcerated which was a ruse planned by Brazilian elites and right-wing groups. Bolsonaro's rating reached the peak when he was stabbed in a rally in September 2017, which proved vital for him as his campaign was based on chaos (most far-right election campaigns are based on threats and securities which are non-existent most of the time, but they use this fear which they manufacture to win elections and dismantle democracy). The judge who sentenced Lula, Sergio Moro, became the Minister of Justice in the Bolsonaro administration. This proves the statement that A. G. Noorani wrote in his book The Trial of Bhagat Singh, “court-rooms serve as the most convenient and effective weapon for the ruling powers whenever they took up arms against freedom and right. For a repressive and tyrannical government, no other weapon is better suited for vengeance and injustice.”
Lula was released in 2019 on the orders of Supreme Federal Court judge Edson Fachin who nullified charges against him because he was tried by a court that did not have proper jurisdiction over his case.
What Lula did for the poor and weak people in his country was something that no other president was able to achieve. He stood against racism and for the rights of blacks in his country; he was (and is) a man whose raison d'être was that every Brazilian would wake up in the morning knowing that they would have breakfast, lunch and dinner each day. This is a good read to get an idea of Brazilian politics and the impact that Lula left on Brazilian society.
This book is important for not just Brazilians who are going out to vote on 2nd October but for all of us progressives and leftist who want to send fascism back to the sewers of history. It motivates us to work tirelessly for the betterment of the working class, to develop class consciousness, to get an idea of the state weaponry and tricks that the right wing employs in the same manner everywhere by spreading hatred. Read this book comrades.
"Where there is hunger there is no hope. There is only desolation and pain. Hunger nurtures violence and fanaticism. A world where people starve will never be safe."- Luiz Inácio Lula Da Silva.
Harsh Yadav is from India and has just recently graduated from Banaras Hindu University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Chemistry. Harsh is a Marxist Leninist who is intrigued by different Marxist Schools of Thought, Political Philosophies, Feminism, Foreign Policy and International Relations, and History. He also maintains a bookstagram account (https://www.instagram.com/epigrammatic_bibliophile/?hl=en) where he posts book reviews, writes about historical impact, socialism, and social and political issues.