MONTEVIDEO – Uruguay’s largest labor federation, the PIT-CNT, has joined with other social and political organizations to launch a committee to support democracy in Brazil and the release of Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, a former president of that neighboring country who is serving a prison sentence for corruption.
The head of Uruguay’s gas workers’ union, Alejandro Acosta, informed EFE of Wednesday’s development, saying that the path Brazil chooses in Sunday’s presidential election will affect the entire region.
The aim of the committee is to promote reflection and make a small contribution that prevents Brazil from “falling into authoritarianism,” Acosta said.
“One of the candidates has said the military shouldn’t recognize any other triumph except his own, that being (conservative candidate Jair) Bolsonaro. On the other hand, we have a leader like Lula da Silva, unjustly imprisoned, who had had the most electoral support” until he was barred from running by election officials, the labor leader said.
Bolsonaro said last Friday that he cannot speak for Brazil’s army commanders but that he personally would not accept a defeat at the polls. He acknowledged on Sunday, however, that there is nothing he could do if he loses and that what he meant was that he would not phone his main competitor, Fernando Haddad of the center-left Workers Party (PT), and congratulate him.
Acosta said of Brazil’s elections that he hoped people in that country “can express themselves freely” and that the “most backward and reactionary” element does not emerge victorious.
For her part, the general secretary of Brazil’s National Confederation of Education Workers (CNTE), Fatima da Silva, told reporters that the committee was essential because democracy is a concept that must be installed and defended all over the world.
The labor leader said “collective and individual freedoms” were at stake in the election process due to the potential return to power of the “far right” in Brazil, which was ruled by a military dictatorship from 1964 to 1985.
“We’ll have elections this weekend involving 13 presidential candidates. There will definitely be a polarized second round (on Oct. 28) with (a choice between) far-right ideas and a center-left coalition led by the PT through Haddad,” she added.
Haddad had been the running mate of Lula, who has been convicted of accepting bribes in exchange for helping Brazilian construction company OAS obtain lucrative contracts from state oil giant Petrobras.
The case against Lula, who was sentenced in January to 12 years and one month in prison but vehemently denies any wrongdoing, is based largely on plea-bargained testimony from people already convicted as part of the sprawling Petrobras investigation.