Thursday, April 2, 2020

the half-hearted return of the former Brazilian president

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Former Uruguayan presidents Jose Mujica and Brazilian Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, during the 40th anniversary of the Workers' Party, February 8 in Rio de Janeiro. MARCELO CARNAVAL / REUTERS

It was forty years ago, February 10, 1980. The Brazilian dictatorship, out of breath, was drawing to a close, and in the amphitheater of the college of Sion, in Sao Paulo, reigned a joyful chaos. "It was incredible enthusiasm! We knew we were writing history, changing our country for real! " remembers José Ribamar Bessa Freire, stars in their voices. The event was of importance: the birth of the Workers' Party (PT), which has a bright future.

“All of Brazil was there! " continues this 71-year-old anthropologist, then present as a delegate for the State of Amazonas. In the hall, the intellectuals in ties sat down with student leaders in blue jeans, ragged Trotskyist guerrillas, Roman priests and workers with big bacchantes. Among them, a stocky metallo with a thick black beard and a feverish look. “Lula was already the central, messianic figure. He had led the great workers' strikes of 1978. He impressed us. He gave us courage ", remembers Mr. Ribamar Bessa Freire.

The years have passed. But José and his people were not mistaken: for four decades, the PT has been one with the history of Brazil. Power, the party has known everything: its conquest (arduous), its exercise (flamboyant) and its loss (brutal). A story, a novel rather, that deserved a beautiful emerald wedding, and that the training was offered this weekend, during three days of parties, debates and concerts, organized in Rio de Janeiro.

Article reserved for our subscribers Read also Lula, savior or gravedigger of the left and of Brazil?

"Opposition mode"

"It is possible to build a new Brazil! " launched Lula, bubbling, Saturday evening, cheered by thousands of supporters gathered in a performance hall in the city center. Dressed in a red Lacoste polo shirt, surrounded by founding "comrades" and the Uruguayan ex-president José "Pepe" Mujica, the ex-metallo appealed to the party leaders, but also to the new generations: “Our greatest challenge is to respect our historic commitment and to remember why we created the PT. We have an obligation to fight for the people (…) Never get discouraged! " launched the tribune, released from prison three months ago.

But behind the euphoria of the moment, many are wondering about the future of the party and the strategy to follow in the face of the far right of Jair Bolsonaro, who resists the experience of power better than expected. Among activists, concerns first concern the fate of "Comrade Lula", whose judicial future is murky: free until the exhaustion of his remedies, he remains ineligible, condemned and prosecuted in half a dozen 'business. In November 2019, an appeals court increased one of his sentences to seventeen years and one month in prison.

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