Stand with Lula and the people of Brazil – Jess Barnard, Young Labour

A presidential election takes place in Brazil this autumn which can give socialists around the world much hope, writes chair of Young Labour Jess Barnard.

Earlier this month, I was honoured to speak at the London launch of the international committee for Lula’s bid to return to the presidency of Brazil.

It was great to see Brazilians here in London ready to organise for change for workers across Brazil, who opinion polls show are ready to reject President Bolsonaro and elect Lula as a president committed to opposing savage austerity and the far-right’s politics of hate.

This election can change the lives of millions of people and help provide a blueprint for building more working-class wins across the world.

Socialists around the world can’t help but be moved and inspired by the resolution of Brazil’s trade unions and social movements who have stood strong against Bolsonaro through the darkest of times — standing up to his far-right policies, from criminalising black and indigenous communities, to letting the Amazon burn, to massive attacks on trade union rights and public services and much more besides.

We are also inspired by Lula’s personal resistance in recent years, which has seen the former president and trade union leader go from being sent to jail on politically motivated, trumped-up charges to being the frontrunner in polls for the presidency.

Lula and the progressive movements have felt the full force of an orchestrated attack on democracy, on equality, on social progress, on workers and in Lula’s case his own freedom. But these attacks have been resisted and today they are ready to take the Workers Party (PT) — at the head of an alliance of over 30 other parties — to victory.

This gives millions of us hope around the world and puts real meaning to the famous words “Don’t mourn, organise.”

Here on the left, we can take many lessons from the work of PT and of Lula. This includes that even when our morale is low, when we have taken defeats and we feel divided, when the chance of a socialist prime minister was snatched from us and we feel further away from our vision for a different system, the lesson that justice can be achieved and we can win again if we are prepared to rebuild.

While our opponents try to tear us down to hoard power and wealth, drive communities apart and strip away our rights, we stay determined — but importantly, we stay united and we must resist even when it seems impossible or frightening.

But most importantly it is a lesson on the work that we must do if we are to build a future where workers win. Lula and the PT’s commitment to education and political debate has uplifted and opened the doors to a generation, where young socialists are armed, ready to communicate and organise in every community — an aspiration for so many of us.

While visiting Brazil last year and participating in an international seminar I was able to witness this incredible project first hand and meet Lula. In his address to PT youth Lula said: “It is no use being rebellious in front of the computer screen. We must tell the young that being rebellious is having action. It is moving!”

And the youth have embraced that call to action. I met those rebellious activists from across Brazil and Latin America, who are ready to deliver a Lula victory as part of the new red wave in Latin America, building on election wins in Mexico, Bolivia, Chile and Honduras in recent years.

In Brazil, the coup against Dilma Rousseff and the jailing of Lula were stark reminders of the vicious opposition that socialists in Latin America have come to know and expect when they threaten the status quo.

And whilst both the US and domestic oligarchies in Latin America will no doubt today be looking at how they hold back the leftwards tide, Latin America’s left is clear that with the US’s strength in decline, now is the time for us to continue building international socialist movements.

At the unjust arrest and imprisonment of Lula, Young Labour made Lula our honorary president in an act of international solidarity and he remains our president to this day.

We must now continue this solidarity by offering Lula, the PT and all the progressive movements of Brazil our full support in the fights ahead, including against those on the country’s far right who will no doubt seek to derail the march of democracy and social progress.


This article was originally published by The Morning Star on May 19th, 2022. You also can read the Brazil Solidarity Initiative report of the international pre-campaign launch for Lula here.

Jess Barnard is Chair of Young Labour and is currently seeking nominations for the NEC of the Labour Party — for her on Twitter @JessicaLBarnard and Facebook @Jess4YLChair.

Support the Brazil Solidarity Initiative statement — Stand with Brazil against Bolsonaro’s Attacks on Democracy — at www.brazilsolidarity.eaction.online/brazilelections2022.

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