“An injustice committed against anyone is a threat to everyone.” Quoting French philosopher Montesquieu, Agda Rezzadori explains why she decided to travel nearly 200 miles to spend Christmas eve at the Free Lula Vigil, in Curitiba, southern Brazil.
She drove from Florianópolis, Santa Catarina, with her husband and son to spend the holiday with hundreds of supporters outside the Federal Police headquarters, where former Brazilian president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva is serving a 12-year prison sentence since April.
Rezzadori looks back at when she first met the ex-president, at a 1982 rally in Taubaté, São Paulo, when Lula was a union leader, and recalls that he had “a sparkle and spoke from the heart.”
Christmas eve marked 262 days since ex-president Lula was jailed at the Federal Police headquarters.
Outside the building, more than 500 people coming from many different Brazilian states gathered to hold a Christmas celebration in solidarity with the Workers’ Party leader, who was not allowed to receive visitors during the holidays.
Supporters came from states including São Paulo, Santa Catarina, Rio Grande do Sul, Rio de Janeiro, Brasília, Pernambuco, Ceará, Amazonas, and Pará.
“The world is looking at us thanks to Lula. If it weren’t for Lula, we would be forsaken. Here is our flame of hope. We don’t believe in the justice system and in what they did to him. We want the truth. We will not let Lula be forgotten,” Rezzadori said.
The special Christmas calendar at the Free Lula Vigil started with a choir from Recife, northern Brazil, followed by several performances and the usual good-morning greetings to ex-president Lula.
Visitors included black activist Flávio Jorge, from the National Coordination of Black Entities (Conen). “You can’t fight racism and the genocide of black youth, you can’t fight against the mass incarceration of black people in Brazil if you don’t fight for Lula’s freedom right now,” Jorge said.
Members of parliament, union leaders, Workers’ Party members, and landless activists also took part in the celebration to support the jailed ex-president.
The youth collective of the Landless Workers’ Movement (MST) performed an intervention representing justice and democracy surrounded by barbed wire and controlled by the judicial system.
In the evening, the group held an interfaith rally, followed by a communal dinner cooked by supporters collectively using products donated to the Vigil.