Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva has been the victim of unrelenting political persecution. Foto: Granma Archives

As if the judicial outrage committed against Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva – imprisoned unjustly since April of 2018 – were not enough, Brazilian judge Gabriela Hardt recently sentenced the former President to 12 years and 11 months for “crimes of corruption.”

In a meeting held February 8, at Granma, Brazilian intellectual and theologian Frei Betto, responding to a question about the need for international solidarity to secure Lula’s release, shared some of his recent experiences visiting Lula in prison, saying, “He is very conscious of his historical role.”

“The lawyers brought him a proposal they had discussed with three of the judges on Brazil’s Supreme Court. They saw the possibility of freeing Lula or changing his condition to house arrest for reasons of health.”

Betto reported that Lula was quite bothered by the idea, “First,” he said, “I do not accept that my home become a prison. Secondly, I am not a pigeon to walk around with an electronic bracelet on my ankle. And thirdly, I am here unjustly, they must prove that I am guilty.”

In fact, they have not been able to prove this, Frei Betto stated.

“The Planalto Palace is the country’s property, it doesn’t belong to Lula, and neither does the apartment for which they have convicted him – the sale of which was never completed. Lula didn’t even like it, since it was close to the beach and he would have had no privacy, while the country house was the property of a family friend, who lent it to him to rest on weekends.”

Visibly moved, the distinguished intellectual concluded, “Lula is in prison to prevent him from being President. He is a political prisoner.”

This past January 1, Army General Raúl Castro Ruz called for making solidarity with Lula a common cause of all Cuban men and women.

Fernando González Llort, president of the Cuban Institute for Friendship with the Peoples (ICAP), launching the “Free Lula, now!” campaign, during the XIII International Workshop on Emancipatory Paradigms, held in Havana this past 22- 25, stated, “From today on, we will join forces and multiply our efforts in demanding the immediate release of the former president, of a working class background, who did so much for the poorest of his country.

“Free Lula, now! This will be our goal starting today, along with millions of honorable women and men of the planet,” insisted the decorated Hero of the Republic.

Freeing Lula is not only an act of justice, it in an inescapable, urgent duty – a commitment for all men and women of good will, of honest persons who believe in, and defend, truth and justice.