Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, a/k/a Lula, never went to school, and started working at the age of 12. As a union leader, he led the movement that freed Brazil from military dictatorship, and instituted democracy. Lula then served as President of Brazil from 2003 to 2011, when he lifted 40 million Brazilians out of poverty. Running for President again, he has led in every poll for the past year. But last week, Lula surrendered to authorities to begin a 12-year prison term (at the age of 72) for alleged illegal use of a beachside apartment owned by a government contractor. He maintains his innocence. As his prison term began, Lula issued this “Letter to the Brazilian People”:
I’ve thought a lot about the paths that our lives take. The future, after all, does not seem to be such a distant place, does it?
It’s not that my life has been easy…. Far from it.
I’ve felt what happens to a forgotten people in the skin, but I know that no clothing is so heavy that it can’t carry it.
Whoever has survived after passing through so much hardship learns, from an early age, that honor is our most valuable asset.
Along the way, I’ve met many people who only needed an opportunity to walk with their own legs and have the dignity to build their own lives.
A country with no hunger, with a school, a house and a job for everyone.
I look back and see that I could have done more. It was always possible to do more. But the opportunities that we created in a country that is so unequal and unjust still seem greater than our difficulties today.
I have already been imprisoned once. My life was turned upside down. My family was persecuted and I lost my eternal companion…. I am not afraid of what lies ahead.
If I only have one minute of life left, this minute will be used to fight for the dignity of our people, and to defend our honor.
It’s the honor of a boy who crossed the country to overcome hunger and became a shoe shine boy. Of an adolescent who became a young factory worker. Of a man who became a father and fought against all forces to represent the Brazilian people.
During the afternoons of uncertainty in my youth I never imagined it could be possible. But it was. I became the President of the Brazilian people.
Those who condemn me without proof know that I am innocent and I governed honestly.
Those who persecute me can do what they want to me, but they will never imprison our dreams.
An affectionate kiss from Lula.
I’m also fighting to keep our dreams free. Please support our campaign for justice, equality and peace
Alan Grayson is a former Congressman from Florida