Source: The Nation
On April 7, former Brazilian president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva stood before thousands of supporters in the São Paulo suburb of São Bernardo do Campo and, in an emotional, hourlong speech, announced that he would be turning himself in to begin a 12-year prison sentence for corruption.
Tears flowed. The crowed called for him to resist. Nineteen hours before, Lula had defied an order to turn himself in. Many of the thousands there had spent the past two days at the ABC Metalworkers Union building, where Lula was staying, ready to defend him.
Lula’s words marked the end of an era. From his time as the head of the union movement in the 1970s, through the birth of the Workers’ Party in 1980, the fall of the dictatorship, and Lula’s rise to the presidency, he had been the defining leader of the Brazilian left. Now he was going to jail.
He told his supports that though he could be locked up, his ideas would live on and grow with them. That he would be transformed into millions.
“There is no point in thinking that I can be stopped,” he told the crowd. “I will not stop, because I’m not a human being, I’m an idea, an idea that is mixed with all of your ideas.”
He closed his speech with a nod to the next generation: 36-year-olds Manuela d’Ávila and Guilherme Boulos, the pre-presidential candidates for, respectively, the Brazilian Communist Party and the Socialism and Liberty Party, a group that was formed when it broke with the PT in 2004.