A Visit to the Free Lula Vigil in Curitiba
Just a few days after the Free Lula vigil in Curitiba, Brazil marked its one month anniversary, I visited the site to deliver a solidarity donation from U.S. Friends of the MST and take part in the daily act of sending Good Day greetings to Lula.
As we drove into the neighborhood of the Federal Police headquarters, we saw and heard a large group of people chanting and banging drums as they marched from their encampment some blocks away to join the morning ceremony. Large tents marked the official location of the vigil, each tent dedicated to a specific purpose; Coordination, Donations, Communications.
When we checked into the first tent we were handed a card with an orientation for the delegations that arrive at the vigil on a daily basis. The card spelled out clearly the rules (no drugs, no alcohol), and provided guidelines for groups that were joining the encampment (requests to bring food and cooking equipment). The square was filled with banners of the Workers Party and unions and groups such as the Landless Workers Movement, the Central Union of Workers and even a banner of the U.S. union of Metal Workers affiliated with the United Auto Workers (UAW).
Shortly before 9 AM, one of the women leaders called on everyone to approach the barrier that marks the closest point to the tall building where Lula’s cell is located on the fourth floor. Rubbing our hands together to generate energy and directing our hands and voices to the distant building, we called out several times Bom Dia Lula! Lula Livre!
Following this, an older comrade spoke the now-famous lines from the speech that Lula gave before he turned himself over to the police
"There is no point in trying to end my ideas, they are already lingering in the air and you can't arrest them.
"There is no point in trying to stop me from dreaming, because once I cease dreaming I'll keep dreaming through your minds and your dreams.
We met two Afro-Brazilian women from the group A Voz do Suburbio who had traveled from Salvador in the state of Bahia to join the encampment with their banner that merged the words Lula + Love (LULAMOR). They were distributing a little flyer announcing that they would give one month’s minimum wage to anyone who could present proof that Lula is guilty.
As the Good Morning Lula ceremony was ending, someone in the group started singing a song by Brazil’s best-loved composer, Chico Buarque de Hollanda, Apesar de Voce. (In Spite of You).
Written during the depths of the military dictatorship under conditions of censorship, the song had a hidden meaning. On the surface it’s the lament of a spurned lover but everyone knew that the true meaning of the song conveyed the certainty that the dictators would be defeated and the people would prevail.
In spite of you, tomorrow will be another day. Where are you going to hide? How are you going to ban the enormous joy when the rooster insists on singing, new waters rising and we love each other nonstop?
You will be bitter watching the sun rise without asking your permission and I'm going to die of laughter knowing that this day is coming sooner than you think.
This is the spirit of optimism, resistance and solidarity that prevails at the Free Lula Vigil in Curitiba.