Good afternoon President Lula

Image: Igor Elukov
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By JONAS TIAGO SILVEIRA*

Considerations on the graduation ceremony of the Lula-Geraldo Alkmin ticket

Even before the classic “Ole, ole, ole, hello. Lula, Lula!”, a strong chorus shouted repeatedly at the beginning of the diplomation ceremony: “Good afternoon, President Lula!”. Whoever caught the reference was taken by tears at the same moment, because there is a lot to tell behind this greeting. Lula was unjustly arrested on April 7, 2018, in a process set up by assumptions and award-winning accusations, where convicts gained privileges to point the finger in any direction that the investigation found convenient.

It was in front of this unjust prison that people from different parts of Brazil gathered in daily vigil in the city of Curitiba. There, every morning, every afternoon and every night, these people greeted in a loud and clear tone: “Good morning, President Lula”, “Good afternoon, President, Lula”, “Good night, President Lula”. These voices were heard inside the prison and never let Lula be alone.

 

20 cents

All the paths that led to Lula's condemnation were the result of many other events. Before 2013, the demonstrations that were reported in the mainstream media were condemned as riots, the focus of the news were always small acts of isolated vandalism that took place in the middle of the crowd. The protests against the increase in fares in São Paulo began to be replicated in several Brazilian capitals. In the first days, the news followed the path of previous demonstrations: “vandalism, black blocks, masked people, overturned trash cans” and so on.

But after three days, various political forces saw another potential in these acts. So the following night, the news already portrayed the demonstrators as heroes, as a people in search of justice. At the same time, posters gradually began to appear with protests against President Dilma, t-shirts and flags of Brazil and infrastructure paid for by who knows who. In a matter of 30 days, there were almost none of those who originally protested against the fare increase, probably almost no more public transport users either and the “Vem pra rua” became a grotesque and yet orchestrated impeachment cry.

 

decorative chair

With daily news against Dilma and PT, illegal leaks of recordings and countless sponsored blogs with massive production of fake news, it was already somewhat obvious what would happen next. Some time after a letter from Michel Temer was printed in the newspapers and Eduardo Cunha fell for irregularities, Dilma Rousseff was impeached by the Chamber and the Senate. The misogynistic impeachment had the vote of countless parliamentarians who spoke to vote for the family or the country, but who actually wanted more money in amendments and power to nominate supporters in the government.

Thus, the decorative vice became the decorative president. In the Temer government there was continuity of attacks on the PT and the left, always accompanied by major media. Obviously, while they pointed the finger and shouted “wolf”, the population's rights were attacked and gradually withdrawn. The price of fuel was pegged to the dollar to please foreign executives, there was a labor reform that made workers go back to the XNUMXth century, the delivery of pre-salt at a bargain price, the end of programs such as Popular Pharmacy and Science without Borders and the destruction of various public policies.

Of course, the Temer government did not have the objective of creating a political name, just to warm up the bank for a resumption of the traditional right in Brazil (at the time we didn’t call it “traditional”, but times change, right?). The orchestra was in tune with each movement, but there was still one variable that kept the conspirators awake at night: Even before the election period approached, Lula was leading intentions of votes in the polls.

 

A meme like piranha ox

In 2010, most people who did not follow politics probably had no idea who Jair Messias Bolsonaro was, except for those who lived in their electoral areas. It was the expansion of humor blogs, youtubers and viral content that brought Jair to national attention as a “Meme”. His controversial lines were shared with many laughs and warnings of "look at this crazy". Over time, it added an audience with extremes of age, very young people from 11 to 14 years old who lived massively publishing on the internet, as well as much older audiences, who already tended to complain about everything that was new and inclusive. .

These bubbles were adding up and gaining space on the internet and in the media, even more so when they started to elect their enemies. Despite PT being the main dish, it was through attacks on Maria do Rosário and also on members of the truth commission that Jair Bolsonaro began to go viral with greater force.

Much later, when Jair Bolsonaro became the dark horse of the election, almost a new Enéias, that the forces of the traditional right saw in him great potential for electoral dispute, not to be the elected candidate, but to be someone who would do an extreme opposite to Lula, with absurd and ferocious speeches, thus in the midst of a violent polarization, a conciliatory name would appear as a third way. It seemed like a good plan and at that moment the only threat they saw was Lula's lead in the polls.

As they did not want to take any risks, Lula, already in prison, was removed from the race by 6 votes to 1 in the TSE, even without a conviction, using arguments from the clean record law, as suggested by rapporteur Luís Roberto Barroso. The coalition O Povo Feliz de Novo had to race against time to replace its ticket. And from then on, everything seemed under the most absolute control for the forces that had been conspiring since 2015 for power. But they did not foresee an artificial force that would leave its mark on Brazil and the rest of the world.

 

The algorithm effect

Social networks, no matter what they are, have always had one goal: to make money. And yes, this has something to do with what happened. Networks make money by showing ads to their users We are the product. So, obviously, the more time we spend on the networks, the more ads we consume and the more money they earn. To keep us connected longer, networks invest in their algorithms and suggestion mechanisms, trying to shape the content that appears on our screens, to our personal taste. It may seem harmless, in some standards it is, but the attempt of this artificial intelligence to cross common tastes, brought an almost unimaginable threat.

Practitioners of hate speeches began to appear to each other and gain strength, for someone who said that the holocaust was a hoax, more flat-earther content or about some other conspiracy theory was suggested. And so small groups of absurdities were gaining massive strength on the internet across the globe, including Brazil as well. The meme became a myth, suddenly, in publications, values ​​began to be inverted.

Comments on publications were no longer doubts or support, criticism gained full force, hatred became the biggest fuel and digital militias were organized. If you countered a false piece of news with a true one, the person would then send you 10 to 30 massive and offensive comments, reminiscent of the theory of “opening your coat to look bigger”.

This artificial force could be “tamed” with different techniques, something that the people around Jair Bolsonaro knew how to do with mastery and had already been perfecting before the election. It was the evolution of what had previously been done with sponsored blogs, but now it reached everyone, their networks and even their messaging apps.

The so-called “drink bottle” added to an attack that is doubtful to say the least, where the candidate is stabbed without bleeding, traced a new and unforeseen path in the orchestra of the traditional Brazilian right.

 

four years of terror

For Brazil it was four years of terror. For the born and strengthened extreme right, accompanied by the centrão, these were years of banquets. They dined on public funds every way they could, it was hundred-year secrecy, millions in corporate cards, more withdrawals of rights, secret budgets, buying ineffective Covid drugs that were sold by allies, arm wrestling against science, offenses to allied countries, in short, every day a new runaway train.

There were four years of consecutive attacks on the PT, Lula, the Brazilian justice system, the electoral system, minorities, unions, workers, etc. It was a new period before the 64 coup, when the ghost of the communist threat was resurrected to justify all its irregularities.

Again during this period, a still not so weakened “traditional right” thought that such a third way would still work when a new electoral project arrived. This time it would be difficult to remove Lula from the dispute, but they knew that Bolsonaro would use the machine in every way to attack the former president, at the lowest possible level.

But again they didn't understand the Jair Bolsonaro effect. They failed to see how much the poor people suffered from hunger and abandonment. This cry of “enough!” would not be transferred to an uncertain third way, the people wanted only one solution: Lula president!

 

The coup attempt

It was a dirty election, where despite the fake news being loose, mainly in evangelical groups, agents appeared that were much more worrying than they were, such as electoral harassment in companies. Of the 20 biggest cases investigated, 19 were pro-Bolsonaro, which threatened to fire workers or terminate contracts with suppliers. In the only case involving favoritism for Lula, the complainant claimed that the company's owner treated employees who openly voted for Lula better.

The president, in an electoral move, reduced the price of fuel before the election, something he had not wanted to do in four years, also increased the aid amount to R$ 600,00 (which was previously also against) and created aid in the four digits for taxi drivers and truck drivers.

On election day, we saw even worse coercion than that of companies, when highway police and other police forces in some states carried out operations against buses carrying voters, with a greater focus on the Northeast. In some states, there were three barriers to the polls, where only those with a Jair Bolsonaro sticker could pass without being stopped. There were even cases of police asking at the barriers who the conductor was going to vote for. In other cities, there were reports the previous day of stickers forcefully glued to cars at traffic lights. All this apparatus and all this pressure affected as much as possible the result favorable to Lula.

Even so, the will of the people was stronger than all the money and police apparatus that Jair Bolsonaro and his followers possessed. After being defeated, even cheating, Jair embraces with some care the defeated Donald Trump's speech of questioning the elections. The “traditional Brazilian right wing” drastically withered in all its elected representations and was the great loser of the scenario they created.

 

Good afternoon President Lula!

This whole turn in history, however massive it may be, is necessary so that we can have a closer idea of ​​what this salute means and how it marked this important moment in the history of Brazil.

Like Nelson Mandela, Lula overcame injustices and powerful enemies to arrive at this moment. Lula did not run away, even knowing it was a persecution, he faced each one of those who wanted to be his executioners, he faced each one of them as when he gave testimony to Moro. In every step, in every face-off and every difficulty, Lula was never alone, he always had a fierce and strong people by his side, a people that also never gave up. These people were there, either physically or in thought, in that vigil, screaming night after night and morning after morning, greeting the President in his jail and carrying motivation through letters.

Now, as he entered the podium to receive his diploma, the cry of Good afternoon was not a greeting, it was a long flashback of everything we went through and overcame, of everything Lula faced… And also a lesson, that no matter what they do against us , that no matter how loud the hate tries to scream in this country, as long as we stand together, tomorrow always comes and with it the hope of a better future.

Good afternoon President Lula.

*Jonas Tiago Silveira is a musician and journalist.

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