By Lise Alves, Senior Contributing Reporter
SÃO PAULO, BRAZIL – Thousands turned out throughout Brazil on Friday to show their support for former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, the Workers’ Party (PT) and the Rousseff government. The demonstrations were a response to Sunday’s mass rallies across the country calling for the impeachment of President Dilma Rousseff and the nomination of Lula as Rousseff’s Chief of Staff. A nomination which was suspended on Friday night by a Supreme Court Justice.
In São Paulo, according to police, 80,000 people turned out to hear Lula speak. “I want to say to say to those who do not like us…to convince them that democracy is to accept the vote of the majority of the Brazilian people,” said Lula to the sea of red-shirted participants.
As for being invited to join Rousseff’s cabinet, Lula said that he is only accepted to help the Administration and the Brazilian population, “I’m not going there (Brasilia) to fight, I’m there to help Rousseff to do the things she has to do in this country, and I’m not going there thinking that those who do not like us are less Brazilians than us or that we are less Brazilians than them.”
In Rio de Janeiro, 50,000-70,000 supporters gathered at Praça XV, in Rio’s Centro with red balloons and banners supporting the government and democracy. Unlike Sunday, when there were no flags from political parties, Friday’s pro-government rallies had flags from the PT (Workers’ Party) and the PC do B (Brazil’s Communist Party). Famous Brazilian TV artists and musicians spoke on the makeshift stage set up for the event.
In Brasilia, according to police, six thousand gathered to show their support for Lula and President Rousseff outside the National Museum. Organizers say the number was much higher, at 50,000. Due to the confrontation between groups pro and against the government earlier in the week 1,700 police officers were at hand to provide security for the rally, but not incidences were reported.
In all, official police figures show that the rallies brought 275,000 people (1.3 million according to organizers together in 55 cities across the country. On Sunday, the pro-impeachment protests took 3.6 million to the streets. As in Sunday’s protests, the rallies on Friday night were peaceful with no major incidents of violence registered.
But since this week in Brazil has been anything but slow in terms of news, as rallies were occurring throughout the country, Supreme Court Justice Gilmar Mendes agreed with an injunction request and suspended former president Lula’s appointment to the post of Chief of Staff.
According to Mendes the nomination had the clear intent to halt an arrest warrant for Lula from the judge (Moro) and place the investigation of the former leader under the realm of the Supreme Court, where the investigation would re-start.
Since the Supreme Court has started a recess for Easter Holidays, any appeal on the suspension will only be discussed after March 28th, when the Justices return to work. Until then the post of Chief of Staff in the Rousseff Administration remains empty and the investigation of corruption by former President Lula remain with Judge Moro.