By Lise Alves, Senior Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Thousands gathered in at least 23 cities throughout Brazil on Tuesday to protest against or show support for former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, whose habeas corpus request is being decided by Brazil’s Supreme Court on Wednesday.
Government officials have asked that protesters from both sides remain calm and respect laws during the vote.
“The democratic regime is not a regime of consensus, it is that of dissent, but it is regulated, and it is regulated exactly by the norms and laws that are voted by the representatives of the people who are out protesting,” said Minister of Public Security, Raul Jungmann in Rio de Janeiro Tuesday.
Adding, “Those who wish, may protest tomorrow, but always in an orderly fashion. With the spirit of respecting the institutions, laws and public patrimony, that after all is of the entire Brazilian population.”
Tuesday protests were not bigger because of the rain that fell in many of the cities scheduled to hold rallies. In Brazil’s capital, Brasilia, approximately 1500 protesters in favor of the arrest of former President Lula participated in an act in the Ministry Mall (Esplanada dos Ministerios), according to military police. Organizers were expecting five thousand, but the heavy rain that fell on the city in the late afternoon discouraged the crowd.
In Rio de Janeiro, Copacabana Beach was the site for the group against the former president. Demonstrators spoke against former presidents Lula and Rousseff and booed Supreme Court Justices who may vote in favor of a preventive habeas corpus on Wednesday.
A four-meter tall inflatable doll of Lula in a prisoner uniform was brought in, while street vendors tried to sell smaller versions of the doll to demonstrators.
On the other side of the city, in Lapa, organizers held an act in defense of the former president. Lula participated in the event.
The biggest rally in support of the former president in São Paulo, was held in front of Lula’s apartment building, in São Bernardo do Campo. Movements such as the MST (Landless Peasant Movement) vowed a nationwide protest if the former president’s habeas corpus was not granted, according to Globo news media.
In the state’s capital, São Paulo City, the group of protesters in favor of Lula’s arrest occupied Avenida Paulista. With several sound trucks to motivate the crowd, demonstrators closed of a four-block radius of the city’s most famous street. Some protesters even called for the dismissal of all the Justices from the Supreme Court.
In July 2017, Lula was convicted by Judge Sérgio Moro of money laundering and corruption stemming from a beachfront triplex apartment in Guarujá, São Paulo. He was sentenced to prison for nine years and six months.
Lula appealed that decision to the Federal Regional Court (TRF) of Porto Alegre. In January 2018, the TRF not only upheld the original conviction, they raised Lula’s sentence to twelve years and one month.
Last week a second appeal was denied, with judges upholding the former leader’s conviction sentence. Lula was not jailed due to a temporary injunction issued by the Supreme Court.