Armed Attack on ex Brazilian President Lula’s Caravan in Paraná

Two buses of the caravan of the Brazil’s ex-president were shot at in attack that took place on Tuesday, March 27

Laranjeiras do Sul, Paraná |
Bus with journalists covering the caravana was the target of an ambush
Bus with journalists covering the caravana was the target of an ambush - Daniel Giovanaz/Brasil de Fato

“This is not a peaceful or democratic protest, but an attack.” The affirmation of Gleisi Hoffman, senator and president of the Workers Party (PT), in an interview Tuesday night about the two buses of Lula’s Caravan for Brazil that were targeted at the end of the day, on the road between the city of Quedas of Iguaçu and Laranjeiras do Sul, in Paraná. No one was injured. A report of the events was started by the organizers. The expert from the Civil Police confirmed that the two buses were hit by a total of three shots. The final report should be released in 24 hours.

Reporters Leonardo Fernandes and Daniel Giovanaz, of Brasil de Fato, accompanied the caravan and explain what happened in this video (in portuguese).

The first bus, with journalists that have been accompanying the caravan, received two shots, in in the front part and one on the side. The other bus, where members of the PT were travelling, was hit in its side. It is suspected that the shots came from a pistol or revolver. In addition to this, the buses had their tires pierced by miguelitos, a type of very small cross formed by nails, thrown in the road to decrease the velocity and facilitate the ambush.

Lula’s Caravana for Brazil in the southern region has suffered a series of aggressions from the beginning. Its participants were hit by eggs and rocks. In one of the attacks ex-Federal Representative Paulo Frateschi of the PT was severely injured by a rock thrown by someone from the opposition, in the city of Chapecó in the state Santa Catarina. In Foz do Iguaçu in the state of Paraná, a 64 years old Father Idalino Alflen, was hit by a rock in his head and was run over by a motorcycle, minutes after Lula’s speech.

According to Hoffman (PT from Rio Grande do Sul) the organizers of the Caravan have denounced the escalation of violence since the beginning, and the lack of security guarantees by the Military Police is the respective states, the same with the Minister of Defense.

“Our caravan was victim of an ambush, we can say this clearly. Everyone is very scared, the violence against the caravan has been increasing, we have already been denouncing this. We sent an official letter with the route of the caravan, asking for support in security. We spoke with the commander of the Military Police. The fact is that we have no protection. The level of violence and hatred as come to the point where we need the authorities of this country to say something. Are we going to let politics turn into a violent game with guns? We have an event tomorrow in Curitiba and I have to know the level of safety of the people that will go to this event. Are we no longer a democratic country?”, she affirmed shortly after the attack.

Police negligence

Representatives of the Lawyers Collective for Democracy (LCD) will submit denouncements today, March 28, to the Public Prosecutor’s Office about the crimes committed against Lula’s Caravan in the Southern region. The LCD is also elaborating a denouncement about police negligence in relation to these aggressions in the three southern states, that will be submitted to the Inter-American Court on Human Rights.

According to Tânia Mandarino, lawyer and member of LCD, the representatives asked that the denouncements of threats of death and violence against ex-president Lula, and the members and supporters of the caravan be turned into the collective today.

“We work with the Law, we cannot allow this crime to happen against democracy, against the Rule of Law, against ex-president Lula and any person that accompanies the Caravan. This is the police being partial and defending the aggressors.”

The LCD analyzed the denouncements that they received and, and according to Mandarino, at least three aggressors have already been identified.

“We received videos of aggressions during the Caravan, and also from comrades from Toledo that were not even able to arrive to the act of the Caravan because they were stopped by criminals. We did an analysis and review of these denouncements, and we found even lawyers, that we already identified with the register of the Order of Brazilian Lawyers, committing criminal acts of threats, and incitement of death to Lula. There is a lawyer that send a picture on Whatsapp in a group in Rio Grande do Sul of him holding a stone where he wrote ‘genetically modified egg’. It is a rock, capable of killing,” she denounced.

One of the members of the opposition whipped students and journalists that accompanied the caravan. Photo Credit: Guilherme Santos/Sul21

The Public Force’s response to the attacks

The Military Police of Paraná informed that it is doing preventative policing public security mission in all places of gathering, whether they be of people who support or are against the ex-president. “The police is preparing to act in the event that it is necessary,” affirmed a representative of the body.

For the closing act of the caravan this on Wednesday (28), the body stated that it will accompany the movements in the places where they planned public acts. The principal event of the day will occur in the Santos Andrade Square, located in the center of Curitiba.

The Military Police considers that the security strategy involves other institutions and the investigations of the attacks and aggressions that have occurred are the responsibility of the Civil and Federal Police.

According to the advisor of ex-president Lula, Paraná was the only state of the federation where the Caravan was not provided with a police escort for the bus entourage.

What is the ‘Lula for Brazil’ Caravan?

In August 2017, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva with the Workers’ Party (PT) launched the Project “Lula for Brazil,” part of Lula’s presidential campaign. It was an effort of the PT “to observe the Brazilian reality, in the context of the big transformations the country has gone through in the PT governments and the deliberate dismantling of programs and public policies of social development and inclusion, done by the coup government in the last two years.”

The caravan began in the Northeast of Brazil, an impoverished region with some of the highest rates of violence and human rights violations in Brazil, and an area of special interest to Lula as it is not only his home region but it has been historically ignored by central Brazilian government. During Lula’s government, it was a central focus and where he implemented many social and development programs.

Lula greets members of the MST in Palmares in his home state of Pernambuco. Photo Credit: MidiaNinja

The Caravans have been a special part of Lula’s history as a trade union leader and politician, and have been a fundamental way for him to meet, listen, connect and learn from the people of Brazil and the problems that they face. In the 1970s he traveled across Brazil while organizing the new trade-union movement; in the 1980s, to build the Workers’ Party; in the Caravans for the Citizens from 1992 to 1994 to build a Government program from below.

While Lula’s caravan faces physical violence and attacks, the legal battle against Lula continues to be waged. Recently, the Federal Regional Court of the 4th Region (TRF4) rejected the appeal presented by members of Lula’s defense where they cited various omissions and contradictions from the decision made on January 24 to condemn Lula to 12 years and 1 month of prison.

Edited by: Thalles Gomes | Version in English: The Dawn News