Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, apparently unsatisfied with his new role as Dilma Rousseff’s campaigner-in-chief, has now decided to condone an act of violence against his party’s opposition candidate. What a shame, Mr. President.
While marching in the streets of Rio de Janeiro on October 20th, Mr. Serra, of the opposition Social Democratic Party (PSDB), and his supporters ran into a group of PT militants. At one point, the presidential candidate was hit on the head by what has been identified as a cylindrical roll of tape.
True, Mr. Serra did not dramatically collapse in front of the crowds or have his skull cracked open, but the event was enough to leave the candidate emotionally and physically distraught and prompt him to cancel all other planned events.
Despite widespread images of the episode, President Lula not only denied PSDB’s allegations of aggression, but went as far as ridiculing Mr. Serra. Lula accused the candidate of simulating injuries and compared him to Roberto Rojas, the goalie for Chile’s soccer team who deliberated injured himself in an attempt to avoid loss by his team during the 1989 World Cup elimination match.
Couldn’t our president have picked a better analogy? Or better yet, couldn’t he have followed others within his own party who immediately condemned the act of violence?
In fact, Lula also claimed Serra was hit by a “little paper ball” – which was the first object to be thrown at the candidate – and ran to get a tomography. “It is a shame,” said the president. “How many poor [Brazilians] die without even getting an ultrasound,” he asked.
Is it just me of did Lula just highlight his government’s failures? If we are pointing the fingers at the culprits for the deaths of the millions of innocent Brazilians unable to receive adequate medical treatment, I am pretty sure we won’t be looking at Mr. Serra.
Not only is Lula demoralizing politics but, more dangerously, sending out the message that attacking a politician “we don’t like” in the streets “is okay”. The president portrays the idea that the opposition candidate is the enemy, which ought to be defeated not only through lies, ruse and accusations, but now through physical brutality as well.
There is no debate here. Regardless of whether we wish to discuss the allegiance of Mr. Serra’s aggressors to the President’s Workers’ Party (PT), or PSDB’s use of the images against PT, there is only one correct route Lula could have taken. And he definitely chose the wrong one.
Fernando Abrúcio, a political scientist from the Fundação Getúlio Vargas (FGV-SP), said Mr. Lula’s behavior during this presidential campaign “is not good for Brazilian democracy”. Anyone disagree?