Lula da Silva’s return to office would be a disaster for Brazil’s democracy and media


Luis Inacio Lula da Silva, the far-left candidate for this year’s Brazilian presidential election, has renewed his attack on freedom of expression. Strict “Social control of the media”.

“Social control of the media” can be defined As “a euphemism for subjecting the free flow of information to covert government interference.”

The former president, commonly known as Lula, has vowed to ensure his government enforces this state-sponsored censorship of social media if elected in the next presidential election.

“We need to regulate social networks, regulate the internet, set parameters,” Lula said in an email dated Nov. 19, 2021. interview in Brussels, Belgium.

In this interview, Lula falsely accused the current incumbent of being “a president who lies every day through social networks.”

According to him, the spread of alleged “fake news” is motivated by the rise and election of “far-right” politicians like Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro and former President Donald Trump.

However, this statement reveals more about Lula himself than his political opponents. He is a former trade union leader who served as Brazil’s 35th president from 2003 until 2010. During that time, he used a number of external agencies of “social control” over the press, television, and cinema to try to consolidate his dictatorial powers.

Fortunately, however, the constant scandals that rocked his notoriously corrupt regime had at least the beneficial effect of demoralizing a government bent on establishing a long-running dictatorship.

Lula and Press

On July 23, 2003, under Lula’s government, Brazil upheld Fidel Castro’s request from Cuba. Suspend consultation status Member of Reporters Without Borders (RWB) within the United Nations Commission on Human Rights.

Lula supported the suspension of the RWB because it dared to criticize Gaddafi’s election of Libya as chairman of the UN Commission on Human Rights (pdf). Working with Libya and other countries with dreadful human rights records (China, Cuba, Qatar, Saudi Arabia), Lula’s Brazil is one of the few NGOs of hers to represent press freedom. voted to stop having of the United Nations Economic and Social Council.

Epoch Times photo
Former Brazilian President Luis Inacio Lula da Silva arrives to testify at the Federal Department of Justice in Curitiba, Brazil, May 10, 2017. (REUTERS/Nacho Doce)

On May 11, 2004, the Lula administration arbitrarily revoked her visa after New York Times correspondent Larry Rothor, who was out of Brazil at the time, wrote an article about Lula’s notorious drinking habits.

This action was completely illegal, as Brazilian law specifically prohibits the deportation of foreigners married to Brazilians or with Brazilian children. Instead, he married a Brazilian woman and had two Brazilian children.

“The incident caused an uproar, and even journalists who questioned Lothar’s article criticized the government’s intolerance,” it said. report of the Commission to Protect Journalists.

And yet, just days after the illegal decision to expel the journalist, Lula said: “There’s no way the president should answer such nonsense. It doesn’t deserve a reply. It deserves action. I think he should be more concerned than I am.”

he further said: “This journalist will not stay in this country anymore. This will serve as an example for others. If I do not take this step, journalists in any other country will not fear punishment. I could have done the same.”

allege threats to freedom of expression

In August 2004, the Lula government introduced a bill aimed at abolishing press freedom through the establishment of the Federal Journalism Council (CFJ). This institution would have acquired extraordinary powers to “guide, train and monitor” all journalists operating in Brazil. To be entitled to work as a journalist, you must be registered with that organization. The president at the time had the power to freely appoint directors to this federal regulatory agency for his four-year term.

At the time, Alberto Dines, a professor of journalism at the University of Campinas, explained that the CFJ bill would undermine the “essential separation between the government and the press”.

Epoch Times photo
A supporter holds up the Brazilian flag before the arrival of Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, scheduled for November 1, 2021, in Anguillara Veneta, Italy. (Piero Cruciatti/AFP via Getty Images)

According to the Brazilian Press Association, the bill is “A threat to the constitutionally established principle of freedom of expression”

Fortunately, the Câmara dos Deputados (House of Representatives) decided in 2005 to reject the proposal.

However, in 2009, the Lula government launched a second attempt to establish government control over the media through the National Conference on Telecommunications, which was tasked with drafting a regulatory framework that would impose “social control” over reporting and its content. did

social control or press freedom

Many media organizations refused to participate, and some of the country’s major newspapers strongly criticized the initiative.

According to National magazine editor-in-chief at the time, Robert Muirert, his organization did not participate in the process because the idea of ​​”social control” of the media was “incompatible with freedom of expression and freedom of the press.” I did.

“The proposal to create a ‘social council’ to audit press content would represent a constitutional amendment that would guarantee free initiative and freedom of expression,” he said. Said.

Indeed, Article 5 of the Brazilian Constitution makes clear that any form of censorship or interference with press freedom is prohibited.

The Brazilian Constitution goes even further with Article 220, which formally protects freedom of expression for intellectual, artistic, scientific and media activity. This clause states that all expressions of thought, expression and information shall not be subject to any form of governmental restriction for political, ideological or artistic reasons.

We hope that the winner of the next Brazilian presidential election will respect basic human rights and the Brazilian constitution. Lula da Silva’s candidacy therefore represents a serious threat to the future of Brazil’s democracy and rule of law. In fact, if Lula wins the next presidential election, it could spell absolute doom for Brazilian democracy.

Views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of The Epoch Times.

August Zimmermann


Augusto Zimmermann is Professor and Legal Director at the Sheridan Institute of Higher Education, Perth. He has also served as President of the Western Australian (WA) Association for Legal Theory and Editor-in-Chief of The Western Australian Jurist, and from 2012 until 2017 he was a member of the WA Law Reform Commission. “Composition Brasileiro”, “Western Legal Theory”, and “Christian Foundations of Common Law”.