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  • Brazil’s former president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva during a interview in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Nov. 22, 2017.

    Brazil’s former president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva during a interview in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Nov. 22, 2017. | Photo: EFE

Published 7 May 2019

Some Brazilian media consider that this case of "self-censorship" is related to political pressures from the far-right government.

The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) announced Tuesday that it will air next Saturday an interview with former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva. The interview, one of Lula's first since he was imprisoned in April 2018, was recorded from the Curitiba prison where the politician has been held for over a year by independent journalist Kennedy Alencar. It was expected to be brodcast by Brazilian media RedeTV that pulled the plug on its airing at the last minute.

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'Lula is Political Prisoner': American Association of Jurists

"In one of his first and only interviews since being arrested, former Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva speaks with Kennedy Alencar," says the BBC promo of the "Lula: Behind Bars" forthcoming program.

This interview was expected to be broadcast on May 4 by RedeTV, which decided not to air the interview at the last moment with little to no explanation. As a reaction to this decision, the journalist Alencar published a small excerpt of the original recording. 

In this snapshot, Lula da Silva, the leftist political prisoner and leader of the Workers' Party, points out that what interests him the most is to leave prison without continually having to vindicate his innocence.

"Why do you think I say that I won't exchange my dignity for my freedom? Because, from time to time people say, 'now you've been tried, you have a [criminal] detention, and now you can get out.' Obviously, when my lawyers will tell me 'Lula, you can leave,' I'm going to leave. [But] I will only leave if what has to be decided does not prevent me from continuing to fight over my innocence."

"Leonardo Attuch: RedeTV censorship of Kennedy Alencar’s interview to Lula shows once again that the democratization of media is the decisive battle in Brazil, which became a gas chamber in the information field. Such decision was taken because someone paid more. The media scratch the money." The meme reads "With enough time, a cynical, mercenary, demagogic and corrupt press will form a public as vile as itself. Joseph Pulitzer (1847-1911)"

The non-transmission of the interview surprised Brazilians since the Federal Supreme Court had previously authorized Lula to be interviewed from inside Curitiba's Federal Prison where he is serving a now shorted sentence of eight years. Nevertheless, due to the political environment fostered in the country by far-right President Jair Bolsonaro, some media commented that such voluntary "prior restrain" could be related to political pressures.

"If anyone had doubts about how much terror Lula instilled in the facists' hearts, such doubts disappeared with the war unleashed to prevent the former president from speaking to the people on TV," the Brazilian alternative media Blog da Ciudadania said, claiming that it had received information that RedeTV did not broadcast the interview "due to threats from Bolsonaro's administration."

Self-censorship "occurs when Jair Bolsonaro releases funding numbers for media groups with the purpose of campaigning in favor of the so-called Social Security reform," the Brasil 247 journal commented and recalled that the mainstream media corporations supported the illegal imprisonment of Lula.

The "lawfare" against Lula became evident in 2016 when Judge Sergio Moro, who is now Bolsonaro's Minister of Justice, authorized actions against the former leftist president in a case of money landry and corruption. Since 2018, he remains as a political prisoner, according the American Association of Jurists (AAJ).

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