Members of the Rural Landless Movement, or MST, are protesting in front of Brazil's Federal Supreme Court, or STF, to demand former Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva's release from prison and have repeated the call for him to be allowed to register as a presidential candidate in the October general elections.
Protestors carried placards and banners and dressed in swimsuits, according to Brasil de Fato, in theatrical mockery of the two months vacation allotted to the STF judges each year.
“The judicial power, which is anti-democratic and expensive for the Brazilian people to maintain, has committed several arbitrary violations and tore apart the Constitutions ever since the coup against President Dilma (Rousseff),” said Jailma Lopes, a member of the MST's Carlos Marighella brigade.
She stressed that the demonstrators wanted to bring attention to the amenities and perks enjoyed by the STF judges.
Federal government expenditures, including housing provided to judges and prosecutors, has exceeded one billion reais (approximately US$265 million dollars) this year alone. STF magistrates are also afforded 195 vacation days annually, amounting to 53 percent of the entire year, including official recesses, holidays, vacation and weekends.
MST members also said that they would organize a nationwide march descending on Brasilia between the August 12 and 15 to register Lula's presidential candidacy.
“The aim of the march is to face the Brazilian people as we pass by cities and denounce the political imprisonment of Lula and denounce the arbitrary violations of this coup-mongering process against the Brazilian people,” Lopes said.
Lula has been detained at the federal police headquarters in Curitiba since April 7. Despite his imprisonment, an event that many legal experts and observers attribute to lawfare and a salacious mainstream media campaign, he has topped every 2018 electoral poll conducted by Vox Populi, Ibope, Datafolha, Data Poder 360, Instituto Parana, the National Confederation of Transportation/MDA and Ipsos.
The latest Ipespe survey, taken between July 9 and 11, indicates that Lula continues leading the pack of presidential hopefuls in the first round of voting at 30 percent. It also showed him prevailing against his nearest rival, far right-wing congressman Jair Bolsonaro, in the second round of voting at 40 percent to 33 percent.
Lula's two terms in office were marked by a slew of social programs, lifting millions of Brazilians out of poverty and removing the country from the United Nations World Hunger Map. He left office with a record approval rating of 83 percent in 2011, according to Datafolha.