Brazilians in Italy still phone their friends back home — starting from the fellow nuns who had to flee their country 40 years ago after helping Lelio Basso prepare the proceedings of the International Peoples’ Tribunal, which denounced the horrors of Brazilian dictatorship (and have since been a pillar of the Foundation). Attendees of the World Social Forum in Puerto Alegre send angry texts from Rio, and Workers Party mates text from Sao Paulo.
The most beautiful text comes from storyteller Gustav Prado: “End of the race for you, former alejado (‘with his fingers cut off’) president. They did not convict you because of the three apartments. It’s because of your courage to help kids become lawyers, to contribute to the rise of black people in the favelas who now believe they can go on to study medicine, break the barriers of poverty and maybe even see the Sistine Chapel. End of the race for you, foolish ex-president. You are convicted not because you stole — this has not been proved. Your mistake was to be part of history and to make Brazilian history — with an 80 percent approval rating — to believe in equality, to govern. End of the race for you, ex-president.”
Adolfo Perez Esquivel calls from Buenos Aires. For years, he was the president of the International League for the Rights of Peoples, the political branch of the Basso Foundation (and I had the honor of being his deputy), raising support behind a petition to give Lula the Nobel Peace Prize — as happened to Martin Luther King.