Things That Matter

A Former Brazilian President Was Just Released From Prison And Here’s What That Could Mean For The Country

A judge ordered the release of former Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, affectionately known as Lula, from prison today. Lula was sentenced to eight years and 10 months in prison in 2018, following a conviction on charges that he took bribes from engineering firms in exchange for government contracts. However, many Brazilians and officials felt Lula’s conviction was the result of corruption. 

The decision came after Brazil’s Supreme Court overturned a law that required convicts to be imprisoned if they lose their first appeal. The ruling could end up benefiting other high profile prisoners and thousands of other convicts, according to Al Jazeera, and was not met without detractors. 

Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva is freed from prison.

On Thursday, Brazil’s Supreme Court decided in a 6-5 vote that a person can only be imprisoned after they’ve exhausted every possible appeal to the higher courts. Lula, who is currently appealing his case, benefited from the new rule. 

“There are no grounds for the continuation of this provisional criminal enforcement,” Judge Danilo Pereira Júnior said.

The ruling could release almost 5,000 inmates who are currently appealing their convictions, according to The Guardian. 

In 2016, the courts operated on the premise that defendants who have been convicted can be imprisoned pending the decisions of any appeals. However, Brazil’s constitution states that no one can be labeled guilty unless due process is completed in its entirety. 

Justice Gilmar Mendes acknowledged that Lula’s involvement in the discourse overshadowed the discussion, but that overall it is good for the public, according to the Guardian. However, analysts say that incarcerating people before they have appealed gives authorities leverage to strike plea deals that can garner vital information. 

Many analysts are criticizing the new rule. 

The “Car Wash” operation, as it is nicknamed, that got Lula arrested, benefited from the rule. By trading plea deals that would keep convicts out of prison, prosecutors obtained information that allowed them to unravel a massive conspiracy of corruption that resulted in entrepreneurs and politicians being imprisoned for bribes and kickbacks. 

According to Al Jazeera, “The Car Wash prosecutors said the ruling would make their job harder and favor impunity because of Brazil’s ‘excessive’ appeal processes. They said in a statement that the court’s decision was out of sync with a country that wants an end to corruption.”

Not only are officials displeased with Lula’s release, but some Brazilians are also angry as well. 

“I’m not surprised, politicians rarely stay very long in jail,” Rivaldo Santos, a 43-year-old waiter in São Paulo, told The Associated Press. 

Brazilians rally in support of Lula’s release. 

Lula was a once-beloved conduit of change. The Bolsa Familia welfare program significantly reduced poverty in Brazil, and his policies created widespread economic growth. Lula left the office with an 80% approval rating, only to have his legacy tarnished by his involvement in the Car Wash operation. 

In a turning point over the summer, Brazilians were left stunned by allegations that prosecutors and a judge colluded together in the criminal investigation of Lula. Sergio Moro, the judge who convicted Lula, allegedly gave prosecutors strategic advice and tips during the investigation. 

“The judge’s relationship with prosecutors is scandalous,” the Intercept Brasil’s executive editor, Leandro Demori, told The Guardian. “This is illegal under Brazilian law.”

The revelations caused many to wonder if Lula had been wrongfully imprisoned altogether. Last year, Lula was the left-leaning presidential frontrunner only to have his imprisonment pave the way for the far-right Jair Bolsonaro to snag the presidency. Thus, many Brazilians still revere Lula for the sweeping changes he brought to Brazil while wondering all that could have been.

“He is very happy and so are we,” Gilberto Carvalho, Lula’s former chief of staff and one of the leaders of the Workers Party, told The Washington Post. “We are pinching ourselves to make sure this is all true.”

Bernie Sanders and others praise the release of Lula.

“As President, Lula has done more than anyone to lower poverty in Brazil and to stand up for workers. I am delighted that he has been released from jail, something that never should have happened in the first place,” Sanders tweeted.  

“Lula is free. He walked out of Sergio Moro’s prison today, where he spent almost 2 years as a result of corrupted process conducted by a corrupt judge (now Bolsonaro’s Minister of Justice and Public Security) and corrupt prosecutors,” journalist Glenn Greenwald said on Twitter. 

While Brazil was set on an entirely different course after Bolsonaro’s election, perhaps, Lula’s release can usher in needed change.

“[Lula] is eager to come out, but at the same time he is asking everyone to stay calm and be careful with provocations to keep an atmosphere of peace,” Carvalho said. 

Latinas Are Opening Up On Instagram About Why They Didn’t Report Their Sexual Assault And The Stories Are Heartbreaking

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Latinas Are Opening Up On Instagram About Why They Didn’t Report Their Sexual Assault And The Stories Are Heartbreaking

Drew Angerer / Getty

TRIGGER WARNING for victims of assault.

Recently we came across six stories by women who opened up about why they didn’t report their sexual assault via the account @whyididntreport. Heartbreaking, tragic, and also empowering each of these stories were a reminder that not only do we need to believe women but also support them.

As a response to the posts, we asked Latinas what experiences they had with keeping quiet about their assaults.

See their stories below.

Because it was a family member

@whyididntreport / Instagram

“My mom did not believe me because it was her husband … we would always fight and he would put her against me … that’s why I always say my children will always come first … then anyone … even before me and my own needs.” – soley_geez

Because of the statute of limitations

@whyididntreport / Instagram

“I did report. The cop taking notes told me they couldn’t file the report because of the statue of limitation being 10 years. I was reporting 13 years after I was raped. I was 3 years old when it happened. I was 16 when I reported.” – jedi_master_evila

Because she’d been labeled dramatic

@whyididntreport / Instagram

“He was my ex boyfriends cousin and I was intoxicated after a night of partying with a group of friends. I said no over and over again. I never came forward because I was already labeled/seen as “dramatic” by my ex and his friends and figured they wouldn’t believe me.” – love.jes

Because she was punished by her parents

@whyididntreport / Instagram

“I was 12. He was 18. My parents found a note he wrote to me. They spoke harshly with him but never pressed charges and punished me for lying.” 0valicorn_rainbow_pants

Because it was someone she thought loved her

@whyididntreport / Instagram

“I had a boyfriend rape me after I confronted him about lying and cheating. He used it as a way to punish me. And I stayed with him a year after the fact. I’m still processing feelings almost 20 years later. I’ve gone through self-destructive behaviors and tried to push others away. I’m forever grateful my husband showed me I am worthy of a beautiful life even after trauma. To all my fellow trauma survivors…we are worthy of good things.” – thebitchyhippie559

She thought she deserved it

@whyididntreport / Instagram

“He was my “step” grandfather. He molested me from ages 5-10, I was having some rebellious teen years and my parents were trying to find out why. I told them, my dad didn’t talk to me for a few days and after that everyone pretended that nothing happened and the rest of my family never found out. I held on to this secret until I told my parents at about 16 or 17 I was always so embarrassed and thought I deserved it.” – klemus09

She didn’t want to ruin HIS life

“It was my boss. At 15 I felt so bad, bc the wife was the only other person working with us and I was more worried about what this could do to their marriage. I thought I healed but typing this was hard.” –dolores.arts

If you or someone you know needs to report sexual assault, please contact the National Sexual Assault Helpline 800.656.4673 or speak with someone you trust.⁠⠀

Latinas Are Forcing Themselves To Examine How They Are Showing Up For The Black Community

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Latinas Are Forcing Themselves To Examine How They Are Showing Up For The Black Community

Eze Amos / Getty

Months have passed since the deaths of Breonna Taylor and George Floyd but members of the Black community continue to fight against police brutality. While news reports of protests might have slowed down, it’s important to know that showing up for Black people has so much power.

Recently, we asked Latinas “How are we showing up for our Black brothers and sisters?” and the answers were pretty humbling.

Recognize the relative privileges we have

“This week has been so, so heavy, but we need to ask ourselves how we are showing up for the Black community outside of the weeks when headlines are grim and cities are on fire. How are we showing up for Black people in our everyday lives? 365 days a year? I am speaking specifically to my community here: [Non-Black] Latinxs, we have so far to go when it comes to protecting the dignity of our own people, I know. I know our people are also hurting. But we HAVE to recognize the relative privileges we have and the ways in which the Black community’s freedom is directly tied to our own. We all deserve dignity. We all deserve the ability to move through the world without fearing for our lives. Some of us haven’t ever had to worry about that—so what are we doing to help those who do worry for their safety and the safety of loved ones every single day? Please pay attention. Please speak out and hold the people in your life accountable. We are ALL responsible. We all need to be doing more—no matter our race or ethnicity. Please, let’s take care of each other.” – @ludileiva

Show up to protests

“Showing up to local peaceful protests and talking to my family and friends about how we need to stand together. It is my hope our black brothers and sisters will stand with us when we have to face our government on DACA and caged children.” – lil_yo11

Donate and give

“Definitely by donating, signing petitions, educating others on issues like this that affect the black community, posting about it, and speaking out when it happens. Our voices and actions definitely need to be heard during this time.”- belleza_xoxo

Continue to fight

“Many of us ARE. And we need to do even MORE. This hurts me because although there is colorism out there, there are also respectful and supporting people who want to do more and more. I hope more people saw that too. Anyways, my family and I will continue fighting strong for this movement. Because BLACK LIVES MATTER. THEY SURELY DO.” – mid.nicole

Hold others accountable

“By holding people accountable. By talking about privilege even if it makes people uncomfortable! Becoming part of the conversation because if you don’t and look the other way you are part of the problem. Make people uncomfortable! Make people realize that our system needs to be redone so justice can be served for our fallen brothers. Being black, being of color shouldn’t be a death sentence.” – koayafilm

Connect with others

“We are each other’s hope 🙏🏽 sharing on your story is great, but never forget the power of human connection. talk to people, have these conversations & hear the pain, empathy & hope in our voices.”- raquelmariaquintana

Educate ourselves and our families

“We show solidarity! There’s still so much racism within our own Latino community over darker skin color. I know because my abuela was Afro Latina.Things need to change. We need to educate our own families about racism. We need to sign petitions, donating, having conversations. I see many people quiet about what’s going on.” – angieusc7

Keep certain words out of your mouth

“Well we could start by abolishing the expressions “negro” y “negra” as a form of endearment to call for someone of dark complexion. I know some will say it’s a form of endearment, but it just degrades the person called upon by only identifying them by their skin colour. You are calling them by their complexion and therefore reducing a whole persons existence and achievements by the colour of their skin.” –christian.aaby

Hold your family accountable

“We have to stand up for each other especially during these times. I’m confronting my own family members who are getting away from the truth. We have to stand up for what we believe not speak negatively about what the reactions are.” – jenmarasc

Create posters for protests

“Creating posters to take to my local police department this Sunday to protest. Signed petition, called the DA, sent cards to the mayor and DA in support of their efforts and demanding criminalization!!! We need to speak louder. Getting involved in my community to provide breath work and yoga to the black community I live in!!” – mexicanameg