A deputy from the Workers' Party in Brazil's Congress, Paulo Pimenta, has called on the Palestinian community in the country to support former president Lula da Silva in the run-off vote of the presidential election on 30 October. Pimenta pointed out that Lula has done a lot for the community over the years, and asked them to return the favour.
The request was no surprise, given that Lula da Silva and Brazilian parliamentarians have shown consistent support for the Palestinians. In December 2019, 210 parliamentarians, including senators and federal deputies, backed the launch of the first Parliamentary Front in Defence of the Rights of the Palestinian People.
"To our friends from the Palestinian Community in Rio Grande do Sul and in every place in Brazil, thank you for your support, gratitude and trust in our work," said Pimenta in a video message. "Now, you have an important opportunity to represent the cause more successfully through voting for Lula. The Palestinian community has great influence in Rio Grande do Sul and many other places, and we need your help for victory. This election is essential for the community to have the recognition it deserves."
Pimenta told me that the votes of the Palestinian community are very important for Lula da Silva, as he has always been an ally of the Palestinian people. "As president, Lula always defended the legitimate rights of the Palestinians," he explained. A victory for Lula on 30 October will make a significant difference to the position of the Palestinian cause in Brazil and international forums, the deputy added. "The Palestinian people will have a supportive Brazilian friend at the UN once again."
According to Pimenta, the Workers' Party and its deputies are historically committed to the Palestinian cause. "When our party had the opportunity to rule the country, it expressed its full role in recognising the rights of the Palestinian people to obtain their land." Israel, he pointed out, backs Lula's opponent in the presidential run-off, current President Jair Bolsonaro.
There are some 70,000 Palestinian refugees living in Brazil. They have a significant presence in southern Brazilian states such as Rio Grande do Sul and Santa Caterina. Many Palestinians there belong to the professional classes, and play a prominent role in the political and economic life of the country. The integration of Palestinian diaspora members in Brazilian society and their proficiency in the Portuguese language has helped them to reach out to their neighbours and establish political, social and cultural relations.
According to Ualid Rabah, the president of the Palestinian Arab Federation of Brazil (FEPAL), even in the most difficult times, they have not witnessed any violence, hatred, intolerance, racism or xenophobia. "Our advice is for all people who love Brazil and care about the Palestinian issue, to take this into account in the election run-off on 30 October. We should vote for the candidate who says 'yes' to Palestine and 'no' to Israeli apartheid."
A special session for Palestine was held recently by the Brazilian Congress to express solidarity with the Palestinian people against the continuous aggression of the Israeli occupation; Deputy Paulo Pimenta was one of the participants. The session was attended by a number of diplomats from a number of countries including Cuba, Nicaragua, Zimbabwe, Nigeria, Iran, Libya, Dominican Republic, Qatar and Belarus.
During the session, Pimenta confirmed that it reinforced the importance of international solidarity in the fight against apartheid and Israel's crimes against humanity in Palestine. "The struggle of the Palestinian people is the struggle of everyone who believes in their right to own their land," he insisted. "Keeping silent about the continuation of Israeli crimes is akin to participating in them, and no one can remain silent about the genocide against the Palestinian people."
When communities in Latin American countries denounced the latest Israeli military offensive in Gaza, in particular Brazil, Argentina, Chile and El Salvador, Pimenta took a stand against the "cruel" attack. "I'm in solidarity with the Palestinian people and I consider myself as a soldier for their struggle," he said. I will continue to support the Palestinians until we raise the flag of Palestine, a flag which unites people all over the world."
Lula da Silva has always shown great sympathy and support for the Palestinian cause and the Palestinians people inside and outside Brazil. In office, he took many decisions in favour of Palestine, including its recognition as an independent state within the 1967 borders. He also raised the status of the diplomatic representation between the two countries. In the first round of the presidential election on 2 October, he received 592 of the 716 votes cast at the polling station within the Brazilian Consulate in Ramallah by Brazilian citizens living and working in the occupied West Bank. The question is, will the Palestinians support him in the run-off on 30 October?