Boff, Meanwhile in Brazil…

Gilberto Carvalho. Photo by the Brazilian Human Rights Commission.

An attempt to condemn a just man

by Leonardo Boff

On September 19th, Judge Vallisney Oliveira of the 10th Federal Tribunal of Brasilia, Brazil, addressed the complaint lodged by the Federal Public Ministry, (FPM)), against former President Inacio Lula da Silva and Gilberto Carvalho, claiming to have seen evidence of corruption, namely, that the Labor Party, PT, had received 6 million reales for reissuing the 2009 471 Provisional Measure, PM, that provided financial benefits to workers in the auto sector of the Mid-West and North East.

Curiously, former President Fernando Henrique Cardoso was the author, in 1999, of this Provisional Measure, proposed in the Chamber by Jose Carlos Aleluia (DEM) and in the Senate by Cesar Borges (PFL). The PM was approved by all political parties. The idea was to decentralize the production of cars and create a great many jobs. In fact, between 2002 and 2013 the number of jobs rose from 291,244 to 532,364.

The extension of MP 471 by Lula was intended to assure the continuity of the enterprises that socially benefit many. Nothing was asked for and nothing was given in exchange. The FPM offered no proof of the accusation that bribery was involved. Only insinuations and suppositions. This is an extremely fragile base on which to base a complaint, which probably suggests another agenda.

I will not undertake the defense of former President Lula, which will be done by competent attorneys. Rather, I will limit myself to a testimonial about Gilberto Carvalho, the person. We met many years ago, in connection with the work with the Base Communities, the Pastoral of the Workers, the theology workshops in Curitiba, and the Faith and Politics encounters. He lived in a very poor favela in the city, worked later on in plastics and metallurgy factories. Some 30 years ago, he began with Lula a friendship of true brothers. He helped found the Labor Party, PT. Once elected President, Lula named him, during his two terms, Minister-Head of the General Secretariat of the Presidency of the Republic. Carvalho stood with the former President during the times of both the accomplishments and the tribulations that President Lula endured. He always discharged his duties with discretion and a great sense of equity. He distinguished himself as the spokesperson most accepted by the social movements, the Catholic Church and other religious sectors. He showed a special affection for the collectors of recyclable materials and the indigenous.

Carvalho is well known for his serenity and his tireless capacity for listening, and for seeking, along with others, the most viable paths to follow. Those of us who know him well offer with sincerity a testimonial to the high regard he holds for the spiritual world. How many week ends did he pass in the Benedictine monastery in Goias Viejo, in humble prayer and deep meditation, asking the Spirit lights to serve well the people of his country, especially the most humiliated and debased.

He was always a poor man. By selling an apartment he had in São Paulo he acquired a small farm near Brasilia, and it is a pleasure to see the ecological care he gives the chickens that provide eggs for the whole family, the fruit trees and the small field of corn. He never took advantage of the high position he occupied in the Republic.

This is why we understand his “revolt and indignation” against the absurd denunciation presented by the FPM and accepted by Brasilia’s Federal Judge Vallisney Oliveira. In his note of September 19th, Gilberto Carvalho writes: “It is important to note that there is not one single piece of evidence, only insinuations and strained factual interpretations… Neither President Lula nor I ever came close to engaging in the type of bad conduct with which they would stigmatize us.”

Perhaps the final theme of his note expresses his personality, manifesting signs of human virtue of the highest degree: “I receive this denunciation at the moment when I am forced to sell the apartment I had recently acquired and where I lived, because I have been unable to get financing. I have moved to a rented house. But accusations of this nature will not compromise the honor and dignity of a serene and fearless conscience.”

The Scriptures speak often of judges who cast hasty aspersions on the just, or even condemn them. In Brasilia, we are witnessing a malevolent attempt to condemn a just and honest man.

Leonardo Boff is a Brazilian philosopher, theologian and member of the Earth Charter Commission.


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