Brazil’s former leader Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva vowed on Saturday to challenge far-right President Jair Bolsonaro for impoverishing working Brazilians. Lula was released from jail on Friday after being imprisoned on a corruption conviction.
“I want to tell them I’m back,” the 74-year-old, speaking outside the metalworkers’ union where he got his political start, told hundreds of supporters dressed in red — the color of Lula’s Workers’ Party.
“If we work hard, in 2022 the so-called left that Bolsonaro is so afraid of will defeat the ultra-right,” he said. Brazil’s next national and presidential elections will take place in 2022.
Bolsonaro responded disdainfully, telling reporters: “Let’s not give space to compromise with a convict.”
“Do not give ammunition to the scoundrel, who is momentarily free but full of guilt,” he added.
Could Lula become president again?
Lula, who served as president from 2003 to 2010 and left office with high approval ratings, is ineligible to stand for office until 2025 under Brazil’s “Clean Record” law because of his convictions. He was freed from prison after Brazil’s Supreme Court ruled on Thursday that a person can only be jailed once they have exhausted the appeals process.
The former president’s release from prison has garnered widespread praise from left-wing politicians around the world, including the UK’s Jeremy Corbyn and Bolivia’s Evo Morales, as well as US presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders.
Lula has maintained his innocence throughout his time in jail. On Saturday, Brazilian Justice Minister Sergio Moro also described Lula as a “criminal” after the former president criticized him in his speech.
“I’m not responding to a criminal, jailed or freed. Some people deserve to be ignored,” Moro wrote on Twitter.
ed/dr (Reuters, AP)
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