President Lula – Saint or Sinner?

Luiz Inácio Ferreira da Silva, is a man who represented hope for poor and deprived Brazilians by becoming the first left-wing president in 2002. Nicknamed “Lula”, he ran a rigorous campaign and travelled all over the country to become the first leftist president in years, during his fourth attempt at presidency. He was a founding member of the Worker’s Party (PT) and promised to battle abject poverty and a fragile economic system.

The election of Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva as President of Brazil on October 27, 2002 caused a great stir in the country. On the one hand, immense hope among the lower classes, finally seeing a left-wing president who would consider their problems; on the other, a muffled anger on the part of the ruling classes who looked distastefully upon this former metalworker, taking the reins of the nation. Was the countdown, which eventually dragged the representative of the poor to the benches of infamy, started at this precise moment? It is entirely possible. Still, President Lula had to fight against people whose mentality had always been rooted in the indisputable belief that power should never escape them.

Presidency :

“Brazil needs Lula”. This was the message hammered home by those from the lower social classes in Brazil, especially in the country’s poorest regions such as the Northeast, were support for Lula is at its strongest. During his time as president of Brazil, Lula spent billions on social reforms, and helped to eradicate some long – standing problems associated with poverty in Brazil. He focused on eradicating hunger, through the development of “Bolsa Família” (the family allowance).
When he took office as the head of the country in January 2003, Lula was confronted with the dilemma that greets all politicians who have promised the world: to satisfy the electorate without scaring global economic bodies on which the economy depends. Brazil is no exception, and the new “President of the Poor” had to provide the IMF with sound financial guidance to attract foreign investors to Brazil, before considering taking action on his promises. This led to the first popular protests, the “Homeless” and “Landless”, which claimed the President was going back on his word.
Yet in 2004, Lula built “popular pharmacies” throughout the country, providing access to all basic drugs, something unimaginable under previous governments. He worked towards literacy, vaccination and undertook major work to bring sanitary standards to favelas (nearly 50% of homes in Brazil were not connected to sewers at this time). With this, his popularity grew in urban areas. It decreased however, among some rural people, with the construction of a dam which resulted in partial deforestation.
His policies were on one part, praised for their focus on reform for the most disadvantaged, his detractors focused on his reckless public spending. As usual, the truth is more than likely found somewhere between the two poles.

From Saint to Sinner
In July 2017, Lula was convicted of corruption and sentenced to nine years in prison, during Brazil’s “Operation Carwash” which investigated the country’s key political players. Lula always claimed his innocence and his lawyers argued his conviction was politically motivated, specifically to prevent him running in the 2018 presidential election that he was forecast to win by a landslide. Despite this, Lula is currently serving 12 year sentence, upheld and increased by the appeals court in January 2018.
The former president was convicted by the Federal Supreme Court (TSF) for receiving more than 1 million euros for promoting contracts between an engineering company, OAS, and the national petroleum and fuels company, Petrobras. Petrobras is at the center of a huge case of overbilling of construction companies, for the benefit of different political parties evaluated by to be to the value of 12 billion euros. It is therefore the state that was targeted; senators, deputies, ministers, and three former presidents: Roussef, Cardoso … and Lula.

Latest developments – Questions about Lula’s trial
In July 2019, news source “The Intercept” reported on alleged leaked messages between judge Sergio Moro, (his main prosecutor) and operation car wash officials. The messages raised serious doubts on the impartiality of Mr Moro in relation to the investigation. Strong support for the former president’s release came from all over the world, including from prominent US politician Bernie Sanders.
The scandal has just become as complex as ever, the reputation of the former president is heavily damaged and some Brazilians have detracted their support. Furthermore, current Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro remains open about his support for the imprisonment of Lula. Nevertheless, the whole functioning of the Brazilian system is in question. Innocent or not, Lula certainly has to deal with all the constants of his country – like so many others before him.
Both sides of this story have a lot to answer for in front of the country, but for now Lula will have to forget the dream of a glorious return to Palácio da Alvorada.


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