Former Brazilian president Luiz Inácio
Lula da Silva walked out of jail on
Friday, less than a day after the Supreme Court ruled that a person can be imprisoned only after all the appeals have been
Hundreds of red-shirted supporters
gathered outside the federal police building
in southern city of Curitiba, cheered the
popular, 74-year-old politician, whose release could rally a demoralised opposition.
Lula, who is appealing his conviction of
corruption and money-laundering in connection with the purchase of a beachfront
apartment in São Paulo state, embraced his
daughter, raised his fist to the sky, then
made his way onto a stage where he was
surrounded by allies and supporters.
“You have no idea the dimension of the
significance of me being here with you,”
Lula told jubilant supporters, thanking individual union leaders and members of his
leftist Workers’ Party (PT). “They didn’t
arrest a man. They tried to detain an idea.
An idea doesn’t disappear.”
Lula’s Latin American allies in Argentina
rushed to celebrate the news.
President-elect Alberto Fernández hailed
“the strength of Lula to face this persecution,” saying that was the “only definition
that fits the arbitrary judicial process to
which he was submitted,” in a post on social
His running-mate and vice-presidentelect, former president Cristina Fernández
de Kirchner, echoed those sentiments in a
post on Twitter.
“Today one of the largest aberrations of
lawfare in Latin America ceases: the illegitimate deprivation of liberty of the former
president of the Federative Republic of Brazil, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. #LulaLivre,”
The former president, wearing a black
T-shirt and suit jacket, pumped his fist in the
air as he exited the federal police headquarters where he had been held.
In an impassioned address, Lula vowed
to “continue fighting” for ordinary Brazilians and expose the “lying side of the Federal Police.” His voice was at times drowned
out by the cheers of the crowd and by fireworks.
“I didn’t think that today I could be here
talking to men and women that during 580
days shouted good morning, good afternoon or goodnight, no matter if it was raining or 40 degrees [Celsius],” he said,
flanked by his girlfriend Rosangela da
Silva, whom he kissed on stage.
Lula’s highly anticipated exit from the
facility where he had been held since April
2018 came hours after his lawyers requested
the immediate release of the 74-year-old,
who has been serving a nearly nine-year
sentence for corruption and money-laundering.
Late Thursday, the Supreme Court overturned a rule requiring convicted criminals
to go to jail after losing their first appeal.
Lula is one of several thousand convicts who
could benefit from the decision. Those convicts would remain free until they had exhausted their rights to appeal– a process
critics say could take years in cases involving people able to afford expensive lawyers.
Lula, who led Brazil through a historic
boom from 2003 to 2010, earning him the
gratitude of millions of Brazilians for redistributing wealth to haul them out of poverty,
was serving eight years and 10 months for
corruption. He was sentenced to almost 13
years in jail in February in a separate corruption case and still faces another halfdozen corruption trials.
Lula has denied all the charges, arguing
they were politically motivated to keep him
out of the 2018 presidential election that was
won by Jair Bolsonaro.
BUENOS AIRES TRIP?
Among Lula’s next acts may be to try and
travel to Buenos Aires, in order to attend the
inauguration of Alberto Fernández as president on December 10.
Speaking to state news agency Télam
yesterday, the head of the Workers’ Party
(PT) lower house caucus in Congress, Paulo Pimenta, said the former president could
request permission to travel to Buenos Aires, despite the outstanding legal problems.
“He can ask permission like other politicians with legal cases to leave the country,
meet the requirements for that procedure,”
“Lula surely wants to be in Buenos Aires
on December 10 to be next to Alberto and
Cristina Fernández de Kirchner,” said Pimenta, speaking from city of Curitiba.
Fernández visited Lula on July 4 earlier
this year in jail.