If Brazil’s right-wing politicians thought they’d seen the last of Lula with his imprisonment, they couldn’t have reckoned on running into more than 60 new “Lulas” popping up in Congress this week.
Like an army of clones, members of Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva’s Workers’ Party (PT) in the legislature have changed their names to that of their fiery leader. The tribute to the disgraced two-term former president – and gleeful dig at his opponents– was led by the PT head, Senator Gleisi Hoffmann.
From now on, she will be referred to in the legislature as Gleisi Lula Hoffmann, she wrote in a letter to the Senate speaker published Wednesday. That includes every time the speaker wishes to call upon her during debates and the way her name will appear on the electronic voting board.
The party’s leader in the lower house, hitherto known as Paulo Pimenta, sent a similar letter: he is now Paulo Lula Pimenta. The 60 PT deputies in the chamber have followed suit. The stunt doesn’t go as far as legally changing the politicians’ names, but “it’s a way to show our solidarity,” said a spokesman.
In another show of support for the jailed leader, the PT moved headquarters from São Paulo to the southern city of Curitiba, where Lula was jailed on April 7 after losing his appeal against a corruption conviction and 12-year jail sentence. He says the trial was a plot to prevent him from running in October presidential elections in which he currently in the lead.
The backlash against the renaming blitz, however, has already started.
Sóstenes Cavalcante, from the small right-wing Democrats (DEM) party, has informed that he will now make Moro his middle name, paying tribute to Judge Sergio Moro, who convicted Lula.
And Capitão Augusto, from the right-wing Party of the Republic, insists on becoming Capitão Augusto Bolsonaro – a reference to Jair Bolsonaro, a hard-right former Army captain, presidential candidate and scourge of Lula.
The jailed PT leader will still be the party’s candidate in the upcoming presidential election. “We don’t have a Plan B,” conceded former president Dilma Rousseff this week, adding that the PT will “battle every legal authority so that Lula will be a candidate,” for an election he is still favourite to win.