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Brazil's Lula must start prison term, Supreme Court rules

07 April 2018

On this episode of "By Any Means Necessary" Eugene Puryear and Sean Blackmon are joined by Aline Piva, Research Fellow, Head of the Brazil Unit at the Council on Hemispheric Affairs, to talk about the Brazilian Supreme Court ruling that former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva can be jailed on corruption charges, the political nature of the ruling, and the active role Brazilian military generals are playing in the courts.

The orders follow a narrow Supreme Court ruling denying the ex-leader's request to delay the sentence while pursuing appeals against the conviction handed down past year. Over the last four years, Brazilians have experienced near weekly police operations and arrests of elite, from top politicians to businessmen like former Odebrecht CEO Marcelo Odebrecht.

The court also stiffened his initial sentence, increasing it to more than 12 years.

His Workers' Party said the ruling was a "tragic day for democracy and Brazil".

Federal Judge Sergio Moro said the 72-year-old must turn himself in before 5pm (local time) on Friday at the federal police headquarters in Curitiba.

Lula served as president between 2003 and 2011.

Likewise polls also show that Lula who had world record breaking support ratings when he stepped down from office in 2011, now also has a very significant rejection percentage, which questions how high and where, his support ceiling really stands. His endorsement was enough to get his hand-picked successor Dilma Rousseff elected twice, despite her never having held an elected office.

Some observers fear that putting Lula in jail will turn him into a martyr and keep him in the public eye.

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Now, his backing for a candidate would not be enough, analysts said, adding that voters will likely abandon his party in droves when they see that its charismatic leader was no longer in the game.

Lula's downfall is a serious loss for Brazil's already divided left because he is still the country's most popular politician despite the corruption scandals.

Last year, Temer was twice charged with corruption but remained in office because in both cases Congress, which must vote on criminal cases involving a sitting president, made a decision to spare him prosecution. He is the front-running candidate despite his conviction.

In return, Lula da Silva helped the builder acquire contracts from the oil company, prosecutors charged.

Lula has until mid-August to register his candidacy and only after that will the Superior Electoral Tribunal rule on whether his candidacy is valid.

Sen. Lindbergh Farias from the Workers' Party said vigils would be organized nationwide beginning on Friday. A union spokesman said Lula was mulling his options with lawyers.

Couto can not see the once-powerful Workers Party having a competitive candidate until it makes a public apology for getting caught up in the systemic corruption among Brazil's traditional political class.

Brazil's Lula must start prison term, Supreme Court rules