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Brazilian Judges Convict Popular Former Leader, Indict Unpopular Sitting President

LADB Article ID: 80360
Category/Department: Brazil
Date: 2017-07-28
By: Gregory Scruggs

In a plot twist befitting a telenovela, Brazil’s wildly popular former president, Luiz Inácio “Lula” da Silva (2003-2011), has been convicted of corruption and money laundering. He was sentenced to nine and a half years of prison, but the presiding judge will allow him to keep his liberty during his appeal. The July 12 decision shook Brazil to its foundation, with the current and previous two presidents (including da Silva’s successor, Dilma Rouseff [2011-2016]) now tainted by impropriety following the June indictment of President Michel Temer on formal corruption charges. The country must now look back 14 years to find a head of state with a clean legal record. Thousands of protesters took to the streets in support of the embattled da Silva, the charismatic former metallurgist who rose from a destitute childhood in Brazil’s impoverished northeast to become a two-time president under the banner of the Partido dos Trabalhadores (PT). Despite the conviction, da Silva remains defiant and insists he will run in the 2018 presidential election. While da Silva has railed that the case against him was politically motivated, the probes into prominent politicians seem more the product of a flourishing independent judiciary that has enjoyed wide public support in its wide-ranging investigations. Just weeks before da Silva’s conviction, Temer received his own corruption charge.

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