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Tue Nov 12, 2019, 04:41 PM

Lula's Free And He's Promising to Fight

The former president will boost Brazil’s left, but will he also help unite the far right?
By Michael Fox TODAY 3:02 PM

Former Brazilian president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva waves the Brazilian flag after being released from prison, in Sao Bernardo do Campo, November 9. (Amanda Perobelli / Reuters)

Curitiba, Brazil—Lula’s freedom was never a foregone conclusion—even after Brazil’s Supreme Court decided last Thursday that it was unconstitutional to jail defendants before they had exhausted their appeals. This included former president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva and roughly another 5,000 people in detention around the country. Legally, they should have been freed, but justice, particularly in Brazil, doesn’t just happen.

After the Supreme Court decision, leaders of the Landless Workers Movement and Lula’s Workers Party called for supporters to descend on the southern Brazilian city of Curitiba. People poured into the Santa Candida residential neighborhood surrounding the prison and joined a community of Lula supporters who had been protesting there for 19 months.

In front of the jail, rows of cameras on tripods were pointed at the entrance, waiting. Lula’s lawyers visited him in the morning, and announced that they had asked a local Curitiba court to release him immediately.

Spontaneous cheers and “Free Lula” chants erupted every few minutes from a crowd that would grow to more than 20,000 people, according to organizers. People in red shirts walked in half-euphoria, half-daze, still disbelieving that Lula might really be free within a few hours.


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