Lula supporters rally as arrest deadline looms

Apr 07, 2018, 01:28
Lula supporters rally as arrest deadline looms

However, Senator Lindbergh Farias, from Lula's Workers' Party, issued a defiant call for supporters to congregate in front of Lula's house in Sao Bernardo near Sao Paulo on Friday.

“The Workers Party will have to move quickly to Plan B, which is former Sao Paulo mayor Fernando Haddad, or even Plan C to back a leftist from another party like former Ceara state governor Ciro Gomes, ” said Lucas de Aragao, a political analyst with Arko Advice in Brasilia. A union spokesman said Lula was mulling his options with lawyers.

Lula is still awaiting a court decision on a motion filed by his defense team to appeal the arrest warrant.

Late on Thursday, thousands gathered outside the union and hundreds spent the night sleeping on the street. A banner hung from the building showed Lula's smiling face on an electronic voting machine.

Lula, who grew up poor and with little formal education before becoming a trade union leader and politician, has always said he will go down fighting. Many remained camped outside the building early on Friday.

In a sign of possible friction on the horizon, within minutes after Moro's arrest warrant, a fight broke out in front of the Lula Institute in Sao Paulo between hecklers and supporters of da Silva.

To them, Lula epitomizes Brazil's corruption-riddled elite.

However, there were celebrations on the right and among prosecutors supporting the epic "Car Wash" probe, which has revealed high-level corruption throughout Brazilian business and politics over the last four years.

Lula, who governed Brazil between 2003 and 2010 and still intends to stand for elections next October, has until 5:00 pm local time (20:00 GMT) this Friday to turn himself in to the authorities after in the federal judge Sergio Moro decreed his prison on the eve to begin to purge his sentence.

His conviction stemmed from a wide-ranging corruption investigation into the state-run oil company Petrobras, dubbed "Operation Car Wash".

They also called on the United Nations human rights body in Geneva to intervene, saying that Lula had not been given an opportunity to appeal his prison sentence in freedom. Under Brazilian electoral law, a candidate is forbidden from running for office for eight years after being found guilty of a crime.

The court's decision was met by protests both in favour of and against Lula, representing a deep divide within the country.

Lula continues to enjoy broad popular support, worldwide recognition and affection, as a result of the successes of his administration that benefited the vast majority, who are now facing an attempt to deny them the right to elect him again as President, to open the way for neoliberal forces and reverse his accomplishments.

"We're here to give Lula strength to resist", said Maria Aparecida Mattos, 49, who said she qualified for assisted housing as a single working mother under one of Mr. da Silva's flagship programs. It's still unclear whether Lula plans to abide by the judge's ruling and turn himself in to police this afternoon, or what would happen in case he doesn't. "He will be our president".