SAO PAULO – A fired-up former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, freshly out of jail, vowed to fight Brazil’s far-right government and the forces he says unjustly incarcerated him, saying he would make “their lives hell.”
“They don’t know what it is to face a 74-year-old passionate man,” said da Silva, who governed Brazil from 2003 to 2010, and became one of the world’s most popular politicians before being ensnared in corruption scandals, before cheering supporters late Friday.
Da Silva was the unquestioned star of the conference of his Workers’ Party, which started Friday in Sao Paulo. Many still think he could be the leftist party’s standard-bearer once again in 2022 — when he’ll be a 77-year-old cancer survivor who is currently barred from seeking office due to a corruption conviction.
Da Silva left jail earlier this month after 19 months in a cell when the Supreme Court ruled that a person can be imprisoned only after all the appeals have been exhausted.
Brazil’s ex-president is still appealing two convictions for allegedly receiving favors from government contractors involving properties he used or was considering buying. If he loses his appeals in either conviction, he could be locked up again.
Da Silva has denied any wrongdoing and accuses prosecutors and Sergio Moro, then a judge and now justice minister in the government of President Jair Bolsonaro, of manipulating the case against him.
“Today I feel much stronger than the day I surrendered to the federal police,” da Silva said. “I am more willing to fight for this country than in any other moment. You will see me traveling around this country, not only making their lives hell, but also defending the Brazilian people who don’t deserve to experience what they are experiencing.”
Most analysts see da Silva as a potential kingmaker and strategist for the party he was instrumental in transforming — one who can appeal to a wide range of voters .