Nine Little-Known Facts about Brazil’s President Lula
Guest post by Paul Serran (paulserran.substack.com)
Love him or hate him, Luis Inacio Lula da Silva is one of the most consequential Brazilians of the 20th-21st century. As he begins his third presidential mandate, Lula once again steps into the world’s spotlight in a big way.
But what do people really know about him? In most cases, not much. I gathered here 9 little-known Lula facts that will go a long way into shining a revealing light over the man running the show in Brasilia.
The arbitrary number of facts relate to Lula’s nine fingers – he lost his left-hand pinky in what has been described as a work-related accident.
1 ‘Pelego’: While Lula is now heading a very leftist administration, the fact remains that, left to his own devices, he is not – and never has been – known to be an ideological leader. As a labor leader, he was even called ‘pelego’ (a sheepskin or a doormat) by far-left groups.
Lula can be more adequately be put in the ranks of kleptocracy, having taken his family from abject poverty to the top of the political and economic power in a single generation.
2 Guilty of rape attempt in jail?: His recent stint in prison was not his first: Silva was arrested during the military dictatorship years in 1980. While the short 30-day incarceration did help him win much more ‘street-cred’ with the left, it also left behind a terrible story: ‘the boy from MEP’ – a tale of how Lula tried to rape a fellow inmate in jail.
This was, or course, denied by Lula – but it was not put in the news by a Lula enemy, but rather by journalist and professor Cesar Benjamin, one of the founders of Lula’s own Workers’ Party (PT). Benjamin wrote the following in mainstream, pro-Lula newspaper Folha de São Paulo, in 2009 – he is recounting a meeting that took place in 1994.
“LULA – You were imprisoned, weren’t you?
BENJAMIN – I was.
LULA – How much time?
BENJAMIN – A few years.
LULA – I couldn’t take it. I can’t live without pussy.
To prove this assertion, [Lula] fluently narrated how he had tried to [sexually] subdue another prisoner in the 30 days he had been detained. (…) He was surprised by the resistance of the ‘boy’, who thwarted the attack with elbows and punches.”
3 Three-time-loser: Lula lost presidential campaigns 3 times: 89, 94, and 98. When it came time for the 2002 campaign, he gave an ultimatum to PT: he would only do it again if they let him do it his way.
He divulged a (comparatively) moderate program of government, and the fourth time was to prove the charm. A political market guy rebranded him as ‘Lulinha Paz e Amor’ (Little Lula peace and love), and the experienced politician exchanged his former menacing scowls for a constantly smiling demeanor.
4 Allegedly forced lover the get an abortion: In his first presidential defeat, in 89, a lover of his, Miriam Cordeiro, came out in public and accused Lula of forcing her to get an abortion. That revelation came down as a bomb and derailed any chances he had in that election. What Miriam also said, which not many people remember, is that Lula was a racist.
While Ms. Cordero’s appearance was a dirty political trick by Lula’s enemies, it was also a true story, another data point that explains why his administration will continually push for abortions, despite his incessant denials during the campaign.
Trending: HUGE: Postal Service Releases Final Report – Contract Driver Jesse Morgan Vindicated – Report CONFIRMS He Hauled Trailer of Ballots from NY to PA in Late October 2020
5 Murder of Celso Daniel: Before Lula could get into office in his first mandate, in 2003, he was to lose his right-hand man and chosen Economy Minister, Celso Daniel.
Daniel was kidnapped, tortured, and later found shot to death on a country road. It turns out Daniel was reportedly blowing the whistle on corruption by Lula’s PT party.
While the investigation – controlled by the PT – never looked into Lula, some members of Daniel’s family have been consistently vocal in saying that his team ran a cover-up in the investigations, and a convicted marketing man turned state witness Marcos Valério formally accused Lula of having ordered the hit.
6 A famous drunkard: Lula has always been a famous drunk, and at one time, was operating at Boris Yeltsin-like levels of libations. While this was common knowledge in Brazil, Lula wanted to control the spread of this information, and at one time he wanted to expel the New York Times’ Larry Rohter for reporting on just that.
7 Monthly payola: Irritated with his party’s poor Congressional articulation leading to defeats in key parliamentary votes, and plagued by the constant demand by deputies and senators for positions in government for their acolytes, Lula decided to bribe all his support base with fixed sums of money per month, to ensure smooth votes in Congress.
This scandal was called ‘Mensalão’. The Congressional Inquiry captured the imagination of the country, and while Lula was able to survive it politically, it marked the beginning of the steady decline of Lula and the PT party that was to culminate in his prison in Operation Lava-Jato, in 2017.
8 His love for communist criminals:
In 1998, Lula worked for the release of Chilean MIR communist militants, arrested for the kidnapping of businessman Abilio Diniz.
Father Francisco Antonio Cadena Collazos, a.k.a. “Priest Camilo”, the narco-trafficker FARC representative in Brazil, was arrested in August 2005. Collazos was wanted in Colombia for various crimes, such as kidnappings and terrorist attacks that resulted in the death of nearly a hundred people. Colombians asked for the extradition of the criminal, but Lula granted him the status of political asylum.
Italian left-wing terrorist Cesare Battisti lived in Brazil for more than a decade. He became the target of a long extradition process due to convictions in Italy for four murders, committed in the late 70s. Arrested in Brazil in 2007, Battisti was granted political refugee status. In December 2010, in his last action as president, Lula guaranteed the Italian’s permanence in Brazil, saying that this was a “question of national sovereignty”.
9 The Triplex: Operation Lava-Jato began as an investigation into criminals laundering money via a chain of car-washes, but the Federal police and prosecutors ended up pulling a thread that led straight into the heart of the Brazilian political apparatus and unveiled massive international bribery schemes run by Brazilian giant building Contractors.
To give an idea of the size of the corruption involved, Brazil’s Odebrecht and Braskem ‘plead Guilty and Agree to Pay at Least $3.5 Billion in Global Penalties to Resolve Largest Foreign Bribery Case in History‘.
In 2017, Lula was sentenced to nine years and six months in prison, in a process regarding the purchase and renovation of a triplex in São Paulo by the contractor OAS, in exchange for favors for Brazilian oil giant Petrobras.
The conviction was maintained in 2018 by a superior court, and the sentence was increased for passive corruption and money laundering.
April 2018: the Supreme Court rejected his request for habeas corpus, and Judge Sergio Moro ordered his arrest. Lula was to remain imprisoned for a year and seven months.
BUT: after almost seven years rejecting appeals from Lula’s defense, the Supreme Court changed its ‘understanding’ in April 2021. It declared the incompetence of the Justice Federal from state of Paraná, annulled the prosecutions, and determined that the process be restarted from scratch in the first instance. Lula was released and given a clean criminal sheet, allowing him to run in the 2022 elections. The rest is criminal history in the making.