Brazil: Lula in jail and the country in trouble?

  With the ruling of the Supreme Federal Court, the former Brazilian president will not be able to run in the next elections and thus Brazil enters a situation of high tension

Brazil: Lula in jail and the country in trouble?

Leer en español: Lula a la cárcel: ¿qué significa para Brasil?


On Wednesday, April 4, the Supreme Federal Court (STF) of Brazil decided to reject the writ of habeas corpus presented by former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva not to be imprisoned. Federal judge Sergio Moro dictated on the Thursday following the decision the arrest warrant against the Brazilian president, who has until Friday, April 6 at 5 o'clock local time to turn himself in to justice.

Leja em português: Lula para a prisão: o que significa para o Brasil?

The decision of the court was deliberated for more than ten hours and in a rather tight result, 6 votes against 5, the court confirmed the interpretation of 2016 according to which the people convicted in a second instance by the courts must comply with their sentence. We must remember that Lula was sentenced to 12 years and one month for the scandal of corruption by state oil company Petrobras. With this decision of the court, Lula da Silva may appeal, but must do so from jail.

Although the ruling of the STF complicates the situation of the former president, this does not mean that he will fully serve 12 years in prison. In fact, it still has three ways that can culminate with the release of the former president:

  1. Submit new writs of habeas corpus: that appeal presented by Lula was preventive in nature, which sought to avoid jail. According to the federal law of Brazil, there is no limit to the presentation of these applications. However, the chances of success tend to decrease, says lawyer Flavia Rahal, professor of economic criminal law at the Getúlio Vargas Foundation in São Paulo.
  2. That the sentence is annulled by a superior court: Lula can appeal his sentence before the superior courts, the Supreme Court of Justice (STJ) and the same STF. Those courts would have to come to discuss whether the process was conducted within the law. Attorney Rahal says these appeals tend to be delayed.
  3. The STF can modify its position on the prison after convictions in the second instance, but it would not be in an exclusive case for the former president, but an evaluation of jurisprudence could be given that would affect all the prisoners.

Gaspard Estrada, director of the Political Observatory of Latin America at the Institute of Political Studies in Paris, says that with this decision the PT Workers Party is left without the figure of Lula ahead of the October presidential elections. For Estrada, the impact of the ruling against the former president affects the country's policy and threatens stability.

"This is going to create a political vacuum in a large part of the Brazilian electorate, which was planning to vote for the man who presided over his country between 2003 and 2010. This would amount to historical violence. To fill this gap, there are two possibilities: the first would be for the Workers' Party to choose another candidate, who could be the former mayor of Sao Paulo, Fernando Haddad, or the former governor of the state of Bahia, Jacques Wagner. But both candidates do not surpass 5% of intention to vote", affirms Estrada and sees that Brazil during the next weeks will be in a tense atmosphere, even more so when the former president is in jail. This specialist does not hesitate to say that the country can turn violent.

The Workers' Party also has a second option to face the presidential elections, but it is not very likely to take place, since the alternative is to support the candidate of another party. Although this option is strange, "it is not far-fetched if one takes into account that the elections are in six months and it is already certain that the former president will not be able to be part of these".


Latin American Post | Carlos Eduardo Gómez Avella

Translated from "Lula a la cárcel: ¿qué significa para Brasil?"

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