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Brazil: Ex-President Lula calls Jair Bolsonaro’s corona policy “insane”

Ex-head of state Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva has returned to politics with a sharp attack on Brazil’s right-wing extremist President Jair Bolsonaro. In view of the severe corona crisis in Brazil, the left-wing Lula said: “Do not follow the imbecile decisions of the President of the Republic or the Minister of Health: Get vaccinated.”

A judge at the Brazilian Supreme Court overturned all of Lula’s convictions for corruption on Monday. The 75-year-old could now run against Bolsonaro as a presidential candidate in 2022. However, Lula kept a low profile about a possible candidacy. “It would be petty of me to think about 2022 now,” he said.

“Many of these dead could have been prevented”

Brazil is one of the countries hardest hit by the corona pandemic in the world. So far, almost 270,000 people have died from the virus in the South American country. The ultra-right Bolsonaro rejects restrictions and masks. Since the beginning of the pandemic, he has been downplaying the corona risk, which he described, among other things, as “minor flu”. He also made fun of vaccinations.

“Many of these deaths could have been prevented” if the government had taken basic measures, Lula said at an event at the headquarters of the metalworkers’ union in São Bernardo do Campo. It was here that he began his political career as a strike leader against the Brazilian military dictatorship in the late 1970s.

Bolsonaro denied the allegations in an interview with CNN Brasil. The government had “done its part,” he said. There was “never a shortage of resources” in the pandemic. “Lula is campaigning. And since it has nothing to show, it is based on criticism, lies and disinformation, ”he added.

The Supreme Court’s decision in Lula’s favor could change Brazilian politics, as the popular left-wing politician has a good chance of replacing the far-right Bolsonaro. The judge responsible had argued that the court in Curitiba, southern Brazil, which had brought all the trials against Lula, had no jurisdiction. The cases are now being reopened in a federal court in Brasília.

Lula, who headed the state from 2003 to 2010, had always rejected the allegations as politically motivated. He spent 18 months in detention before being released in November 2019. He was also unable to run in the presidential election in October 2018, although he had been in the lead in polls. In response to his conviction, he said that he had “fallen victim to the worst judicial lie in 500 years” in Brazil.

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