Arrest looms for Brazil's ex-president

Former Brazilian President Lula waves to supporters outside of ABC Steelworkers Union headquarters in Sao Bernardo do Campo

Latin America's largest nation prepared for what would have been unimaginable just a few years ago: the arrest of former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, a once wildly popular leader whose administrations were credited with bringing millions out of poverty in one of the world's most unequal countries.

Judge Sergio Moro issued a warrant for Lula's arrest on Thursday, giving the popular Workers' Party leader 24 hours to surrender himself.

Meanwhile, the former Secretary-General of the Presidency of the Republic, Gilberto Carvalho, in declarations to the digital daily Brazil 247, defended the idea the militancy makes a human cordon around the Metal Workers' Union in San Bernardo del Campo city, and block the arrest of Lula.

Moro said the cell, a separate room with its own toilet, was ready, and that Lula would not be handcuffed - if he came quietly. Early Friday, da Silva waved to supporters from a window at the union but did not speak.

Last year, Moro convicted Lula of trading favours with a construction company in exchange for the promise of a beachfront apartment. "Lula will not be a prisoner in 2018, he'll be president and help the people once more", Swiecik, 31, said.

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.

That writ was later rejected by Brazil's top appeals court: the decision was announced in a court document less than an hour before Lula's deadline to turn himself in to authorities. "As this did not happen, the arrest warrant will now be carried out".




Earlier on Friday, lawyers representing the man who dominated Brazilian politics between 2003 and 2011 submitted a fresh habeas corpus writ after his previous bid to avoid incarceration while his appeals play out was shot down by a 6-5 vote in the Supreme Court shortly after midnight Wednesday. Polls showed the former president topped all candidates ahead of the October election.

It remains to be seen whether he will defy the arrest order in an attempt to wait for a higher court to rule on a last-minute appeal.

But Cassio Goncalves, a labour safety specialist at the union headquarters, said he and fellow members of the Workers Party had not considered alternatives in the presidential race. His conviction is the biggest "Car Wash" scalp by far.

Operation "Car Wash" was named after the service station where agents initially investigated a minor money laundering scheme in 2014, before realizing that they'd stumbled on a gargantuan web of embezzlement and bribery at state oil company Petrobras and right through the political classes.

G1 said detractors traded insults with supporters of "Lula" in the political capital of Brasilia.

In theory, once someone has been convicted and lost a lower court appeal, he or she is barred from running for office under Brazil's clean-slate law.

With Lula out the race, the chances would increase of a market-friendly candidate winning the election, according to analysts and political foes.

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