Brazil's 'Lula' slams Bolsonaro, avoids comment on a new run

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Former Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva speaks at the Metalworkers Union headquarters in Sao Bernardo do Campo, Sao Paulo state, Brazil, Wednesday, March 10, 2021, after a judge threw out both of his corruption convictions. (AP Photo/Andre Penner)

SAO PAULO – Former Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva criticized incumbent Jair Bolsonaro on Wednesday for the government's failings in the COVID-19 pandemic and the economy, but avoided giving out hints on whether he will make another run for the presidency next year.

Speaking for the first time since his two sentences were annulled by a top judge on Monday, the leftist leader that governed between 2003 and 2010 said Bolsonaro must be stopped from getting reelected, but added the choice of the Workers' Party candidate will come only “at the appropriate time.”

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The 75-year-old did not take himself out of the group of potential bidders.

“Do not be afraid of me,” da Silva said in a press conference at the metalworkers’ union he once headed in Sao Bernardo do Campo, outside Sao Paulo, arguing political dialogue must be restored despite Brazil's divisions. “This country has no government, this country doesn’t take care of the economy, of job creation, wages, health care, the environment, education, young people."

Da Silva also said he will seek advice from business leaders and right-leaning politicians on the fight against COVID-19 and government handouts during the pandemic and job creation.

The former president, who contracted the novel coronavirus during a visit to Cuba in December, said Brazilians should not follow what he labeled as imbecilic decisions of the president during the management of the pandemic, which has killed nearly 270,000 in Brazil so far.

Supreme Court Justice Luiz Edson Fachin annulled two convictions against da Silva arguing the cases were tried in the wrong jurisdiction. That means the ruling may not affect numerous other convictions of powerful businessmen and politicians also swept up in the sprawling “Car Wash” investigations centered on the state-run oil giant Petrobras.

Fachin said in his ruling that da Silva's cases don't have any relationship with Petrobras, as lawyers of the president have argued for years.

Da Silva was jailed in April 2018, missed the general election won by Bolsonaro and got released in November 2019 due to a decision of the country’s top court that a person can be imprisoned only after all appeals have been exhausted.

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