Brazil: Lula da Silva Conviction Puts Global Left in a Tailspin

Friday, July 14, 2017
By Paul Martin

13 Jul 2017

The shock from left-leaning establishment reporters came loudly on Wednesday: Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva — the “charismatic,” “widely popular,” “iconic,” “commanding” Lula — would finally have to face justice for one of the most expansive corruption schemes in Latin American history.

Lula, the socialist president of Brazil from 2003 to 2011, was convicted of accepting $1.1 million in bribes through the scheme known as “Operation Car Wash.” During his tenure, politicians allowed private contractors to grossly overcharge on projects linked to Petrobras, the state-run oil company. In exchange — and to guarantee further contracts — the contractors would kick back millions in the extra profits, prosecutors claim. As Petrobras is a state company, the money came from the Brazilian taxpayer.

Lula was sentenced to nine and a half years in prison and barred from running for public office for twice that — nineteen years. He faces four more trials on other corruption charges. As his case remains on appeal, he announced his official candidacy for president in the 2018 elections on Thursday.

The conviction has petrified the Brazilian political establishment and baffled American and Western publications, which had taken Lula’s self-crafted image as an honest progressive reformer at face value. Lula’s downfall, many claimed, was all of Brazil’s, not just that of his enablers on the left. His crimes would damage the reputation of the Brazilian people, not socialists, on the world stage.

That framing could not be further from reality. In entrusting their judiciary to a judge like Sergio Moro, who handed down the conviction, the Brazilian people are adding to the mounting evidence that they will no longer tolerate corrupt leftist hucksters who portray themselves as men and women of the people. In taking to the streets for a millions-strong protests to oust Lula’s successor, former Marxist guerrilla Dilma Rousseff, Brazilians have clearly set a mandate for new, robust, free, and fair institutions. The shame here does not lie with Brazil, but with the global left, who nurtured and uplifted Lula, egging him on as he hitched Brazil’s wagon onto the fates of some of the world’s worst political actors.

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