Former Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva acknowledges supporters during a rally at the Metal Workers Union headquarters, in Sao Bernardo do Campo, Brazil, Saturday, Nov. 9, 2019. Da Silva addressed thousands of jubilant supporters a day after being released from prison. "During 580 days, I prepared myself spiritually, prepared myself to not have hatred, to not have thirst for revenge," the former president said. (AP Photo/Leo Correa)

Freed Brazil ex-President tells crowd left can win in 2022

November 09, 2019 - 4:00 pm

SAO BERNARDO DO CAMPO, Brazil (AP) — Freed from prison, former Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva told thousands of jubilant supporters on Saturday that the left can take back the presidency in the 2022 election.

Dressed in a black blazer and T-shirt, da Silva spoke from a stage outside the union near Sao Paulo that he once led and that served as the base for his political career. The crowd of red-clad supporters cheered and waved flags.

"We are going to do a lot of fighting. Fighting is not one day on, then three months off, then back. Fighting is every day," da Silva said. The 74-year-old former leader said he would bring the energy of a 30-year-old to the streets.

In his 45-minute speech, he spoke briefly of conservative President Jair Bolsonaro, who won the 2018 election after da Silva's conviction barred him from running. Da Silva said Brazilians must accept the results of the democratic election and work to defeat the "ultra-right" in 2022.

He also called for solidarity with fellow South American countries and lambasted U.S. President Donald Trump, saying his border wall plan is unacceptable and aimed at keeping out poor people.

"Trump should resolve Americans' problems and not bother Latin Americans. He wasn't elected to be the world's sheriff," da Silva said. In a Twitter post on Friday, he said he backed U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders' presidential campaign.

Brazil's Supreme Court on Thursday ruled that a person can be jailed only after all appeals to higher courts have been exhausted. Da Silva was released the next day, after 19 months imprisonment.

He is still appealing his conviction related to the alleged purchase of a beachfront apartment and remains entangled in other cases. He was also convicted by a lower court judge in a case centered around ownership of a farmhouse in Atibaia, outside Sao Paulo.

If he loses his appeals in either conviction, he could be locked up once again.

Da Silva has denied any wrongdoing and accused prosecutors and Sergio Moro, then a judge and now justice minister, of manipulating the case against him.

Moro said on Twitter earlier that the Supreme Court's decision should be respected, but Congress could alter the constitution to change when convicted criminals start serving their sentences.

Some Brazilian groups organized protests in dozens of cities in support of the Bolsonaro administration, but turnout was low.

Bolsonaro's son, Eduardo Bolsonaro, said on Twitter that da Silva's release will prompt people to set aside differences and unite against the Workers' Party, a sentiment which helped carry his father to the presidency.

President Bolsonaro has refrained from making a statement about da Silva, but Saturday appeared to allude to him on Twitter: "Don't give ammunition to the scoundrel, who is momentarily free, but loaded with guilt."

Da Silva said he had a message for his opponents in power: "I want to say to them: I'm back."

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Jeantet reported from Rio de Janeiro.

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