Explaining Brazil Podcast #7: The implications of Lula’s arrest

Former Brazilian President Lula’s arrest came as a political tsunami in an already tumultuous political landscape. The frontrunner in the 2018 presidential election – who carries 36 percent of voting intentions – is all but excluded from the race.   

The Workers’ Party accuses the judicial system of promoting a witch-hunt against the country’s most popular politician in history. Lula went to prison after a very contested Supreme Court trial, and Chief Justice Cármen Lúcia was accused – even by a fellow justice – of pulling legal maneuvers to obtain a verdict unfavorable to the former president. Supporters have called Lula a political prisoner, and even began a petition asking for him to be considered for the Nobel Peace Prize.

Meanwhile, leaders of the Brazilian military have taken to social media to corner democratic institutions with threats of a political intervention. In a country that has witnessed dozens of military coups over the years, such comments are particularly ominous.

Was the case against the former president a fair prosecution? And what does Lula’s arrest mean to Brazil’s left-wing parties? What is the future of Operation Car Wash? And are the military’s threats to be taken seriously?

This latest episode of Explaining Brazil offers some answers to those questions. And more.

On this podcast

Gustavo Ribeiro has extensive experience covering Brazilian politics and international affairs. His work has been featured across Brazilian and French media outlets, including Veja, Época, Folha de São Paulo, Médiapart, and Radio France Internationale. He is the recipient of multiple awards, including the Abril Prize for outstanding political journalism. He also holds a master’s degree in Political Science and Latin American studies from Panthéon-Sorbonne University in Paris.

Claudio Couto is a political scientist, head of Fundação Getulio Vargas’ master’s program in Public Policy and Administration. He also writes as a columnist for The Brazilian Report.