Everything is on the line for Lula. Photo: R.Stuckert
Lula political future could be decided today

Everything is on the line for Lula. Photo: R.Stuckert

Supreme Court Chief Justice Cármen Lúcia has scheduled for today a trial of former President Lula’s request to suspend his prison sentence. The former president was convicted of corruption and money laundering, and sentenced to 12 years and one month in prison.

His arrest could happen as early as Monday, when the appellate court that convicted him will analyze his final appeals. Since the court is not expected to change its initial verdict, everything is on the line for Lula today.

</p> <p>The Chief Justice&#8217;s decision to haste Lula&#8217;s case caught the former president&#8217;s defense off guard. Lula and the Justices who preferred to benefit him were hoping that the Court would judge a generic case similar to Lula&#8217;s &#8211; that would benefit him indirectly. With Cármen Lúcia&#8217;s move, Justices can&#8217;t help Lula without exposing themselves.</p> <p>Arko Advice, a consulting company based in Brasília, <a href="http://www.infomoney.com.br/mercados/politica/noticia/7341928/stf-deve-negar-habeas-corpus-lula-por-placar-votos-aponta">believes</a> that the trial will end in a 6-5 vote against Lula.</p> <h3>The swing Justice</h3> <div id="attachment_3203" style="width: 1710px" class="wp-caption alignnone"><img aria-describedby="caption-attachment-3203" class="size-full wp-image-3203" src="https://brazilian.report/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/weber.jpg" alt="Supreme Court Justice rosa weber" width="1700" height="1134" srcset="https://brazilian.report/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/weber.jpg 1700w, https://brazilian.report/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/weber-300x200.jpg 300w, https://brazilian.report/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/weber-768x512.jpg 768w, https://brazilian.report/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/weber-1024x683.jpg 1024w" sizes="(max-width: 1700px) 100vw, 1700px" /><p id="caption-attachment-3203" class="wp-caption-text">Justice Rosa Weber. Photo: STF</p></div> <p>Justice Rosa Weber, named to the Supreme Court by former President Dilma Rousseff in 2011, will have the trial&#8217;s deciding vote. Weber is the Supreme Court&#8217;s most discrete Justice &#8211; and her votes are the hardest to predict.</p> <p>While she is personally against arrests before all appeals are exhausted (which can take years), she has followed the Court&#8217;s jurisprudence and allowed sentences to be carried out after a verdict in an appellate court.</p> <h3>Has Lula lost his mojo?</h3> <p>In an attempt to avoid losing support from voters &#8211; even after his corruption conviction &#8211; Lula has organized political rallies across numerous cities. His capacity to gather and galvanize massive crowds, however, seems to be dwindling.</p> <p>Lula&#8217;s roadshow was successful in the northeastern region, where he enjoys more popular, but was <a href="https://eleicoes.uol.com.br/2018/noticias/2018/03/21/caravana-de-lula-e-obrigada-a-mudar-de-rota-ao-chegar-a-sao-borja-rs.htm">abysmal</a> in the South. Over two days, the former president and his Workers&#8217; Party received a timid response from their supporters &#8211; even on social media. Moreover, his speeches have been crashed by protesters and hecklers.</p> <p>After two tepid days in the South, Lula&#8217;s campaign team has expressed concerns over whether such a lack of enthusiasm might indicate a deeper trend. As Lula&#8217;s case is close to reaching a definitive verdict in a court of appeals, the former president might soon find himself behind bars. If &#8211; or rather, when &#8211; the politician heads to jail to serve his 12-year sentence, he would want thousands of people protesting to demonstrate that he still has political support.</p> <p>Nevertheless, the former president remains ahead in all presidential polls. A prison sentence, however, would exclude him from the race.</p> <div class="infogram-embed" data-id="a74678ed-4bb6-41d2-8d7d-b651d0303c71" data-type="interactive"></div><script>!function(e,t,s,i){var n="InfogramEmbeds",o=e.getElementsByTagName("script"),d=o[0],r=/^http:/.test(e.location)?"http:":"https:";if(/^\/{2}/.test(i)&&(i=r+i),window[n]&&window[n].initialized)window[n].process&&window[n].process();else if(!e.getElementById(s)){var a=e.createElement("script");a.async=1,a.id=s,a.src=i,d.parentNode.insertBefore(a,d)}}(document,0,"infogram-async","//e.infogram.com/js/dist/embed-loader-min.js");</script> <h3>Tense environment at the Supreme Court</h3> <p>Like few moments in its history, the Supreme Court has been <a href="https://brazilian.report/2018/03/21/brazil-supreme-court-war/">strongly divided</a>. Judges have openly criticized the leadership of the chief justice, and some have used trials to settle differences with colleagues. Yesterday, the Court’s session was suspended after Justices Luís Roberto Barroso and Gilmar Mendes found themselves, once again, in a heated argument.</p> <p>Without naming Barroso, Mendes criticized many of his decisions, to which Barroso replied: &#8220;You are a horrible person, a mix of backwardness and evil, with hints of psychopathy. You are a disgrace to this court.&#8221;</p> <p>Before the session was suspended, Mendes accused Barroso of maintaining ties to the firm where he was employed prior to his court appointment. Barroso denied the accusation without missing an opportunity to strike back, accusing Mendes of recently ruling in favor of a friend who was accused of running a transportation mafia in Rio de Janeiro.

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PowerMar 22, 2018

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BY Gustavo Ribeiro

An award-winning journalist with experience covering Brazilian politics and international affairs. His work has been featured across Brazilian and French media outlets.