RIO DE JANEIRO, April 4 — Brazilians around the country took to the streets on Tuesday to support or protest against the arrest of former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva on the eve of the Supreme Court’s ruling on his habeas corpus request.
The former president who was found guilty of corruption by the appeals court in January should have been arrested and started serving his sentence, according to Brazilian law.
However, Lula’s defense team made a habeas corpus request to the Supreme Court, which will be judged on Wednesday.
Opponents of the former president, including some right-wing parties and civil society organizations, as well as the Sao Paulo Industry Federation, called a nationwide protest to put pressure on the Supreme Court to deny the habeas corpus, which would lead to Lula’s arrest.
There were protests in several major municipalities; the largest ones were in populous Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, but a heavy storm aborted the Rio protest halfway.
In Sao Paulo, up to 20,000 protesters turned out after work, and some of them gathered in front of the Industry Federation building, local media reported.
Meanwhile, defenders of Lula also organized rallies in several cities, calling for the habeas corpus to be granted. On Monday, Lula participated in a large political rally to his support in Rio de Janeiro, which gathered thousands of people.
Lula’s presence, or absence, in the presidential election may make significant changes. With him on the run, all polls give the former president a landslide victory; while without him, no other candidate has a secure lead and the result is confusing and even unpredictable to some extent.