Brazil’s Bolsonaro and Lula in competition rallies for a taste of the presidential campaign

SAO PAULO: Right-wing Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro and his main rival, left-leaning former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, held competing rallies on Sunday (May 1) that were to become previews of their campaigns for the presidential elections in ‘october.

Supporters of Bolsonaro had called earlier this week for protests against the Supreme Court after he pardoned a congressman sentenced to eight years in prison for threatening judges.

Pardoned Congressman Daniel Silveira told a rally in Niteroi, Rio de Janeiro state, that his arrest last year was “unconstitutional”.

Silveira thanked his fellow congressmen who helped him during his months in prison last year. He was released in November, but the Supreme Court last month sentenced him to more than eight years in prison. Bolsonaro decided to forgive him.

Bolsonaro went to a rally to protest against the Supreme Court in Brasilia on Sunday. In a video feed from one of his social media accounts, Bolsonaro said the protests were “peaceful, in defense of the constitution, democracy and freedom.”

In Sao Paulo, there were simultaneous demonstrations in support of the president and Lula.

In a 15-minute speech, Lula promised his supporters, including many union leaders, that he would “resume negotiations to uphold workers’ rights again” if elected. Lula said he was speaking ahead of becoming an official candidate, with the announcement expected on May 7.

The former president cited the recent finding of the UN human rights committee that Brazilian corruption investigators violated due process by filing a lawsuit against Lula that led to his imprisonment and banning him from stand for election in 2018.

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