The life trajectory of Brazil's former President, Luiz Ina'cio Lula da Silva ("Lula") has been extraordinary. Born into extreme poverty, Lula left the presidential office in 2010, after serving two terms, with an unprecedented 86 percent approval rating, seemingly destined to enjoy almost universal respect on the world stage and to be remembered as one of modern history's greatest statesmen. Similar to the post-office path of Tony Blair and Bill and Hillary Clinton, Lula, since his term ended, has amassed great personal wealth by delivering speeches and providing consulting services to global power centers. The moderately left-wing party he co-founded, the Worker's Party (PT), has now controlled the presidency for 14 straight years.
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But all of that, the entirety of Lula's legacy, is now seriously threatened. A grave, widespread corruption scandal involving the national oil company, Petrobras, is engulfing Brazil's economic and political elite, with PT at its center. His protege and handpicked successor, the former anti-dictatorship Marxist guerrilla and current President Dilma Rousseff, faces a credible impeachment threat (now supported by a majority of Brazilians) and widespread unpopularity due to an intractable, severe recession. Senior members of PT have been arrested and imprisoned. Massive street protests, both in favor of and against impeachment, have recently turned ugly, with physical altercations becoming increasingly common.
On Friday, at Lula's Institute in SÃ£o Paulo, I conducted the first one-on-one interview Lula has given since the emergence of these recent controversies. We discussed various aspects of the corruption scandal, the impeachment campaign, the accusations against him, his and PT's political future, and the role of Brazil's dominant right-wing media in inciting a change of government. We also discussed his views on several other hotly debated political issues, including Brazil's new anti-terrorism and spying law, the Drug War, the heinous conditions in the country's prison system, LGBT rights, abortion, and the role of corporate donors in Brazilian elections.Go to The Intercept to watch a video of this interview and read the critical transcript.
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