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South America ‘I'm Lula’ – Brazilian politicians change names to that of jailed former president in solidarity

BRAZILIAN politicians from the opposition Workers Party have adopted the name Lula in an act of solidarity with the country’s jailed former president.

The members of congress made the official name changes as the popular leader began a 12-year sentence for corruption charges on Saturday.

Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva , known as Lula, was expected to sweep to victory in October’s presidential elections and was leading comfortably in polls before he was jailed.

He says the charges are politically motivated following a right-wing coup against then president Dilma Rouseff in 2016 and aimed at preventing him from standing in the elections.

The adoption of the name Lula was initiated by Workers Party leader Gleisi Hoffman who will now be known by the name Gleisi Lula Hoffman in official Congress papers.

She was followed by Paulo Pimenta, the party leader in Brazil’s lower house who is now called Paulo Lula Pimenta.

The former trade union leader has been called Brazil’s most popular politician, serving as president of the country from 2003 to 2011. He initiated a series of social reforms and has been credited with transforming Brazil’s economy.

Michel Temer’s coup-administration has itself been dogged by corruption allegations. It has implemented a neoliberal austerity programme, rolling back many of the social reforms that had lifted thousands out of poverty.

Last week, Ms Hoffman pledged that the party and its supporters would camp out in front of Curbita prison until Mr Lula is released.

“Lula is Brazil’s first political prisoner since the 1988 constitution was passed,” she said.

If Mr Lula is excluded from the election as anticipated, the Workers Party is expected to nominate co-founder Jaques Wagner.

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