Freed From Jail, Lula’s Ready to Fight in Latin America

Vinícius Andrade and Jorgelina do Rosario

(Bloomberg) -- Brazil’s former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva has pledged to travel around Latin America, offering support for leftist leaders at a moment when the region is engulfed by growing political turmoil.

“I’m finally free and willing to fight,” Lula said in a video message that was broadcast at the Puebla Group’s meeting in Buenos Aires on Saturday. “I’m willing to walk across Brazil and travel around Latin America,” said the 74-year-old politician, who walked out of jail on Friday following a top court decision that reversed rules for imprisoning convicts.

In a three-minute message, Lula bashed Latin America’s elite and defended focusing on jobs and income distribution in order to improve life quality in the region. Argentina’s President-elect Alberto Fernandez “can do that and be an example to other countries,” he said.

The Puebla Group, which is a body created in July that brings together left-wing leaders from the region, is discussing priorities for Latin America during a meeting this weekend. Former presidents such as Brazil’s Dilma Rousseff, Uruguay’s Jose Mujica, Paraguay’s Fernando Lugo and Spain’s Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero are some of its higher-profile members.

On Saturday, Lula addressed a crowd of supporters gathered in front of a metalworkers union headquarters outside the city of Sao Paulo, criticizing the Carwash corruption probe and the market-friendly agenda that is being implemented by President Jair Bolsonaro’s administration.

“They need to explain why they’re presenting an economic project that will impoverish the Brazilian society even more,” Lula said. “I can’t see them destroying the country we built.”

(Updates with Lula’s speech after fourth paragraph.)

To contact the reporters on this story: Vinícius Andrade in São Paulo at vandrade3@bloomberg.net;Jorgelina do Rosario in Buenos Aires at jdorosario@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Brad Olesen at bolesen3@bloomberg.net, Matthew G. Miller, Tony Czuczka

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