Former Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva woke up in jail yesterday as the first current or former president in Brazil’s modern history to be incarcerated, adding a measure of unpredictability to the country’s upcoming presidential elections.
Foreshadowing possible unrest in the weeks to come, about 500 supporters remained outside of the jail hours after police shot rubber bullets and sprayed tear gas to disperse the crowd. The Workers’ Party said eight people were injured during the previous night’s clashes and one was hospitalized. No serious injuries were reported.
“The police cowardly attacked us last night, but we accept that we have to stay outside the perimeter. We will respect it,” said Roberto Baggio, local coordinator of the Landless Workers’ Movement. “We are expecting people from southern Brazil to arrive here today. We are not leaving until Lula is freed.”
Federal police agents said da Silva did not speak during his transfer from Sao Bernardo do Campo to Curitiba. Da Silva’s fall from grace has unfolded steadily over the past week after the Supreme Federal Tribunal, the country’s top court, ruled against his petition to remain free while he continued to appeal his 12-year sentence for money laundering and corruption. But his prison conditions will not be dismal.
Not considered a formal cell, the 160-square-feet room that has been set aside for the former president is located on the fourth floor of the five-story Federal Police building in Curitiba. It is mostly used as a dormitory for agents visiting from other cities across the country.
Brazilian news site G1 reported that da Silva’s room has bars on the outer side of its single window and none on its door. It has enough space for a single bed and a small table now that its usual bunk beds have been removed. It also has a private bathroom with a toilet and a shower with hot water.
Federal police said da Silva had bread and butter and coffee for breakfast on Sunday morning and was told that he could knock on his room’s door if there was anything he needed. He was also told he would be allowed to watch TV, and police said he was planning to watch his soccer team, Corinthians, play the state championship final against their arch rivals, Palmeiras.
Workers’ Party leader Gleisi Hoffmann said da Silva was in a good mood and that she accompanied the former president until he entered the room where he will serve his sentence.
Meanwhile, opinions about the incarceration of da Silva remained strong in the southern city of Curitiba, which is considered to be the center of the so-called “Car Wash” investigation.
Judge Sergio Moro, who oversees many of the Car Wash cases in the city and ordered da Silva arrested, is often seen as a hero for jailing politicians involved in the widespread corruption scheme.