Lula blasts ‘imbecile’ Bolsonaro for mishandling pandemic, economy

By Leonardo Benassatto

SAO BERNARDO DO CAMPO, Brazil (Reuters) – Brazilian former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva blasted the government of President Jair Bolsonaro for mishandling the pandemic and economy in a speech Wednesday marking a return to the political stage after his graft convictions were overturned.

Lula, whose corruption convictions were quashed by a Supreme Court judge on Monday allowing him to try again for political office, said he had not decided whether to run in next year’s presidential election, but his appearance had the feel of a campaign event.

“Health, jobs and justice for Brazil,” read a banner hanging above the stage at the metalworkers union in Sao Bernardo do Campo, where Lula’s political career began as an organizer in the 1980s.

“This country is disorganized and falling apart because it has no government,” he told the audience.

Lula attacked Bolsonaro directly for his record in handling the coronavirus pandemic and the economy. “The people don’t need arms. The people need jobs,” he said, deriding Bolsonaro’s pro-gun policy.

The surprise restoration of Lula’s political rights could set up a showdown between the leftist, who governed Brazil from 2003 until 2011, against Bolsonaro in next year’s election.

A survey by pollster Real Time Big Data, released by CNN Brasil on Wednesday, showed Lula and Bolsonaro with the support needed to reach a second-round vote.

Reporting by Leonardo Benassatto; Writing by Stephen Eisenhammer; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Alistair Bell

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