Tempers Flare in Brazil Over Intercepts of Calls by Ex-President ‘Lula’
By SIMON ROMERO, NYTPhoto: Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, Brazil’s former president, after he was sworn in as the chief of staff for the current president, Dilma Rousseff, in Brasilia on Thursday. Credit Evaristo Sa/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
MARCH 17, 2016
RIO DE JANEIRO — “In Brazil, a poor man goes to jail when he steals,” a fiery left-wing congressman named Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva said in 1988. “When a rich man steals, he becomes a minister.”
Those words are coming back to haunt him now.
On Thursday, Mr. da Silva, the former president facing investigations into his accumulation of wealth since leaving office, was sworn in as exactly that: a cabinet minister.
With prosecutors seeking his arrest, Mr. da Silva was sworn in as chief of staff to his protégé and successor, President Dilma Rousseff. The post may give him broad legal protections, but immediately set off a national firestorm.
A judge in the capital, Brasília, issued an injunction against the move, arguing that Ms. Rousseff may have violated the law in appointing Mr. da Silva. Protesters rallied outside the ceremony and on the streets of São Paulo as police officers tried to prevent clashes.