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The Next Step For Brazil's Lula

July 16, 2017

LULU GARCIA-NAVARRO, HOST: He was the most important democratically elected leader in the region while he governed Brazil, a former steel worker and union organizer with a fourth-grade education who rose to power as a leftist hero of the neglected poor in Latin America's most populous and economically powerful nation. In a stunning fall from grace, former president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva was sentenced to more than nine years in prison on corruption and money laundering charges this past week. He remains free while he appeals the case. But it's another shock to a country that's being racked with political scandal and instability. In our New York studios to talk about Lula is Brian Winter. He's the editor-in-chief of Americas Quarterly magazine. Welcome to the program, Brian.

BRIAN WINTER: Happy to be here.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: So I covered Brazil. So did you. Lula loomed so large over the psyche of Brazil and the continent. What is the significance of this sentence?

WINTER: Well, you know, Lula to his supporters is an Abe Lincoln-type figure. He is the face of the working class that accomplished something. I mean, he was Brazil's first president who came from poverty. He ran for president three times and lost. And then when he finally got in, he had in some respects the good fortune of presiding over a commodities boom. And therefore, 30 million Brazilians came out of poverty and into the middle class during his presidency from 2003 to 2010. Since then, as you know, things have fallen apart. And he had a role in that, a role in the economic mismanagement but also a role in the corrupt ways of doing business in politics...

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