Brazilian pop musicians call for Lula to be exonerated
RIO DE JANEIRO - Some of Brazil’s most popular musicians called for jailed former president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva to be freed in a concert Saturday in Rio de Janeiro attended by tens of thousands of people.
Da Silva, a leftist ex-president universally known as Lula, was convicted of corruption and money laundering, but his supporters say the sentence was politically motivated.
Saturday’s festival in front of Rio’s iconic Lapa Arch featured household names in Brazil like Chico Buarque and other Latin American musicians.
Da Silva’s image could be seen everywhere: on shirts, bandanas and masks, while his animated image danced on screens next to the stage. In between sets, supporters broke out into chants of “Free Lula!” as organizers urged them to scream loud enough for da Silva to hear them from the southern city of Curitiba.
The former president was jailed there after his corruption conviction was upheld on appeal. He is one of many top politicians and business leaders to get brought down in the so-called “Car Wash” investigation. Launched in 2014, investigators uncovered a colossal corruption scheme in which construction companies used inflated state contracts to kick back millions of dollars to politicians and other officials.
Da Silva’s 12-year sentence divided Brazil, with his critics celebrating a victory against corruption while supporters argue it amounted to a witch hunt.