da Silva, Luiz Inácio

da Silva, Luiz Inácio lo͞oēshˈ ēnäsˈyo͞o dä sēlˈvə [key], 1945–, Brazilian labor leader and politician, known as Lula, b. Vargem Grande (now Caetés), Pernambuco. Born into a poor family, da Silva worked as a child to help support the household. After becoming a metalworker in 1966, he became active in the metalworkers union, rising to its presidency in 1975. An opponent of military rule and a skilled negotiator, he helped to found the Workers' party (PT) in 1980 and the Central Única dos Trabalhadores, a national trade union confederation, in 1983.

In 1986 he was elected to the Brazilian congress and three years later he was the PT candidate for president, coming in second. His presidential runs in 1994 and 1998 ended similarly. Lula and the PT had moved from socialist to social democratic positions by the 2002 race, when he was elected president in runoff with more than 60% of the vote, a result that was partly a repudiation of President Cardoso's free-market policies. Nonetheless, Brazil's first working-class president did not deviate greatly from his predecessor's economic program, steering a largely centrist course. Da Silva was reelected in 2006, again after a runoff. Social programs in conjunction with a centrist economic program and an increase in commodities prices resulted in significant economic growth during da Silva's terms in office. His administration was also successful in controlling deforestation in the Amazon region. Internationally, Brazil's foreign policy under da Silva steered a course between that of the United States and that of Venezuela and other leftist Latin American governments. He was succeeded as president in 2011 by Dilma Rousseff, his former chief of staff and the PT candidate.

In 2016 Rousseff, who faced a political crisis and impeachment, appointed him as her chief of staff, but the appointment, which was seen by some as an attempt to protect da Silva from a corruption investigation, was suspended by the courts. Later in 2016 he was charged with being involved in the Petrobras corruption scandal and with having obstructed the investigation into it; he also faced additional associated corruption charges. He was convicted on one of the corruption charges in 2017 and jailed in 2018, and was convicted on a second corruption charge in 2019. Later that year it was revealed that the judge in the 2017 conviction had apparently coordinated the case with prosecutors. He was released from prison in 2019 after the supreme court ruled that defendants should not be jailed until their appeals were completed.

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