Brazil's former President Dilma Rousseff has described her mentor, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, as continuing to dominate political life in the country, despite being incarcerated on questionable corruption charges.
As crowds of Lula supporters continued their march to demand Lula's release towards the city of Moreno on Friday, Rousseff – Brazil's first female head of state, who served between 2011 and 2016 – said: "Lula is approaching the polls."
Rousseff told Cuban journalist Arleen Rodríguez Derivet that the country's right-wing parties, by comparison, have yet to propose a viable candidate for October's general elections.
Drawing a parallel between her own impeachment and the political persecution of Lula by Brazil's ruling right-wing elite, Rousseff said the moves were part of a wider strategy by imperial forces to compromise the nation's sovereignty and seize control of its natural resources.
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"We will never accept that they privatize our heritage," said the economist, who was succeeded following her impeachment by Senate-appointed Michel Temer.
"Lula embodies and represents our ability to contain that blow. The coup is a process that begins with impeachment, continues with a pattern of neoliberal reforms and continues now with the imprisonment of Lula.
"However, we are not going to kneel before U.S. foreign policy. We did not do that in any of the countries in South America that were under neoliberal directions to sell state companies.
"Why did they arrest Lula? Because they know we will not accept any of that; that we will never accept that they privatize our patrimony, our wealth and our banks.
"In Brazil, there is a characteristic: the big movements are silent and approach the polls. I think ours is to bring Lula closer to the polls and preferably place him inside them. Lula is an inmate, but still dominates the political life of the country."