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  • Lula da Silva

    Lula da Silva | Photo: Reuters

Published 11 April 2018

If Brazil's right-wing politicians thought they'd seen the last of Lula with his imprisonment, they couldn't have reckoned on running into more than 60 new "Lulas" popping up in Congress.

Members of Lula's Workers' Party in the legislature have changed Wednesday their names to that of the party leader as a tribute to the two-term former president and gleeful dig at his opponents.

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From now on, the Workers' Party head, Senator Gleisi Hoffmann will be referred to in the legislature as Gleisi Lula Hoffmann, she wrote in a letter to the Senate speaker published Wednesday. That includes every time the speaker wishes to call upon her during debates and the way her name will appear on the electronic voting board.

The party's leader in the lower house, hitherto known as Paulo Pimenta, sent a similar letter: he is now Paulo Lula Pimenta. The 60 Workers' Party deputies in the lower house have followed suit.

The stunt doesn't go as far as legally changing the politicians' names, but "it's a way to show our solidarity," said a party spokesman.

The backlash, however, has already started. Sostenes Cavalcante, from the small right-wing DEM party, has informed that he will now make Moro his middle name, paying tribute to Judge Sergio Moro, who convicted Lula.

Capitao Augusto, from the right-wing Partido da Republica, insists on becoming Capitao Augusto Bolsonaro — a reference to Jair Bolsonaro, a hard-right former army captain, presidential candidate and scourge of Lula.

Lula was sentenced to 12 years and one month in prison on corruption charges by Brazil's Fourth Regional Federal Court. The Supreme Court of Justice rejected two habeas corpus appeals submitted by his defense team.

Legal experts and observers attribute his case to a salacious media campaign coupled with 'lawfare,' where political foes use loopholes in the judicial system to their advantage, neutralizing their opponents.

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