Venezuelan socialist dictator Nicolás Maduro mourned a court order allowing for the imprisonment of former Brazilian president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva on a 12-year prison sentence for corruption.
Brazil’s Supreme Court ruled early Thursday morning that Lula, 72, must begin his sentence after they rejected his habeas corpus petition by six to five following a marathon session watched by millions of people.
“Not just Brazil, the whole world embraces you @LulapeloBrasil,” Maduro wrote on Twitter, accompanied by a photo of Lula hugging his supporters. “This injustice hurts in the soul. The right, unable to win democratically, chose the judicial process to intimidate the popular forces,” he continued. “Sooner or later, the Great Country will triumph.”
No solo Brasil, el mundo entero te abraza @LulapeloBrasil. Duele el alma esta injusticia. La derecha, ante su incapacidad de ganar democráticamente, eligió el camino judicial para amedrentar a las fuerzas populares. Más temprano que tarde vencerá la Patria Grande. #LulaValeALuta pic.twitter.com/r3wZanZLFm
— Nicolás Maduro (@NicolasMaduro) April 5, 2018
While in office from 2003 to 2011, Lula developed a close alliance with the administration of former Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chávez, as well as other left-wing leaders across the region such as Argentina’s Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, Bolivia’s Evo Morales, and Cuba’s Raúl Castro.
The upholding of Lula’s conviction will, therefore, come as another blow to the Maduro regime, which is finding itself increasingly isolated as neighboring countries and international bodies condemn its egregious human rights violations and its war on Venezuela’s democratic institutions.
In the run-up to Wednesday’s final decision, Lula had been leading all the polls for Brazil’s upcoming general election, although his sentence will now make it almost impossible for him to run. A poll taken in February indicated that almost one in four Brazilians were not aware of his conviction.
The election of a socialist president sympathetic to Maduro would provide him with a much-needed regional ally, particularly in the Organization of American States (OAS). Governments in Colombia, Argentina, and Peru have all expressed support for United States-led sanctions in a bid to help squeeze the regime.
Tensions between both Venezuela and Brazil have risen since the inauguration of the centrist former vice president Michel Temer, who recently revealed his engagement in a “diplomatic confrontation” with Maduro over Venezuela’s growing exodus of refugees.
Tens of thousands of Venezuelans have crossed the border into Brazil to flee the country’s ongoing economic and humanitarian crisis, requiring Brazilian authorities to improve security along their northern border. Last year, the Brazilian government also suspended sales of tear gas to Venezuela in response to increasing police violence against civilians.