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Once Brazil’s president, Lula will have a very different life in jail

Brazil Lula Da Silva
AP Photo/Andre Penner
Brazilian former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva is carried alfot by supporters outside the metallurgic union headquarter in Sao Bernardo do Campo, Brazil, Saturday,…
By Thu-Huong Ha
Published Last updated This article is more than 2 years old.

Riding a literal wave of support, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva is headed to prison.

The massively popular Brazilian former president has been sentenced to 12 years in prison for corruption. A judge ordered Lula to present himself to start that term yesterday at 5pm Curitiba time. In response, Lula holed up at a metalworkers union building outside São Paolo, passing the deadline. But he announced today that he’ll be turning himself in.

Though Lula’s prison sentence will greatly decrease his chances of being able to run Brazil’s October presidential election, for which he is currently favored as the winner, he can still look forward to some special treatment while imprisoned.

Because he’s a former president, Lula will have special quarters away from the general prison population. The room that’s been prepared for Lula’s arrival at the federal police building in Curitiba is normally used for lawyers who need to stay the night while working there, according to the AFP. It’s about 3 by 5 m (or 10 ft by 16 ft, link in Portuguese), with two windows and a private bathroom with hot water.

According to Brazilian paper Estadao, Lula will get similar treatment as general population prisoners when it comes to food—coffee with milk, bread and butter, for breakfast, and a hot lunch and dinner—and weekly family visits.

Still, being physically sequestered from a normal prison may be enough of a privilege: more than 100 inmates died in January 2017 after a spate of gang-related violence broke out across Brazil’s severely overcrowded prisons. On New Year’s Day this year, nine inmates died in another riot.

It’s all quite a change for Lula compared to his recent life. For the eight years he was president, Lula lived in Brasilia in an Oscar Niemeyer-designed building, whose name means “palace of the dawn,” and worked in another opulent Niemeyer building, the Palácio do Planalto, whose columns are meant to invoke the lightness of feathers.

But this isn’t the first time the 72-year-old Lula will experience a prison cell; he was jailed in his former life as an union activist when the country was under military rule.

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