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Brazil’s Ex-President Lula Defies 5 p.m. Arrest Deadline

José Chrispiniano, a spokesman for Mr. da Silva, said he did not go to Curitiba partly because he could not afford to make the trip.

“He has no money for that since his assets have been frozen,” the spokesman said in a text message.

It was unclear whether Mr. da Silva, 72, would resist efforts to take him into custody.

The former president’s supporters have been working vigorously to reverse a conviction on corruption and money-laundering charges handed down last July, which appears all but certain to derail his bid to return to the presidency next year.

Photo

Mr. da Silva’s supporters demonstrated on Friday against the warrant for his arrest. Credit Lalo de Almeida for The New York Times

Mr. da Silva has billed himself as a persecuted politician as he has crisscrossed the country campaigning and has vowed to wrest control of the country from the center-right politicians who led the impeachment of his handpicked successor, Dilma Rousseff, in 2016.

Brazilians have been transfixed by the prospect of Mr. da Silva’s imprisonment. For critics of the former president, including leading members of the judiciary, seeing Mr. da Silva behind bars would represent a watershed moment in their embattled quest to root out Brazil’s culture of systemic corruption.

Supporters of Mr. da Silva, meanwhile, see him as victim of underhanded power brokers who whipped up a bogus criminal case to keep him and his party from returning to power.

Mr. da Silva, one of the most transformational leaders of his generation in Latin America, spent Thursday night and Friday at the metalworkers union headquarters in São Bernardo do Campo, a municipality just outside of São Paulo, surrounded by supporters.

The setting provided a powerfully symbolic backdrop for a pivotal moment of his political career. It was here that Mr. da Silva gained prominence as a union leader in the 1970s by railing against the military dictatorship, and where he and fellow leftist leaders formed a political movement that decades later carried him to the pinnacle of power.

Hundreds of supporters camped out in the streets surrounding the building overnight, shouting rallying cries and angling to get a glimpse of the leader whose social programs lifted millions out of poverty.

“We don’t want to surrender, we want Lula in power!” shouted one group of land rights activists, waving red flags.

With the deadline for the surrender order ignored, it was not clear how federal police officials would react.

“We’re here to give Lula strength to resist,” said Maria Aparecida Mattos, 49, who said she qualified for assisted housing as a single working mother under one of Mr. da Silva’s flagship programs. “Today other women don’t have the same hope and that breaks my heart.”

Source: NYT > World

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