Batman holds a sign in Portuguese: “Lula in prison!” The Supreme Court denied Lula’s habeas corpus plea and now he has five days before being sentenced to jail for his role in the Petrobras crime spree. (AP Photo/Silvia Izquierdo)

If the odds of Brazil’s embattled ex-president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva getting a third shot at the presidency was one in 10, yesterday’s decision by the Supreme Court has now made it zero in 10.

Brazil is the land of appeals, so Lula has until around April 10 to file yet another appeal, this time in a Porto Alegre courthouse. This will keep him out of jail for about a week. His chances of having a judge rule in his favor are, as I’ve said before, like little gray aliens revealing themselves at Area 51.

Lula’s lawyers lost a shot at habeas corpus in the Supreme Court Wednesday evening, with the expected tie-breaker vote by justice Rosa Weber coming down in favor of the two Federal Courts that had earlier indicted the ex-president. He was sentenced to 12 years in prison by an appeals court.

Brazil is quiet on Wednesday. At least a third of the population is in silent mourning. There have been no major protests, no burnt tires blocking roads, no masked avengers in Workers Party red smashing windows of Bradesco banks on Avenida Paulista.

See: Prison Awaits Brazil Ex-President Lula — Bloomberg

When in power, he was the most popular leader in the Americas. He now faces 12 years in prison. Most observers doubt the ex-president will serve a year. (Photographer: Patricia Monteiro/Bloomberg)

Some Workers’ Party voters will hide away today, only open to discussing the matter with like minds to reaffirm their thoughts that Lula is the victim of political persecution. He was once the most popular president in all of the Americas. Barack Obama called him “the man”. Now the man and his legacy as a union leader firebrand who rose to political power is history.

“This is a violation of human rights and other legal guarantees,” says Cristiano Zanin Martins, one of Lula’s lawyers. Martins hinted that they will take this to international human rights tribunals, thus sucking Lula and his family dry of any wealth they have with never-ending legal bills.

Maybe Lula has enough money to pay them.

He was nabbed in the Petrobras bribery and contract rigging schemes; a corruption ring so massive and enmeshed, that once busted it cost Brazil’s biggest company tens of billions of dollars, led to a deep recession and put tens of thousands out of work. Brazil has been in trouble ever since.

The Petrobras investigations blew up the governing class of elites and took a hammer to the legacy of Lula and his Workers’ Party. That party is now a shadow of its former self and has about as much chance of winning the presidency as does Lula.

Again: that’d be zero in 10.

“Upholding Lula’s prison sentence shows that our institutions are functioning and that the population today is more aware of their responsibility when it comes time to vote,” says Marcos Costa, CEO of DMI Group Brazil, a private equity company in Sao Paulo. “I think all of this gives Brazil less investment risk long term, which is good for international investors,” he says.

See: Petrobras To Pay Nearly $2 Billion In Lawsuits Tied To Corruption Scandal — NYT

Traders on the NYSE. Investors bought Brazil stocks Wednesday night after hours and into Thursday.  Investors feared a Lula presidency would not be as prudent as his first go-round. Mainline Brazilians felt it was an embarrassment to the world to have a president who was indicted by two courts and has six more charges against him. Photographer: Michael Nagle/Bloomberg

The iShares MSCI Brazil (EWZ) ETF rose nearly 2% at the opening bell on Wall Street, clobbering the benchmark MSCI Emerging Markets Index.

Well…Wall Street is happy. (Go on, say it…)

“With Lula prison bound and Lula’s shot at the presidency buried, Brazil will start a new economic growth cycle that should last a good five years,” thinks Daniela Casabona, a financial advisor for FB Wealth Management in Sao Paulo.

To his credit, Lula also oversaw a booming economy, though many observers say that was due to liquidity in the West and a commodity boom spurred on by the Chinese.

Regardless, he was still in charge and many people who consider voting for Lula today harken back to those good ole days when Brazilians in the poorer north were finally able to eek out a better living for themselves.

So with Lula gone, who leads?

See: Rio Residents Support Military Intervention In Crime-Ridden City — Datafolha (Portuguese)

Geraldo Alckmin, governor of Sao Paulo State, is from the pro-business Social Democrats. If betting today on who wins without Lula, Alckmin wins on name recognition alone. He once lost his presidential bid to Lula. Photographer: Patricia Monteiro/Bloomberg

Brazilians vote in October.

Generic polls suggest Lula was the favorite out of a pool of mostly boring centrists and one Trump-style candidate named Jair Bolsonaro.  Datafolha surveys had Lula beating them all in the first round, leading to a second-round run-off election, which is customary.

Lula’s lawyers were hoping to at least keep the ex-president free to show the world that Brazilians want him to lead again. None of those polls matter because few have declared their candidacy. Official campaign season does not kick off until after the World Cup ends in July. Lula would not have been allowed to run anyway because of his indictment. He would have needed a miracle from the Electoral Court.

Other candidates include Geraldo Alckmin, the governor of Sao Paulo from the pro-business Social Democrats and ex-Supreme Court justice Joaquim Barbosa. Barbosa might briefly be headline news because he is the first black candidate in a massive African-descent nation. Both men would be seen as good for the economy.

With Lula out of the running, much of the attention, both good and bad, centers on Bolsonaro.  He recently hired Paulo Guedes, a well-known Brazilian investor from BTG Pactual, who will try to rebrand Bolsonaro as more of a Lula-like centrist. Only less of a distributionist, and more of a law and order nationalist. Bolsonaro comes from a very small party.

“Even with Guedes, Bolsonaro’s move to the center is not as legitimate as Lula’s was,” says Roberto Simon, a Brazil specialist with FTI Consulting in New York.

Brazil’s next presidential campaign bans companies from donating money to politicians. Politicians will be publicly funded based on the size of their party. Bigger parties get bigger funding, so that is a negative for Bolsonaro because he will have a harder time raising money.

See: Brazil’s Next President Will Be A Boring Centrist — Forbes

Brazilian Congressman Jair Bolsonaro is not an anti-establishment figure, though he is cut from the same cloth. Fiercely nationalist, and a law and order type. Lula’s blue-collar workers, especially those in crime-ridden Rio, could easily go for this man. Photographer: Christopher Goodney/Bloomberg

Lula’s demise comes at a time when an independent judiciary, led by Petrobras crime fighting judge Sergio Moro, is actually, honest-to-God, draining the swamp. A-list executives have been locked up. Top politicians are in jail.

Lula’s prison is a bad sign for other politicians who will face similar probes once out of office, which leads many to believe Lula won’t last a year in prison. He will be released. He will live his life a free man. But his passion for politics will get him nowhere. Like a struggling artist, the Supreme Court’s decision yesterday basically made Lula a has-been. He can go home and write novels. Netflix will turn it into a movie.

He had a good run. Now it’s over. Petrobras did him in. No Petrobras scandal and Lula probably gets a third term.

On a personal note, I remember hearing Lula’s campaign jingles on white vans with speakers tied to the rooftop, going up and down the road outside my house in 2002. It was a catchy tune. Upbeat and hopeful.

Lula 2002 was like Obama 2008, on steroids. Brazil was in debt. Its Social Democratic Party leadership followed the Washington Consensus/IMF neoliberal playbook to the letter and it won them no accolades. People turned on them. Even the white middle class in the south, which is their base. They voted for Lula because they wanted change.

Lula’s victory marked his third shot at the presidency. He was held up as an example of the new Brazilian; poor, from the northeast, but a go-getter. The Brazilian Dream incarnate.

Under Lula’s leadership, the poor became richer. The rich became richer. The middle class lost their maids and nannies to new jobs, but they kept theirs and bought new cars.

When Lula won, I told a close friend of mine, “I’m going to get me one of those PT shirts with the red star.” PT stands for Workers’ Party in Portuguese.

“Bad idea, Ken,” he told me. He voted for Lula. “You never know what these guys will do. They may be hated a few years from now.”

It didn’t seem that way in November of 2002 when Lula gave his first speech as President-Elect at the Intercontinental Hotel in Sao Paulo. He was late, obviously. The room was packed to the rafters. Against the wall was a row of cameras with zoom lenses two feet long. All walks of life were in there.

I remember when Lula walked into the room, looking a hell of a lot younger and healthier than he does today following his bout with cancer in 2012. The world stopped when he walked in. People stood up. Camera flashes went off in white firework explosions. People clapped, I swear in slow motion.

The emotion in the room was palpable and I remember this distinctly because I had tears in my eyes.  I too grew up from a riff-raff family of men with cut off fingers from hard labor. My mom was a maid without a high school education. I got this. I understood this.

I can imagine how the Lula fans are feeling today. This is a fallen icon, for sure.

But for just as many, if not more, Lula ransacked Brazil. His time is up.

I lost thousands in Petrobras, enough to put my kid through a year of college. I still own it. It’s never recovered from where I bought it starting in 2008.

See: ‘Chicago Boy’ Helps Calm Wall Street About Bolsonaro — Bloomberg

The word “Justice” is painted on the back of a demonstrator during a protest supporting the imprisonment of former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva in Sao Paulo, Brazil, on Tuesday, April 3, 2018. Photographer: Rodrigo Capote/Bloomberg

“Lula and the Brazilians that support him want to tell the world that the Petrobras investigation is a conspiracy against him, and the people of Brazil, too,” says Simon. “This is a hard sell, especially when you see corporate executives in jail. These guys used to be untouchable.”

There is more to come in the Lula drama. But for sure he will never be president of Brazil again.

“I don’t think the Supreme Court’s decision is the threat to Brazil democracy Lula’s lawyers make it out to be,” says Simon, a Brazilian himself. “Even if a part of the electorate thinks Lula’s chance at being president was stolen and therefore you have an illegitimate president, I don’t think their story will be a significant one enough to hurt Brazil.”

“>

Batman holds a sign in Portuguese: “Lula in prison!” The Supreme Court denied Lula’s habeas corpus plea and now he has five days before being sentenced to jail for his role in the Petrobras crime spree. (AP Photo/Silvia Izquierdo)

If the odds of Brazil’s embattled ex-president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva getting a third shot at the presidency was one in 10, yesterday’s decision by the Supreme Court has now made it zero in 10.

Brazil is the land of appeals, so Lula has until around April 10 to file yet another appeal, this time in a Porto Alegre courthouse. This will keep him out of jail for about a week. His chances of having a judge rule in his favor are, as I’ve said before, like little gray aliens revealing themselves at Area 51.

Lula’s lawyers lost a shot at habeas corpus in the Supreme Court Wednesday evening, with the expected tie-breaker vote by justice Rosa Weber coming down in favor of the two Federal Courts that had earlier indicted the ex-president. He was sentenced to 12 years in prison by an appeals court.

Brazil is quiet on Wednesday. At least a third of the population is in silent mourning. There have been no major protests, no burnt tires blocking roads, no masked avengers in Workers Party red smashing windows of Bradesco banks on Avenida Paulista.

See: Prison Awaits Brazil Ex-President Lula — Bloomberg

When in power, he was the most popular leader in the Americas. He now faces 12 years in prison. Most observers doubt the ex-president will serve a year. (Photographer: Patricia Monteiro/Bloomberg)

Some Workers’ Party voters will hide away today, only open to discussing the matter with like minds to reaffirm their thoughts that Lula is the victim of political persecution. He was once the most popular president in all of the Americas. Barack Obama called him “the man”. Now the man and his legacy as a union leader firebrand who rose to political power is history.

“This is a violation of human rights and other legal guarantees,” says Cristiano Zanin Martins, one of Lula’s lawyers. Martins hinted that they will take this to international human rights tribunals, thus sucking Lula and his family dry of any wealth they have with never-ending legal bills.

Maybe Lula has enough money to pay them.

He was nabbed in the Petrobras bribery and contract rigging schemes; a corruption ring so massive and enmeshed, that once busted it cost Brazil’s biggest company tens of billions of dollars, led to a deep recession and put tens of thousands out of work. Brazil has been in trouble ever since.

The Petrobras investigations blew up the governing class of elites and took a hammer to the legacy of Lula and his Workers’ Party. That party is now a shadow of its former self and has about as much chance of winning the presidency as does Lula.

Again: that’d be zero in 10.

“Upholding Lula’s prison sentence shows that our institutions are functioning and that the population today is more aware of their responsibility when it comes time to vote,” says Marcos Costa, CEO of DMI Group Brazil, a private equity company in Sao Paulo. “I think all of this gives Brazil less investment risk long term, which is good for international investors,” he says.

See: Petrobras To Pay Nearly $2 Billion In Lawsuits Tied To Corruption Scandal — NYT

Traders on the NYSE. Investors bought Brazil stocks Wednesday night after hours and into Thursday. Investors feared a Lula presidency would not be as prudent as his first go-round. Mainline Brazilians felt it was an embarrassment to the world to have a president who was indicted by two courts and has six more charges against him. Photographer: Michael Nagle/Bloomberg

The iShares MSCI Brazil (EWZ) ETF rose nearly 2% at the opening bell on Wall Street, clobbering the benchmark MSCI Emerging Markets Index.

Well…Wall Street is happy. (Go on, say it…)

“With Lula prison bound and Lula’s shot at the presidency buried, Brazil will start a new economic growth cycle that should last a good five years,” thinks Daniela Casabona, a financial advisor for FB Wealth Management in Sao Paulo.

To his credit, Lula also oversaw a booming economy, though many observers say that was due to liquidity in the West and a commodity boom spurred on by the Chinese.

Regardless, he was still in charge and many people who consider voting for Lula today harken back to those good ole days when Brazilians in the poorer north were finally able to eek out a better living for themselves.

So with Lula gone, who leads?

See: Rio Residents Support Military Intervention In Crime-Ridden City — Datafolha (Portuguese)

Geraldo Alckmin, governor of Sao Paulo State, is from the pro-business Social Democrats. If betting today on who wins without Lula, Alckmin wins on name recognition alone. He once lost his presidential bid to Lula. Photographer: Patricia Monteiro/Bloomberg

Brazilians vote in October.

Generic polls suggest Lula was the favorite out of a pool of mostly boring centrists and one Trump-style candidate named Jair Bolsonaro. Datafolha surveys had Lula beating them all in the first round, leading to a second-round run-off election, which is customary.

Lula’s lawyers were hoping to at least keep the ex-president free to show the world that Brazilians want him to lead again. None of those polls matter because few have declared their candidacy. Official campaign season does not kick off until after the World Cup ends in July. Lula would not have been allowed to run anyway because of his indictment. He would have needed a miracle from the Electoral Court.

Other candidates include Geraldo Alckmin, the governor of Sao Paulo from the pro-business Social Democrats and ex-Supreme Court justice Joaquim Barbosa. Barbosa might briefly be headline news because he is the first black candidate in a massive African-descent nation. Both men would be seen as good for the economy.

With Lula out of the running, much of the attention, both good and bad, centers on Bolsonaro. He recently hired Paulo Guedes, a well-known Brazilian investor from BTG Pactual, who will try to rebrand Bolsonaro as more of a Lula-like centrist. Only less of a distributionist, and more of a law and order nationalist. Bolsonaro comes from a very small party.

“Even with Guedes, Bolsonaro’s move to the center is not as legitimate as Lula’s was,” says Roberto Simon, a Brazil specialist with FTI Consulting in New York.

Brazil’s next presidential campaign bans companies from donating money to politicians. Politicians will be publicly funded based on the size of their party. Bigger parties get bigger funding, so that is a negative for Bolsonaro because he will have a harder time raising money.

See: Brazil’s Next President Will Be A Boring Centrist — Forbes

Brazilian Congressman Jair Bolsonaro is not an anti-establishment figure, though he is cut from the same cloth. Fiercely nationalist, and a law and order type. Lula’s blue-collar workers, especially those in crime-ridden Rio, could easily go for this man. Photographer: Christopher Goodney/Bloomberg

Lula’s demise comes at a time when an independent judiciary, led by Petrobras crime fighting judge Sergio Moro, is actually, honest-to-God, draining the swamp. A-list executives have been locked up. Top politicians are in jail.

Lula’s prison is a bad sign for other politicians who will face similar probes once out of office, which leads many to believe Lula won’t last a year in prison. He will be released. He will live his life a free man. But his passion for politics will get him nowhere. Like a struggling artist, the Supreme Court’s decision yesterday basically made Lula a has-been. He can go home and write novels. Netflix will turn it into a movie.

He had a good run. Now it’s over. Petrobras did him in. No Petrobras scandal and Lula probably gets a third term.

On a personal note, I remember hearing Lula’s campaign jingles on white vans with speakers tied to the rooftop, going up and down the road outside my house in 2002. It was a catchy tune. Upbeat and hopeful.

Lula 2002 was like Obama 2008, on steroids. Brazil was in debt. Its Social Democratic Party leadership followed the Washington Consensus/IMF neoliberal playbook to the letter and it won them no accolades. People turned on them. Even the white middle class in the south, which is their base. They voted for Lula because they wanted change.

Lula’s victory marked his third shot at the presidency. He was held up as an example of the new Brazilian; poor, from the northeast, but a go-getter. The Brazilian Dream incarnate.

Under Lula’s leadership, the poor became richer. The rich became richer. The middle class lost their maids and nannies to new jobs, but they kept theirs and bought new cars.

When Lula won, I told a close friend of mine, “I’m going to get me one of those PT shirts with the red star.” PT stands for Workers’ Party in Portuguese.

“Bad idea, Ken,” he told me. He voted for Lula. “You never know what these guys will do. They may be hated a few years from now.”

It didn’t seem that way in November of 2002 when Lula gave his first speech as President-Elect at the Intercontinental Hotel in Sao Paulo. He was late, obviously. The room was packed to the rafters. Against the wall was a row of cameras with zoom lenses two feet long. All walks of life were in there.

I remember when Lula walked into the room, looking a hell of a lot younger and healthier than he does today following his bout with cancer in 2012. The world stopped when he walked in. People stood up. Camera flashes went off in white firework explosions. People clapped, I swear in slow motion.

The emotion in the room was palpable and I remember this distinctly because I had tears in my eyes. I too grew up from a riff-raff family of men with cut off fingers from hard labor. My mom was a maid without a high school education. I got this. I understood this.

I can imagine how the Lula fans are feeling today. This is a fallen icon, for sure.

But for just as many, if not more, Lula ransacked Brazil. His time is up.

I lost thousands in Petrobras, enough to put my kid through a year of college. I still own it. It’s never recovered from where I bought it starting in 2008.

See: ‘Chicago Boy’ Helps Calm Wall Street About Bolsonaro — Bloomberg

The word “Justice” is painted on the back of a demonstrator during a protest supporting the imprisonment of former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva in Sao Paulo, Brazil, on Tuesday, April 3, 2018. Photographer: Rodrigo Capote/Bloomberg

“Lula and the Brazilians that support him want to tell the world that the Petrobras investigation is a conspiracy against him, and the people of Brazil, too,” says Simon. “This is a hard sell, especially when you see corporate executives in jail. These guys used to be untouchable.”

There is more to come in the Lula drama. But for sure he will never be president of Brazil again.

“I don’t think the Supreme Court’s decision is the threat to Brazil democracy Lula’s lawyers make it out to be,” says Simon, a Brazilian himself. “Even if a part of the electorate thinks Lula’s chance at being president was stolen and therefore you have an illegitimate president, I don’t think their story will be a significant one enough to hurt Brazil.”

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