NAME: Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva
BIRTHDAY: Oct. 6, 1945
BIRTHPLACE: Caetes, Brazil
Lula da Silva’s early years: Silva grew up in Brazil’s northeastern state of Pernambuco, where he was the seventh of eight children. He first saw his father when he was 5, though the family was later reunited in the port city of Santos, where they lived a hardscrabble existence. He received little formal education and held many jobs when he was still a child, including shoeshine boy and peanut seller. He began working in a factory at 14 as a metalworker.
Lula da Silva’s Union years: He steadily rose up union ranks and was elected head of a major steel workers union in 1975. He led strikes against Brazil’s military government, which fell in the mid-1980s, and he was briefly jailed when a court ruled a strike illegal.
Lula da Silva’s political years: Silva and other union leaders founded the Workers’ Party in 1980. He was elected to Congress in 1986 with more votes than any other legislator. After two unsuccessful bids for the presidency, he was elected in 2002 as Brazil’s first working-class president and re-elected in 2006. His two-term presidency coincided with strong commodity prices that fueled an economic boom in Brazil and allowed generous social programs to lift millions out of poverty. When he left office at the end of 2010, he had an 87 percent approval rating.
Lula da Silva’s post-presidency years: The end of the commodity boom and economic mismanagement by Silva and his hand-picked successor, President Dilma Rousseff, led to a severe recession and a dive in Rousseff’s popularity. At the same time, a huge bribe and kickback scandal ensnared much of Brazil’s political and business elite, including Silva. Rousseff was impeached and replaced by current President Michel Temer, who is himself facing corruption charges.
Lula da Silva’s conviction: Silva was convicted of corruption and money laundering on July 12, 2017, and sentenced to 9 1/2 years in prison. He will remain free while an appeal is heard. He was accused of receiving a beachfront apartment and repairs to the property as kickbacks from construction company OAS. He denies those allegations as well as other corruption charges he still faces.