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Profile: Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva

BIRTHDAY: Birth certificate issued years later says October 6, 1945, but Lula says his birthday is really October 27.

BIRTHPLACE: Caetes, Brazil

EARLY YEARS: Lula grew up in Brazi’s northeastern state of Pernambuco, where he was the seventh of eight children. He first saw his father when he was five, 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.

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.

POLITICAL YEARS: Lula and other union leaders founded the Workers’ Party (PT) 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 fuelled an economic boom in Brazil and aided social programmes that lifted millions out of poverty. When he left office at the end of 2010, he had an 87-percent approval rating.

POST-PRESIDENCY YEARS: The end of the commodity boom and economic mismanagement by Lula 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. Rousseff was impeached and replaced by current President Michel Temer, who is himself facing corruption charges.

CONVICTION: Silva was convicted of corruption and money-laundering on July 12, 2017, and sentenced to nine-and-a-half 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.

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