‘Lula,’ ex-president of Brazil, in jail for corruption

Lula surrenders to Brazilian police after a three-day standoff

Today's expression: Give voice to
Explore more: Lesson #38
April 16, 2018:

Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, the ex-president of Brazil who was convicted of corruption as part of the country's massive "˜Car Wash' scandal, surrendered to police last week after a tense three-day standoff that pitted his supporters against police. The ex-president is in jail while he appeals his conviction. Plus, we review the English phrase, "give voice to."

Take control of your English

Use active strategies to finally go from good to great

Listen

  • Learning speed
  • Full speed

Learn

TranscriptYour turn
No translationsEspañol中文FrançaisPortuguês日本語ItalianoDeutschTürkçePolski

Lula surrenders to Brazilian police after a three-day standoff

Welcome to Plain English for Monday, April 16, 2018. I’m Jeff and you are listening to the podcast that goes at the right speed for English language learners. On today’s episode, we’ll talk about ex-president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, who surrendered to police after an intense standoff with his supporters in a union headquarters. In the second half of the program, I’ll show you how to use the English phrase, “give voice to.”

Before we get started, I wanted to remind you that you can find a transcript of this episode on our web site, PlainEnglish.com. Today is episode number 38, so go to PlainEnglish.com/38 to read along as you listen. Here’s a quick tip: if you want some practice with speaking, try reading the full text of the episode out loud after you listen. After hearing how all the words are pronounced, you can try reading the same text on your own. I always found that helpful in Spanish; it got my mouth and brain used to forming the right sounds, without worrying about deciding which words to say.

And if you want to get more tips like that, you can sign up for the Plain English emails by going to PlainEnglish.com/mail. Everyone who signs up will get my best tips for practicing English by email. PlainEnglish.com/mail.


Former Brazilian president surrenders after standoff

Former Brazilian Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva—known as Lula—surrendered to police last weekend after an intense showdown between his supporters and police.

Lula was convicted of giving favors to a construction company while he was president in exchange for a beachfront apartment. This was part of the massive “Operation Car Wash” corruption investigation that we talked about here on Plain English a few weeks ago. Lula is also charged with several other counts of corruption, though these other trials have not yet taken place. He was sentenced to 12 years in jail on his first conviction.

He rose from deep poverty to the highest office in Brazil, giving voice to people who were often marginalized. He was one of the most popular leaders in recent history in Latin America and the most iconic leader in Brazil since its return to democracy in 1985. During Lula’s presidency, millions of people rose out of poverty, while education and health care were expanded to some of Brazil’s poorer regions. But today the country is deeply indebted and the economy has grown slowly. The country is beset by corruption among public officials.

As with so much in Brazil, there are two compelling sides to the story. Lula had been convicted of corruption, but has always maintained his innocence in public. He accused the judge, Sergio Moro, of leading a political smear campaign. And he is appealing his conviction and wanted to remain free while the case was under appeal. Even after his conviction, the Workers Party that he started has maintained that Lula will be its candidate for presidential elections in October. He probably won’t be allowed to do that, since Brazilian courts will decide if he is eligible to run for office or not. Under the law in Brazil, people with criminal convictions can’t run for office for eight years.

But Lula, ever the political firebrand, would not go quietly. After his bid to remain free was denied, he still didn’t surrender right away. Instead, he went to a metal-workers’ union headquarters in the suburbs of Sao Paulo, where he started his dramatic political career, and stayed there for three days, surrounded by supporters. He gave an electric political speech, saying that he would face his accusers eye to eye and that he was being jailed by the political elite who resent the help he gave the poor. After the speech, his supporters carried him on their shoulders, chanting “Free Lula.” The move was seen as a way to show the country that he can still command a crowd and energize his many supporters.

After the deadline for him to surrender passed and police came to take Lula into custody, his hundreds of supporters barricaded the ex-president in the union hall and clashed with police. Finally, after three days, Lula fought his way out of the crowd and turned himself into police on a Saturday night. He was hurried away in a police caravan and flown to the city of Curitiba where he will serve his sentence.

With that, he becomes the first president in Brazil’s modern history to be incarcerated. He will be in a 160-square-foot room that has been adapted as a cell just for him. About 500 supporters protested outside the jail; police fired tear gas and rubber bullets in an effort to disperse the crowd.

The drama promises to intensify in the weeks and months ahead. Lula’s conviction is being appealed, so he may go free after all. What’s more, he is actually leading the early preference polls ahead of October’s presidential election, despite the fact that he probably won’t be allowed to run. On the other hand, even though he has a lot of supporters, the majority of the population believes he should be in jail.

One political analyst said there are two narratives: that of Lula, the corrupt and that of Lula, the martyr. And if more people accept the narrative of Lula the corrupt, then this would probably be the end of his dramatic career in the public spotlight.


Before we get to the expression for today, I wanted to say hi and thank you to a few listeners who have written to me this week. Zuleide from Brazil, Mariana who recently moved to the United States from Albania, Tuan from Vietnam, and Jacek from Poland. Jacek says he travels a lot for work and uses the podcast to improve his English on his travels. And finally, I got a really nice note from Aiza from the Philippines, who is great at writing—I can tell that from her note—but working on speaking and listening. Thanks Aiza and everyone else who sent me a note in the last couple of weeks.

If you want to get in touch with the show, you can connect with us on Twitter and Facebook, under the user name PlainEnglishPod or send me an email to jeff [at] plainenglish.com.

Great stories make learning English fun

Starter feature

We speak your language

Learn English words faster with instant, built-in translations of key words into your language

Starter feature

We speak your language

Learn English words faster with instant, built-in translations of key words into your language

Starter feature

We speak your language

Learn English words faster with instant, built-in translations of key words into your language

Starter feature

We speak your language

Learn English words faster with instant, built-in translations of key words into your language

Starter feature

We speak your language

Learn English words faster with instant, built-in translations of key words into your language

Starter feature

We speak your language

Learn English words faster with instant, built-in translations of key words into your language

Starter feature

We speak your language

Learn English words faster with instant, built-in translations of key words into your language

Starter feature

We speak your language

Learn English words faster with instant, built-in translations of key words into your language

Starter feature

We speak your language

Learn English words faster with instant, built-in translations of key words into your language


Plus+ feature

Practice sharing your opinion

Get involved in this story by sharing your opinion and discussing the topic with others

Expression: Give voice to