Lula: There will be no coup in Brazil when I defeat Jair Bolsonaro

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A recent visit to Europe is said to have laid the groundwork for more trips abroad this year to burnish his statesman credentials.

European leaders welcomed him with open arms late last year, with Emmanuel Macron, a strong critic of Mr Bolsonaro, hosting him at the Elysee palace, a rare honour signalling support.

On the same trip, Lula went to Italy where he was warmly welcomed by leaders days before Mr Bolsonaro arrived for the G20 summit in which he cut an isolated figure, notably absent from the Trevi Fountains leaders’ photo. Lula is said to be preparing a visit to the UK.

Lula told The Telegraph he would use his foreign policy to push for stronger alliances between Latin American countries that can challenge the US vs China orthodoxy.

“This union will reinforce our sovereignty and our positions in a world that cannot stay in the midst of a new Cold War between the United States and China. We want a multipolar world, where there is more cooperation between countries and less conflict,” he said.

Lula was cleared to make his presidential run by Brazil’s Supreme Court after a year and a half in prison for taking bribes from engineering companies in return for public contracts.

Part of the scandal centred around an apartment that was promised to Lula by a construction company in exchange for helping to arrange lucrative contracts.

Critics, and a large portion of voters, maintain that Lula’s Workers Party is steeped in corruption, and argue his return risks further damage to Brazil’s delicate democracy. His successor, Dilma Rousseff, was impeached for her role in a scandal named Operation Carwash, a massive web of bribery and money laundering that included politicians taking kickbacks from oil companies and a construction firm – and stretched across at least eleven other countries.

Lula told The Telegraph he was a victim of being “pre-judged” over the allegations linking him to the scandal, which have now been quashed.

He said he did not want to pre-judge Boris Johnson over corruption allegations over his No 10 apartment.

“Political parties are groups that defend ideas, who contest elections. If any member of that party did something wrong, he has to be punished within the law, but one cannot confuse the mistakes of an individual with a collective organisation with thousands or millions of people, because that ends up demonising politics,” he said.

He added, “History teaches, whether in Germany in the 1930s or in Brazil in the recent years: when politics is denied, what comes after is always worse.”

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