Brazil's leftists rename themselves 'Lula'

Brasília (Brazil) (AFP) –


Brazil's right-wing politicians breathed a sigh of relief at the imprisonment of ex-president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva but the leftist icon's enemies shouldn't relax: more than 60 "Lulas" just appeared in Congress.

Like an army of clones, members of Lula's Workers' Party in the legislature have changed their names to that of their fiery leader.

The tribute to the disgraced two-term former president -- and gleeful dig at his opponents -- was led by the Workers' Party head, Senator Gleisi Hoffmann.

From now on, she will be referred to in the legislature as Gleisi Lula Hoffmann, she wrote in a letter to the Senate speaker published Wednesday.

That includes every time the speaker wishes to call upon her during debates and the way her name will appear on the electronic voting board.

The party's leader in the lower house, hitherto known as Paulo Pimenta, sent a similar letter: he is now Paulo Lula Pimenta.

The 60 Workers' Party deputies in the lower house have followed suit.

The stunt doesn't go as far as legally changing the politicians' names, but "it's a way to show our solidarity," said a party spokesman.

Lula was convicted of taking a seaside apartment as a bribe and imprisoned Saturday to start serving a 12-year sentence. He says the trial was a plot to prevent him from running in October presidential elections in which he is the current frontrunner.