Brazil rivals Lula, Cardoso hold anti-Bolsonaro meeting

Rio de Janeiro (AFP) –


Brazilian ex-presidents and longtime rivals Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva and Fernando Henrique Cardoso said Friday they had met to discuss their shared opposition to current far-right President Jair Bolsonaro.

Leftist leader Lula (2003-2010), who is eying a run against Bolsonaro next year, confirmed on Twitter he and Cardoso, his centrist predecessor (1995-2002) and political enemy for decades, had met over lunch.

"The ex-presidents had a long conversation on Brazil, our democracy and the Bolsonaro government's negligence in fighting the pandemic," which has claimed nearly 450,000 lives in the country, Lula wrote.

He posted a picture of the pair exchanging a fist bump at the meeting last week in Sao Paulo, both wearing face masks -- a protective measure Bolsonaro has often shunned, along with much of the expert advice on containing Covid-19.

Cardoso meanwhile said he was holding out hope his centrist PSDB party would reach the runoff in the October 2022 presidential race -- but that if not, he would back "whoever is running against the incumbent, even Lula."

"If you don't have a dog, you hunt with a cat," he tweeted.

Lula, 75, has not formally entered the 2022 race. But it is shaping up to be a polarizing battle between him and the man dubbed the "Tropical Trump."

Lula leads Bolsonaro in the polls, and appears to be the only candidate with a chance to unseat him.

It would be the sixth presidential run for the former steelworker and union leader, who lost three elections, including two to Cardoso, before winning the presidency in 2002 and 2006.

Lula presided over a poverty-slashing boom for Latin America's biggest economy, but lost much of his aura when he was jailed for corruption in 2018.

The Supreme Court recently invalidated his convictions, ruling there was bias on the part of the lead judge in the cases, Sergio Moro, who went on to become Bolsonaro's justice minister.