Mexican president cheers Brazil annulment of Lula’s graft conviction

Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador holds a news conference in Mexico City

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) – Mexican left-leaning President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador celebrated on Friday the decision by a Brazilian Supreme Court to annul graft convictions of the South American nation’s former president, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.

On Wednesday, Lula gave an impassioned speech in the labor union where his political career took off in the 1980s, which had the feel of a campaign launch ahead of next year’s presidential election. However, he said he had not decided whether to run.

“I celebrate that the country’s authorities have exonerated” former President Lula, Lopez Obrador said at his daily morning news conference. “He was imprisoned and faced a whole campaign against him and against the movement he represented.”

Lopez Obrador has repeatedly rejected the concept of “intervention” from other countries but has previously lent a hand to left-wing leaders, including former Bolivian president Evo Morales during a contested election.

He has warm relations with like-minded governments in Argentina and Bolivia, but has rarely talked about Brazil’s current president, right-wing populist Jair Bolsonaro.

Lula, 75, governed Latin America’s biggest country and largest economy between 2003 and 2011, overseeing a commodities boom that turbocharged economic growth.

In 2018, he was convicted of taking bribes from engineering companies in return for public contracts and spent a year and a half behind bars.

(Reporting by Ana Isabel Martinez in Mexico City; Writing by Stefanie Eschenbacher; Editing by Matthew Lewis)

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