RIO DE JANEIRO, April 2 (Xinhua) -- Brazil's former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva participated on Monday evening in an anti-fascism, pro-democracy political rally in Rio, along with several other prominent left-wing politicians.
The event gathered thousands of people in downtown Rio. Lula, who ruled over Brazil for two terms and intends to run for a third this October, has been facing difficulties in his candidacy.
He was found guilty for corruption and money laundering for supposedly receiving a fancy beachfront apartment as bribe from a construction company.
Lula's defenders said that no proof of the apartment's ownership was found, and evidence was limited to the former president having visited the unit a few times.
The former president appealed the decision, but the appeals court upheld the ruling. With two convictions, Lula could start serving his sentence before all appeals are judged -- which would preclude his participation in the presidential election.
However, he called for a habeas corpus, which will be judged by the Supreme Court on Wednesday. The political act is only the latest in a series of events aimed at raising awareness of the matter and bring support to the former president, who remains well-liked by the majority of the population, and who is in the lead in all polls for every election scenario.
At the rally, the Workers Party's President and Senator Gleisi Hoffman called for a stronger union on the Left.
Politicians gathered at the event also touched on the several acts of political extremism that occurred in Brazil over the past few days, such as the assassination of Rio councilor Marielle Franco and the several attacks on Lula's caravan, which was traveling through Brazil.
"These acts of violence do not divide society between left and right, but between democracy and barbarism. All lives have the same importance. We have political differences, which are essential and must be debated, but fascism must be fought by all of us," said Rio state assembly member Marcelo Freixo.