Balance of Power: Brazil's Graft Epidemic Claims Iconic Leader

Brazil's Lula Convicted of Corruption

Brazil's most iconic president of modern times, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, is now fighting to stay out of jail.

The federal judge who has overseen the country's sprawling corruption investigation since 2014 sentenced the former leader to almost 10 years for graft and money-laundering - a seismic development in a culture used to impunity for the rich and powerful.

While Lula will appeal, it virtually kills his chances at another presidential run next year and removes what many investors saw as the biggest wildcard for the election. But, for some Brazilians weary of scandal and recession, his fall is also evidence of a generalized rot within the political establishment.

That could pave the way for an outsider. Keep an eye on Jair Bolsonaro, a former army captain who is riding high in the polls. He's been criticized for homophobic and sexist outbursts, but his tough talk on law and order may resonate with Brazilians tired of endless graft scandals. 

All of this comes as President Michel Temer himself faces charges of corruption. The crisis ripping Brazil’s elite apart looks set to get worse before it gets better.

Demonstrators for and against former president Lula argue in Sao Paulo this month 
Photographer: Miguel Schincariol/AFP via Getty Images

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Photographer: Stanley Chen Xi, landscape and a/Moment RM
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