Former Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva has formally begun his bid for the presidency, pledging to “rebuild” the Latin American country following what he calls far-right leader Jair Bolsonaro’s “disastrous” regime. “We’re ready to work not only to win the election on October 2nd, but also to rebuild and reform Brazil, which will be much more difficult,” the veteran left-winger said at a demonstration in Sao Paulo on Saturday, marking his return to politics after he was wrongly imprisoned on shady corruption accusations.

Having governed across an accelerated growth period that pulled 30 million citizens out of destitution, the leftist departed government in 2010 as perhaps the most beloved president in the nation’s modern history. Though the official campaigning begins in August, Lula has been campaigning informally from March of last year, shortly after a judge overturned his corruption sentences, which had kept him out of parliament.

He remarked a few days after the judgment: “Politics lives in every cell of my body because I have a cause. I see that all of the programs I developed to aid the poor have been undermined in the 12 years after I left office.” The massive “Operation Car Wash” probe, which began in 2014, found a massive corruption conspiracy focused on the state-run oil corporation Petrobras. Lula was ordered to 26 years in jail after being convicted of various bribery crimes.

He began his prison time in April 2018 and was excluded from that year’s presidential election, in which Bolsonaro secured victory on a tide of anti-Lula sentiment. The Supreme Court eventually concluded that the trial’s leading judge, Sergio Moro, who subsequently became Bolsonaro’s minister of justice, was biased. The matter has been dubbed a conspiracy by Lula. In November of 2019, he was freed awaiting an appeal, although he was forbidden from engaging in any political activity till the 2021 verdict that overturned his corruption convictions.

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