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article imageBrazil's Lula to hold vigil for late wife Saturday

By AFP     Feb 3, 2017 in World

Brazil's former president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva will hold a vigil Saturday for his late wife Marisa Leticia before her remains are cremated, he said.

The former first lady's funeral arrangements were released on Lula's social media accounts after the Sirio-Libanes hospital in Sao Paulo officially confirmed she was brain dead following a day of tests.

Marisa Leticia, a veteran labor activist like her husband who was first lady from 2003 to 2011, was pronounced brain dead on Thursday, a condition her doctors said was irreversible.

Tests on Friday cleared the way for her organs to be donated, in keeping with her family's wishes.

The news of her death prompted an outpouring of sympathy for Lula, Latin America's most popular leftist leader, and a minute of silence in Congress on Thursday.

Da Silva, 66, had been treated in intensive care since January 24 with a brain hemorrhage due to a ruptured brain aneurism.

"The wake will be this Saturday at the Metal-Workers' Union of Sao Bernardo do Campo, where former president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva and Marisa Leticia met," said the statement.

"Afterward there will be a private cremation ceremony at the Jardim da Colina cemetary."

Lula ended his rule with sky-high ratings and taking credit for Brazil's economic boom, but his legacy has been badly tarnished by a subsequent recession and a string of corruption charges last year in which his wife was also indicted.

Both Lula and his wife denied any wrongdoing.

Lula's ally and successor in the presidency, Dilma Rousseff, described Da Silva as "a fighter" and called the corruption inquiries "persecution."

"I imagine that Lula's pain now is intolerable," Rousseff said. "We are together president Lula, now and forever."

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