Latin America & Caribbean

Lula da Silva: Brazil ex-first lady Marisa Leticia confirmed dead

Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva and his wife Marisa Leticia. Photo: October 2016 Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Lula said his wife's death was "a sad day for many people across Brazil"

Brazil's former first lady Marisa Leticia da Silva has died, ex-President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva has said.

He said Marisa Leticia - who had been earlier pronounced brain-dead - passed away on Friday evening. She was 66.

The funeral service will be held in Sao Paulo on Saturday and her body will then be cremated.

She was taken to hospital last week with a brain haemorrhage. Doctors later said her condition was "irreversible". Her organs will be donated.

"Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva and his family are sad to confirm the death of Marisa Leticia Lula da Silva," Lula's spokesperson said in a statement.

"The former Brazilian president's wife of 43 years passed away peacefully this evening in Sao Paulo surrounded by her family.

Image copyright Ricardo Stuckert
Image caption Marisa Leticia da Silva on the campaign trail

"The whole family is absolutely devastated by Marisa's untimely death and this is a sad day for many people across Brazil."

Regional leaders have sent their condolences to Lula, and there was a minute's silence in Brazil's Congress.

Marisa Leticia had helped Lula found the Worker's Party, and the former president said in a Facebook message that she had made its first flag.

Profile: Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva

Once adored by many in Brazil, Lula ended his second term in 2011 with an 83% approval rating.

He had boosted Brazil's global profile and overseen rapid economic growth during a commodities boom.

But last year Lula and his wife became ensnared in a far-reaching corruption investigation involving the state oil company, Petrobras.

They said the accusations against them were politically motivated and designed to prevent Lula standing for president again in 2018 elections.

More on this story