Tag Archives: PT

Vatican: Brazil’s ex-President Lula in custody

Lula addresses crowd before handing himself over to police
Lula addresses crowd before handing himself over to police / RTE

Brazil`s most popular ever ex-President is in custody, beginning a twelve year jail term for corruption convictions he strenuously denies, accusing political foes of sabotaging his bid as the front runner of competing in October’s Presidential Election.

By James Blears 8 April 2018

Luiz Inacio Lula Da Silva decided to go to familiar territory, at the Metal Workers Union in his home town of Sao Bernado de Campo and hold out for two days, before exiting the building, wading through a crowd of supporters, to reach Brazilian Federal Police, who took him into custody.

Earlier in the day, alongside his impeached successor Dilma Rousseff, Lula  delivered an almost hour long impassioned speech. He said: “I`m not above the law. If I didn’t believe in it I wouldn’t have started a political party, but a revolution.  I`m not afraid, I`m not running and I`ll prove my innocence.”

He accuses his enemies of preventing him from competing in October`s Presidential Election, but vows he`ll be back.

Lula has been convicted of money laundering and accepting a luxury seaside apartment from engineering firm Odebrecht, now known as OAS.  He denies all of the charges

President of Brazil from 2003-2011, Lula`s social programs are credited in lifting more than 20 million Brazilians out of dire poverty and changing a nation. The biggest name to be felled by the so called “Carwash Scandal,” Lula is determined to go down politically fighting and re-arise. A survivor of throat cancer, Lula aged 72, confirms he`s now preparing for the biggest political battle of his life, in challenging a 19 year ban on running for office and getting out of jail.

Report of the Facts and Plots to Oust President Dilma Rousseff

This is the translated chapter of a book available online in Portuguese, “Brazil 2016 – Recession and Coup” published by the Perseu Abramo Foundation, reporting on some of the tricks and illegalities that were used to overthrow the then President, Dilma Rousseff.

My intention in publishing this article is to promote understanding of what is going on in Brazil now, by giving an explanation in part of how we got here. It shows that there was deliberate effort against the project for the country implemented by the Worker’s Party (PT) and how this relates to the imprisonment without evidence of Lula, the President of Brazil prior to this coup. This imprisonment has been done in order that he not be able to stand in the national elections again in October of this year, where he is clear favourite in the opinion polls, with more votes than all other contenders combined.

The full list of chapters is as follows:

Political Crisis of Alliances and the Construction of Public Opinion

Economic Impasses

Construction of Coup

The Programmatic Agreement

The International and Regional Picture

Report of the Facts and Plots to Oust President Dilma Rousseff

The Coup Against the State

The Anti-social Policy

The Economic Policy

The Coup d’État Against Regional Development

The Political Struggle After The Coup

Report of the Facts and Plots to Oust President Dilma Rousseff

On the 2nd of December 2015, the then President of the Congress in Brazil, Eduardo Cunha, of PMDB party for Rio de Janeiro, authorized the opening of the impeachment process of President Dilma Rousseff. The coup was thus for­mally begun, which was to be consummated on the 31st of August 2016, with the final voting in the Federal Senate, culminating in the definitive removal of the elected President. This chapter relates the succession of facts that led to that result, demonstrating the putschist offensive and the consequent overthrow of the democratically elected government.

FROM THE ACCEPTANCE OF THE IMPEACHMENT PROCESS THROUGH TO THE SETTING IN MOTION OF THE PROCESS IN THE CHAMBER

The month of December 2015 showed the outline of how the coup against President Dilma Rousseff would be. The leadership of Eduardo Cunha (PMDB) in this effort became evident, from the acceptance of the impeachment through the most diverse attempts at manoeuvres in favour of the process, demonstrating his activity as Presi­dent of the Lower House as determinant in weakening the Dilma government and for the consummation of the coup. The tone was set for the coup attempt by the PMDB and by Michel Temer, as well as the media, and the most diverse inter­ventions by the Supreme Federal Court (STF) in the process.

The President of the Lower House, who had already received various motions for impeachment from the opposition, himself had a process underway against him in the Council of Ethics for having lied in the Commission of Inquiry into Petrobras when he affirmed not to have accounts abroad1. Bargaining for his political survival, he blackmailed the Worker’s Party (PT) caucus within the Council, but they did not accept his proposal and declared their vote in favour of his disenfranchisement. On the same day, Cunha accepted the motion for impeachment filed by Janaina Paschoal, Miguel Reale Junior and Hélio Bicudo. The justification for this motion, a process which in accordance with the Federal Cons­titution requires proof that the person has committed the crime non-compliance, accused the President of the Republic of acting against the Law of Fiscal Responsibility and the attributions of the Execu­tive by delaying the passing of funds from the State banks and that these funds were used in the Budget without authorization from the National Congress, the charge merely being the excuse for the coup being plotted.

Less than one week afterwards, a letter was published from the then Vice-President Michel Temer to Dilma Rousseff breaking off their relationship. Temer, who months before had left the post of political articulator in the government, declared in his letter that he felt like a “decorative Vice-President”, affirming to the President that she “had no confidence in myself and the PMDB, now and will not have tomorrow”. The loyalty Temer attributed to himself and to the PMDB was not sustained by the facts, with the right to launch a plan for government through the foundation of the party, called the “Temer Plan”, the document “A Bridge to the Future” (Fundação Ulysses Guimarães, 2015). The party had been divided for some time around the support for Dilma Rousseff2, with intense pressure for more posts and ministries, always attended to by the government. Meanwhile, Temer intensified his talks with the putschist opposition. According to the newspaper O Estado de S. Paulo, Temer had left the post of political articulator in the Dilma government in August 2015, to come closer to the opposition and the right-wing PSDB party and to guarantee support for a future government (O Estado de S. Paulo, 2015). Thus, it became clear that the Vice-President’s inten­tion was to conspire against the voting alliance he had been part of and against the programme on which it was elected.

The day after the letter was published, there was the first attempt at manoeuvring by Eduardo Cunha in favour of the impeachment, as well as the first interference by the Federal Supreme Court in the process: in articulation with the opposition, Cunha opened a gap for dis­sident Congressmen within his own party to form an alternative alliance in­dicated by the caucus leadership. This enabled a distortion, which meant that the Special Commission that would analyze the motion to be with a pro-coup majority, which did not reflect the composition of the House at that time, as the government still had a sufficient majority to block the process. In reaction to the manoeuvre, the Communist Party of Brazil (PCdoB) filed a suit in the Supreme Court questio­ning the whole method of formation of the Commission, which included a secret vote, division of the commission into blocks and not into parties, as well as the absence of indication of leadership by the caucuses. The action was received by the Justice Edson Fachin, who suspended the impeachment process for definition of the whole set of rules and formalities that regulated the process. Thus, the composition of the commission as articulated by Cunha was annulled.

In less than ten days, the Supreme Federal Court defined what the procedure was to be adopted during the impeachment process of President Dilma Rousseff. Thus, the process in Congress was to be run according to the following rules: otherwise than as articulated by Cunha, the Impeachment Commission was to be chosen through the sole ballot sheet indicated by the party leaders, with open voting. After the setting up, Dilma would have ten sessions to defend herself, and the final report was to be voted on after five sessions, and afterwards by the plenary. If approved by the House, the Senate would decide on continuing the process or otherwise, removing the President in the former case. After the removal, a judgement would be begun by the Senators to define the definitive condemnation or absolution. Despite the formal definitions of the impeachment procedure, the Supreme Court did not judge the merits, i.e. the veracity of the facts about coup, providing a false air of legality to condemn a President who had not committed any crime of responsibility.

In the midst of such a huge impasse, with the Legislature going into recess, the government replaced the Minister of Finance, Joaquim Levy, for the then Minister of Planning, Nelson Barbosa, as a way of reverting the economic situation, damaged after the fiscal adjustment. Only in February 2016 was the impeachment to be given a new look after Congress appealed against the definition of the procedure in the full Supreme Court, adding further delays to the process. Thus, a breach was opened for further damage to the government, with its support base diminishing and the votes that would have guaranteed its survival migrating little by little to the opposition, with intense efforts by Temer and his allies negotiating posts and ministries in the composition of his future putschist government.

In the three months it took to define the procedure setting up the Commission in the House, the putschists spared no efforts to damage the legitimate government: the media ope­rations concerning the Operation Lava Jato were intensified with the clear purpose of attacking and sabotaging the Dilma government, the Worker’s Party and ex-President Lula, as will be explained further. With all the pyrotechnics at their disposal, the marketer João Santana and his wife were imprisoned, whilst the media published on magazine covers, in their headlines and prime time reports the contents of the illegal leaking of the plea bargain by ex-Senator Delcidio do Amaral, filled with unfounded accu­sations. In the midst of this huge attack by the putschists, large demonstrations were organized against the government and in favour of impeachment, which according to the opinion poll studies carried out by Perseu Abramo Foundation Public Opinion and Studies Nu­cleus, were far from representing the “people”, as people within their number and enthusiasts bragged. According to the studies, those present were mostly men (54%), white (70%) and upper-middle class (68% earned more than five times the minimum wage), a profile quite distinct from the Brazilian population (Perseu Abramo Foundation, 2016). Nevertheless, recordings were later published in a report on the UOL portal of one of the leaders of Movimento Brasil Livre (MBL) in which it was affirmed that the group obtained funding for these demonstrations from political parties such as DEM, PSDB and PMDB. At the time, the PMDB had not yet officially split from the Dilma government. According to the report:

“The movement also negotiated finan­cial assistance with the PSDB Youth for their logistics, such as payment of food and rental of buses, and was supported by DEM ‘party machinery’. […] The PMDB had paid for the printing of leaflets for the MBL to publicize the pro-impeachment demonstrations that took place on March 13th.” (UOL, 2016)

The joint action by the various putschist forces united around the overthrow of the democratically elected government was decisive in advancing the impeachment process, and this became evident during March 2016. Prior to the protests, on March 4th, the most media savvy opera­tion up to that point was carried out during the 24th phase of Lava Jato: ex-President Lula was coercitively arrested to make a statement at the Federal Police (PF), without him ever having refused to make a statement. Lula, who was one of the principal targets of the putschist front within the Judiciary and investigatory bodies, the Federal Police and Public Prosecutor Office, was confronted by many cameras and journalists already primed and waiting to record the occasion. The reaction from supporters, however, intensified the struggle in the social movement sectors against the coup, generating greater mobilization against the coup on March 18th. According to Datafolha, about 95,000 people gathered to defend democracy in São Paulo.

In the midst of such turbulence, after the Supreme Federal Court denied an appeal from Congress, the impeachment was allowed to proceed in Congress. With the aim of strengthening the political articulation of the government in relation to members of the Legislature, President Dilma announ­ced the nomination of ex-President Lula as her Cabinet Chief of Staff on March 16th. However, the putschist front immediately reacted in one of the most lamentable episodes in Brazilian republican history: Sergio Moro, the first instance judge responsible for Operation Lava Jato, published a recording of a telephone conversation between the President and Lula on the prime time Globo network national news, in which they were arranging the details of the swearing in of the ex-President as a new minister. The recordings were widely disseminated and the media dedicated to constructing the narrative that the aim of the nomination was to provide legal immunity to Lula, i.e. the right to be judged solely in the highest instances of the Judiciary. Immediately, putschist sectors of the right-wing took to the streets to protest against the nomination in an automatic and hardly spontaneous manner. With the argument that this was a distortion of its purpose, a federal judge suspended the swearing in of Lula as a Mi­nister, and this position was reinforced the next day by Supreme Court Justice Gilmar Men­des, who in a injunction ruled to accept the motion by the PSDB and PPS parties. Nevertheless, the recordings were of a conversation with the President and made without judicial authorization. Afterwards, Judge Moro apologized to the Federal Supreme Court for the publishing of the recording.

Such concern from Judge Sergio Moro in leaking facts to the media was not repeated a few days later. After the leaking of a spreadsheet from the engineering company Odebrecht, one of the leading ones investigated in Ope­ration Lava Jato, which contained many politicians benefiting from large amounts of money, including many names from the opposition and from the putschist front, when he decreed judicial secrecy so as not to generate “premature conclusions”.

In the same week, the Bar Association of Brazil (OAB) filed another motion for impeachment in the House, joining the group of entities calling for the coup, notably led by the National Confederation of Industry (CNI), the Federation of In­dustries of the State of São Paulo (Fiesp), the Federation of In­dustries of the State of Rio de Janeiro (Firjan), the National Confederation of Commerce of Goods, Services and Tourism (CNC), the National Confederation of Transport (CNT), the Agriculture and Stock Confederation of Brazil (CNA) Força Sindical, amongst others. One day after the position taken by the OAB, on the 23rd of March 2016, the PMDB announced their official breaking with the Dilma Rousseff government.

As a counterpart to the impeachment of Dilma, the pro­gressive wing filed two motions for impeachment against Michel Temer in April. After the recusal of Cunha in opening the process, the Federal Supreme Court intervened and Justice Marco Aurelio obliged the President of the Congress to set up the commission to analyze the impeachment of the then Vice-President. One of the motions was filed by Cid Gomes, of the PDT party. By the end of 2016 the process against Temer had gone nowhere. In the same week, the rapporteur of the impeachment process in the House Special Commission, Deputy Jovair Arantes of the Brazilian Worker’s Party of Goias (PTB-GO) gave his report in favour of impeachment process being heard.

In the same week, the then Federal Attorney-General, Jose Eduardo Cardozo, filed the defence, demonstrating that the process had been faulty from the start in being motivated by personal vengeance by the President of Congress, Eduardo Cunha. Cardozo also tried unsuccessfully to obtain a ruling against the impeachment in the Federal Supreme Court, which refused to interfere on the merits of the process. On the same day as the report was approved by the Commission by 38 votes to 27, a recording was published of the Vice-President Michel Temer talking as if the impeachment had already passed, causing embarrassment and demonstrating that that there never was any option, and that the coup was already taken as a given for some time. Little by little, the parties were leaving the support base of the Dilma government and were adding their voice for her impeachment, despite all the efforts to maintain a minimum of support that would guarantee the 172 votes against the coup. Temer and his allies, including Ministers and ex­-Ministers of Dilma, negotiated behind the scenes bargaining for posts and indi­cations to ensure the coup would pass with ease.

On April 17th 2016, in the longest session in the history of the Congress, Brazil watched a horror show on national TV, with the impeachment being approved by 367 votes to 137, and was then sent to the Federal Senate. Transmitted on the national TV networks, mobilizing those in favour and against the coup, lamentable scenes were shown, with votes in favour of the impeachment being justified by the most absurd reasons: Jair Bolsonaro, for example, then deputy of the Social Christian Party for Rio de Janeiro (PSC-RJ), dedicated his vote to Colonel Brilhante Ustra, a notorious torturer in the military dictatorship who had committed abuses against President Dilma Rousseff herself in the period when she was imprisoned and tortured by the regi­me. Innumerable deputies dedicated their vote to family members, to political friends and even to God. Deputy Raquel Muniz, of the Social Democratic Party for Minas Gerais (PSD-MG) dedicated her vote to her husband, Ruy Muniz, then Mayor of Mon­tes Claros, highlighting his supposed ethics and example of good management. The day after the voting, he was arrested and imprisoned by the Federal Police. Cases such as this demonstrated the absence of worth and the type of person who helped oust a democratically elected President.

In the middle of the voting on the impeachment, with the Dilma government’s base of support in ruins, a new coalition of parties was formed who remained completely faithful to the government in the voting, consisting of the Worker’s Party (PT), the Communist Party of Brazil (PCdoB) and the Socialism and Liberty Party (PSOL). Another party which supported the government in the voting was the Democratic Worker’s Party (PDT), with 63.2% of their votes against the impeachment.

Besides the opposition led by the Brazilian Social Democra­cy Party (PSDB), with 100% of votes in favour of the coup, various parties making up the allied opposition base supported the impeachment en masse: the Brazilian Republican Party (PRB), 100% of votes for impeachment; Brazilian Democratic Movement Party (PMDB), 88.1%; Progressive Party (PP), 84.6%; Social Democratic Party (PSD), 78.4%; Brazilian Worker’s Party (PTB), 70%; Republican Social Order Party (PROS), 66.7%; Republic Party (PR), 65%. All these headed Ministries and actively took part in the government they helped overthrow. Such positions made up a new support base which would work for the future putschist government of Michel Temer.

THE IMPEACHMENT IN THE SENATE: REMOVAL, INTERIM GOVERNMENT AND CONSUMMATION OF THE COUP

After the voting on April 17th 2016, the impeachment proceeded to the Federal Senate, delivered by hand by the President of Congress, Eduardo Cunha, to the President of the Senate, Renan Calheiros, PMDB Senator for Alagoas. In accordance with the formal procedure, after having received it the Senate would have 48 hours for the parties to indicate their representatives to the Special Commission for Impeachment to draw up a report which, if favourable and if approved, would decide whether the legislature would open the process against Dilma Rousseff or not.

The Commission consisted of 21 Senators, and ten days after being set up would have to decide on the admissibility of the impeachment process, to be voted in plenary session, requiring only a simple majority (41 votes) of all the Senators. During these ten days, the sides for the prosecution and the defence would be respon­sible for trying to convince the Senators of their arguments. However, the process was clearly already defined before being set in motion, without the right to a full defence. The putschists were already disposed to overthrow Dilma at any cost, without hearing the defence and without abiding to the charges. The rapporteur chosen, for example, was Senator Antonio Anastasia of the PSDB-MG, a notorious ally of Senator Aecio Neves, one of the leaders of the opposition and defeated candidate in the 2014 elections. The selectivity and partiality of the judgement was laid bare when Senator Randolfe Rodrigues, of the Sustainability Network (Rede) of Amapa, questioned the accuser Janaina Paschoal about the content of the budgetary decrees emitted by Michel Temer, without mentioning that he had signed them as Vice-President, identical to those which were the basis used to accuse Dilma of committing the crime of responsibility. Paschoal, who had affirmed there was no legal basis for any move to impeach the putschist Vice-President, responded to Rodrigues that such decrees were a crime and should be punished with impeachment, to which Randolfe responded: “You have just given the very reasons by which the impeachment of Vice-President Michel Temer should also be proceeded. What I have just described were acts carried out by the Vice-President” (Folha de S. Paulo, 2016), to the embarrassment of Janaina.

In the midst of voting on the report, a new fact emerged: Justice Teori Zavascki of the Federal Supreme Court ruled on an injunction and stripped Eduardo Cunha of his parliamentary mandate and removed him from the Presidency of the Congress on May 5th 2016. This intervention was in response to a motion filed by the Attorney-General Rodrigo Janot in December. The delay seen in this motion of almost six months led to discontent when compa­red with the speed with which the Supreme Court dealt with cases that deeply affected the government, such as defining the impeachment procedure in less than a fortnight, or suspending the nomination of Lula to Chief of Staff in less than two days. Such delay, allowed Cunha to exercise his influence and power to manoeuvre the whole impeachment process in favour of the putschist side led by him and by Michel Temer. According to Janot, in the motion filed, Cunha used his post to obstruct investigations and to intimidate those involved in the process. After his removal, the Presidency of the lower house of Congress was occupied by Waldir Maranhão, from the PP party of Maranhão.

When he took on the Presidency of the Congress, something which sur­prised everyone, Waldir Maranhão annulled all the impeachment sessions in the House, attending to the motion from the Attorney-General of the Republic (AGU). According to the AGU, the parties could not have oriented the caucus Congressmen to vote, and the defence should have spoken last in the session. However, one day later, Waldir did an about turn and the impeachment continued as normal.

In the Senate, the report had been approved on May 6th, and on the 11th the session was opened to approve the opening of the impeachment process against Dilma by 55 votes in favour and 22 against, removing the President from exercising her mandate for up to 180 days. The party lines seen in the lower house was practically repeated: only the Senators for the PT, PCdoB and Rede voted in their blocks against the impeachment. Whereas the one-time allies gave massive support in favour, giving rise to intense negotiation behind the scenes with Temer and his supporters: of the 19 PMDB Senators, 13 voted to remove Dilma. All six from the PP, four from PR, one from PRB, as well as part of the PSD caucuses (three of four) and PDT (two of three) also voted to have Dilma descend the ramp of the Planalto Palace.

With the removal, Dilma made a declaration to the press denouncing the coup d’etat she was undergoing. According to the President:

“Ever since I was elected, part of the opposition who were unable to accept it, have asked for a recount of the votes, have tried to annul the elections and afterwards openly conspired for my impeachment. They have immersed the country in a permanent state of political instability, impairing the recovery of the economy with a single objective: to take by force what they were unable to win at the ballot box. My government has been the target of intense and unceasing sabotage. The obvious objective has been to impede me from governing, and thus to bring about an environment propitious for the coup. When the mandate of an elected President is withdrawn, on the charge of a crime they have not committed, the name given to this in a demo­cratic world is not impeachment, it is a coup.” (Rousseff, 2016)

Dilma was also emphatic in demonstrating the absence of any crime of responsibility and the consequent injustice. In the same speech, the President stressed that she had never been complacent about corrup­tion and that the administrative acts that her opponents used as an excuse to open a process of impeachment followed the rules es­tablished for the drawing up of budgetary supplementation decrees 3.

As a result, on the same day as Vice-President Michel Te­mer announced his Cabinet and took on the interim Presidency. In his team there were only white men, with no women or negroes in Ministerial posts, with cuts in funda­mental areas with the loss of status of Ministry or incorporation into other portfolios such as Culture, Secretariat for Women, Racial Equality, Agricultural Development, Science and Technology, Social Security, among others. Included in those nominated, in betrayal of the programme and the electoral mandate which led Temer to the post of Vice-President were names of the PSDB and DEM parties who had been defeated in 2014 and who had led the coup, as well as many of those subject to investigation in corruption scandals. Nevertheless, Temer took office with the promise to implement the plan of government im­posed by the PMDB, “A Bridge to the Future”, later complemented by the document, “Socetial Crossing”, whose impacts were described and analyzed in chapter 4, without passing scrutiny at the ballot box.

With Temer’s taking over the Presidency, various resistance movements began to put pressure on the putschist government. Sectors linked to culture principally, protested actively against the interim President and his decision to withdraw the status of Ministry from the Cultu­re portfolio. In reaction to this, various occupations spread throughout Brazil, especially in the State offices of the National Arts Foundation (Funar­te), the body responsible for carrying out public policies for the sector. The offices of the National Institute for Histori­cal and Artistic Heritage (Iphan) and of the Ministry of Culture (MinC) itself were occupied. Another grass roots movement that applied intense pressure was the Homeless Worker’s Movement (MTST), which even camped out in front of Michel Temer’s house and demonstrated in front of the Presidency office, both in São Paulo.

The Ministers nominated by Temer were:

Ministry Nominee
Federal Attorney-General Fabiano Medina Osorio
Agriculture Blairo Maggi (PP)
Central Bank Ilan Goldfajn (Banco Itau)
Chief of Staff Eliseu Padilha (PMDB)
Cities Bruno Araujo (PSDB)
Science and Technology and Communications Gilberto Kassab (PSD)
Culture Marcelo Calero (PSDB)
Audit, Transparency and Control Fabiano Silveira
Education Mendonça Filho (DEM)
Defence Raul Jungmann (PPS)
Social and Agricultural Development Osmar Terra (PMDB)
Sport Leonardo Picciani (PMDB)
Finance Henrique Meirelles (PSD)
National Integration Helder Barbalho (PMDB)
Justice and Citizenship Alexandre de Moraes (PSDB)
Environment Sarney Filho (PV)
Mines and Energy Fernando Bezerra Filho (PSB)
Planning Romero Juca (PMDB)
Foreign Relations Jose Serra (PSDB)
Health Ricardo Barros (PP)
Secretariat for Government Geddel Vieira Lima (PMDB)
Secretariat of Institutional Security Sergio Etchegoyen
  (Armed Forces)
Work and Social Security Ronaldo Nogueira (PTB)
Transport Mauricio Quintella (PR)
Tourism Henrique Alves (PMDB)

On May 23rd 2016, conversations were published between Romero Juca of the PMDB for Roraima, one of the main allies of Michel Temer, and the then Minister of Planning and ex-President of Petrobras Transporte S.A (Transpetro) Sergio Machado, recorded by him as part of a plea bargain agreement. The content was explosive and made the coup more obvious still. In the conversations, Juca and Machado referred to the impeachment as necessary to change the government and to halt the bloodletting caused by Operation Lava Jato. According to Machado, “the easiest solution was to place Michel” (Fo­lha de S. Paulo, 2016). Thus, according to what was said in the recordings, Temer would take power in an overall national agreement involving the Supre­me Court to halt everything and to limit its effects. According to Juca, Justices of the Federal Supreme Court had affirmed that as long as Dilma was in government, nothing could be stopped.

The impact of the recordings was huge, but not enough to halt the coup. The recordings, as revealed by the media, had been held by the Federal Attorney-General since March 2016, therefore whilst the impeachment process was already underway. They were made public only after the President had been ousted, because if this had been done before they would clearly have had an impact on the desired outcome. Recordings were also leaked of Renan Calheiros and Jose Sarney, attacking Lava Jato and showing their apprehension on the impact of plea bargain agreements and investigations of the entire political class. However, these leaks only served to show the conspiring and to weaken the interim government. Romero Juca resigned, and another two Ministers fell: Fabiano Silveira, nominated by Temer to the Ministry of Transparency, who appeared in one of the recordings attacking Operation Lava Jato, and Henrique Alves, nominated to the Ministry of Tourism, whose name was involved in accusations of receiving bribes, according to the plea bargain by Sergio Machado.

Whilst the interim government applied its neo-liberal agenda, abolishing rights and liquidating social programmes, as shown in other chapters of this book, the impeachment proceeded in the Senate. In accordance with the procedure defined by the Federal Supreme Court in April 2016, the process should go on with the same rules used in the impeachment of ex-President Fernando Collor de Mello in 1992. Thus, the then Chief Justice of the Federal Supreme Court, Ricardo Lewandowski, chaired the Federal Senate to guide the process. A long phase of witness testimony was begun with accusation and defence. In the midst of this stage, the expert testimony in the Senate was notable exempting Dilma of responsibility in the emission of the budgetary supplementation decrees. According to the testimony:

“From the analysis of the data, the documents and the information relating to the Safra Plan, no deliberate acts were identified of the President of the Republic which had contributed directly or immediately to delays in the payments to take place.” (Federal Senate, 2016)

The farce of the judgement, which should have entailed the right to a full defence, was demonstrated by the complete lack of interest of most of the Senators in hearing the witnesses for the defence, or even in the expert testimony in the Senate. According to the report by Gustavo Maia on the UOL portal, at one point the opposition Senators stopped asking questions of witnesses in order to sped up the process (UOL, 2016b). Witnesses for the defence were called such as the economist Luiz Gonzaga Belluzzo, ex-Minister of Finance Nelson Barbosa, law professors Ricardo Lodi Ribeiro and Geraldo Prado. On the 28th of July, Jose Eduardo Cardozo filed the closing arguments for the defence to the Special Commission for Impeachment to the Senate, which emphasized the legality of the decrees emitted and the lack of participation of Dilma Rousseff in their emission, as the expert testimony had already affirmed to the Senate. However, ignoring the arguments for the defence, the Commission recommended by 14 votes to five, that Dilma be judged. The report was approved in ple­nary, by 59 votes to 21, leading the impeachment to its final phase. There, the legitimately elected President Dilma Rousseff would have the oppor­tunity to defend herself before the 81 Senators.

On August 29th 2016, Dilma appeared before the Senate to make her defence. The President reaffirmed her commitment to Brazilian democracy and to the liberal democratic state of law. Remembering history and the coup attempts against Getulio Vargas, Juscelino Kubitschek and João Goulart, the President said:

“Whenever the interests of sectors of the economic and political elite have been lost at the ballot box and there are no legal reasons for le­gitimate change of power, conspiracies were plotted resulting in a coup d’etat. [… ] Now, once again, when the interests of sectors of the economic and political elite have been hurt at the ballot box, we find we are at the breaking point of democracy”. (Rousseff, 2016b)

The President showed in her speech that the charges made against her were mere excuses to overthrow an elected government and to put in its place a putschist and usurper government, to destroy the gains won by the Brazilian people in the 13 years of governments by the PT. She reaffirmed that the coup was the reaction of the opposition, in an anti-democratic manner, to overturn the elections of 2014:

“Ever since the announcement of the election results, the parties that supported the defeated candidate in the elections did everything to impede my taking office and the stability of my government. They said the elections were fraudulent, seeking an audit of the ballots, they questioned my election accounts, and after my taking office, sought facts by any means that might justify the rhetoric for an impeachment process.” (Rousseff, 2016b)

Dilma also explained the intense sabotage suffered by her government, whose economic agenda against the crisis was dismantled by Eduardo Cunha, putting forward draft laws that would explode pu­blic spending and compromise any attempt to tweak the economy. She also showed that despite the sabotage, the Congress was paralyzed in 2016, impeding the government from implementing any kind of agenda. This showed her cha­racter, of not complying with anything improper of becoming involved in trade-offs to save her own mandate, and working against corruption:

“If I had been complicit with the impropriety and with that which is worst in Brazilian politics, as many now seem to not have the least problem in doing so, I would not be running the risk of being condemned unjustly. Those who are complicit with the immoral and the illegal, do not have the respectability to govern Brazil. Those who act to avoid or postpone judgement of someone who is accused of enrichment at the costs of the Brazilian State and of the people who pay their taxes, will sooner or later end up having to pay the price of lack of commitment to ethical behaviour before society and before history.” (Rousseff, 2016b)

The accusation was therefore weak and motivated by political ends, not legal ones. The decrees had obeyed all the legal rules, abiding by the Constitution and the Budgetary Directives Law. According to the President, the Federal Accounts Court changed their position on the issues after the publishing of the decrees: “The Federal Accounts Court recommended approval of the accounts of all Presidents who had issued decrees identical to those I issued. They never raised any technical problem or made the interpretation they came to have after I signed these acts.” (Rousseff, 2016b).

The disregard for due legal process, the presumption of inno­cence and the right to a defence were covered by Dilma. It was absurd, according to her, that judges affirmed that “the conviction is no more than a question of time”, as their opinions were already formed. Thus, the legal form only served to justify an illegitimate process. After the speech, the President answered questions from the Senators for 13 hours of cross-examination.

The next day, Jose Eduardo Cardozo presented the final defence of the President, questioning the Senators about what history would say about the conviction. Cardozo affirmed that he hoped that in the future a Chief Justice would ask that a public apology be accepted in the name of the Brazilian State for having convicted an innocent woman to the penalty of political death:

“I ask God that, if Dilma is convicted, a new Chief Justice has the dignity to make a public apology to her; if she is alive, to her, and if deceased, to her daughter and grandchildren. That history will absolve Dilma Rousseff if you wish to convict her. But, if you wish to do Justice to those who suffered violence from the State, judge by justice. Do not accept that our country suffers a parliamentary coup, so that Dilma does not suffer the penalty of political death.” (Cardozo, 2016)

On the 31st of August 2016, by 61 votes in favour and 20 against, the Senate definitively removed Dilma Rousseff from the Presidency of the Republic. In a kind of mea-culpa, the Senators did not withdraw Dilma’s political rights, allowing her to continue to hold posts of public office. At 4 p.m. on the same day, Michel Temer was sworn into office as President of Brazil: and the coup d’etat was duly effected. Two days after the impeachment, the Federal Senate approved a law to ease the rules for issuing supplementary credit, freeing the coming Presidents to use the same “fiscal manoeuvres” that led to Dilma being convicted.

  1. It was later proven that Cunha had bank accounts in Switzerland to receive bribe monies.
  2. In 2014, sectors of the PMDB were already defending support for Aécio Neves, as reported by Agencia Brasil, EBC: “Bancada do PMDB esta dividida no apoio a Dilma and Aécio” (Agência Brasil, 2014)
  1. “They accuse me of having issued six supplementation decrees, six supplementary credit decrees and in doing so, of having committed a crime against the Budgetary Law. This is false. It is false, as the decrees complied with authoriza­tions provided for in law. They deal with the crime as an everyday act of management. They accuse me of delaying paymen­ts of the Safra Plan. This is false. I decided nothing in this regard. The law does not require my participation in the execution of this Plan. My accusers have not even been able to say what I have done, what act? What act? Besides this, there was nothing left to be paid, there is no debt. In a democracy, a legitimate mandate of an elected President can never be broken because of legitimate budgetary management acts. Brazil can not be the first to do this” (Rousseff, 2016).
  2. The following Senators voted against the Impeachment: Angela Portela (PT), Armando Monteiro (PTB), Elmano Ferrer (PTB), Fatima Bezerra, Gleisi Hoffmann and Humberto Costa (all three of the PT), João Capiberibe (PSB), Jorge Viana and Jose Pimentel (both of the PT), Katia Abreu (PMDB), Lidice da Mata (PSB), Lindbergh Farias (PT), Otto Alencar (PSD), Paulo Paim and Paulo Rocha (both of the PT), Randolfe Ro­drigues (REDE), Regina Sousa (PT), Roberto Muniz (PP), Roberto Requião (PMDB) and Vanessa Grazziotin (PCdoB).

BIBLIOGRAPHIC REFERENCES

AGAMBEN, Giorgio. Estado de Exceção. São Paulo: Boitempo, 2004.

AGÊNCIA BRASIL. Bancada do PMDB está dividida no apoio a Dil­ma e Aécio. Brasília, October 8 2014. Available at: http://agenciabrasil.ebc.com.br/politica/noticia/2014-10/bancada-do-pmdb-esta-dividida-no-apoio-dilma-e-aecio. Accessed on: 25 Jan 2017.

CARDOZO, José Eduardo. Speech in defence of President Dilma Rousseff to the Federal Senate. Agência Senado. Available at: www12.senado.leg.br/noticias/videos/2016/08/dilma-esta-sendo-julgada-por-ter-vencido-as-eleicoes-afirma-jose-eduardo-cardozo. Accessed on 27 Jan 2017.

FOLHA DE SÃO PAULO. Na “madrugada do impeachment”, Randolfe prega peça em advogada. Folha Poder. Brasília, 29 April 2016. Available at: www1.folha.uol.com.br/poder/2016/04/1766385-na-madrugada-do-impeachment-randolfe-prega-peca-em-advogada.sht-ml. Accessed on: 25 Jan 2017.

FOLHA DE SÃO PAULO, R. Veja trechos da conversa entre Rome­ro Jucá e o ex-presidente da Transpetro Sérgio Machado. Folha Poder. 23 May 2016. Brasília. Available at: www1.folha.uol.com.br/poder/2016/05/1774018-em-dialogos-gravados-juca-fala-em-pacto-para-deter-avanco-da-lava-jato.shtml. Accessed on: 25 Jan 2017.

FUNDAÇÃO PERSEU ABRAMO. Projeto Manifestações março-comparativo – 13 e 18 2015/2016. São Paulo, 2016. Available at: http://novo.fpabramo.org.br/sites/default/files/FPA-Pesquisa-Mani­festacoes-Comparativa-2015-2016-SITE-042016-ok.pdf. Accessed on 27 Jan 2017.

FUNDAÇÃO ULYSSES GUIMARÃES. Uma Ponte Para o Futuro. Brasília, 29 October 2015. Available at: http://pmdb.org.br/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/RELEASE-TEMER_A4-28.10.15-Online.pdf. Accessed on: 25 Jan 2017.

JINKINGS, I., DORIA, K., CLETO, M. (orgs). Cronologia do Gol­pe. In: Por que gritamos Golpe? Para entender o impeachment e a crise política no Brasil. São Paulo: Boitempo, 2016.

O ESTADO DE SÃO PAULO. Em gesto ao PSDB, Temer deixará articulação política. Política. São Paulo, 21 August 2015. Available at: http://politica.estadao.com.br/noticias/geral,temer-quer-deixar-articulacao-politica-mas-vai-aguardar-crise-com-cunha-esfriar,1748612. Accessed on: 25 Jan 2017.

ROUSSEFF, Dilma. Declaração à imprensa da Presidenta da Repú­blica. Portal Planalto. Brasília, 12 May 2016. Available at: http://www2.planalto.gov.br/acompanhe-o-planalto/discursos/discursos-da-presidenta/declaracao-a-imprensa-da-presidenta-da-republica-dilma-rousseff-brasilia-df. Accessed on: 25 Jan 2017.

ROUSSEFF, Dilma. Íntegra do discurso da presidenta Dilma Rous­seff ao Senado Federal. Brasília, 29 August 2016b. Available at: www12.senado.leg.br/noticias/arquivos/2016/08/29/veja-a-integra-do-discurso. Accessed on: 25 Jan 2017.

SENADO FEDERAL. Denúncia por crime de responsabilidade n°1, de 2016 – Laudo Pericial. Available at: www19.senado.gov.br/sdleg-getter/public/getDocument?docverid=282deb55-fa96-4ef-d-a137-ac15f39e9a40;1.0. Accessed on: 25 Jan 2017.

UOL. Áudios mostram que partidos financiaram MBL em atos pró-impeachment. São Paulo, 2016. Available at https://noticias.uol.com.br/politica/ultimas-noticias/2016/05/27/maquina-de-partidos-foi-utilizada-em-atos-pro-impeachment-diz-lider-do-mbl.htm. Accessed on: 25 Jan 2017.

UOL. Com pressa, senadores pró-impeachment “ignoram” testemunhas de defesa. Portal UOL. Brasília, 15 June 2016. Available at: https://noticias.uol.com.br/politica/ultimas-noticias/2016/06/15/senadores-pro-impeachment-ignoram-testemunhas-de-defesa-e-aceleram-processo.htm. Accessed on: 25 Jan 2017.

Why the programme of the Brazilian Worker’s Party gets up the noses of the status quo

What has the Brazilian Worker’s Party done or promise to do that gets up so many people’s noses? The answer is both simple and complex. The simple answer is that they wish to change the way things have been done here ever since Brazil was colonised by the Portuguese over 500 years ago.

The Portuguese colonists established a system of royal patronage of appointed positions and revenue earning from such positions that survives more or less intact to this day. Families who have land or assets resulting from such privilege naturally are loath to give up such benefits that derive from their inherited positions.

The Worker’s Party was largely organised by middle-class student and teacher, artists and intellectual activists who were essential in getting the party legalised under the then military dictatorship. Once they got into power with the election of Lula, but especially during the first and the current term of his successor, Dilma Rousseff, these people became in large part disillusioned and the middle-class were neglected or overly suffered the burden of government policy.

When the investigations into the Lava Jato operation meant that Petrobras and several large engineering contractors had their funds for current or future projects blocked, the country stalled economically, hurting bastions of the stability and growth and job generation that had been a continuous part of the national economy since Lula was able to invest in many infra-structure projects both in Brazil and in Africa, for example.

Brazilian law requires that a good percentage of such projects be carried out by Brazilian companies, and it is with an eye to these contracts and markets that the U.S. is now pushing for the removal of this President and her party from government.

With support for their “free market” policies already on hand in Congress, should impeachment go ahead, many of these markets would be opened up to U.S. companies.

Opposition politician José Serra of the PSDB has already promised the Chevron oil company that he will back deregulation of the Brazilian oil fields, should he achieve suitable power. He has already introduced bills to Congress to that effect, but if President Dilma is impeached, forces against the current government see the way clear to opening up markets to U.S. friendly corporate and diplomatic policies. If impeachment is successful, her nominated successor and Vice President Michel Temer, has already alluded that there will be a return to market-friendly corporate policies.

Once the economy faltered with the anti-corruption investigations restricting investment, with the loss of many jobs for engineers, managers, accountants and economists, it was a relatively easy task to turn the climate of opinion against the government by heavy-handed use of selective reporting of scandals, launching opinion as fact in such large and repeated quantities, that many middle-class people now believe such accusations as the truth.

The fact that many of these schemes have been operating since at least the 1990’s are largely ignored by the mass media, when the government of Fernando Henrique Cardoso was in power, privatising many lucrative state industries in the name of good management.

This is the policy that those already manoeuvring for power openly seek, and which the backers of the current government are trying to avoid. The costs of dividing society along lines of material wealth are heavy, although the numbers actually wanting that to happen are turning in favour of the Dilma government. Internet activists and bloggers have rallied behind the pro-democracy cause, counteracting the social media campaign that brought millions of the disaffected middle-classes into the streets to call for her impeachment. However, Brazil will have to mobilise if it is to turn the tide to counteract the negative influence that is currently appearing to be winning.

Even if Dilma is able to hold onto power, the problems she will face of governability and the questions of how to bring the Judiciary, the legislature and media under control remain. If this painful process of truthfulness, looking into the mirror and seeing the reflection as not being a pretty one, this could be the step needed for the country to finally make the reforms necessary a reality, only time will tell.

Brazil and BRICS – Geopolitics and the wider picture

Ever since Luis Ignacio Lula da Silva, the ex-President of Brazil, won power in 2002, the foreign policy of this once slumbering giant changed the face of global geopolitics.

The battle for the impeachment of the current President, his chosen successor, Dilma Rousseff, is also about attempting to reverse this policy.

Lula’s foreign policy was to strengthen ties with neighbours in Latin America, and to forge strong ties with the BRICS countries, Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. This has created a much stronger more active Mercosur, the Southern Common Market. President Lula’s and Dilma’s foreign policy has led to the admission of Venezuela, soon to be followed by Bolivia, with associate countries Chile, Peru, Colombia, Ecuador and Suriname.

Perhaps more importantly, in terms of the global balance of power, is the co-operation between Russia, China and Brazil, who have formed the backbone of an alliance that unseats the Washington Consensus as the basis of international politics.

An  agreement in 2015 set up an alternative international bank of finance to the World bank, the New Development Bank, which members and other emerging or developing countries may apply to for funding of infra-structure and sustainable development projects, thus sidestepping the World Bank-I.M.F. monopoly of international finance. Together with the weight of India, this has become a viable multi-polar alternative to the unipolar imbalance that the U.S. has held since the fall of the Soviet Union.

Thus China is able to obtain the raw materials it badly lacks in its domestic production, such as oil and gas from Russia, minerals and food from Brazil. In exchange, China invests in infra-structure projects, such as the rail link between Russia and China, the trans-continental rail link from the Brazilian eastern Atlantic seaboard to the Pacific and the second Panama Canal, bypassing the U.S. hegemony of the first canal.

These agreements and trade deals have outplayed the U.S. at their own game, who are more used to getting their way through the C.I.A. interference in national and regional interests, than by sitting down to negotiate. They prefer pressure tactics to negotiating. Latin America learned the hard way that assassinations, coups, torture and manipulation of the media through U.S. trained and placed editors of newspapers and media outlets was not the way forward. With their independently minded view, the U.S. has reacted strongly to defame it.

The discovery of the first mega-oil field off the coast of Brazil since the North Sea in the 1970’s, called the pre-salt because it is buried in ultra-deep waters beneath a layer of salt deposits, means that Brazil has become a strategic player and target because of this. Just as Iraq, Iran and Afghanistan became targets of the oil industry and so-called U.S. interests, supposedly of terrorism, so has Brazil become the target of a campaign to unseat the progressive Worker’s Party government, which holds a state controlled oil industry giant, and which has refused to conform to the U.S. calls for a deregulated oil industry.

This has led to renewed interest by the U.S.A. in the Latin American region, which had been receiving less attention after the invasions into Afghanistan and Iraq. The Fourth U.S. Navy Fleet was reformed after many years of being disbanded, when the U.S. had its military dictatorships in place, who would do their bidding with no arguments. More recently, more independently minded governments have been elected who do not always agree with or cede to what the U.S. wishes. The free-trade zone of the Americas, ALCA, is a prime example, which was roundly rejected by Latin America. Presidents Kirchner in Argentina and Lula in Brazil, have strengthened the Mercosur economic community and implemented policies to lift the poor out of poverty and distribute wealth. This has not sat well with the traditional elites or the ruling neo-liberals in the U.S. who are more used to compliant southern neighbours, implementing corporation friendly policies.

In Argentina, Cristina Kirchner had managed to implement the Ley dos Medios, or Media Law, regulating the media industry. There was a big outcry that this was to limit freedom of the press, led by Clarin who would have to share their qausi-monopoly in the diversified media market. There are calls for the same to be implemented in Brazil where the Globo private domination of 16.2% of the print media , 56% of broadcast TV and 44% of the paid TV market. These media outlets have been leading players in the calls for corporation friendly governments and have called unfair when regulation is discussed. That, with other associated reasons as outlined in this series of articles, is why the coup against Dilma has been launched.

Brazil, although not alone in this, has been targeted by forces not wishing that their domination be challenged, hence the move for impeachment.

Lessons from the Mensalão scandal

The Mensalão or Big Monthly Pay-off scandal rocked the first Lula government in 2005, just as the campaign for his re-election was starting. It began with the denunciation by one of the party leaders within the government coalition, but not of Lula’s Worker’s party, that many members of the Congress in that coalition were receiving large payouts to vote through legislation. In exchange for support of the government, this party was given the freedom to place their men in positions within the Post Office in posts of trust.

To go back to an earlier point in the story, Lula had swept to power in 2002, to change the face of Brazil from one of feudalism into the great nation that it was destined to be. That was his and his party’s vision, and was the mandate he received at the ballot box, but this was to cause great opposition, which is why these scandals are surfacing now.

However, the key players in this scandal, not the ones who were vilified by the media, had been put in their respective positions in the previous government, which was a conventional neo-liberal monetarist one, privatising many of the huge key industries for multi-billion sums and generating many new billionaires. The scandals of this previous government in fact only came to light after it had left office, and have largely been untouched by either the Judiciary or the traditional mass media.

In fact, the video that caused a huge outcry that soon followed the first denunciation, showing the supposed paying out of large sums of cash by an ex-official of the Brazilian Post Office to two businessmen stuffing it into their underpants, was false. It was in fact made by the lawyer of the ex-Post Office executive in order to pressure for payment.

These  and other media outcry tactics led to convictions of 25 of the 40 defendants, despite the lack of concrete evidence on the concocted charges. However, the mass media continue to push the message that these convictions were part of a pattern of corruption of that government, which both the media and elements of the Judiciary wished to see ended and replaced. As the Americans say, the elephant in the room is that there was no evidence. Only the bloggers and a handful of journalists actually tell the truth, with the rest prancing about like the emperor with no clothes.

There has been a consistent pattern during the Mensalão episode, the Lava Jato operation and the whole impeachment effort, of distortion of the truth, of a coordinated campaign by the mass media, elements of the Judiciary and a targeted social media campaign to implicate the PT and Lula at any cost. The desperation to find evidence has become obvious to many people now, of judicial abuse of power, of media bias against the truth, a media which is controlled by five or nine families, depending on the breadth of scope of inquiry.

This mass media has a vested interest in defeating democracy, because they control an oversize proportion of revenue and of opinion-forming capacity, and a less democratic government would enable exchange of favours as they have always been used here, as well as Globo, the largest of these media organisations being investigated for tax evasion through tax havens and offshore companies in the Panama leaks, to give but one example. This information is only available through the bloggers, who are hounded and persecuted judicially, and can be censored in this manner, because the truth is ugly, from the point of view of the mass media at least. These few families receive a large amount of advertising revenue from government and public companies which they are not anxious to lose or share out, much less lose that power of influence over opinion-forming, which is a powerful mixture, and the reality is that it has gone to their heads.

Just as in the impeachment farce, the mensalão convictions were obtained through lies uttered by Supreme Court Judges and the Chief Prosecutor, that there was in this case illicit use of public funds from the Chamber of Deputies and from the Banco do Brasil for use by the PT. These have been shown by various official reports and by documents from Banco do Brasil to have been all perfectly legal, and was a regular bank loan taken out to finance the Party`s election campaign, but the lie that was propagated was preferred, because it served the purpose of dirtying the image of the PT and of Lula.

One can conclude from examination of the evidence and the facts that, at best, the Judiciary, the Prosecutor and Judges were negligent with the truth, which would lead one to expect that for Justice to be done, this would be admitted and corrected. But that is not so. Not one of these people have come forward to express even a doubt about the conclusion, from which we have to conclude that these people choose to believe in the correctness of their conclusions, and are therefore fully responsible for having chosen sides already, not with the truth, but in accordance with a pattern that has repeated itself in the Lava Jato operation and the effort for impeachment of the President.

So consistent is the bias, that we are obliged to conclude that this is by choice. The characters involved have shown by their conduct and absence of backing of their words that they are not concerned with ascertaining the truth, but prefer to convict on the basis of concoctions of untruths. Such blindness or bias, gives Justice a bad name.

One of the key persons and witness in this circumstance fled to Italy to avoid persecution, but was successfully extradited back to Brazil in October 2015. This, of course, is very embarrassing to Brazilian Justice, when justice has neither been served or seen, when the only hope is that the country wakes up and rectifies such patterns of injustice.

The question remains, if that consistent pattern of injustice, repeated and criticised by legal experts in Brazil in the handling of the Lava Jato “scandal”, who is behind it and what is there to be gained or lost by such handling?

The Lessons of Operation Lava Jato

This operation to investigate a money laundering case was officially launched in March 2014, and within a week reached the preventive detention of a procurement director of Petrobras, the Brazilian state oil company. The operation is still ongoing and has resulted in many convictions and many more preventive detentions, with suspects being involved from large state and private companies, and many politicians from a wide variety of government and opposition parties.

The result has been a wave of popular outcry and highly emotional accusations being raised by the established media and corporation backed opposition groups against the government and the Worker’s Party, leading to widespread cynicism about politicians of all colours.

A few cooler heads have likened the situation to the Mani Pulite (Clean Hands) operation in Italy, where the Judiciary mounted a similar operation to this one in Brazil, successfully convicting many leading politicians, including former Prime Ministers. The effect was to change the face of Italian politics drastically, with the two leading parties that had alternatively shared power over the last 45 years being reduced to very minor players. However, in the aftermath, the leading judge, who had meanwhile enjoyed huge popularity, himself entered politics and was eventually accused of corruption, facing disgrace, with the allegation that the new Prime Minister, Silvio Berluscone, based in Milan which was the centre of the scandal, owner of one of the leading Milan football clubs and a dominant media holding, being said to have brought this about.

The aftermath of all this judiciary operation was only that corruption became more sophisticated, remaining endemic in Italian society. I conclude from this that corruption can not be cleaned up by any one single branch of the state, in this case the judiciary, but requires all three, the executive, the legislature and the judiciary to be fully involved in reform. Society learns from these examples, and the failure of Italian society in this case, means that no country has to repeat the same lesson, or rather that once any society sees this being repeated in their own situation, that they can then apply that lesson and make the appropriate adjustments. This is the great hope for the Brazilian situation, that the Brazilians, who are engaged on a massive and widespread scale, will realise this and organise to cancel out this negative element.

The positive side-effect of the military dictatorship in Brazil, was the organisation of civil society, based on the already widespread movement that included the Catholic Church pastoral movement, the literacy and the land reform movements, was that the resistance movement against the repression was successful, but of which the Worker’s Party was only the most high profile component. I consider this to have been the downfall of this party, who considered itself to be the sole component. The result was that this party neglected the other important elements in the recipe, which was the middle-class, one key element of its very own support base. This was evident in the campaign carried out by civil society for direct voting of the President in a mass organisation of public support. With the establishment media actively siding against this campaign, the country was successfully able make the Constitution a legal basis for direct elections of the executive power. All this took place before the internet was available, and this is important, because the Brazilian people learned the value of democracy through actively building it.

The value of the educated classes cannot be underestimated in carrying the torch of human enlightenment forward through the generations. The very success of the Brazilian poverty eradication programme implemented by the Lula government, was to considerably broaden the middle-class, with new layers of families being included in the university educated categories. However, the government did not realise that its economic policies were also strangling the growth it had sought and successfully implemented. In fact, the balance of the national accounts austerity cuts and high indirect taxes on the middle-class, through education fees and costs, health costs not covered by the problematic public health system, transport, in part, led to the shrivelling of the very basis of the Brazilian success

That is why the Brazilian case is so important to watch. The middle classes have turned against the previously popular government. In my assessment, this is partially quite justified, but the elements involved still have to be weighed and judged, because there are other factors in the mix that are not yet fully appreciated. I believe that the weight of the media bias in reporting issues, such as these corruption cases, and reporting or lack  of it, of successes and failures, is one of these.

There have been cases of tax avoidance, including by the Globo media empire, that amount to billions of dollars. Of course, Globo does not advertise this fact, but the blogosphere does. There is a loosely knit network of journalists and bloggers who publish, organise and discuss these questions. When the documents proving the Globo tax scheme came to light, they organised 30 bloggers to publish at the same time, so that no one person or site could be targeted successfully and eliminated from the picture. This is a tactic that was learned by resistance movement during the dictatorship, when trust was a matter of life and death. Humanity has recognised this necessity of sharing, and the whole internet phenomena and communication between humans, is dimly acknowledged by many in this recent innovation.

However, in the Brazilian case, this has resulted in the known persecution of  bloggers and the freedom of the internet, by both employment of the judiciary, allied with media campaign of disinformation against the bloggers. Other corruption scandals and reporting of wealth accumulation from the privatisation programme have been documented, with journalists being persecuted through the courts and the traditional media actively participating to denigrate these alternative sources of information.

The blogosphere has naturally accompanied this whole Lava Jato revelation and reporting process. They have been labelled the ‘dirty press’ by the conventional media and opposing political players. Tactics employed including smear attacks on family members, including small children, physical assault, and the full onslaught through the courts, where judges are able to impose injunctions on reporting of information and impose huge prohibitive fines for having spoken out (http://www.ocafezinho.com/2016/04/21/os-senhores-da-lei-fundamentos-e-funcoes-da-operacao-lava-jato/).

The Daniel Dantas story is a case in point. Already referred to in this series of articles, I shall expand on it to illustrate the difficulties faced. Daniel Dantas was a key figure in the privatisation programme, whereby all the nationalised industries were obliged by law to go through his private company, and he was initially placed on the board of the newly privatised companies with a hugely disproportionate share of the controlling votes. This resulted in the epic court battle for control of the board, between the Brazilian shareholders, that included the public banking sector pension funds and Telecom Italia.

As explained elsewhere in this series, Dantas was able to walk free through judicial intervention, although he ultimately lost his control of the board. However, the judiciary was able to persecute journalists who reported this process, counteracted by financial support garnered through the internet. This is important, because this freedom of information and backing that the internet provides is a new factor, that was not present in the Italian case, for example.

The neglect of the middle-class in Brazil is a key element, because these people are overwhelmingly the users and beneficiaries of the internet. They are literate in the broadest sense of the word, in terms of reading and digesting information, but also of passing this on and influencing the atmosphere within their society. Literacy has many levels, but in the Brazilian case, literacy in the strictest sense of the word, has improved hugely since the first Lula government, as a priority target of government policy, in marked contrast to previous governments. One requirement for receiving the state anti-poverty support, was that all children must be attending school. Such incentives had never existed before, and real disincentives weighed heavily against children going to school, because they could help the family earn some kind of a living, however frugal.

One of the Supreme  Court Judges that so hounded the Worker’s Party has since retired and is now under a deepening cloud of suspicion, most recently in the Panama Papers leak. Joaquim Barbosa, was a negro judge, who enjoyed the limelight of the Mensalão scandal. Only the future can confirm such a role.

However, the Lava Jato pay-off scheme has recently been shown to have been working since the 1980’s, thus spoiling the game, as the target of preference was to have been ex-President Lula and President Dilma Rousseff.