Tag Archives: PT

Leaked video shows clear bias in Lava Jato prosecution

sergio-moro-lava-jato.jpg

Image: Sergio Moro from: Wikipedia

| By BRIAN MIER

Extramural Contributor at the Council on Hemispheric Affairs

As ex-president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva continues his appeal against charges of bribery that revolve around the gift of a beachfront apartment which courts were unable to prove he either owned or set foot on a property to a series of graver corruption misdeeds that led to charges against important members of the neoliberal Partido da Social Democracia Brasileira (Brazilian Social Democrat Party, PSDB), which governed Brazil from 1994-2002, have been dismissed by the Brazilian judiciary.[i] During the past month, two of the PSDB’s most powerful politicians, Jose Serra and Aecio Neves, filed motions for dismissal of charges related to the misappropriation of millions of dollars of funds. On January 24, Federal Public Prosecutor Raquel Dodge requested that the Supreme Court dismiss corruption charges against Serra, PDSB’s 2010 presidential candidate, for receiving over $2 million in off-the-books campaign donations from JBS meat packing company, on grounds of the senator’s advanced age.[ii] On January 26, the Supreme Court dismissed Lava Jato related charges against Neves, PDSB’s 2014 presidential candidate, for receiving millions of dollars in bribes from Petrobras, the Brazilian national petroleum company. For Neves, this was one in a series of multi-million dollar charges which came in the wave of the anti-corruption Lavo Jato crusade, that have been dismissed since he was thrown out of, then reinstated to the Senate in 2017.[iii] [iv] [v]

The vast disparity in the due process observed between the Worker’s Party (Partido dos Trabalhadores, PT) and conservative opposition parties has raised serious doubts about the motives behind the Lava Jato investigation itself. Even the Brazilian Army stepped into the debate, recently posting an article on its web site accusing Judge Sergio Moro and his Lava Jato investigation team of destroying encryption codes to five computer hard drives seized from Brazilian construction company Odebrecht’s Swiss offices which reportedly contained the entire history of its bribes paid out to government officials.[vi] [vii] This evidence, the author said, would enable prosecutors to build a legitimate case against politicians who had been accused rather than having to rely exclusively on plea bargains, most of which have resulted in vastly reduced sentences and partial retention of assets for collaborators.[viii] Meanwhile, former Odebrecht lawyer Tacla Duran has accused the Lava Jato defense team of fabricating evidence and building a “sentence reduction selling industry”, an accusation which appears credible despite its biased source, due to the fact that the law firm of Sergio Moro’s wife has negotiated plea bargain deals with Moro and his team as part of the Lava Jato investigation.[ix] On February 16, as evidence continued to showing partisan bias and corruption within the Lava Jato investigation itself, a video surfaced in which Pedro Barusco, former Petrobras director, admits that he started collecting bribes in 1996, during the PDSB presidency of Fernando Henrique Cardoso , but that the Lava Jato prosecution team asked him to confess only to bribes received after Lula became president in 2003.

Pedro Barusco’s case is one of many that raises questions about how the plea bargains were negotiated by Sergio Moro’s prosecution team. Originally sentenced to 47 years, Barusco negotiated a plea bargain which lowered his sentence to 15, then, without serving a day of time, he was put under limited house arrest, which only requires him to be at home between 8 p.m. and 6 a.m.

The translated transcripts of the video read as follows:

Cristiano Zanin (Lula’s Defense Lawyer): You say here that you began to receive these undue advantages in 1997, correct?

Pedro Barusco: There may be a bit of imprecision in my statement, it could have been 1996, or 1998, but it was during this period.

Zanin: You also mentioned in your testimony today, that there is a spreadsheet that you created during the period in which you were negotiating your plea bargain deal with the public prosecutors. Correct?

Barusco: No, I made the spreadsheet during the period in which I was giving my testimony. I had already signed the plea bargain deal by that time.

Zanin: OK. So you had already made the deal with the public prosecutors’ office and so when you began your testimony you created this spreadsheet, correct?

Barusco: Correct.

Zanin: So I will ask you, if you started receiving undue advantages in 1996, why does your spreadsheet start in 2003?

Barusco: (long pause) Because of the following. Let me explain how I made the spreadsheet. I left Petrobras, after a period of 8 years as the executive director of engineering. So, when I left, I decided to make a recording, I made an official request to the computer department, they made a backup for me, OK, because I had many documents, I had signed a lot of documents of all kinds. So I asked them to make a copy of it and I had this copy. And these management acts of mine started in 2003 when I took over the engineering department, so I based my spreadsheet from 2003 to 2011 which is when I left. During the period before 2003, this issues were basically covered in another deal that I made in Rio de Janeiro involving bribes paid by the Dutch company SBM, so this part before 2003 was the objective of this other plea bargaining process in Rio de Janeiro.

Zanin: OK, but in reality you started receiving undue advantages before 2003. This spreadsheet does not reflect the entire period in which you received undue advantages.

Barusco: Obviously.

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bPyGERmhdX8

This is not the first time that the Lava Jato investigation team has ignored corruption allegations that took place during Fernando Henrique Cardoso’s presidency. In June 2016, during a plea bargain by former Petrobras director Nestor Cerveró, he told investigators that they paid a $100 million bribe to cabinet members in Cardoso’s government in 2002, during the Petrobras acquisition of Pérez Companc, an Argentine petroleum company.[x]

In March 2016, Delcídio do Amaral, Petrobras director from 1999 to 2001, testified about corruption schemes going from the Itamar Franco presidency through Fernando Henrique Cardoso, including $100 million in kickbacks to government officials during construction of an offshore oil drilling platform, which took place between 1995 and 2000.[xi] The platform sunk in 2001, killing 11 workers. [xii]

Lava Jato prosecution judge Sergio Moro has close ties with the US State Department and is a frequent speaker at neoliberal think tanks in the US such as the Wilson Center and AS/COA. At one speech at the Wilson Center in July 2016, Moro was asked about his refusal to prosecute corrupt politicians from the PSDB, to which he replied “This Party was in the opposition, so it wouldn’t make sense.”. [xiii] At the time he made the speech,however, two time presidential election runner up for the PSDB, José Serra, was serving as Brazil’s Minister of Foreign Relations. [xiii]

Moro’s justification for not prosecuting members of the PSDB seems suspicious since his wife Rosangela, whose law firm (Zucolotto Associados, ZA) negotiates Lava Jato plea bargains with corrupt businessmen, has also worked as legal advisor to Flavio Arns, Vice-Governor of Paraná for the PSDB. In another apparent conflict of interest, at the outset of the Lava Jato investigation ZA represented petroleum companies who directly benefit from the breakup of Petrobras, including INGRAX and Royal Dutch Shell. [xiv]

Despite the serious conflicts of interest within the Lava Jato investigation Sergio Moro continues to be treated as a hero in the American business community. On March 2, the corporate-funded think tank AS/COA, which recently held a private meeting with neo-fascist presidential candidate Jair Bolsonaro, will hold an event honouring Latin America’s “top corruption fighters,” featuring a speech by Moro.[xv]

Additional editorial support provided by ALINE PIVA, Research Fellow, and KEITH A. CARR, Research Associate at the Council on Hemispheric Affairs.

To view the original Council of Hemispheric Affairs article online, please click here.

References
[i] https://www.nytimes.com/2018/01/23/opinion/brazil-lula-democracy-corruption.html
[ii]http://politica.estadao.com.br/noticias/geral,raquel-dodge-pede-arquivamento-de-inquerito-contra-serra-no-stf,70002164386
[iii]http://www.nocaute.blog.br/brasil/pedido-de-investigacao-contra-aecio-neves-e-arquivado-no-stf.html
[iv] https://www12.senado.leg.br/noticias/materias/2017/10/17/senado-devolve-mandato-a-aecio-neves
[v]http://www1.folha.uol.com.br/poder/2017/05/1885480-jbs-diz-que-pagou-r-60-milhoes-em-propina-para-aecio-neves-em-2014.shtml
[vi]http://www.brasilwire.com/brazilian-army-why-is-the-lava-jato-team-burying-evidence/
[vii]For example, Alberto Yousseff is expected to recuperate R$20 million as part of his plea bargain (https://oglobo.globo.com/brasil/youssef-pode-recuperar-ate-20-milhoes-com-delacao-premiada-15143551)
[viii]http://www.brasilwire.com/corrupt-lava-jato-sergio-moros-sentence-reduction-industry/
[ix]http://www.brasilwire.com/corrupt-lava-jato-sergio-moros-sentence-reduction-industry/
[x] https://oglobo.globo.com/brasil/cervero-relatou-propinas-de-mais-de-meio-bilhao-de-reais-desde-2002-19447940
[xi]https://noticias.terra.com.br/brasil/politica/lava-jato/em-delacao-delcidio-relata-corrupcao-na-petrobras-nos-governos-de-itamar-e-fhc,17d81a5ef81954267f3965d1a1dbb147nqvmtoaq.html
[xii]http://acervo.oglobo.globo.com/fatos-historicos/em-2001-explosao-da-plataforma-36-deixou-11-mortos-na-bacia-de-campos-9483525
[xiii]http://www.redebrasilatual.com.br/blogs/helena/2017/12/jose-serra-e-aloysio-nunes-estao-perto-de-se-livrar-de-investigacao-de-propinas
[xiv]https://www.cartamaior.com.br/?/Editoria/Politica/Esposa-de-Juiz-da-lava-Jato-e-assessora-juridica-de-Vice-de-Beto-Richa-PSDB-/4/32372

“Lula knew it wasn’t going to work, from the posture from Justice and the media”

Lula Gulliver

Interview: Lígia Bonfanti / Editor: André Zanardo

“He is serene. From the attitude that justice and the media have adopted, he already knew that it was practically impossible”. This was how the ex-Minister of Justice Eugênio Aragão described the state of spirit of Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, after the episodes on Sunday 8 June, in an exclusive interview with Justificando.

The conversation with Justificando took place after the visit by Aragão to the Federal Police Superintendency where he met with and talked to Lula. The ex-Minister gathered the facts that took place on Sunday, and classified the activities of the rapporteur of the process against Lula in the 4th Federal Regional Court, Pedro Gebran Neto, of Judge Sérgio Moro and of the President of the 4th Federal Regional Court, Carlos Eduardo Thompson Flores, as “acting like kids”.

Lula was to wait in Curitiba for the Court’s decision, because he knew that the duty judge’s decision is absolutely transitory. But they resolved to jump in head first and thus trample on all the rules of jurisdiction and competence.

Unlike the ex-President, Aragão was not calm during the interview, and was strongly critical of the judges, who as far as he is concerned, unduly interfered in the case, clearly revealing the practice of “lawfare” against Lula.

I do believe that Moro, Gebran and Thompson Flores should answer for this to the National Council of Justice, and if justice is to be taken seriously in Brazil, they should be punished administratively for what they got up to yesterday. This is shamelessness, everyone should be dumbfounded. I have worked for over 35 years in Justice, and I have never seen anything like it. I have never seen anything like this before. As far as I am concerned, this is scandalous. They threw justice into the mud. They should have been patient. Where could Lula run to?

Eugenio Aragão

Photo: Lula Marques / Agência PT

See the interview in full:

How was your talk with President Lula?

He is serene, tranquil. In fact, in this time he has spent in prison, he has acquired the patience of a Tibetan monk, a tranquillity. At the outset he knew this was practically impossible, from the posture from Justice and the media have systematically adopted against him, so he was not there nursing any hope or anything. He was tranquil, really very tranquil.

How was Lula’s day yesterday throughout this whole episode? Was there any actual movement?

No, at no time was he anxious or anything, he was laughing, he thought this whole situation was funny, and he was accompanying it, sometimes on television, sometimes with the police who came to tell him of this whole attitude of “revoke, don’t revoke”. So he was accompanying the whole thing, but he was very tranquil, very serene. I think he will, at the right time, write a letter manifesting his position.

What is your evaluation on the events of yesterday?

The truth is that amongst all those who manifested themselves yesterday in this whole process, the only one who was right was the duty appeal judge Rogério Favreto, because he undoubtedly had the jurisdiction as the duty appeal judge.

The question was not at all about what had been judged, it was something completely new. What was being discussed was Lula’s right to campaign for the election. So this was what was being put, nobody was talking about provisional execution of time to be served or anything, it was a completely new question. So there was no overlapping with the other judgements.

But Judge Sergio Moro, there from Portugal, became involved without the process to hand, without paper or anything. He starts making calls desperately, calls the superintendent here in Brazil not to obey the order from the appeal judge. Then he issues a completely senseless dispatch, because he could not even say that he “thought” he had the jurisdiction. Because a week and a half ago he was told off by the Supreme Court Justice Dias Toffoli in relation to José Dirceu, because after the Supreme Court ordered the release of Dirceu, he demanded that Dirceu should wear an ankle monitor. At that time Toffoli had already told him he had no jurisdiction. This situation of Lula was identical. He had already been told off for this. Now he decided on a show-down, that is, really decided on sedition. This is sedition, what he did. Really, he decided to face-off against the appeal judge.

And curiously, the strangest thing is that at 9:24 in the morning the system showed the certificate here that the decision had been made to release Lula. The “counter-order” from Moro was given at mid-day. So from 9:24 to mid-day, why did the Federal Police not release him? That means something very strange was going on: the phone calls. If you can reverse a written order by a duty judge by telephone, what justice is this? Then the lines hum. Moro makes a call to Gebran, calls Carlos Eduardo Thompson Flores, in this desperate frenzy. This is not the posture of a judge. This might be the posture of a politician, but a judge should never behave this way. A judge who behaves this way is not impartial, and thus he becomes a judge arousing suspicions, and he cannot conduct this process. That is obvious.

And as if that were not enough, he “consults” – in quotation marks, as there is no such thing in procedural law, without any jurisdiction, as he is on holiday, and even if he was not, he would have no jurisdiction, because the cognitive phase of the process has already ended. He “consults” the rapporteur, Gebran, who curiously recognizes this “consultation”, which is a non-existent act, and uses this “consultation” to give a “counter-order” in relation to the decision of the duty judge, who had the jurisdiction for the case, as Gebran was off-duty.

The correct thing to do was for the duty judge to decide, release Lula, the next day the process would go to the rapporteur, and the rapporteur would obviously give the counter-order. But no, when he was off-duty he simply goes there and gives the counter-order against the decision of the duty judge. In other words he also crossed the line.

But that is not all. Favreto goes back and affirms his competence, and he is quite right, as he is the only one with the competence at that moment, and he gives one hour for the Federal Police to fulfill the release order. Now, the whole of Brazil already knows he has given this order. The Federal Police turned a deaf ear, because behind the scenes was the Chief, Rogério Galloro, knowing through Justice Raul Jungmann that the order was not to be obeyed, because the President of the 4th Federal Regional Court, Thompson Flores had already called saying “I will decide later, hold him”. Once again, Carlos Eduardo Thompson Flores acted outside his jurisdiction, profoundly infringing jurisdictional ethics and worse, without being aware of the arguments in the case records.

So appeal judge Thompson Flores had no jurisdiction over the case?

He had no jurisdiction and did not know what it was about. The one who was speaking for the Court at that moment was Favreto. He orders Lula to be held and only at eight o’clock at night does he give his decision and in doing so, has the orders of a colleague of his disobeyed. This is a big mess, there’s no other name for it. This is stuff of kids. This is stuff of children. There is no other expression to describe what happened.

I do believe that Moro, Gebran and Thompson Flores should answer for this to the National Council of Justice, and if justice is to be taken seriously in Brazil, they should be punished administratively for what they got up to yesterday. This is shamelessness, everyone should be dumbfounded. I have worked for over 35 years in Justice, and I have never seen anything like it. I have never seen anything like this before. As far as I am concerned, this is scandalous. They threw justice into the mud. They should have been patient. Where could Lula run to? He probably wouldn’t even have left Curitiba, because he’s an educated man, he knows there are limits. Lula was to wait in Curitiba for the Court’s decision, because he knew that the duty judge’s decision is absolutely transitory. But they resolved to jump in head first and thus trample on all the rules of jurisdiction and competence.

Much has been said about the friendship between Gebran and Moro, and the impossibility of Gebran being the rapporteur of the case.

On this matter I have no great knowledge, but I heard that there is a Whataspp group between Gebran, Moro, Fachin and everyone who had dealings with the process. If that is true, that is something that is truly horrendous, because that subverts the whole rule of double jurisdiction. If the first, the second and the third instance of jurisdiction are arranging between themselves, then what is the law of double jurisdiction if that exists? Nothing. In other words, give the ruling at the first instance and then have everything arranged between themselves.

You said yesterday that Lula was “kidnapped”.

Yes, because when there is a legitimate order to release President Lula and he is held in captivity, at the whim of magistrates without jurisdiction, he is not imprisoned legitimately, he is kidnapped, he is being held in false imprisonment. He is kidnapped. This is not a legitimate prison. Legitimate prison presupposes that it has been ordered by a competent, impartial authority instituted by law. In this case, there was nothing of the sort. There was a judge in a bathing costume in Portugal, giving orders from his thighs, and another here in Brazil attending to the clamour from his friend. This is not the act of a judge, this is false imprisonment. This is kidnapping by an articulated group, which if it were some other kind of activity could be called a criminal organization.

The ‘Soft Coup’ and the Attack on the Brazilian People

https://www.counterpunch.org/2018/06/22/the-soft-coup-and-the-attack-on-the-brazilian-people/

In 2016, when former President of Brazil Dilma Rousseff was removed from office, I asked my dad- a New Yorker who religiously reads the morning paper- what he thought about the political situation in Brazil. He had read a New York Times article about the alleged corruption scandal, about the mismanagement of money and how the greedy Workers’ Party had been stealing money from the Brazilian people. Sitting here in the US, this is the image of current Brazilian politics: greed, corruption, mismanagement, and embezzlement of funds. You hear of a leftist administration incapable of governing its people, of the poverty-stricken masses in need of salvation. That is, if you hear anything at all. According to this narrative, the new administration (the Brazilian Democratic Movement or MDB) took over to save the day and save the Brazilian people from government corruption. When Dilma was impeached on August 31, 2016, Temer- then Vice President- took over the Presidency.

Less than two years later, however, Michel Temer of the MDB holds the presidency with just a 5% approval rating. This makes Temer the least popular president in Brazilian history. Since his appointment, Temer has also been accused of corruption scandals, the alleged reason for which former president Rousseff was impeached, and the very reason that he assumed office. Every measure of social wellbeing has plummeted as Temer’s administration has passed sweeping austerity measures and cut funding the social programs implemented by the Workers’ Party that are credited with making Brazil a main power on the global stage, increasing social inclusion in higher education, growing the middle class, and decreasing hunger and homelessness (more on this later). Despite his abysmal approval rating, mass protests, public criticism, and a tanking economy, Temer is still in office. And now, the main leftist candidate, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva (also known as Lula), who has consistently led in the polls by wide margins, is in prison serving a 12-year sentence for a legal proceeding that has yet to be concluded.

When we think of coups, most of us imagine an image of the past or, at the very least, a clear and undeniable use of force. Large guns. Military intervention. Blood. The brutal overthrow of an elected government. (Think: Chile in 1973, Honduras in 2009, Argentina in 1976). What has been deemed a ‘soft coup’ in Brazil in 2016 stems from the same motive—the protection of corporate, foreign, and imperialist interests over the interests of the poor and working people and their right to self-determination—but comes wrapped in more palatable packaging that makes it easier to deny the violation of democracy. As Tricontinental: Institute for Social Research discusses in their recent dossier “Lula: The Battle for Democracy in Brazil,” the foreign and national elite used a series of legally sanctioned measures to remove the Workers’ Party from office under the guise of corruption. Though the legal case against former president and current Presidential candidate Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva and former President Dilma Rousseff is full of holes (a lack of evidence, unreliable and changing quid-pro-quo testimonies given in exchange for lighter sentences, illegal wiretapping, etc), it allowed the bourgeoise- operating through the Brazilian courts- a means to sentence Lula to prison and remove Dilma from power. Quoting law professor Carlos Lodi, Tricontinental defines lawfare as the ‘process of using the law to produce political results. Opponents are removed by use of the legal system rather than the constitutionally valid electoral process’. This is a major strategy behind Brazil’s ‘soft coup’ and the assault on Brazilian democracy.

During the ongoing legal battle, media giant Globo consistently and frequently produced news stories that validated the unproven corruption allegations against the Workers’ Party and presented a slanted perspective that set the stage for and legitimized the coup. According to scholar Teun A van Dijk, 45 of the 60 main front page headlines in Globo from March and April 2016- the months leading up to Dilma’s impeachment- were about Lula, Dilma, the PT, impeachment, or Dilma’s government. The slandering of the Workers’ Party, despite their vast social advances and the lack of evidence behind the legal claims, is reminiscent of other notable moments in Latin American history. Leading up to the violent overthrow of socialist Chilean president Salvador Allende in 1973, the CIA and other forces colluded to cause economic destabilization and chip away at Allende’s popularity in order to justify his removal from power and Chile’s realignment with the interests of foreign and domestic capital. Under these conditions, it was easier to oppress the masses and divert the social progress that Allende’s government had made. Forty-three years later in Brazil, the Brazilian and foreign bourgeoise- acting through media and legal channels- have sought to detract from the advances against hunger and poverty made by the Workers’ Party and use the alleged corruption scandals to regain power.

What does the right have to gain in arresting the country’s leading Presidential candidate, arguably one of the most popular historical figured in Brazilian history? What threat do Lula and the Workers’ Party represent to the Brazilian elite? The Workers’ Party dared to reclaim Brazil’s natural resources—mainly the pre-salt oil reserve—and invest it in the public good, rather than for the profit of the elite. During the thirteen years of the Workers’ Party administrations, from Lula’s election in 2002 to the ‘soft coup’ in 2016, the country experienced enormous gains in measures of social well-being. Under Lula, Brazil’s GDP increased by 20%, bringing the country from the 15th largest in 2002 to the 6th largest economy in the world by 2013. This gain was felt by Brazil’s poor and middle class and its most marginalized communities, with the per capita income increasing from $2,500 to $11,000 during the same period. Programs such as Bolsa Familia and Minha Casa, Minha Vida lifted 22 million people out of poverty, provided 2.6 million housing unit to 10 million low-income people, and halved the rate of extreme poverty. Not only did the number of public universities increase during this period (from 45 universities with 148 campuses in 2002 to 65 universities with 327 campuses in 2015), but scholarships and quotas also increased for marginalized black and indigenous communities, resulting in a 286% increase in afro-Brazilians attending institutes of higher education. The list goes on.

In a clear realignment away from a people’s agenda and towards the protection of capital interests and the status quo, since the coup in 2016 Temer’s administration has frozen investment in areas such as health and education for the next 20 years. As a result, unemployment rates, hunger, poverty, and infant mortality have already worsened, with infant mortality rates increasing for the first time in 13 years (for more on the impact of Temer’s austerity measures, read this study). In the words of Frente Brasil Popular in their Declaration to the Brazilian People,“They do not merely want to arrest Lula. They want to arrest the causes that he represents and defends: social inclusion and the promotion of the rights of the people, notably women, children, blacks, indigenous people, the LGBT population, people with special needs; the provision of living wages and the generation of jobs; support for small and medium-sized enterprises, family farming and agrarian reform; the defense of national sovereignty and the construction of a more equal and fairer country.”

Despite Lula’s popularity, his and his party’s undeniable success in improving social conditions in Brazil, and the oversights and legal breaches in the case against him, on April 5, 2018 Judge Sergio Moro denied a habeas corpus petition and demanded that Lula report to jail by 5pm the next day. Lula declared that he would turn himself in to jail to prove his innocence. Before turning himself in, Lula spoke to his supporters: “They don’t understand that there is no point in arresting me, because there are thousands and thousands of Lulas. There is no point in trying to end my ideas, they are already lingering in the air and you can’t arrest them…  They have to know that the death of a fighter cannot stop the revolution.”

To the Brazilian and foreign elite, impeaching Dilma and jailing Lula could represent a turn in the country’s investments (as we have seen with Temer’s subsequent austerity measures and labor reforms), an opening of Brazil’s resources to foreign investment and profits, and a realignment with a neoliberal agenda that places profits over people. The country has reacted with widespread protests, with Lula surrendering to Judge Moro’s prison mandate on the shoulders of thousands of Brazilian people. What will happen in the upcoming October election remains to be seen, with Lula still in prison and the people’s movements refusing the legitimize the soft coup, masked by questionable corruption allegations.

Celina Stien-della Croce is the Coordinator of Tricontinental: Institute for Social Research.

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.