Tag Archives: Worker’s Party

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.

Moro, the Clean Hands Judge, going to s**t!

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By Emanuel Cancella

I am an admirer of the poet Gentileza and really believe that kindness (gentileza) generates  kindness, but not with Judge Moro, who has led to countless losses for our justice system, the economy and democracy. And that is not trifling.

Judge Sergio Moro, who became famous by taking up the standard in the fight against corruption, ever more wallowing in the mud. His accomplices, such the Federal Supreme Court, are starting to abandon “Moro-Mania”, timidly.

The Federal Supreme Court prohibited the ‘forceful arrests’ that Moro used and abused, including against ex-President Lula. On the eve of voting on this authoritarian rubbish of forceful arrest, the jurist Técio Lins e Silva gave a strong performance in the plenary session of the Court.

Técio spoke of the embarrassment of taking an innocent Brazilian by force, as happened in the military dictatorship, to make a statement as Moro did with Lula, and with the journalist, Eduardo Guimarães, amongst others. Watch the entire defence by Técio in the STF, denouncing ‘forceful arrests’ (6).

Técio spoke of families who hired him professionally seeking redress to face this authoritarian rubbish that Moro used against innocent people, exposing them to ridicule, to being taken from their homes by the police.

Lava Jato, led by Moro, is accused by the Clube de Engenharia, Fiseng, Aepet, FUP and FNP of destroying the national engineering and shipbuilding industry (2 to 5). Lava Jato, as the fight against corruption, alleging overbilling, cancelled various projects, amongst them the Ceara and Maranhão refinery and halted the Comperj project.

Look, if someone really wanted to fight corruption, rather than sinking the country and favouring the competition abroad, they would have to punish the management, even imprison them, but they would keep the projects going, because in the end the ones who paid for all this were the workers. That is why Lava Jato is responsible for most of the 13 million unemployed.

Furthermore, Moro, in charge of Lava Jato, was an accomplice of the PSDB party in Petrobras. In November 2016, I denounced the omission of Lava Jato formally to the Federal Prosecution Service (MPF) in relation to the criminal management of Fernando Henrique Cardoso and Pedro Parente at Petrobras, with no response to this day.  See the denunciation in full (7).

Besides the criminal support of the media, principally the Globo network, which gave an award to Moro, as well as an award from the Brazil-United States Chamber of Commerce. Perhaps it was payback, as Lava Jato, headed by Moro, was omissive too when the neoliberal PSDB party supporter and head of Petrobras, Pedro Parente, paid R$ 10 million to American shareholders, even without Petrobras having been found culpable (9,10).

On the ruling of Moro, the thieves at Petrobras are serving their time at home, in true leisure clubs, built with the money they stole, amongst others: the ex-director of Petrobras, Paulo Roberto Costa; Fernando Baiano, lobbyist for the PMDB; Sérgio Machado, ex-president of Transpetro, a subsidiary of Petrobras and the money-launderer Alberto Youssef. Astounding! Youssef is at home despite being convicted to 82 years and 8 months in prison (1).

To favour the thieves convicted in Lava Jato even further, Moro :

“Prohibited the use of evidence obtained in Operation Lava Jato against those who made plea bargains and companies that recognised the crimes and who came to collaborate with the prosecutors in the investigations, with the decision affecting the AGU (Federal Attorney-General), the CGU (Federal Comptroller-General), Cade (Administrative Economic Defence Council), the Central Bank, the Federal Revenue Service and the TCU (Federal Accounts Tribunal)” (12)

Moro, besides discrediting the justice system in our country, their practices are criticised even by Pope Francisco, who said in a sermon:

“Obscure conditions have been created to convict one person. The media start speaking badly about people, the people who run things; with slander and defamation of these people who have been stained. Then comes the Justice system, who convict them, and in the end, a coup is implemented” (Francisco)” (13).

To leave no doubt about the dissatisfaction with the justice system in Brazil and the imprisonment of Lula, the head of the Roman Catholic church also sent an emissary  to Brazil, the country with the most Catholics in the world, to visit Lula, but who was barred from doing so, can you guess by whom? By Judge Sergio Moro!

I close with a declaration by Técio Lins e Silva to the STF, remembering the lawyer Sobral Pinto (6). Remembering, even though he was a conservative, Sobral Pinto defended the communist Senator Luis Carlos Prestes, imprisoned by the military dictatorship. According to Técio, at a certain time in a session of the Superior Military Tribunal, Sobral Pinto said: “I will denounce them to the country!” The president of the Military Tribunal then ordered him to be arrested. So I close with a message from the great Sobral Pinto to lawyers: “The law is not a profession for cowards!”

Source:
1 – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hAzFEQYt0cA

2 – https://jornalggn.com.br/noticia/para-engenheiros-lava-jato-promovo-desmonte-da-industria-nacional

3 – https://jornalggn.com.br/noticia/documentario-mostra-como-a-lava-jato-destruiu-a-economia-em-poucos-meses

4 – https://jornalggn.com.br/noticia/para-engenheiros-lava-jato-promovo-desmonte-da-industria-nacional

5 – http://www.aepet.org.br/w3/index.php/artigos/noticias-em-destaque/item/919-lava-jato-e-desmonte-do-pre-sal-a-combinacao-que-levou-o-rio-a-falencia

6 – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VZWsBq4pvgo

7 – http://www.fnpetroleiros.org.br/noticias/3901/petroleiro-denuncia-a-operacao-lava-jato-ao-mpf-veja-na-integra-teor-da-denuncia-protocolada-ontem

8 – https://oglobo.globo.com/brasil/moro-ve-premio-como-reconhecimento-privado-anti-corrupcao-22686705

9 – https://www.brasil247.com/pt/247/artigos/174167/Moro-e-o-pr%C3%AAmio-da-Globo.htm

10 – http://www.redebrasilatual.com.br/politica/2018/02/parlamentares-vao-a-justica-contra-entrega-de-r-10-bi-por-presidente-da-petrobras

11 –  http://www.diariodepernambuco.com.br/app/noticia/politica/2016/07/10/interna_politica,654284/delatores-cumprem-prisao-domiciliar-em-mansoes-e-coberturas.shtml

12 –  https://www.brasil247.com/pt/247/parana247/358196/Moro-usa-lei-dos-EUA-para-blindar-delatores.htm

13 – – https://jornalggn.com.br/noticia/criam-se-condicoes-obscuras-para-condenar-a-pessoa-disse-o-papa

Rio de Janeiro, 15 June 2018.

Author: Emanuel Cancella, OAB/RJ 75.300, ex-president of Sindipetro-RJ, founder and ex- director of the Comando Nacional dos Petroleiros, of FUP and founder and coordinator of FNP, ex-national director of Dieese, and author of the book “A Outra Face de Sérgio Moro” which can be purchased at: http://emanuelcancella.blogspot.com.br/2017/07/a-outra-face-de-sergio-moro-pontos-de.html.

(Esse relato pode ser reproduzido livremente)
See the video of this post at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_9KYD5iDVb4

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.