The Saga continues, Chapter xxx*: Lula’s Conviction – O Cafezinho

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julho 2017

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The Saga continues, Chapter xxx*: Lula’s Conviction

Escrito por , Postado em English, Mariana T Noviello, Redação

Photo: Triplex attributed to Lula in Guarujá (top apartment on the left of middle building) Folha de São Paulo.

It seems that Globo, Brazil’s largest media conglomerate, invented a new form of reality TV.

Instead of bringing real people to live within a confined environment like caged animals in programmes such as Big Brother, it has decided to meddle in real life, interfering in the trajectory of Brazilian politics.

We are, apparently, approaching the final episodes of the Brazilian Reality House of Cards: Lula’s conviction.

Though we still have a few chapters to run, so Lula has not been jailed – yet.

Indeed, Judge Moro, the First Instance Court Judge (the Soap’s Hero) in charge of the Lava Jato said so himself.

According to him, there are enough reasons to put Lula in jail but, for the sake of peace, or in his words, “not to traumatise the Brazilian system”, he allowed Lula to await his appeal in liberty.

If you haven’t been following the Soap lately, let me remind you of the episodes you might have missed:

Dilma Rousseff was ‘impeached’ on complex charges of mishandling the budget (she was later cleared).

You might remember the scenes in the Lower House. You know, the ones with congressmen claiming to impeach her for God & Family and against corruption – it was one of the Soap’s most watched episodes.

Her Vice-President, Michel Temer (the one that looks like a vampire with the pretty wife) took over.

He is a member of the PMDB, the largest, most powerful party in Brazil, always called upon to form a government.

The PMDB have been continuously in power, under the Brazilian coalition system, since 1985. That is, since Brazil’s democratization, after 20 years of military dictatorship.

Until recently, the PMDB was happy to form both right and left-leaning coalitions.

No longer: Michel Temer did not simply step in, as one might expect a Vice-President to do. No, he brought in the opposition to govern with (or was it for?) him.

As Glenn Greenwald, the Pulitzer prize winner investigative journalist, put it: Brazilian politics went from centre-left, under Rousseff, to extreme right with Temer and may edge further to the right with Rodrigo Maia (here’s a new name for you!), without any elections in between.

So, Temer brought in the opposition and his core Party mates into government with him.

Since then:
– He formed an all-male, all-white, all-old Cabinet;

– In just over a year, 10 of his Ministers have had to step down due to involvement in corruption scandals (including two of his main allies Romero Jucá, brought back under another guise, and Geddel Vieira);

– Eduardo Cunha, the speaker of the lower house who accepted Dilma’s impeachment, has been arrested for corruption and is in prison awaiting a good plea-bargaining deal. And, according to Globo, Cunha has lots to tell, including the detail of payments to Congressmen who voted for Dilma’s impeachment. (So don’t miss the next chapters!!)

– Apart from Cunha, many other Congressmen who voted against Dilma Rousseff have also been found to be implicated in corruption scandals.

– Temer himself has been accused by the Prosecutor General of having paid bribes to keep Cunha quiet.

– Aah, and how could I forget!! There is also the fact that Temer has released almost 1.8bn in Brazilian reais for congressmen to vote with the government (including voting to free him from investigations).

– And, of course, Senator Aécio Neves, Rousseff’s main challenger in the 2014 elections, has also been charged with corruption (But he is allowed to continue serving as Senator).

The funny thing is, while there is plenty of evidence to implicate all these corrupt politicians now in power, or who left power but are free, the actual evidence against Lula is, let us say, just a little controversial.

But he was convicted! You might say.

Let me explain: and this is where the plot gets really surreal:

Lula was condemned for having received an apartment (and the refurbishing of this apartment) as payment because he ‘helped’ civil construction companies on very lucrative and corrupt contracts with the oil state company, Petrobrás (though there is no concrete evidence that he did so, only plea bargain allegations).

But the apartment is not in Lula’s name and he has visited it only once.

Moro, the distinguished and feted judge who investigated and is now the deciding judge on Lava Jato, claims that it is precisely this lack of evidence that makes Lula Corruptor-in-Chief of Brazil’s most notorious corruption gang, the Workers’ Party (PT)!

The fact that there are no documents that prove the apartment is his and that he has never made use of it, means that it must have been key to a notorious money laundering scheme.

That is, no documents = money laundering.

And the evidence for this?

Out of the 70 or so witnesses called by both the public prosecutors and the defence, only one claimed (without burden of proof and after he had already rejected once Lula’s involvement) that the refurbishing was made on Lula’s request.

Just to make things even more complicated, the flat is not only still in the civil construction OAS list of assets, but is being used as collateral for loans made by the firm.

And just so that this is clearly understood, this so-called Triplex, which apparently Lula owns, is in the once lavish seaside resort of Guarujá.

Guarujá, was the place to own a property back in the 60s and 70s. Nowadays, it is a sort of Brazilian Blackpool (no offence meant) with dirty, overcrowded beaches.


Brazil has 1000s of miles of beautiful coastline, Lula could have chosen somewhere in Angra dos Reis (above), but he allegedly chose Astúrias Beach, Guarujá

But let us step back a little:

So, here we have Lula, who apparently has an apartment for which there is no evidence that it is his and which he has never used. This apartment is the proof that Lula is the Master of Corruption in a scandal that has put Brazil on its knees.

The apartment in question is worth relatively little, considering he is the Master Criminal and taking into account the multi-billion deals he apparently negotiated for these companies.

He could have asked for an island on the prestigious Angra dos Reis Coast or a north-eastern tropical paradise back in his home state of Pernambuco. But no, typical of Lula, he wanted an apartment in the outdated resort of Guarujá!!

Lula must be the cleverest Brazilian (and non-Brazilian) corruption-monger in history.

Let us just compare the sort of evidence we have for him with that for other corrupt politicians involved in corruption scandals:

While Lula has an apartment that he does not own, others have bank accounts in foreign countries, offshore companies to hide their assets, jewels, presents and luxury homes.

While Lula is thought to be the Mastermind precisely because there are no proofs, other corrupt politicians are implicated on stronger indications of corruption: recorded telephone and video conversations, documents and many assets in their names, names of their relatives, wives, children, etc.

I don’t know who is the greatest genius: Lula for hiding it all, or Moro and the ‘Lava Jato boys’ for uncovering the whole plot!

But hey, in the world of Soaps, good cops and judges beat evil criminals, right?

And, lest we forget, all this makes for good TV – So the Soap must go on!!

Meanwhile, in the Real World, since Temer has been in power:

Social expenditure has been frozen for 20 years, as part of a Constitutional Amendment which also removed clauses forcing governments to spend a % of the budget on health, education and social services;

Unemployment is at record levels;

Labour laws have been made more flexible and workers’ rights reduced. Just as an example, new changes mean pregnant women are now allowed to work in unhealthy environments and subcontracting is permitted in a whole range of situations it had not been before;

Brazil is back on the UN Hunger Map;

The Brazilian body responsible for indigenous rights, Funai, has been almost destroyed.

Moreover, against the wishes of the indigenous peoples, General Ribeiro de Freitas is now its director, signalling the ‘militarization of the indigenous question’ and a return to the ‘integrationist policies’ of the military dictatorship;

Laws for protecting the environment, including the Amazon, have been made more flexible, with increased deforestation, threatening bilateral agreements;

2016, the year of the coup, saw record levels of rural violence (a 26% increase in the number of conflicts) with the murder of activists and indigenous peoples. 2017 is expected to be worse (25 deaths in the first five months due to agrarian conflicts);

There have been massacres in prisons with over 120 prisoners killed in the first two months of 2017;

Massacres also in the rural areas, in particular in the Amazonian States: in April 9 landless peasants were murdered in the state of Mato Grosso;

On 30th, in the state of Maranhão, 22 members of the indigenous tribe Gamela were attacked and injured, 2 had their hands cut off and in May, 10 landless peasants were murdered in the state of Pará

Violence has increased in the favelas and Brazilian peripheries, affecting mainly poor, black, young men.

Meanwhile, the financial market is happy. Bovespa, the São Paulo stock exchange, saw one of its greatest surges with Temer secure (after almost falling with accusations) and Lula condemned.

But still, as politics is just a Soap Opera and politicians are all the same,

Who cares?

* the Brazilian weekly Veja was tipped off about the fact Lula was going to be condemned before the official information was released, for lack of full information on the outcome of the case, Veja allegedly said Lula would be condemned for xxx years.

domingo

16

julho 2017

14

COMENTÁRIOS

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  1. Danilo Dantes