Category: Brazil
Will Congressional quest for answers on Brazil’s Operation Lava Jato reveal it to be yet another CIA coup in the Americas?
worker | June 10, 2021 | 8:46 pm | Brazil, Imperialism, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva | No comments

https://www.rt.com/op-ed/526117-lava-jato-us-brazil/

Will Congressional quest for answers on Brazil’s Operation Lava Jato reveal it to be yet another CIA coup in the Americas?

Will Congressional quest for answers on Brazil’s Operation Lava Jato reveal it to be yet another CIA coup in the Americas? 
For years, the anti-corruption probe Lava Jato was hailed as the dawn of a new Brazil, in which democracy and the rule of law reigned supreme. Now, it’s clear it was a shameful set-up – with the US involved every step of the way.

On June 7, a coalition of Democratic lawmakers wrote to US Attorney General Merrick Garland requesting answers about the role of the Department of Justice (DoJ) in Operation Car Wash (Lava Jato in Portuguese), the grand Brazilian anti-corruption investigation launched in 2014 that ignominiously collapsed in February this year.

Noting it to be a “matter of public record” that DoJ representatives supported Brazilian prosecutors involved in the operation, they stated that an agreement was “evidently” reached between Brazilian and US authorities providing for a “substantial share” of the fines rendered from prosecuting Brazilian companies under the US Foreign Corrupt Practices Act to be given to the very prosecutors and judges involved in Lava Jato, and to fund the creation of a “private foundation in Brazil totally administered and controlled by the same Brazilian prosecutors.”

The lawmakers concluded, “We are particularly concerned that the income produced from the enforcement of important US legislation dedicated to fighting corruption, could have ended up going to ends not entirely consistent with democracy, rule of law, equal justice under the law, and due process – not to mention Brazilian legal and constitutional requirements.”

That Washington was involved in Lava Jato, which saw more than 1,000 warrants issued, 429 people indicted and 159 convicted, and numerous high-profile business leaders and politicians – most notoriously Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, president between 2003 and 2010 – jailed, had been clear since 2016, when US federal courts levied record fines against state energy company Petrobras.

ALSO ON RT.COMPower vs people? Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, former president of BrazilHowever, this suspect element of the probe was completely ignored by Western news outlets, as were clear indications from its inception that prosecutions were being pursued on dubious, if not non-existent, grounds.

For instance, Lula’s July 2017 conviction for money laundering and corruption charges was based entirely on the coerced testimony of a sole individual – and in his sentencing, presiding judge Sergio Moro failed to define a specific crime of which the former president was guilty, basing the verdict purely on his own “conviction” that Lula had done “something.”

As a result, Lula was precluded from running for the presidency in 2018, paving the way for the election of Jair Bolsonaro, who subsequently appointed Moro as minister of justice and public security. It was a move enthusiastically received both within and without Brazil, for his crusading efforts had made him something of a media sensation – in 2016, he was named one of Time Magazine’s “100 most influential people,” despite local news outlets that same year having exposed his illegal wiretapping of Lula’s defense team.

It was not until June 2019 that the judge’s mainstream fortunes finally took a turn for the worse, when journalist Glenn Greenwald began publishing a series of articles based on leaked Telegram conversations between individuals involved in Lava Jato.

ALSO ON RT.COM‘Humanitarian’ agency USAID was ‘key tool’ for Washington undermining the Venezuelan government, official review revealsThe communications showed that Moro had provided insider information to prosecutors, helped direct their legal actions, briefed them on their media strategy, and requested that operations be launched against relatives of witnesses, to ensure convictions were secured. In November that year, Lula was finally released from prison after 580 days.

More recent leaks have revealed that the Lava Jato team conducted scores of secret, illegal meetings with FBI operatives throughout the seven-year probe. However, Moro’s ties to US state agencies have been a matter of public record since 2010, when WikiLeaks published a State Department telegram related to a week-long US Embassy-sponsored course laid on for judges, police, and prosecutors in Rio de Janeiro.

The document notes that many attendees expressed an interest in receiving further training from the DoJ on prosecuting money laundering cases, and were keen to collaborate with Washington in this field, contrary to Brasilia’s official position, under the auspices of the “fight against terrorism.”

Moro wasn’t a passive presence at the event, leading a talk on the “15 most common issues” he encountered in Brazilian money laundering cases. The telegram goes on to outline a dedicated program, “Projeto Pontes” (Bridges Project), to “bring together US and Brazilian law enforcement in different venues” and “build on our relationships and exchange best practices.”

ALSO ON RT.COMInternal emails reveal that the Dutch government suppressed White Helmets’ financial fraud – what else are they hiding?The following month, Brasil Wire records that he and prosecutor Karine Moreno-Taxman – who was then based in the US Embassy in Brazil, and helped select participants for the week-long training course – were both present at the Brazilian Federal Police Agents Association’s fourth congress in the north-eastern city of Fortaleza. Moro was lead speaker in a panel discussion on corruption and organized crime arguing for changes in the law and more judicial autonomy in investigating crimes against public administration.

Moreno-Taxman then led a panel of her own, which viewed from a present-day perspective gives every appearance of setting out a clear blueprint for the subsequent Operation Lava Jato. For one, she proposed that Brazilian authorities maintain an informal system of collaboration with their US counterparts, circumventing formal cooperation structures as set out in international treaties.

Another key suggestion was manipulating public opinion in prosecutions of high-profile figures to engender loathing of those under investigation. “Society needs to feel that that person really abused the job and demand that he be convicted,” Moreno-Taxman is reported to have said, a message she’d been propounding across Brazil at a variety of US-sponsored events for two years by that point. It seems likely these lobbying efforts formed part of Projeto Pontes.

When Lava Jato collapsed earlier this year, further leaked Telegram conversations exposed how prosecutors cheered Moro’s decision to incarcerate Lula on April 5, 2018, as it prevented a Supreme Court vote that would have allowed defendants to be spared jail pending appeal. The operation’s chief, Deltan Dallagnol, dubbed the news “a gift” from the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). Had that motion been successful, Lula would have been free to run for president that year – and victory seemed assured, for he was polling 20 points ahead of Bolsonaro.

ALSO ON RT.COMBogus story of Iranian interference in Scottish politics shows Western media to be the true election meddlerToday, polling for the 2022 general election places him in much the same position – perhaps unsurprisingly, given that during his initial seven-year spell in office, Brazil’s economy became the world’s eighth-largest, more than 20 million were raised out of acute poverty, and annual economic growth reached up to seven percent. As Lava Jato is estimated to have damaged foreign investment to the tune of $33 billion and wiped out 4.4 million jobs, a great many Brazilians will be hoping Lula makes a triumphant return to the Palacio da Alvorada.

Seemingly undeterred by the operation’s unceremonious unravelling, at a June 3 White House press conference a nameless “senior administration official” revealed that “components of the intelligence community,” includingthe director of national intelligence and CIA, would be fundamental in “establishing the fight against corruption as a core US national security interest.”

“We’re just going to be looking at all of the tools in our disposal to make sure that we identify corruption where it’s happening and take appropriate policy responses,” the official said.  

It’s unclear whether an “appropriate policy response” will entail the covert selection and grooming of a fresh anti-corruption taskforce in another foreign country, although legal apparatchiks overseas would do well to think twice before accepting clandestine offers of fame and fortune in return for fitting up troublesome political figures for crimes they didn’t commit. The once-celebrated Moro is now utterly disgraced, and under investigation for seven separate counts of felony judicial bias. Still, the mainstream media seems oblivious, and that’s the main thing.

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The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.

Celso Amorim: Lula is Gigantic Force in Brazil, Can Boost BRICS, Facilitate S America’s Integration
worker | April 15, 2021 | 7:49 pm | Brazil, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva | Comments closed

https://sputniknews.com/analysis/202104131082583809-celso-amorim-lula-is-gigantic-force-in-brazil-can-boost-brics-facilitate-s-americas-integration/

OPINION

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Former president Lula will overhaul the present Brazilian politics if he runs and wins, starting with reinvigorating the country’s healthcare system and fighting inequality, reinforcing BRICS, switching to national currencies in trade, and spearheading South America’s re-integration, says former Brazilian foreign minister Celso Amorim.

In a 2 April interview with the Portuguese television station RTP, former Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, 75, noted that he would run for the presidency of Brazil in 2022 if “necessary”. The March verdict by Brazil’s Supreme Court invalidating the former president’s conviction has become a big game changer in the country’s politics by opening the door for Lula to potentially run for re-election.

This has sounded alarm bells for President Jair Bolsonaro and his powerful supporters. However, it’s unlikely that the military, who endorsed Bolsonaro in 2018, will try to hinder Lula’s campaign if he runs, says Brazilian diplomat and politician Celso Luiz Nunes Amorim, who twice held the position of foreign affairs minister between 1993 and 1994 under President Itamar Franco and then between 2003 and 2010 under President Lula da Silva. But what if Washington and multinational corporations try to throw a spanner in Lula’s works?

Sputnik: What are Lula’s chances of winning the race?

Celso Amorim: Lula as many others, as many of us, – I say that because I feel personally linked to him, also – we are now concentrated on what can be done to improve the life of the Brazilians because of the pandemic. Brazil has a record number of deaths per day. It’s a country that holds the greatest number in the world. This, of course, is accompanied by recession, unemployment, and a lack of income for the poor. So all these things now have concentrated his attention. Of course, if you ask the question, he’ll say “Well, I may run,” I don’t know exactly what he said to [Portuguese] television, but I have heard him some other time saying: “Well, if there is a request from my party and from the progressive forces, the ones that are more linked to social ideals in Brazil with more independence in foreign policy, if these forces ask, I’ll run.” But as I’ve said, it’s a bit early.

Of course, Lula is a gigantic force in Brazilian politics, so he’ll have a great influence anyhow. And of course, many people, like myself, hope that he’ll run. But, of course, as I say we are a little far away, and we are in the midst of the pandemic, a big health crisis, a big economic crisis, a big potential social crisis, also. So it’s a bit too difficult to make a precise forecast.

Brazilian former president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva attends a meeting organized by unionists and members of the Workers Party (PT) in Sao Paulo downtown Brazil on March 4, 2016
© AFP 2021 / NELSON ALMEIDA
Brazilian former president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva attends a meeting organized by unionists and members of the Workers Party (PT) in Sao Paulo downtown Brazil on March 4, 2016

Sputnik: What reaction can Lula expect from Washington, given that the Biden administration is at odds with the Bolsonaro cabinet? Will Washington try to meddle in the Lula campaign?

Celso Amorim: Washington is not such a simple concept. There are different forces in the United States that act in different ways. Certainly, if you had the Trump administration, they would support Bolsonaro. With the Biden administration – we don’t know yet. So far, his policies toward Latin America have not shown much progress. But you know, when Lula was president we had good relations, and that was with President Bush and President Obama. Of course, there may be interests of American companies in Brazil. There may be some other strategic interests. But, it’s no longer what used to happen in the 1960s or the 1970s.

Even the kind of meddling is different: I think if it happens it will happen by means of the Brazilian media, of the Brazilian economic elite. And the Brazilian economic elite, they are now a bit disconcerted because, of course, they supported Bolsonaro and now, at least, a lot of them regret it.

So, I don’t see really why they would try to do anything to block Lula’s campaign, because actually Lula has always been a person who was open to dialogue, even in relations with difficult questions like Venezuela, to speak about a regional aspect here.

Brazil's President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, right, listens to his Foreign Minister Celso Amorim during the inauguration of a general consulate of Brazil in Caracas, Thursday, Oct. 29,2009
© AP PHOTO / ARIANA CUBILLOS
Brazil’s President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, right, listens to his Foreign Minister Celso Amorim during the inauguration of a general consulate of Brazil in Caracas, Thursday, Oct. 29,2009

Sputnik: Could multinational corporations try to hinder Lula’s campaign, given that he is opposing more privatisation?

Celso Amorim: Certainly, there are, in Brazil, forces who are more linked to let us say this neo-liberalism that want to privatise and they can gain from this process also, in Brazil. And, of course, there may be other international companies that may be interested in Brazil but they don’t have dominance. They may have some support, internationally speaking, that will oppose Lula because they want to have more privatisation, more space to make gains, immediate gains.

On the other hand, even because of the pandemic, because of the high unemployment, because of the policies that have to do with the price of oil, there is a growing sense in Brazil – which goes beyond traditional progressive forces – that we need a presence of the Brazilian state in the economy in order to re-launch the economy. This is happening even in the United States. What Biden is doing now in the United States is something that has not happened since FDR, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, at the time of the [Great] Depression, in the way he is injecting money including by increasing taxes, taxes on the rich, taxes on the corporations.

So, the world is changing a little bit. We can’t think only through the models that we had, even the models that we had until ten years ago, they became already, in a way, overcome, surpassed. So, there’s a new world. I think that the fact that we have BRICS for instance, we have the possibility, Russia has just proposed, I saw my good friend [Russian Foreign Minister Sergei] Lavrov, with whom I interacted for many years as foreign minister and before as ambassador to the UN, proposing that Russia could abandon the dollar.

I don’t know if Brazil can abandon the dollar, but we could have our trade among BRICS countries with our currencies. So I think it’s very important to reinforce BRICS.

I think Brazil has to work within the groups like BRICS and, of course, to have normal relations with the United States, as well. It’s not easy because Latin America is seen by many people in the US as their backyard, as somehow was implied in your question. But I think also this is changing: we have progressive governments in Mexico, in Argentina, in Bolivia. So, if Lula is elected… and I think if he runs, he has a big chance of being elected, and almost certain that he would be. If he is elected we’ll be able to work both with the integration of South America and with groups like BRICS, and also with the United States, and also with the European Union.

Brazilian former president (2003-2011) Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, delivers a press conference at the metalworkers' union building in Sao Bernardo do Campo, in metropolitan Sao Paulo, Brazil, on March 10, 2021
© AFP 2021 / MIGUEL SCHINCARIOL
Brazilian former president (2003-2011) Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, delivers a press conference at the metalworkers’ union building in Sao Bernardo do Campo, in metropolitan Sao Paulo, Brazil, on March 10, 2021

Sputnik: Which domestic issues will Lula address right away if he wins the presidency? What changes in foreign policy might one expect if Lula wins?

Celso Amorim: The immediate issue that he is addressing now [is the pandemic], because Lula is a big figure in Brazil, what he says and does has an influence. Even, for instance, when Lula criticised the minister of health, Bolsonaro sacked his minister of health. He did not criticise the minister, he criticised the policy, and the minister was sacked some days later. Bolsonaro had never used a mask, and when Lula spoke about these things, he started using it, because he knows that Lula has great influence and he wants to preempt him.

Brazil has a fantastic health system, one of the best in the world – it was not properly used by Bolsonaro, by the present government, – but thanks to that, the situation is not even worse. It’s more or less like the National Health [Service] in Britain. Of course, we are a developing country and don’t have the same kind of resources, but it permeates the society.

In terms of foreign policy: well, of course, the world changes, so I can’t say that he will do exactly the same things as he did 10 years ago when he was in power. But certainly, we’ll try to work along two or three lines, I’ve just mentioned it: to have a more multi-polar world, reinforcing groups like BRICS, that’s essential for Brazil and I think it’s essential for the other member groups. We’ll work on integration in South America and we’ll develop multi-polar relations with all the world, with great emphasis in Africa because Africa is very near to Brazil.

The views and opinions expressed in the article do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.

Record deaths from Covid-19 are ‘worst genocide’ in Brazil’s history, and President Bolsonaro is to blame – ex-leader Lula
worker | March 28, 2021 | 8:03 pm | Brazil | Comments closed

https://www.rt.com/news/519262-lula-bolsonaro-brazil-genocide/

Record deaths from Covid-19 are ‘worst genocide’ in Brazil’s history, and President Bolsonaro is to blame – ex-leader Lula

Record deaths from Covid-19 are ‘worst genocide’ in Brazil’s history, and President Bolsonaro is to blame – ex-leader Lula
The former president of Brazil says his incumbent successor is responsible for the “worst genocide in our history” due to a neglectful response to the epidemic. Brazil this week passed an overall tally of 300,000 Covid-19 deaths.

The scorching critique of President Jair Bolsonaro comes from Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, widely known simply as ‘Lula,’ on the pages of the German weekly Der Spiegel. The popular leftist politician said Bolsonaro has failed to take the pandemic seriously, and this has led to the deaths of over 300,000 people. The grim benchmark was passed by the Latin American nation on Wednesday, while, on the next day, its Ministry of Health recorded more than 100,000 new Covid-19 cases in a single day.

“If he had a bit of dignity, he would have apologized to the families of the 300,000 Covid dead and millions of infected people. He is responsible for that,” said Lula. “Brazil can’t stand it any longer if this man continues to govern like this.”

The former president added that what was going on with Covid-19 in Brazil was the “worst genocide” in country’s history. He used the same term about a year ago, when he explained his concerns with the Bolsonaro government’s approach to the epidemic. The death toll stood at 14,000 at the time.

ALSO ON RT.COMNot ‘forced’ but ‘compulsory’? Brazil’s Supreme Court paves way for SANCTIONS for refusing Covid-19 jabBrazil has the world’s second-worst outbreak of Covid-19 after the US in terms of absolute numbers of cases and deaths. Critics of the incumbent president accuse him of botching the national response for the sake of his laissez-faire, right-wing ideology. Bolsonaro refused to impose restrictive measures to curb the spread of the virus, like harsh lockdowns and mask mandates, arguing that it would lead to economic damage and violate people’s rights.

At the moment the Brazilian government is being accused of failing to procure enough vaccines against Covid-19 for a speedy inoculation program. Foreign Minister Ernesto Araujo is taking much of the blame. As the record-breaking disease statistics arrived this week, Senate President Rodrigo Pacheco blasted Araujo’s performance in office as “far below what’s desired.” Seven senators called for the resignation of the minister, who is a close ally of Bolsonaro.

ALSO ON RT.COMBrazil Supreme Court ruling annuls ex-president Lula’s convictions, making him eligible to run in 2022 electionLula was the leader of Brazil between 2003 and 2011, before eventually making the way for his protégé, Dilma Rousseff. After Rousseff was ousted from power in what her supporters describe as a parliamentary coup, Lula was prosecuted and sentenced on corruption charges. A criminal record prevented him from running against Bolsonaro in 2018. The sentences were annulled by a Brazilian Supreme Court judge this month, which potentially allows Lula and Bolsonaro to have a face-off for the presidential office next year.

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Brazil’s communists warn of ‘the greatest health and hospital crisis in history,’ as death toll passes 300,000
worker | March 25, 2021 | 8:12 pm | Brazil, Communist Party Brazil | Comments closed

https://www.morningstaronline.co.uk/article/w/brazils-communists-warn-greatest-health-and-hospital-crisis-history-death-toll-passes

Brazil’s communists warn of ‘the greatest health and hospital crisis in history,’ as death toll passes 300,000

THE Communist Party of Brazil (PCdoB) has warned that the country is undergoing “the greatest health and hospital crisis in history” after the coronavirus death toll passed 300,000.

The National Council of Health Secretaries announced the grim milestone on Wednesday night. Only the United States has had more people die from Covid-19.

PCdoB parliamentary leader Renildo Calheiros called on President Jair Bolsonaro to “wake up” and stop undermining the public health response as hospitals in the capital Brasilia reported lining their floors with corpses because their morgues are full.

With the country’s health system overrun, thousands of critically ill patients are waiting for intensive care beds to become available.

Mr Calheiros said that, though evidence of the danger posed by Covid-19 had mounted for over a year, the president “preferred to deny science, access to vaccines and publicly discourage preventive measures, such as wearing masks and social isolation.

“Unfortunately, he has now demonstrated that it is not a ‘little flu’,” he said, a reference to Mr Bolsonaro’s infamous dismissal of the new virus last year.

With MPs from parties of both left and right saying that they were fielding calls from desperate constituents with dying relatives unable to get into hospital, even allies of the president have called on him to change course.

Lower house Speaker Arthur Lira acknowledged that the public mood was turning to anger on Wednesday. “There is a lot of solidarity, but everything has its limits. Everything,” he said.

Mr Bolsonaro tried to strike an upbeat note on Tuesday in an address to the nation in which he promised that 2021 would be “the year of vaccination.” But in many cities, residents met the address with pot-banging protests to drown out his words.

The Communist Party pointed out that not only has the Bolsonaro administration itself refused to enforce social distancing or a lockdown, this month it tried – and failed – to get the Supreme Court to reverse such measures adopted by individual states.

PCdoB MP Daniel Almeida said he hoped that Tuesday’s address presaged a change of policy. “It seems that despair is knocking on Bolsonaro’s door. The shocking thing is that we need record deaths for many people to pay attention to the irresponsibility of the government. Over 300,000 lives lost? It’s genocide.”

To left-wing forces of Brasil
worker | March 20, 2021 | 7:17 pm | Brazil, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva | Comments closed

COMMUNIST PARTY OF THE SOVIET UNION
CENTRAL COMMITTEE

FIRST (GENERAL) SECRETARY

Tel. +7-495-647-6335, e-mail: sekr@kpss.org

To left-wing forces of Brasil

 

On behalf of the leadership, all members and supporters of our Party I send our congratulations on decision of the Supreme Federal Court of Brasil to drop all corruption charges from Comrade Lula.

 

In conditions of deep socio-economic crisis the Brazilian public opinion was expressing a growing intolerance against a court arbitrariness, and even an extremely conservative judge community could not withstand such a pressure. Such intolerance was manifested not only in sociological surveys, but also in mass manifestations in defense of Lula, organized primarily by the MST movement. A certain role was also played by the movement of international solidarity, in which we took a modest part, in particular, conducting the vigils near the Brazilian embassy in Moscow.

 

Such decision of the Supreme Court of Brazil has a great political importance, allowing Lula to take part in the presidential elections. And win them with a great advantage, as evidenced by results of public opinion polls.

 

If Brazilian left forces will come to power again, the country will continue its rapid development, interrupted by the rule of the far right. At the same time the situation will change also in the international arena. Without the US dictates the country will conduct a more balanced policy and withering BRICS could gain the second breathing.

 

But this is a matter of the future. Today we must congratulate Brazilian comrades with a real and serious victory.

 

Long live Socialism!

Long live solidarity between Left forces all over the world!

 

Sergey Skvortsov,

First (General) Secretary of the CPSU

Brazil’s Lula da Silva Will Be ‘A Major Political Force’ Next Year, Journalist Brian Mier Explains
worker | March 19, 2021 | 6:55 pm | Brazil, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva | Comments closed

https://sputniknews.com/interviews/202103171082370584-brazils-lula-da-silva-will-be-a-major-political-force-next-year-journalist-brian-mier-explains/

INTERVIEWS

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Brazil’s Supreme Court has sidestepped addressing evidence of corruption between the judge and chief prosecutor in Lula da Silva’s trial, ultimately invalidating the former president’s conviction on the basis that it was illegally transferred to a state which had no jurisdiction to hear the case, Brian Mier tells Sputnik.

Brian Mier, co-editor of Brasil Wire based in São Paulo, described to Sputnik the significance of the recent Brazilian Supreme Court decision to invalidate the conviction of former President Lula da Silva. Mier detailed the origins of the prosecution against Lula, which lie in the now infamous joint US-Brazilian “anti-corruption” investigation Operação Lava Jato (aka Operation Car Wash). Lava Jato, Mier explains, was revealed to be tainted from the beginning by political bias and improper conduct by both the judge and chief prosecutor in the case, following the leaks of private Telegram messages between the two.

Sputnik: Can you explain what Operation Car Wash (Operação Lava Jato) was and its relevance to the prosecution and conviction of former Brazilian President Lula da Silva?

Brian Mier: Operation Car Wash [Operação Lava Jato] was initiated as a joint international anti-corruption investigation in partnership between a small group of public prosecutors in the provincial [Brazilian] city of Curitiba, the US Department of Justice, SEC [Securities and Exchange Committee], and the Swiss federal police — ostensibly to combat corruption. But in fact, what it did was paralyse some of Brazil’s key industries and attempted to annihilate the careers of some important leftist politicians, including former President Lula [da Silva].

Sputnik: As you’ve just noted, Lava Jato was eventually revealed to be rather skewed in terms of who it focused on and who it did not, with accusations emerging that it was a form of “lawfare”. Can you explain exactly how that panned out in practice?

Brian Mier: Well, everyone suspected this from the beginning in Brazil, all in the progressive community, at least, on the left, everyone suspected it was being used to target [former President] Dilma Rousseff before her illegal impeachment and Lula and other party leaders of the Workers’ Party while sparing basically everyone from the PSDB party [Social Democracy Party], which has historic ties to the US Democratic Party. However, once these leaked Telegram messages – that were hacked by a man named Wagner Delgatti – were released, first on a small scale to The Intercept, but now on a much larger scale to the Supreme Court and, Lula’s defence team, we see that the entire time during the course of the investigation, there were illegal meetings being held every 15 days to plan the operation out with a group of FBI agents.

This supposedly impartial judge [Sergio Moro] was giving instructions to the prosecution on how to damage the public image of targets of the operation and how to selectively give out media leaks. And it also shows them praying that [President Jair] Bolsonaro would win the elections. And we had this quid pro quo where the judge in the operation was immediately rewarded with a justice minister position after Bolsonaro was elected president of Brazil.

Sputnik: Can you elaborate a bit further on the US role in the Lava Jato investigation?

Brian Mier: In 1970, [the US] passed a law called the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, which has been expanded over the years. Initially it was to try and punish US companies for committing corruption abroad. But through its adhesion to this anti-corruption act, that was passed internationally in 1997, any signatory to it opens up their sovereignty for US agents to operate against companies that either are American or that [are] traded on the US stock exchange, or even if they have property in the US or an office, or if they’ve ever paid a bribe in US dollars, they’re open to investigation, in partnership with local authorities, by US authorities. And this FCPA, as it’s called for short, was used as justification, for example, when FBI agents raided FIFA headquarters in Switzerland in 2015 and arrested some of their vice presidents.

So from the beginning, there was an FCPA partnership between the US Department of Justice and SEC, and these Brazilian public prosecutors. Through the operation, in 2015 alone, the US collected more than $3.5 billion in fines from some of the key companies in Brazil’s industry, and also through the operation, they paralysed the five largest construction companies in the country in 2015. Analysis conducted now shows that the result of Lava Jato was that 4.4 million Brazilians lost their jobs and $173 billion of foreign investment didn’t end up arriving in Brazil because of this operation.

So, we really view it now as a kind of economic and political terrorism that was committed against one political party in Brazil, mainly the workers party, but opened the door for this neo-fascist takeover by Jair Bolsonaro and the military generals who were running the country with them, which is handing over all of the results, natural resources at below-market rates to US and European multinationals right now.

Sputnik: What exactly is it that Lula da Silva was convicted of?

Brian Mier: Lula da Silva was convicted of committing indeterminate acts of corruption, because the judge and prosecutors were working together in a process that had no jury, couldn’t find any material evidence that he’d committed any crime. Ostensibly, it was related to receiving free reforms and an upgrade on an apartment in a beachside building in Guarujá, São Paulo, but they had no proof that Lula or his family had ever spent the night there. They had no proof that reforms were ever made there. And most importantly, the deed was never registered in Lula’s or any of his family’s names. So not only had he never really been there, I mean, they visited the building once, they’d never like spent any time there, not only had reforms never taken place, but they had no proof that they own the place. The place was registered in a construction company’s name.

Also, the alleged gift of these reforms and upgrading [the property] allegedly took place after [Lula] left office. So, it was impossible to prove any kind of quid pro quo either. So, in the ruling against Lula, Judge Sergio Moro said, “we don’t have any, we don’t have enough material evidence to specify what the crime was, but I have a strong conviction that Lula has done something wrong”. That was basically the sentence, and it’s been thrown out now because of illegal forum shopping. The apartment, allegedly owned – but not proven in any way – by Lula, is located in São Paulo state. But he was tried, not only for this alleged crime but for two others, in a neighbouring state, in a neighbouring district court, in the City of Curitiba, which had no jurisdiction. It was forum shopped to a jurisdiction that they knew was working in partnership with the US DoJ. What they did to be able to move the case to Curitiba was [to make] a frivolous accusation that this was connected somehow to the Petrobras state petroleum company, which operates nationally.

But we now have Telegram conversations showing them talking about how they knew there was no connection and they were even joking, like, “as long as he’s filled up his tank with gasoline, from a BR petrol station, this is enough to connect it to Petrobras”. They were laughing about it on Telegram. So, the minute the case was transferred into this other district that was working in partnership with the US DoJ, they dropped the Petrobras charge and Lula’s defence filed a motion to dismiss in 2016, for lack of jurisdiction. They have explained this in every press conference since, but the Anglo media kept repeating this lie, that Lula was tied up in a graft scheme with Petrobras, even up to the eve of his political imprisonment in 2018. So, that’s why it was thrown out eventually. The Supreme Court recognised the fact that this court had absolutely zero jurisdiction over any of the cases Lula had been charged with in Lavato Jato. So, what happened is they mounted frivolous charges, forum shopped them to a district that was working together with the US DoJ, and destroyed the chances of a non-fascist government in 2018 by removing the leading candidate from the election based on frivolous charges that have now been thrown out. [Lula] can’t get back those 580 days he spent illegally in prison, and Brazil is going to take a long time to recover from the damage caused by this US-backed operation which put [President Jair] Bolsonaro in power.

Sputnik: So the Supreme Court dismissed the charges and invalidated the conviction on the basis that it was illegally forum shopped, but not based on corruption between the judge and the prosecutors or state malfeasance?

Brian Mier: No, to the contrary. What they did do, though, was they admitted the evidence of the six terabytes of leaked Telegram conversations. They’re allowing the defence team to use that as evidence. But the reason the case was thrown out was for forum shopping. And a lot of people think it was being done to protect [Judge] Sergio Moro and Chief [Lava Jato] Prosecutor Delton Dallagnol from a criminal investigation that was underway in the Supreme Court, connected to Lava Jato. Because we know, once again, from these Telegram conversations that the prosecution considered the [Supreme Court] justice who made this ruling [invalidating Lula’s conviction], Edson Fachin, to be on their team, in their pocket. There’s a Telegram message where Delton Dallagnol was kind of like yelling and going, “woo-hoo Fachin is ours”, from the time that Lula was arrested. So, in a way, it was just like damage control by the Supreme Court, they’re trying to protect themselves. And also, they’re trying to protect themselves from more and more incriminating leaks coming out now from these Telegram conversations. But de facto, it ended up benefiting Lula and Brazilian democracy.

Sputnik: How significant is the court’s decision on Lula’s case and will there be wider ramifications for the country as a whole?

Brian Mier: Definitely wider ramifications. And I’ll give you the first example right now. Once Lula’s political rights were restored, he gave this historic three-hour press conference last Wednesday in which he just ripped into the federal government and the Bolsonaro administration’s criminal mishandling of the COVID-19 [pandemic]. He said, “unlike our president, I believe the Earth is round. I don’t believe [Hydroxychloroquine]… or in any other miracle cures”. And as a result, immediately afterwards, Bolsonaro gave a press conference on Facebook Live, [during] which he put a globe on the table to show that he doesn’t believe the Earth is flat, even though he’s made comments to that effect. And he was wearing a mask for the first time in weeks, and now it looks like his health minister is on the way out. He announced that he wants to resign with his entire team [on 14 March 2021]. We don’t know if Bolsonaro is going to let him resign or not, but, the way it’s playing out, it looks like the health minister is resigning and most analysts believe this is a direct result of Lula’s press conference last Wednesday.

[Lula] is leading in all of the polls for the presidency next year, and he also has the lowest rejection rate of any of the 10 top candidates. This is something that’s not been properly reported in the English-language media. They’re lying about him having this really high rejection rate, which is untrue. And he’s 13 points ahead of Bolsonaro in the polls. And so even if he decides not to run, he is going to be a major political force next year. If he doesn’t run himself, the candidate he supports will probably win the election. If there are free and fair elections, if there’s not some kind of fascist clampdown.

*This article has been edited for clarity and concision.

US Secretly ‘Persuaded’ Bolsonaro to Reject Russian COVID Vaccine, Investigative Journalist Explains
worker | March 18, 2021 | 8:16 pm | Brazil, COVID-19, Cuba, Russia, Venezuela | Comments closed

https://sputniknews.com/interviews/202103181082380041-us-secretly-persuaded-bolsonaro-to-reject-russian-covid-vaccine-investigative-journalist-explains/

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The US government has been pressuring countries not to accept healthcare assistance from countries deemed to be “detrimental” to US safety and security, such as Cuba, Venezuela, and Russia, explains investigative journalist John McEvoy, who first broke the story.

John McEvoy is an independent journalist who has published in the International History Review, The Canary, Tribune Magazine, Jacobin, Declassified UK, and Brasil Wire, among other publications. He reported from Venezuela during the coup efforts in 2019, from Colombia during the student protests the same year, and from France in 2020 on the Yellow Vests movement and general strike.

Mr McEvoy’s main research focus is in contemporary British involvement in Latin America – notably British state intervention and natural resource extraction in Colombia since 1989. McEvoy told Sputnik about his latest exclusive with Brasil Wire, which revealed that the US Department of Health had pressured the Brazilian government not to accept Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine, designed to protect against COVID-19.

“[T]he logic of denying a country necessary healthcare during a pandemic – simply in order to remove a potential soft victory from an Official Enemy – borders on genocidal”, McEvoy argued.

Sputnik: What exactly is it that you discovered the US Department of Health has been doing in relation to the vaccine Sputnik V, produced in Russia?

John McEvoy: According to the US Department of Health and Human Services’ own report, a US health attaché based in Brazil persuaded “Brazil to reject the Russian COVID-19 vaccine”. The reason for this, the report noted, was to counter “malign influences” in the Americas – meaning Russia, as well as Venezuela and Cuba. So, in short, we discovered that in order to deny Russia a soft power victory in the Americas, the US government actively encouraged the Bolsonaro administration, which owes its very power to a US-backed soft coup, not to purchase an independently approved vaccine.

 

This decision could have resulted in the deaths of thousands, if not tens of thousands, of Brazilians. 282,000 Brazilians have died of COVID-19 already, Brazil is currently in its worst phase since the pandemic began, and Bolsonaro’s disastrous COVID-19 policy is largely to blame for this state of affairs.

Sputnik: Are there countries other than Brazil which were also pressured not to accept Sputnik V?

John McEvoy: It’s not clear from this report, but if the US is capable of weighing on Latin America’s largest country, it’s likely that it has at least attempted to pursue similar policies elsewhere. We also know that the US has dispatched health attachés to China, India, Mexico, and South Africa, who are likely charged with similar responsibilities. Of course, however, the health attaché is not the only way the US could achieve this objective of persuading smaller countries to purchase certain vaccines and not others.

Sputnik: Do we know whether these US policies have actually been effective in preventing the use of Sputnik V?

John McEvoy: The Bolsonaro government recently organised the purchase of tens of millions of the Sputnik V vaccine, almost certainly in response to his government’s total mishandling of the pandemic, leading it into crisis zone. But prior to this, Bolsonaro was slow to reach a deal for the purchase of any vaccine except for AstraZeneca’s, leading to total confusion among medical professionals with regards to his COVID-19 policy. Why was he relying on a vaccine that wasn’t even ready for production, while others had come online and were already proven to be effective? Well, it looks like we now have our answer.

 

On that note, Brasil Wire also recently revealed that in the run-up to the 2018 presidential election, the British government had also been secretly lobbying the Bolsonaro campaign on behalf of AstraZeneca, as well as its mining interests. It’s not clear whether a relationship between Bolsonaro and AstraZeneca was made as early as 2018, before the pandemic, but it’s certainly also worth considering.

Sputnik: The US Department of Health has also apparently targeted health support and solidarity coming from places like Cuba. Can you explain what is known about this?

John McEvoy: The US DHHS report also noted that it had offered, “CDC technical assistance in lieu of Panama accepting an offer of Cuban doctors”. Cuban doctors, as you know, have been on the frontline of confronting the pandemic since it first spread worldwide in early 2020. They’ve been operational in over 40 countries, mostly in places which have weak healthcare systems.

If you recall, at the start of the pandemic, Cuban doctors were also essential to helping British citizens trapped on a ferry which was refused permission to dock in the Bahamas and Barbados, for which the British government publicly thanked Cuba. So while Cuba exports health, the US – as a general rule – exports misery and poverty. This notion is rarely seen so clearly as in the example of the US actively trying to prevent Panama – which now has one of the worst COVID-19 rates in the entire region – from allowing entry to Cuban doctors, which clearly could have remedied its current terrible predicament.

Sputnik: Why should the average person care about these policies?

John McEvoy: I don’t think it’s hyperbolic to say that the logic of denying a country necessary healthcare during a pandemic – simply in order to remove a potential soft victory from an Official Enemy – borders on genocidal. Of course, we’ve seen the US engage in these types of activities for years – placing crushing sanctions on countries like Venezuela and Syria, which the UN special rapporteur found were massively impacting the civilian population. In a general sense, these types of erosions of sovereignty need to be public knowledge – Bolsonaro came to power through a US-backed soft coup, and now the US seems partially responsible for the deaths of thousands of Brazilians.

The average person should also care because when we see the US accusing Russia of spreading disinformation about vaccines or meddling in elections, there’s a significant element of projection to this – the US is basically always guilty of doing exactly what it says Russia or whoever else is doing.