Category: Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva
Brazil’s top court tosses graft cases against ex-President Lula, furthering new bid for presidency
worker | June 29, 2021 | 7:45 pm | Brazil, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva | No comments

https://www.rt.com/news/527536-lula-corruption-cases-invalidated/

Brazil’s top court tosses graft cases against ex-President Lula, furthering new bid for presidency

Brazil’s top court tosses graft cases against ex-President Lula, furthering new bid for presidency
The Supreme Court of Brazil has reset two cases against former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, which had been brought by a judge that the court had earlier found biased, bringing him closer to a new run for president.

A magistrate of the Supreme Federal Court invalidated all evidence brought in the two cases by Sergio Moro as part of the large-scale corruption investigation known as ‘Lava Jato’ (Operation Car Wash). The court earlier found Moro biased against Lula, as he is commonly known in Brazil, and overturned a criminal conviction that he passed on the former president in 2017.

The conviction barred the socialist Lula from running against right-wing candidate Jair Bolsonaro in the 2018 presidential election, which resulted in the latter’s win. Moro then became justice minister under President Bolsonaro.

A series of leaks of communications between the ex-judge and others involved in the prosecution of Lula, which were published by journalist Glenn Greenwald, indicated that the conviction was the result of a plot to bar him from returning to power. At one moment, Deltan Dallagnol, the lead prosecutor in the operation, called Lula’s arrest “a gift from the CIA,” which some people interpreted as evidence that the Donald Trump administration was involved in the plot.

ALSO ON RT.COMBrazilians protest Bolsonaro’s rule as country hits 500,000 coronavirus deaths (VIDEO)In March, the Brazilian Supreme Court agreed that political bias was present in the case and ruled to overturn Lula’s conviction. It also accused Moro of seven counts of felony judicial bias during his handling of Lava Jato.

This week’s ruling by Supreme Court Magistrate Gilmar Mendes expands that decision to the two cases that Moro launched against Lula while serving as a judge in the city of Curitiba and orders the nullification of “all the decision-making actions” by him. The decision comes days after a federal court acquitted Lula on corruption charges in yet another case.

The news means that it is becoming less likely that Lula will be convicted of a crime and be barred from running in next year’s presidential election in Brazil in a repeat of the 2018 scenario. While he didn’t officially announce his candidacy, Lula is expected by many to run against Bolsonaro, whose policies he has harshly criticized. A poll last month indicated that Lula would win by a comfortable margin, should he and the incumbent president go to a run-off.

ALSO ON RT.COMBrazil doesn’t need US permission to its own backyard, ex-president Lula tells RT 

Lula, who was in office from 2003-2010, has denied all corruption allegations against him. He still faces three trials, one in Brasilia and two in Sao Paulo.

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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 | Comments closed

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.

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.

Covid-19: Brazil surge reaches new level as daily deaths pass 2,000
worker | March 12, 2021 | 8:05 pm | Brazil, COVID-19, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva | Comments closed

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-latin-america-56355861

Covid-19: Brazil surge reaches new level as daily deaths pass 2,000

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Brazil has exceeded 2,000 Covid-related deaths in a single day for the first time, as infection rates soar.

The country has the second highest death toll in the world, behind the US. Experts warn the transmission rate is made worse by more contagious variants.

On Wednesday, former leader Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva hit out at President Jair Bolsonaro’s “stupid” decisions.

Mr Bolsonaro has downplayed the threat from the virus. Earlier this week he told people to “stop whining”.

On Wednesday, the country recorded 79,876 new cases, the third highest number in a single day. The total number of Covid-related deaths reached 270,656, according to Johns Hopkins University in the US.

Chart showing daily confirmed coronavirus deaths in Brazil
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Chart showing cumulative coronavirus deaths in Brazil
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It means Brazil has a rate of 128 deaths per 100,000 population – 11th highest amongst 20 of the worst affected countries in the world. The highest rates are in the Czech Republic with 208 deaths per 100,000 people and the UK with 188 deaths per 100,000 people, Johns Hopkin’s figures suggest.

What’s the situation in Brazil’s hospitals?

Margareth Dalcolmo, a doctor and researcher at Fiocruz described the situation as “the worst moment of the pandemic in Brazil”.

Across Brazil, intensive care units (ICU) are at more than 80% capacity, according to Fiocruz. And in 15 state capitals, ICUs are at more than 90% capacity, including in Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo.

Reports say the capital Brasilia has now reached full ICU capacity, while two cities – Porto Alegre and Campo Grande – have exceeded capacity.

In its report, Fiocruz warned that the figures point to the “overload and even collapse of health systems”.

Brazilian epidemiologist Dr Pedro Hallal told the BBC World Service’s Outside Source programme: “If we do not start vaccinating the population here very soon, it will become a massive tragedy.”

Dr Hallal, who works in Rio Grande do Sul, also said that people felt “abandoned by the federal government”.

“It took a long time for the politicians to act,” 40-year-old Adilson Menezes told AFP news agency outside a hospital in São Paulo. “We are paying for it, the poor people,” Mr Menezes said referring to the state of near collapse of Brazil’s public healthcare system.

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Analysis box by Katy Watson, South America correspondent

Brazil is facing its biggest crisis since the pandemic began – but still, it feels like people are trying to ignore it.

Take São Paulo for example; while non-essential shops have had to close these past few weeks, there’s no “lockdown” to speak of – no restrictions on whom people meet and schools have remained largely open (albeit with lower capacity).

People here are making their own decisions about how to stay safe, and there certainly isn’t that fear like we saw this time a year ago, where the whole world was shutting down, so Brazilians did the same.

A year on, and even amid dire statistics that are set to carry on rising, Jair Bolsonaro’s narrative has been bought by many – a mistrust of the Chinese CoronaVac vaccine, a railing against closing restaurants and businesses – all the while, scientists are increasingly calling for more national leadership to stop the entire health system from collapsing in the coming weeks.

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What’s behind the surge?

A surge in cases in recent days has been attributed to the spread of a highly contagious variant of the virus – named P1 – which is thought to have originated in the Amazon city of Manaus.

Preliminary data suggests the P1 variant could be up to twice as transmittable as the original version of the virus.

It also suggests that the new variant could evade immunity built up by having had the original version of Covid. The chance of reinfection is put at between 25% and 60%.

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Analysis box by Smitha Mundasad

Scientists are concerned that Brazil has almost become a “natural laboratory” – where people can see what happens when coronavirus goes relatively unchecked.

Some warn the country is now a breeding ground for new variants of the virus, unhindered by effective social distancing and fuelled by vaccine shortages.

That’s because the longer a virus circulates in a country, the more chances it has to mutate – in this case giving rise to P1.

Global experts are calling for a plan – including rapid vaccination, lockdowns, and strict social distancing measures – to get the situation under control.

The worry is that the P1 variant is a looming threat over the progress made in the region and the wider world.

Current vaccines are, on the whole, still effective against the variant but may be less so than against the earlier versions of the virus they were designed to fight.

Studies are ongoing but experts will get their most robust understanding of how well these vaccines work against P1 as they continue to monitor people who have been vaccinated in the real world.

Scientists are confident that, if necessary, vaccines can be tweaked fairly quickly to work against new variants.

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Last week, the Fiocruz Institute said P1 was just one of several “variants of concern” that have become dominant in six of eight states studied by the Rio-based organisation.

The director of the Pan American Health Organization, Carissa Etienne, said the the situation in Brazil “provides a sober reminder of the threat of resurgence: areas hit hard by the virus in the past are still vulnerable to infection today”.

How has the government reacted?

President Jair Bolsonaro has belittled the risks posed by the virus from the start of the pandemic. He has also opposed quarantine measures taken at a regional level, arguing that the damage to the economy would be worse than the effects of the virus itself.

President Jair Bolsonaro speaks at the Alvorada Palace, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Brasilia, Brazil, March 10, 2021.IMAGE COPYRIGHTREUTERS
President Bolsonaro dismissed the criticism levelled against him

His stance has come in for severe criticism both internationally and in Brazil itself.

Mr Bolsonaro’s former ally turned political rival, João Doria, has called the the president “a crazy guy”.

On Wednesday, former President Lula, in his first speech since corruption convictions against him were annulled, told people not to follow “stupid” decisions by Mr Bolsonaro and to “get vaccinated”. Lula said “a lot of deaths could have been avoided”.

Responding to Lula’s scathing remarks, Mr Bolsonaro said his government had done enough to fight the disease.

Covid-19: Brazil experts issue warning as hospitals ‘close to collapse’
worker | March 11, 2021 | 7:28 pm | Brazil, COVID-19, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva | Comments closed

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-latin-america-56342303

Covid-19: Brazil experts issue warning as hospitals ‘close to collapse’

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A nurse speaks to a Covid patient in Santo Andre, Sao Paulo state, Brazil, January 1, 2021IMAGE COPYRIGHTREUTERS
On Tuesday the country recorded 1,972 deaths, a new daily record

Health systems in most of Brazil’s largest cities are close to collapse because of Covid-19 cases, its leading health institute warns.

More than 80% of intensive care unit beds are occupied in the capitals of 25 of Brazil’s 27 states, Fiocruz said.

Experts warn that the highly contagious variant in Brazil may have knock-on effects in the region and beyond.

“Brazil is a threat to humanity,” Fiocruz epidemiologist Jesem Orellana told the AFP news agency.

The country has recorded more than 270,000 deaths and 11.2 million cases since the pandemic began.

It has the second-highest number of deaths in the world after the US and the third-highest number of confirmed cases.

Despite this, President Jair Bolsonaro has consistently sought to downplay the threat posed by the virus. Earlier this week he told people to “stop whining”.

He has also opposed quarantine measures taken at a regional level, arguing that the damage to the economy would be worse than the effects of the virus itself.

What’s the situation in Brazil?

On Wednesday, the country recorded 2,286 Covid deaths, a new daily record.

According to Fiocruz, 15 state capitals have intensive care units (ICUs) that are at more than 90% capacity including Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo.

Some reports say Brasilia has now reached full ICU capacity, while two cities – Porto Alegre and Campo Grande – have exceeded capacity.

In its report, the institute warned that figures point to the “overload and even collapse of health systems”.

Graph shows daily confirmed deaths in Brazil since January
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Graph shows cumulative reported deaths in Brazil
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Brazilian epidemiologist Dr Pedro Hallal told the BBC’s Outside Source TV programme: “If we do not start vaccinating the population here very soon, it will become a massive tragedy.”

Dr Hallal, who works in Rio Grande do Sul, said people felt “abandoned by the federal government”.

Meanwhile, Brazil’s former leader Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva attacked President Bolsonaro for his “imbecile” handling of the pandemic.

In his first speech since corruption convictions against him were annulled, he said on Wednesday: “Many of these deaths could have been avoided.”

On Wednesday, the country recorded 79,876 new cases. A surge in cases in recent days has been attributed to the spread of a highly contagious variant of the virus – named P1 – which is thought to have originated in the Amazon city of Manaus.

What do we know about the Brazil variant?

Preliminary data suggests the P1 variant could be up to twice as transmittable as the original version of the virus.

It also suggests that the new variant could evade immunity built up by having had the original version of Covid. The chance of reinfection is put at between 25% and 60%.

Workers wearing protective suits walk past the graves of COVID-19 victims at the Nossa Senhora Aparecida cemetery, in Manaus, Brazil, on 25 February 2021.IMAGE COPYRIGHTGETTY IMAGES
image captionThe new coronavirus variant first detected in Brazil has led to a surge in deaths in the country

Last week, the Fiocruz Institute said P1 was just one of several “variants of concern” that have become dominant in six of eight states studied by the Rio-based organisation.

“This information is an atomic bomb,” said Roberto Kraenkel, of the Covid-19 Brazil Observatory, told the Washington Post newspaper.

World Health Organization Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has described the situation in Brazil as “very concerning” and warned of a possible regional spillover.

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Analysis box by Smitha Mundasad

Scientists are concerned that Brazil has almost become a “natural laboratory” – where people can see what happens when coronavirus goes relatively unchecked.

Some warn the country is now a breeding ground for new variants of the virus, unhindered by effective social distancing and fuelled by vaccine shortages.

That’s because the longer a virus circulates in a country, the more chances it has to mutate – in this case giving rise to P1.

Global experts are calling for a plan – including rapid vaccination, lockdowns, and strict social distancing measures – to get the situation under control.

The worry is that the P1 variant is a looming threat over the progress made in the region and the wider world.

Current vaccines are, on the whole, still effective against the variant but may be less so than against the earlier versions of the virus they were designed to fight.

Studies are ongoing but experts will get their most robust understanding of how well these vaccines work against P1 as they continue to monitor people who have been vaccinated in the real world.

Scientists are confident that, if necessary, vaccines can be tweaked fairly quickly to work against new variants.

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Which vaccines work against the variant?

Brazil has ordered more than 200 million doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca and CoronaVac vaccine. So far, more than eight million people have had their first dose, representing just 4% of the population.

Preliminary studies of the AstraZeneca vaccine suggest it would protect against the P1 variant, although the team behind the vaccine earlier said it offers less protection – but should still protect against severe illness.

Another Brazilian study has reportedly indicated the CoronaVac vaccine, made by China’s Sinovac biopharmaceutical company, is effective against the same variant.

The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine has also been able to combat the Brazil variant, according to laboratory research published by the New England Journal of Medicine.

However, the Pfizer vaccine has not yet been rolled out in the country, as Brazilian authorities are still in negotiations with the company over its purchase. According to Reuters news agency, Economy Minister Paulo Guedes said Pfizer had agreed to deliver 14m doses by June after a video call with President Bolsonaro.