Tag Archive | "Brazil"

Brazil Guts Environmental Agencies, Clears Way for Unchecked Deforestation


President Jair Bolsonaro appears intent on decriminalizing Amazon deforestation, ending most fines, straitjacketing law enforcement, and gutting environmental agencies with mass firings.


The Brazilian government’s environmental agency, IBAMA, has so far this year imposed the lowest number of fines for illegal deforestation in at least 11 years, while the country’s other leading environmental agency and its federal parks’ protector, ICMBio (the Chico Mendes Institute), did not carry out any operations at all to monitor deforestation in May.

These developments, reported by the organizations themselves, reflect the extent to which the country’s environmental policies and law enforcement agencies are being dismantled by the government ofPresident Jair Bolsonaro.

Fines for illegal deforestation were down 34 percent from Jan. 1 to May 15 this year, compared to the same period last year, according to the O Estado de S. Paulonewspaper. This is the largest percentage drop ever recorded in Brazil. In absolute terms, it marks the smallest number of fines ever (850), compared to 1,290 imposed over the same period in 2018.

The last year in which a comparable number of fines (952) were imposed during the same period was 2012 — but this was at a time when real advances were being made in the fight against illegal deforestation. Indeed, 2012 was the year with the lowest level of deforestation in the Brazil Amazon since records began.

The number of fines imposed by IBAMA in the first five months of the year has fallen heavily since 2016.

This is far from being the case today. Recent figures on illegal deforestation, published by the National Institute of Spatial Research (INPE) and confirmed by the federal government, show that the Amazon region recorded the highest level ever of illegal deforestation for a single month in May 2019: 739 square kilometers (285 square miles), an area nearly as large as New York City. This is a 34 percent increase on the area cleared in May 2018, which was 550 square kilometers (212 square miles). It seems likely that the rise stems from government policies favorable to deforestation.

This confirms what an unnamed IBAMA official told Mongabay before the recent INPE figures were published: “It’s very difficult to believe that the decline in fines reflects a decline in illegal deforestation.” Agency employees spoke to Mongabay on background, citing fear of reprisals from the Bolsonaro administration. IBAMA’s press office told Mongabay that its request for an on-the-record interview should be sent to the Ministry of the Environment, but the ministry did not respond, despite multiple Mongabay requests.

Illegal timber harvest seizures drop toward zero

Government seizures of illegally harvested timber fell even more dramatically than the number of fines: just 40 cubic meters (1,410 cubic feet), equivalent to 10 large trees, were confiscated in the first four months of the year under Bolsonaro. By contrast, 25,000 cubic meters (883,000 cubic feet) of illegal timber were seized in 2018 under the Michel Temer administration.

It seems unlikely the volume of seizures will increase by much in the near future: all six monitoring operations planned for coming months have either been cancelled or downsized.

And those that do go ahead are likely to yield few results: IBAMA’s website must now announce in advance when and where each operation will take place, even though it’s obvious that the success of the raids depends on secrecy and the element of surprise. This advance publicity also increases the risks to IBAMA agents, leaving them more vulnerable to criminal attacks.

The number of ICMBio operations has declined heavily this year.


Mass firings leave environmental agencies leaderless

According to experts, the disarray at IBAMA is largely due to the firing of the heads of the agency’s state bodies, which carry out most of the deforestation-monitoring operations. In February, Environment Minister Ricardo Salles axed 21 of the 27 state superintendents in a single day. To date, only four of the state bodies have official heads. Without leadership, there is no proper planning for operations to curb illegal deforestation.

It’s these state superintendents who have the authority to make decisions regarding the charging of smaller fines, those up to 500,000 reais ($129,000), which constitute the majority of fines. “The employees who occupy the top posts temporarily do not feel they have the authority to take such decisions,” said another IBAMA employee.

Morale is also very low at the environmental agency, with both Salles and Bolsonaro repeatedly attacking IBAMA. One incident that greatly affected employees was Bolsonaro’s surprise announcement that IBAMA agents could no longer set fire to tractors and other equipment used by illegal loggers. This legally approved policy had long been an effective deterrent for IBAMA agents to combat criminal deforestation in remote areas where it’s both difficult and expensive to confiscate illicit equipment.

In a short video interview, Bolsonaro, standing beside Marcos Rogério, a right-wing senator from Rondônia state, banned operations to end the illegal extraction of timber from Jamari National Forest, a protected area in Rondônia that is being extensively invaded by illegal loggers and land grabbers. That presidential statement was enough to not only stop all government monitoring operations in the forest, but also make IBAMA officials fear potential assaults if they set foot in the protected area, an official said.

“If before the video, staff were already being attacked by loggers, imagine what it is like with the president’s endorsement of the criminals,” an IBAMA employee said. In practice, the government’s new policies have forced a host of highly skilled environmental officials to be paid to sit idle and not uphold the nation’s deforestation laws.

Brazil’s conserved areas at grave risk

At ICMBio, the situation is similar. O Estado de S. Paulo reported that 350 fines, imposed by ICMBio officials, are awaiting confirmation from the institute’s president before they can be enforced. In other words, bureaucratic bottlenecks are holding up the process. The total value of uncharged fines is 146 million reais ($37.6 million). The Environment Ministry did not respond when asked by Mongabay for its response.

At the same time, just as in IBAMA, important bodies within ICMBio remain leaderless. There are no directors at 47 of Brazil’s 334 conservation units, which means there is no top-level management at conservation units covering 161,000 square kilometers (62,200 square miles), an area larger than England.

When an employee is removed from a management position, they remain a civil servant with a salary; they merely lose the right to extra payment for special duties. Under Brazilian law, employees appointed to their jobs in a public concurso (a lengthy selection process open to all) can only be fired as the result of a disciplinary process.

However, some IBAMA employees say they believe the system may change under Bolsonaro. “I have found out that the ministry has decided to begin disciplinary procedures against employees involved in monitoring operations on indigenous land and in protected areas,” one official said. “How can you continue to work in such conditions?”

Trade unions, representing Ministry of Environment employees, accuse the ministry of firing four employees this year without following proper procedures. Only one of those four had been accused of unacceptable behavior that could merit dismissal, but Salles decided to fire the other three as well. This was seen by many analysts as a sign of what lies ahead. “It’s part of process of intimidation, of putting fear into people,” said Beth Uema, director of the National Association of Environmental Employees.

Speaking to a gathering of landowners at the end of April, Bolsonaro said he had directed Salles “to clean out” ICMBio and IBAMA. He also told the audience that he had instructed the minister to order employees to stop fining those committing environmental crimes, and rather merely inform lawbreakers about environmental regulations. Employees say the new policy is already being rigorously adhered to.

Bolsonaro conduct may be investigated

Lucas Furtado, the deputy attorney general for public prosecution at the Federal Court of Accounts (TCU), the government’s accountability office, has asked the TCU to open an investigation into whether the administration’s management of the country’s environmental policy is jeopardizing the monitoring and control of illegal deforestation.

The request resulted from a visit to the Attorney General’s Office on May 15 by representatives of 50 NGOs, led by the Brazilian Institute of Environmental Protection (PROAM). According to the Furtado, the NGOs delivered a document that details a series of Bolsonaro government initiatives aimed at “destroying the current environmental policy.” The administration initiatives range from the overriding of technical advice, to the hounding of civil servants “with the clear objective of changing procedures.”

Furtado says it is the TCU’s obligation to examine the NGOs’ accusations, as it is the federal body responsible for the review of public expenditures, including spending by the government on the management of environmental agencies. If the accusation about the dismantling of these agencies is substantiated, the administration would be guilty of the misuse of resources to actively work against the nation’s environmental laws.

Threats to Amazon Fund also being scrutinized

Furtado cited the Bolsonaro administration’s actions regarding the Amazon Fund as a particular potential example of resource misuse. The Amazon Fund was founded in 2008 and created an effective international partnership with developed world nations, particularly Norway and Germany, who agreed to fund efforts to prevent, monitor and combat deforestation, and to promote preservation and sustainability in the Brazilian Amazon.

However, economic support from those donors (roughly $87 million annually), and the Amazon Fund itself, could come to an end soon if Environmental Minister Salles does as he has said he will, and decides without consulting the major foreign donors to dramatically overhaul the fund’s rules.

Among those unilateral rule changes would be a move by Brazil to curtail the role of NGOs in implementing deforestation programs. The Bolsonaro government also recently announced its intention to use some Amazon Fund resources to pay for the forcible purchase of land, for instance when the government wants to pay compensation to property owners with land within protected areas. The issue is often complex, as some of the land was occupied after the creation of the protected area was announced, and the use of the resources in this way has not been approved by international donors Norway and Germany.

In his request for an investigation, which has not yet been authorized by the TCU ministers, Furtado has asked the Federal Court of Accounts to look into allegations, made by Salles, that his ministry has found irregularities and inconsistencies in past grants made by the Amazon Fund. Salles has claimed publicly that NGOs, whose deforestation-monitoring and sustainability projects are supported by the Amazon Fund, failed to account for more than $1.2 billion in spending.

Furtado said an audit carried out previously by the TCU itself determined that, in general, the resources of the Amazon Fund were being used properly. He says Salles’s claim that the funds are being misused “may compromise the arrival of more funds, which may make it more difficult to protect the Amazon forest.”

As the administration pushes ahead rapidly to dismantle the country’s environmental agencies, policies and funding, there is growing consternation in Brazil and abroad. It seems likely that opposition will grow even further when the far-reaching consequences of Bolsonaro’s aggressive policies become apparent in the Amazon rainforest, and with indigenous and traditional rural populations.

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Glenn Greenwald on the Possible Election of a Far-Right Demagogue in Brazil


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AMY GOODMAN: Voters in Brazil head to the polls, Sunday, in an election that could reshape the political landscape of South America. Polls show the current frontrunner is the far-right Jair Bolsonaro, a former Army officer who has openly praised Brazil’s military dictatorship, which lasted from 1964 to 1985. Bolsonaro has a long history of making racist, misogynistic, and homophobic comments. He has encouraged police to kill suspected drug dealers. Most polls show Bolsonaro winning on Sunday, but failing to win enough votes to avoid a runoff election on October 28. He has risen to the polls since September 8 when he was stabbed while campaigning. Bolsonaro also directly benefited from the jailing of former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, in April, who had been leading all presidential polls. Lula remains in jail on what many consider trumped up corruption charges to prevent him from becoming president. Lula, the head of the Workers Party, was then forced to drop out of the race. Lula’s handpick successor Fernando Haddad is currently placing second in most polls. On Saturday, tens of thousands took part in women-led rallies in Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo, and other cities, on Saturday, to protest Bolsonaro. The theme of the protest, “Not Him.”

PROTESTER: May name is [indiscernable] and I’m here because Bolsonaro is dangerous. He represents hatred for our country, because he represents the loss of the few rights that the people that he targets such as the black people, the indigenous people, and the LGBT community, and women have conquered, so far. He represents a threat to democracy in our country, a democracy that we are still building.

AMY GOODMAN: Joining us in Rio de Janeiro is the Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Glenn Greenwald, who co-founded The Intercept. Glenn, welcom back to Democracy Now! Can you talk about the significance of what is happening right now in Brazil, and particularly on Sunday, the election?

GLENN GREENWALD: To begin with, the significance is that Brazil is a country of 210 million people, so it’s the fifth most populous country in the world right behind the United States, the second largest in the hemisphere, and the most influential in all of Latin America. It’s also the seventh-largest economy in the world with major oil reserves. And what the Western media has often been doing and talking about Bolsonaro is calling him Brazil’s Trump, which drastically and radically understates the case. He is much closer to, say, Duterte in the Philippines, or even General El-sisi in Egypt, both in terms of what he intends to do and wants to do, and what he is able to do, given the fragility of Brazil, which is an extremely young democracy that exited a military dictatorship only thirty three years ago and therefore doesn’t have the same kind of institutions to limit what someone would want to do the way, say, the United States or the UK would. So, it’s an extremely dangerous moment for this country. Polls do show that he’s unlikely to win in the first round on Sunday, but there is a possibility that he might. That he could actaully just get 50% of the vote and avoid a runoff entirely. But, even if he does make the runoff, the signs are really showing that he is likely to win against Lula’s hand-picked successor because of how much animus has been built up by the media and the business class toward PT in this country.

AMY GOODMAN: And can you talk more about just exactly what Bolsonaro represents, his homophobic comments, his anti-women comments, his support of the Brazilian military dictatorship?

GLENN GREENWALD: And you can go through the whole list of shocking comments. He once said in an interview that he would rather to hear that his son died in a car accident than here that his son is gay. He told a colleague in the lower house of Congress where he served for 30 years, when she accused him of defending torture and rape — which he did during the dictatorship — that she need not worry because in his words, she didn’t deserve to be raped by him, meaning that she was too ugly to deserve and merit his rape. There’s a whole slew of comments like that about black people, about the indigenous. But, the much more worrying aspects are not these kind of comments, but the policies that he has explicitly endorsed. His model for how he wants to deal with crime are the world’s worst dictators. People like Pinochet. He’s advocated that we do things like in the Philippines where we just in the military and police to just indiscriminately slaughter whatever, whoever they think is a drug dealer or a criminal without trials. He believes in military rule. He doesn’t regard the military coup of 1964 and the 21 year resulting military dictatorship as a coup or as a dictatorship. He regards it as something noble and he wants to replicate it. And he has the entire top level of the Brazilian military supporting him and behind him.

So, you really don’t have institutions the way you do in the US like a strong Supreme Court or a kind of deep state of the CIA and the FBI or political parties that would constrain him in what he wants to do. And especially given how much popular support there is now behind him, there’s a substantial part of the country that is genuinely terrified about what he intends to do and intends to do rather quickly and probably can do, namely, bringing back the worst abuses of the kinds of dictatorships that summarily executed dissidents, that shut down media outlets, that close congresses that we thought was a thing of the past here in Latin America, but now is on the verge of returning to its most important and largest country.

AMY GOODMAN: Last month, the world renowned dissident, linguist, Noam Chomsky met with Brazil’s imprisoned former president, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, his visit coming shortly after Lula officially pulled out of the presidential race. Speaking outside the prison after a visit, Noam Chomsky condemned the right-wing media in Brazil.

NOAM CHOMSKY: — just had the great privilege of spending an hour with Lula. And one of the points that he emphasized was that during his entire tenure in office, there was just a constant flood of attacks from all the media. Constant. Thousands of attacks from every direction, which of course, confuses and undermines public opinion. So, the answer to your question is, something is needed to counter the concentrated power of right-wing media, which particularly in Latin America, just overwhelms everything.

AMY GOODMAN: So, that is Noam Chomsky. Glenn Greenwald, couple questions about that. How is the media allowed to cover Noam Chomsky visiting Lula in prison, and also the significance of what’s happened to Lula and then who the person, the handpicked successor to Lula is?

GLENN GREENWALD: So, I met with Noam Chomsky after that meeting in São Paulo, and we talked a lot about the dynamics brought up to this point. This brought us to this point. The dynamics that have brought us to this point. And one of the things that we focused most on during our discussion was the fact that the dynamic is so similar to what’s happening in the US, the UK, and in Western Europe where you see the spread of extremism and this rise of right-wing fanaticism. And the media outlets and the establishment factions that have laid the groundwork for its rise refuse to take any responsibility. And that’s definitely the case here in Brazil, where a very oligarchiacal media is in the hands of a small number of very rich families, and has sewn these seeds and has kind of created the climate in which Bolsonaro’s victory is possible. Even to this very minute, even though these journalists are, themselves, afraid of a Bolsonaro win and are not supporting him, they, nonetheless, continue to endorse this narrative, that is the biggest asset for Bolsonaro, which is the idea that PT, the Workers Party and Bolsonaro are just opposite sides of the same coin. You have left dictatorship or right wing dictatorship and both are equally bad. PT ran this country for 14 years, and whatever else you might want to say about whatever mistakes they made, you certainly had a very free and open press that constantly attacked it. They impeached one of their presidents and put the other one in prison.

So, the idea that it’s a dictatorship on par with what Bolsonaro wants to do is grotesque, but, it’s the sort of thing that is normalizing Bolsonaro. And the thing that he has done, Bolsonaro, that is probably the smartest, is he has chosen as his kind of economic guru, the person he said he was going to put in charge of the economy, a kind of classic, right-wing University of Chicago, neoliberal economist that the international market and the oligarchical class absolutely adores. And so it’s kind of neutralized what otherwise would have bee the opposition to them. And what they’ve done to Lula, not just putting him in prison when he was leading the polls, but since then, what they have done is they’ve banned all media outlets from even being able to interview Lula. We’ve tried. Others have tried. There’s a prior restraint order on the part of the Supreme Court to prevent Lula from being able to speak out at this crucial moment. It’s not enough just to put him in prison to stop him from running when people wanted him to be president, they’ve silenced him through censorship orders that apply not just to him, but to all of us in the media. And so Brazilian institutions, the Brazilian establishment bears a lot of blame, just like US institutions do for the rise of Trump, British institutions do for Brexit, and just the general globalization policies of Europe does for the rise of right-wing extremism and that part of the world as well.

AMY GOODMAN: I want to turn to former Brazilian President or the former Brazilian president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, himself, front runner until he was jailed. I spoke to him right before he went to jail, and he was talking about the presidential candidate Jair Bolsonaro.

LUIZ INÁCIO LULA DA SILVA: [translated] He is a member of the federal Congress. He was a Army captain in the Brazilian Army. The information that we have is he was expelled from the Brazilian Army. And he is — his behavior is far right-wing fascist. He is very much prejudiced against women, against blacks, against indigenous persons, against human rights. He believes that everything can be resolved with violence. So, I don’t think he has a future in Brazilian politics. He has the right to run. He speaks. He projects a certain image to please a part of the society that is of the extreme right. But I don’t believe that the Brazilian people have an interest in electing someone with his sort of behavior to serve as president of the Republic.

AMY GOODMAN: You think he was happy with Marielle’s death?

LUIZ INÁCIO LULA DA SILVA: [translated] I think so because he is preaching violence every day. He preaches violence. He believes that those who defend human rights are doing a disservice to democracy. He thinks that those who defend women’s rights are doing a disservice to democracy, likewise those who defend the rights of the black community. He is against everything that is discussed when one is talking about human rights.

AMY GOODMAN: That was Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva speaking in March onDemocracy Now! for the hour. You can check it out at democracynow.org. At the end he was talking about the assasination of Rio city councilwoman Marielle Franco. Your comments on what he said, as we begin to wrap up, Glenn?

GLENN GREENWALD: So, I mean just the last part about the assassination of Marielle Franco, which I’ve spoken on your show about before. Just to give you a sense of what the climate is like here, just this week, two candidates from Bolsonaro’s party, including, one of whom is running for Congress and ran as the vice mayoral candidate of Bolsonaro’s son who ran for Mayor of Rio four years ago, took a street sign in commemoration of Marielle Franco and broke it in half and wearing shirts that had pistols on them pointed directly at the camera, displayed it proudly for the camera. And then the last line of the post on social media that they wrote to accompany the photo was, “for you scumbag leftists. When we take over, your days are numbered.” Exactly as Lula said, the climate is one of violence. Bolsonaro’s signature gestures for his campaign is to put his fingers in the position of a pistol. They want to use violence to solve political problems here. They are very explicit and open about that. But unfortunately, everybody who has been in charge of Brazilian society, including PT including the establishment, needs to also ask itself what it has done to make this country lose so much hope and faith that it’s willing to abandon democracy and turn to a demagogue and an extremist like Bolsonaro. That’s the key question that I think needs to be asked if he does end up winning.

AMY GOODMAN: Glenn, we’re going to do part two of this discussion and post it online at democracynow.org on a number of issues. But, in this last minute, you are a constitutional lawyer. Your thoughts as you look north to the United States, you are an American citizen, on the nomination and possible confirmation of Judge Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, in just 30 seconds, if you can.

GLENN GREENWALD: So, I do think there are real due process questions when it comes to accusations about somebody that we ought to take very seriously. At the same time, there’s a lot of credible evidence. And I think even more important, the behavior that he displayed and the very partisan messages that he has been delivering his whole life and at that hearing make it impossible to imagine him on the Supreme Court in a way that could be — have that institution be a credible, apolitical body. I think that’s the real overarching issue.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, I want to thank you, Glenn for being with us. Again we will do part two and talk about a number of issues including President Trump and Vice President Pence’s attacks on China, saying they are the real threats to the midterm elections. The indictment of Russian hackers, as well as more on Judge Kavanaugh and what’s happening in the world today. Glenn Greenwald, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, one of the founding editors of The Intercept. Also, you can go to democracynow.org for our hour with Lula, who is now in prison in Brazil. That does it for our show.

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Brazil Marks 25 Years since Candelaria Massacre with an Expanded White Police State


The burden of losing four consecutive elections turned Brazil’s elites inside out. They would resort to, as an efficient yet obvious mode of attack, all out lawfare, stirring their already agitated base along the way.

A police officer is seen while students and friends of Marcos Vinicius, 14, a boy who was shot and killed in a police and military operation at the Mare slum, protest in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, June 21, 2018. Silvia Izquierdo | AP

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We stand in solidarity with Brazilian workers and communities

We stand in solidarity with Brazilian workers and communities

Lula (right), pictured with now-deposed President Dilma Rousseff after her election. Photo: Fabio Rodrigues Pozzebom/Agência Brasil (Agência Brasil) [CC BY 3.0 br (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/br/deed.en)], via Wikimedia Commons

The Party for Socialism and Liberation stands in solidarity with Brazilian workers and larger communities who are taking to the streets in São Bernardo, São Paulo and across the rest of the country in repudiation of the order for the arrest of former President Luís Inácio Lula da Silva and in defense of their democratic rights.

We further denounce the threats of intervention from General Eduardo Dias da Costa Villas Bôas, Commander of the Brazilian Army and other high-ranking commanders of the Brazilian military immediately preceding the ruling from Brazil’s Supreme Federal Tribunal clearing the way for Lula’s arrest. These explicit threats were calculated to ensure the divided court would “decide the right way” and evoke the memory of the brutal military dictatorship that ruled the country from 1964 to 1985 and stripped Brazilians of their most basic rights.

The sharply divided Supreme Federal Tribunal vote of 6-to-5 denying Lula’s constitutional right to appeal his conviction in liberty highlights the political nature of the ruling.

Lula, Brazil’s most popular president ever and the likely winner of the upcoming October presidential elections, has now been ordered by Judge Sérgio Moro to surrender by 5 p.m. today or face arrest. The ultimate aim is to exclude Lula from the elections.

The Brazilian people have received support from several international leaders. Bolivian President Evo Morales denounced the “outrageous decision of the justice system of Brazil, threatened by corrupt oligarchies.” Former Uruguayan President José Mujica denounced the “very corrupt rule of law in Brazil.” Cuba’s Ministry of International Relations denounced the attempt to “deprive the followers of Lula of the right to elect him again as its president,” with Raul Castro adding that Lula, ousted President Dilma Rousseff, and the Brazilian people “will always have Cuba at their side.”

The response among the left has been swift. Workers across Brazil are responding to mobilization calls from Brazil’s trade unions, grassroots organizations and left parties to defend Lula and democracy in Brazil. Thousands have converged at the steelworkers union offices in São Bernardo do Campo to form a human blockade to protect Lula, who is presently inside. As many as 37 major highway blockades have been reported across the country, including in the states of Goiás, Alagoas, Bahia, Rio Grande do Norte, Espírito Santo and Paraíba, where a protester was shot and wounded. Protesters have gathered in the streets of São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and other major cities.

The Central Única dos Trabalhadores (Brazil’s largest trade union federation), Movimento dos Trabalhadores Sem Terra (Landless Workers Movement), Movimento dos Trabalhadores Sem Teto (Movement of the Workers Without Shelter), together with several left parties, are actively calling on their political base to join the mobilizations.

Lula, a former steelworker and union leader, helped organized massive strikes in the late 1970s challenging the military dictatorship that ruled the country. During his two-term presidency from 2003 to 2011, poverty in Brazil was vastly reduced through internationally acclaimed social programs that provided a basic income and subsidized housing for millions, and helped youth of color from impoverished communities gain access to higher education.

Lula’s criminal conviction on unsubstantiated corruption charges is part and parcel of the right-wing campaign to crush the Brazilian left generally and the Workers’ Party specifically. The Brazilian elites ousted president Dilma Rousseff through a political coup in 2016 that they hoped would cement their rule. Less than two years later, coup president Michel Temer polls at around 5 percent approval, and Lula has been the projected winner of the October elections under all scenarios. Lula’s conviction and arrest are aimed squarely at preventing poor and working-class Brazilians from having a voice in the country’s political future.

This is a critical and dangerous time for Brazil, with an ever-growing possibility of military intervention looming. The PSL salutes all Brazilians who are putting their lives on the line to defend their hard-earned political rights, and supports their right to freely choose their next president.

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Brazil’s Lula defies court setback, continues presidential campaign

By Toya Mileno

Brazil’s Lula defies court setback, continues presidential campaign

All over the country the landless movement (MST) blocked roads in support of Lula.

Line of buses going to Porto Alegre for Lula trial Jan. 24

Line of buses going to Porto Alegre for Lula trial Jan. 24

In August 2016, Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff and her Workers Party government were removed from office through a parliamentary coup d’etat carried out in the name of ‘fighting corruption.’ Since then, Brazil has suffered an intense rightwing backlash, with major attacks on social gains and even on the country’s own sovereignty. Now, with presidential elections scheduled for October, millions of Brazilians see former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva (Lula) as their only hope to reverse this process and bring back democracy. Lula, also a member of the Workers Party, served as president from 2003-11.

On Jan. 24, Lula was condemned for a second time when the Supreme Federal Court in Porto Alegre, denied Lula’s appeal and upheld his July 2017 conviction on corruption charges. At that time, federal Judge Sergio Moro not only convicted Lula without any evidence, but also refused to consider the evidence provided by Lula’s defense showing that the accusations against him were weak and the trial biased.

This twisting of justice into a legal attack against Lula has been called ‘lawfare’ by many judges in Brazil and around the world. Its purpose is to keep Lula from running for President.

Large protests show mass support for Lula

Brazilians knew that the Jan. 24 trial would not be fair, and expected another attack against Lula. It is widely felt that to defend Lula’s right to participate in this election is to defend Brazil’s democracy. All the left, even the parties who will be running their own candidates in this election, defend Lula’s right to run and denounce Sérgio Moro and judiciary system for unleashing this lawfare against Lula.

More than 70 local and international social organizations traveled from different parts of Brazil to Porto Alegre for the Jan. 24 appeal. Local committees were established to encourage public discussions about the case surrounding Lula and other political and social issues. Mass demonstrations affirming Lula’s innocence and the political nature of the charges took place before, during and after the court case. The Landless Rural Workers’ Movement (MST) blocked roads all over the country. People targeted with red paint the offices of O Globo, the media network seen as the ideological arm of the coup.

Lula sentence extended from 9 to 12 years

The three judges hearing the appeal spoke for hours, yet didn’t provide evidence against Lula. They not only agreed with Moro’s decision, but also extended Lula sentence from 9 to 12 years.

A day after the trial Lula’s passport was revoked by a judge not part of this case, a procedure which violates the law. Lula had planned to travel to Ethiopia to talk about his Hunger Zero program, which helped eradicate hunger in Brazil under his and Rousseff’s governments. African countries see Hunger Zero as a model they can try.

In 2014 the United Nationals removed Brazil from the World Food Program’s Hunger’s Map, which shows the prevalence of undernourishment in the world.  Now, three years and a coup later, seven million Brazilians are living under extreme hunger conditions. This is what the coup is doing to the country. The last two years under righwing president Michel Temer have been marked by a strong social backlash, with the loss of workers’ rights, the dismantling of social programs and increasing unemployment.

Lula popularity growing

Lula plans further court actions contesting his conviction. In the interim, no one is sure yet if he will be allowed to remain at home or will be jailed. But what is sure is that the coup forces will try to stop his presidential campaign.

Why is it important for the coup mongers to stop Lula? Because if Lula runs as a candidate for the presidential elections in October this year, he will win. Lula left his second term as president with 85 percent approval. Never in world history has a president left their second term with this level of approval. Michel Temer, the coup president, has an approval rate today of 3 percent. He never reached a double-digit approval level his whole time in office.

Temer is a former U.S. intelligence informant. His ascendency as president after Dilma’s impeachment was a turn towards U.S. imperialism as well as neoliberalism. The U.S. helped normalize his government on the international arena right after the parliamentary coup made him president.

Polls show Lula’s popularity growing in scenarios projecting the first and the second rounds of elections, and indicate that he can even win in the first round. An overwhelming victory by Lula would mean the failure of the coup, and enable a new political cycle to begin. For the coup to have a future, for the current neoliberal policies to have a future, Lula can’t be part of the elections.

Lula refuses to end his presidential candidacy

Lula and the Workers Party responded to the Porto Alegre court’s decision by saying that he will remain the Workers Party candidate. Brazil has a law called “Ficha Limpa” or ‘clean file.’ This law impedes politicians from running in elections if they have been charged with corruption or violate in other ways laws related to corrupt behavior. However, Lula is not prohibited from being a candidate right now. It is only when he officially registers as a candidate that the Supreme Electoral Court can judge whether he can run.

There is an August deadline for candidate registration. The strategy of the Workers Party is to hold out until the last minute to register Lula, while it continues his campaign. By the time the Electoral Court decides that Lula can’t run, Lula will have already campaigned for a full year. The people will be aware of him as a candidate, and if he can’t run, he will probably throw his support someone else that can run. This strategy worked in 2010 when Lula supported Dilma Rousseff. At that time, the elite thought they were done with the Workers Party, as they had jailed most of the people they thought the party would run for office after Lula’s second term. However, Dilma Rousseff was elected not once but twice.

The people continue to resist

The people of Brazil will continue to support Lula and to resist and organize against this coup. A main issue now is the pension ‘reform’ President Michel Temer is trying to pass, which attacks pensions. When Argentine President Mauracio Macri passed a similar law, hundreds of thousands of people protested in the streets of that country.

In Brazil the situation will be further aggravated by the full implementation of the labor reform. The reform left a progressive labor law in ruins, dismantling almost 80 years of regulations. The essence of this measure is to reduce protections for workers and leave them vulnerable to exploitation by multinational corporations.

Growing polarization

Last year Brazil had its largest ever general strike. Over 40 million people stopped work in the country. There is a call for another general strike to protest Temer’s pension reform. Social movements maintain a strong presence in Brazil’s streets.

The resistance has been persistent but the oppression is increasing as well. It is very important to call attention to the assassinations taking place, especially in the countryside against members of the Landless Rural Workers’ Movement (MST).

MST leaders frequently receive death threats. The night of Lula’s trial a young leader of the movement, Márcio Oliveira Matos (33 years old), was killed in his tent at one of the movements’ land occupation in the state of Bahia. In May of 2017, 10 militants of the movement were murdered in the area of Pau D’Arco, at Santa Lúcia farm in Pará. The massacre was considered the largest one since Eldorado dos Carajás, in 1996, when 19 militants from the MST were killed by the police.

Still in 2017, another militant was killed inside of a hospital in the city of Parauapebas, also in Pará. At the time, armed men entered the hospital and killed Waldomiro Costa Pereira. Waldomiro was one of the survivors of the Eldorado dos Carajás massacre.

The total deaths caused by land conflicts in Brazil in 2017 was 65. The number in 2016 was the highest since 2003, and it has been increasing. These numbers show another face of this coup — that it is trying to consolidate itself.

Posted in BrazilComments Off on Brazil’s Lula defies court setback, continues presidential campaign

Brazil’s Temer Won’t Resign and Says Nothing Will Destroy Him

  • Brazilian President Michel Temer attends a ceremony for several new top diplomats at Planalto Palace in Brasilia, Brazil
    Brazilian President Michel Temer attends a ceremony for several new top diplomats at Planalto Palace in Brasilia, Brazil | Photo: Reuters
Criminal charges against a sitting president have to be approved by around two-thirds of the lower house of Congress.

Brazil’s President Michel Temer says nothing will destroy him, as he faces suspension and a possible impeachment.

On Monday, Temer became the nation’s first sitting office holder to be charged with graft and is now awaiting a final decision by the Supreme Court.

RELATED: Brazil Police Present Evidence President Temer Took Bribes

Attorney General Rodrigo Janot formally accused President Michel Temer and his aide Rodrigo Rocha Loures of corruption, charging them with receiving bribes from the head of the meatpacking giant JBS.

Criminal charges against a sitting president have to be approved by about two-thirds of the lower house of Congress. 341 out of the 513 lawmakers would have to vote in favor. Only then can the Supreme Court issue a conviction.

If approved by the lower house, Temer could be suspended for 90 days while awaiting impeachment proceedings.

In that scenario, the current House Speaker Rodrigo Maia would assume the presidency.

Temer who was one of the main architects of a similar procedure against former the President Dilma Rousseff, has said he will not resign.

Just a few hours before the Prosecutor’s Office decision was confirmed, Temer said,”Nothing will destroy us, neither me nor my ministers”.

The president, eight of his ministers and other political allies and advisers are being investigated for alleged corruption in the country’s largest bribery scheme investigation called Operation Car Wash.

RELATED: Brazil Police Confirm Audio of Temer Ordering Bribes is Authentic

In May, a wiretapped conversation with businessman Josley Batista, chairman of JBS, the largest meatpacking company in the country was released which appeared to show Temer endorsing bribes to potential witnesses in the investigation.

In the recording, Temer was heard saying after being informed that hush money was being paid to the former head of the lower house, Eduardo Cunha, “Look, you’ve got to keep that up.”

Police alleged they had evidence against the president and confirmed the authenticity of the recordings, which Temer insists have been tampered with.

Temer also denied a report in a national magazine claiming that the country’s secret security service, known as Abin, spied on the judge in charge of the same corruption probe.

The president’s support has plummeted as he also faces protests against austerity measures. A survey by the Datafolha polling institute shows just 7 percent of those questioned approved of his administration, down from 9 percent in April.

Meanwhile, former Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva would win the 2018 presidential election, although his candidacy is not yet official, according to the Datafolha Institute.

Lula from the Workers’ Party maintains a leadership between 29 and 30 percent of the vote intention, followed by Marina Silva from Rede Sustentabilidade and Jair Bolsonaro from the Social Christian Party.


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Temer’s Aide Rodrigo Rocha Loures Arrested

  • Brazilian President Michel Temer
    Brazilian President Michel Temer | Photo: Reuters
Loures admitted that he had accepted bribes from JBS, Brazil’s largest meatpacking company, and that the funds were intended for Temer.

Early Saturday morning Brazilian federal police arrested Rodrigo Rocha Loures, a lawmaker and former aide to embattled Brazilian president, Michel Temer.

RELATED: Over 100 Diplomats Call to Restore Democracy in Brazil

Loures admitted that he had accepted bribes from JBS, Brazil’s largest meatpacking company, and that the funds were intended for Temer.

The order to arrest Loures was made by Supreme Court Justice Luiz Edson Fachin, who is responsible for the investigations into the corruption scheme undertaken by Brazil’s national oil company, Petrobras.

Brasil 247 reported that Loures had been monitored by the federal police ever since he’d been recorded negotiating money from JBS president Joesley Batista and filmed receiving a suitcase with 500 mil reais in a Sao Paulo pizzeria.

Loures was arrested at his home in Brasilia and was taken to the federal police station.

Despite growing unpopularity and being on the cusp of becoming the first Brazilian president denounced for corruption, criminal organization and obstruction of justice, Michel Temer insisted that he would not resign.

While speaking to journalist Policarpo Junior, he stated, “I won’t leave, I really won’t leave.”

When asked about Loures detention for receiving paid bribes, Temer simply responded, “He’ll explain.”

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MST Leader: ‘We need direct elections now and an emergency plan for the people’


“After Temer falls, we need to stay on the streets,” Stedile says.

Joao Pedro Stedile, leader of the Landless Rural Workers’ Movement (MST) and of the Brazil Popular Front, analyzes the Brazilian political scenario, the role of the O Globo media network, the internal divisions among the putschists, and speaks about the need of building a transition government and the people’s project of Brazil.

Brasil de Fato: Why does the Globo network need to publish the audios that incriminate Michel Temer and why do they insist on indirect elections?

João Pedro Stédile: The Globo network became the main party of the Brazilian bourgeoisie. It protects the interests of capital, uses its force of manipulation of public opinion and coordinates with the ideological sectors of the bourgeoisie, which include the Judiciary Power, some prosecutors, and the press in general. They know that Brazil and the world are going through a serious economic, social and environmental crisis, caused by capitalism. That, in Brazil, became a political crisis, because the bourgeoisie needed to have hegemony in Congress and in the federal government in order to apply their plans to put all of the negative effects of the crisis on the shoulders of the working class. Therefore, the Globo network is an ideological author of the coup.

To them, putting Temer in power after Dilma’s impeachment was a faux pas, since his gang is full of lumpen politicians, opportunists and corrupt people, who weren’t concerned with the bourgeois project for the country–they merely cared about their own pockets.

The “Operation Carne Fraca [1]“was another faux pas that helped discredit the PMDB (Temer’s party) since many of them were involved and ended up provoking a sector of the agro-exporting bourgeoisie. Now they need to create an alternative to Temer. The way out of this will be decided over the next few hours or days, whether he resigns, or is judged by the Supreme Electoral Court or if the impeachment requests that were submitted to Congress are passed. Over the next few days the successor will be chosen, and many factors will influence that. The outcome won’t be the fruit of some Machiavellian plan by a particular sector (like Globo) but of the class struggle, and how that struggle plays out over the next hours, days and weeks.

How is the coupist sector reacting?

The sector that reached power through the coup is internally divided since 2014. And that helps us. Because in previous coups, like the 1964 one, and during the 1994 government of Fernando Henrique Cardoso, the bourgeoisie was united, under a single command, a single project for the country and a strong rearguard in US capital. Now, they don’t have a project for the country, they lost their US rearguard (because they were allied with Hillary Clinton) and want to salvage only their own particular interest. In the words of José de Souza Martins, sociologist of the PSDB party, “reforms in public pension and labor policies are capitalist measures that increase exploitation of workers, but they’re also measures that go against a capitalist project for the country.”

The coupists also don’t have a unified command. They’re divided into the sector with economic power (which includes Minister of Finance Henrique Meirelles, and the company that denounced Temer, JBS), the group of PMDB lumpens (Romero Jupé, Eliseu Padilha, Temer himself, Moreira Franco), who have power over the law but are beginning to crack, like Renan Calheiros. There’s also an ideological group made up of Globo and the Judiciary Power, but there are many internal contradictions among them. That’s also why they don’t know who to put in place of Temer. Their ideal solution would be to take Lula out of the picture, make a transition government that the majority of the population accepts (it could be even led by Minister Cármen Lúcia) until October 2018, and then try to win the elections.

But their internal division also affects the candidacies, since they can’t manage to construct a candidate like Henrique Cardoso or Fernando Collor. They’re testing the public opinion, presenting João Doria (current Mayor of São Paulo) or Luciano Hulk. But the polls show they’re not viable and they know they would deepen the political crisis.

In this context, what can workers and people’s organizations do?

We, at the People’s Brazil Front, which is made up of over 80 people’s movements and political organizations, are debating since last year that the best interest of the working class is in a packet of measures that complement each other.

First of all, to take the coupists down and suspend every legislative measure they have taken against the people. Then, having a transition government that calls to presidential elections on October 2017 and discussing a way to make an immediate political reform that guarantees that the will of the people is respected, and voting for a new Congress.

Another item is for the new government to commit to convene an Exclusive Constituent Assembly to build a new “Emergency Plan for the People” which includes over 70 emergency measures that the transition government and the new government will have to implement, which we believe would take the country out of the economic, social and political crisis.

During the electoral campaign we need to discuss a new model for the country, which takes into account the need for structural reforms in the mid-to-long-term, such as a tax reform, a reform of media, the agrarian reform and a reform of the Judiciary Power itself. But in order for all of this to be possible, the masses need to take to the streets urgently. The strength of the people is exercised there, in mobilizations, occupations and pressure.

I believe that over the next few hours and days there will be plenary sessions to discuss specific dates for mobilizations. On our side, we believe that next week is decisive. We need to camp outside the Supreme Federal Court in order to ensure the coupists resign and the corrupt officials denounced by Joesley Batista go to prison. We need to make mobilizations in all capitals and big cities next Sunday 21. We need to transform May 24 into a nation-wide mobilizations, occupy Legislative Assemblies, routes, everything. The people needs to take the lead and put pressure to achieve the changes we need.

Can direct elections benefit the country? How? Who would the candidates be?

Of course, direct elections for President and for a new Congress are indispensable for democracy and to get the country out of the political crisis. Only through the ballot box can we attain a government that represents the majority and has the legitimacy to make changes for the people that also allow us to leave behind the economic crisis. Because the economic crisis is the foundation of the whole social and political crisis. The candidate of the working class is Lula da Silva, who represents the vast majority of the Brazilian people, and can commit to a project of change and support our emergency plan.

There will probably be other candidates, like Bolsonaro, who represents the far-right, and Marina Silva, who tries to attract a centrist electorate, but her real voter base is only the Assemblies of God Church. The tucanos [2] are in crisis, because Alkmin is involved in severalcriminal accusations. Doria is a cheap playboy. And the Globo network hasn’t had time to create an alternative, like Collor was created in 1989.

What’s the way to prevent the backlash of the coupist agenda?

To mobilize, fight, and not leave the streets. We need to work in the upcoming days on the possibility of a general strike with indefinite durations. All of our social militancy and the readers of this newspaper need to be in a state of alert, since the next few days will be decisive to define the destiny of the country. The strength of the working class is only expressed on the streets
1 Operation Carne Fraca (Portuguese for meat of poor quality) is yet another scandal where large national and international are accused of mixing rotten meat with other meat, changing expiration dates and using chemicals to make the meat look fresh and, then, bribing the meat inspectors to pass on its quality.

2 Brazilian Social Democracy Party (Portuguese (link is external): Partido da Social Democracia Brasileira) – PSDB, a centrist party that is the principal opposition party to the Worker’s Party.

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Brazil Mainstream Media Admits Spreading Fake News About Lula

Image result for Luiz Inacio “Lula” da Silva PHOTO

The mainstream media channel has long claimed that both former leftist presidents were involved in the massive corruption scandal.

Brazil’s largest television channel, Globo, has admitted that is has divulged false information about former Brazilian presidents Luiz Inacio “Lula” da Silva and Dilma Rousseff.

Globo journalist William Waak acknowledged on television Tuesday that previous reports about Lula and Rousseff, allegedly owning offshore accounts, were inaccurate.

The mainstream media channel has long claimed that both former leftist presidents were involved in the massive corruption scandal involving Joesley Batista, owner of JBS, Brazil’s largest meat packing company.

“We said that Joesley Batista had claimed in the awarding statement that he deposited fines on two current accounts abroad, in the name of the ex-Presidents Lula and Dilma Rousseff,” Waak said.

“In reality, however, Batista said that the account is in his name, but that money was going to be allocated to Lula and Dilma’s campaigns.”

The correction did not repair damage caused to Lula and Rousseff’s image, since many international agencies and foreign newspapers have since echoed Globo’s false claim, failing to correct them.

Last Friday, Batista confessed that de-facto President Michel Temer had requested and received bribes from his company since 2010.

Batista, the protagonist of a wiretapping scandal incriminating the unelected Brazilian leader, exposed the arrangement to the Brazilian attorney general’s office. He claims he paid Temer roughly US$1 million in 2010 alone. Another US$921,000 was requested by the embattled president in 2012 to support Gabriel Chalita’s bid to become mayor of Sao Paulo.

Batista also claimed that during the impeachment process against ousted former President Dilma Rousseff, Temer requested a payment of more than US$85,000 dollars for online political marketing expenditure.

Temer has repeated that he has no intention of resigning. Contrarily, he’s considering a lawsuit against the owner of JBS in order to strengthen his defense.

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Coup Leaders Are Keeping Their Promises in Brazil

  • Brazilians protest the institutional coup against President Dilma Rousseff and the de facto government of Michel Temer.
    Brazilians protest the institutional coup against President Dilma Rousseff and the de facto government of Michel Temer. | Photo: AFP
They are protecting themselves from prosecution for corruption and carrying out neoliberal shock therapy for the country.

Source: Truthout

The social democratic, left-wing government of Brazil was removed in a coup.

RELATED: Brazil: Crisis and Societal Fascism

Though that striking statement could be ripped from the headlines of newspapers today, it also describes the headlines of half a century ago, in April of 1964.

The Brazilian coup gets forgotten in the crowd of Latin American coups. In discussions of Latin American interventions, it often gets lost in the press of the 1954 Guatemalan coup against Jacobo Árbenz or the 1973 Chilean coup against Salvador Allende. But the Brazilian coup that was sandwiched between them was significant and merits more attention.

In Who Rules the World, Noam Chomsky explains that in 1962, President John F. Kennedy made the policy decision to transform the militaries of Latin America from defending against external forces to “internal security” or, as Chomsky puts it, “war against the domestic population, if they raised their heads.” The Brazilian coup is significant because it may have been the first major manifestation of this shift in the US’s Latin American policy. The Kennedy administration prepared the coup, and it was carried out shortly after Kennedy’s assassination. Chomsky says that the “mildly social democratic” government of João Goulart was taken out for a “murderous and brutal” military dictatorship.

The evidence that the US cooperated in the coup that removed Goulart from power is solid. The field report of the CIA station in Brazil shows clear US foreknowledge of the coup: “A revolution by anti-Goulart forces will definitely get under way this week, probably in the next few days.” President Lyndon B. Johnson gave Under Secretary of State George Ball and Assistant Secretary for Latin America Thomas Mann the green light to participate in the coup: “I think we ought to take every step that we can, be prepared to do everything that we need to do.”

And the steps were substantial. Ambassador Lincoln Gordon told CIA Director John McCone, Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara and Secretary of State Dean Rusk that those steps should include “a clandestine delivery of arms … pre-positioned prior any outbreak of violence” to the coup forces, as well as shipments of gas and oil. Gordon also told them to “prepare without delay against the contingency of needed overt intervention at a second stage” after the covert involvement. Rusk would then send Gordon a list of the steps that would be taken “in order [to] be in a position to render assistance at appropriate time to anti-Goulart forces if it is decided this should be done.” The list, sent in a telegram on March 31, 1964, included dispatching US Navy tankers with petroleum and oil, an aircraft carrier, two guided missile destroyers, four destroyers and task force tankers for “overt exercises off Brazil.” The telegram also lists as a step to “assemble shipment of about 11 tons of ammunition.”

This little-known historical record is interesting for its demonstration that the last time Brazil had a “mildly social democratic” government, the U.S. cooperated in its removal. The next social democratic government would be the now removed Workers’ Party government of Presidents Lula da Silva and Dilma Rousseff.

How do we know that the maneuverings that removed Dilma Rousseff from power were a coup dressed in the disguise of parliamentary democracy? Because the coup leaders have told us so. Twice now.

A published transcript of a 75-minute phone call between Romero Jucá, who was a senator at the time of the call and soon to be the planning minister in the new Michel Temer government, and former oil executive Sergio Machado lays bare “a national pact” to remove Dilma and install Temer as president. Jucá reveals that, not only opposition politicians, but also the military and the Supreme Court are conspirators in the coup. Regarding the military’s role, Jucá says, “I am talking to the generals, the military commanders. They are fine with this, they said they will guarantee it.” And, as for the Supreme Court, Glenn Greenwald reports that Jucá admits that he “spoke with and secured the involvement of numerous justices on Brazil’s Supreme Court.” Jucá further boasted that “there are only a small number” of Supreme Court justices that he had not spoken to.

RELATED: Temer Hikes Military Budget After Axing Social Spending

According to Greenwald, the Brazilian newspaper that first published the transcript, Folha de São Paulo, says that Jucá makes it very clear in the phone call that he believed the coup would “end the pressure from the media and other sectors to continue the Car Wash investigation,” the corruption investigations that were closing in on many members of the government, including many of the coup participants, leaders and the coup president, Michel Temer, himself.

According to Jucá, the head of Michel Temer’s party then, one of the intended purposes of the coup was to protect the coup leaders from the corruption investigation that was closing in on them.

According to Temer, the coup had a second purpose. In a post-coup speech in front of members of multinational corporations and the US policy establishment in New York on September 22, 2016, Temer brazenly boasted of his successful coup. Temer clearly told his American audience that elected President Dilma Rousseff was not removed from power for “violating fiscal laws by using loans from public banks to cover budget shortfalls, which artificially enhanced the budget surplus,” as the official charge stated. She was — the new, unelected president admitted — removed because of her refusal to implement a right-wing economic plan that was inconsistent with the economic platform on which Brazilians elected her. Temer’s economic plan featured cuts to health, education and welfare spending, as well as increased emphasis on privatization and deregulation.

Rousseff was not on board. So she was thrown overboard. In the words of Temer’s confession:

And many months ago, while I was still vice president, we released a document named ‘A Bridge to the Future’ because we knew it would be impossible for the government to continue on that course. We suggested that the government should adopt the theses presented in that document called ‘A Bridge to the Future.’ But, as that did not work out, the plan wasn’t adopted and a process was established which culminated with me being installed as president of the republic.

The second purpose, then, was the implementation of an unpopular right-wing economic plan.

So what’s happening now in Brazil? What did Jucá and Temer say would be happening in Brazil? They are protecting themselves from prosecution for corruption and making real a radically right-wing economic plan.

The attempt to insulate themselves from the prosecution that was sure to come if Dilma remained president began quickly with the Brazilian Congress’ attempt to pass a law that would retroactively protect members of the Congress from corrupt election financing. Temer and others have been implicated in the “caixa dois,” or second box scandal in which they accepted undeclared contributions as bribes. Temer himself interestingly declared that he would not veto the amnesty law.

The plan to protect themselves continued to unfold when, a few months later, the lower house of Brazil’s congress passed a law that would allow members of congress accused of corruption to accuse the prosecutors and judges of abusing their authority. This law, then, would allow politicians accused of corruption to pursue the prosecutors who were pursuing them. After protests on the streets of Brazil and legal challenges to annul the vote, the proposal is back at square one in the house. The progress of the bill will be decided after the ministers return from recess this month. The president of the senate has expressed the desire to continue with the proposal. Though the outcome is unknown, the introduction and the continued pursuit of the law clearly expose the coup government’s intent.

So, that’s part one of the coup plan unfolding according to plan. And part two is also predictably unfolding as Temer announced in New York. In his short time in office, Temer has ushered in a host of privatization and austerity measures. But the feature presentation was still to come.

RELATED: Police in Brazil Killed Close to 10 People a Day

In October 2016, the Chamber of Deputies approved the draft of a constitutional amendment that would limit annual increases in government spending to the inflation rate of the previous year for the next 20 years. What they passed was not just a draft of a law, but of an amendment locked into place for the next two decades by the constitution. The amendment would effectively freeze spending on social and welfare services, including health and education, just as Temer promised in New York, despite the government’s assurances that it will not affect health and education.

In December 2016, Brazil’s Senate passed the draft into law. Philip Alston, the UN special rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, said, “This … radical measure … will place Brazil in a socially retrogressive category all of its own.” He went on to say that the “amendment would lock in inadequate and rapidly dwindling expenditure on health care, education and social security, thus putting an entire generation at risk of social protection standards well below those currently in place.” The UN special rapporteur condemned the amendment as “clearly violat[ing] Brazil’s obligations under the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, which it ratified in 1992, not to take ‘deliberately retrogressive measures’ unless there are no alternative options and full consideration has been given to ensure that the measures are necessary and proportionate.”

So, events in Brazil are unfolding exactly according to the expressed plans of the coup leaders. The removal of Dilma Rousseff was a coup, and the coup was executed to protect the coup leaders from corruption charges and to allow them to return Brazil to the regressive right-wing road it was on prior to the more socially progressive left-wing governments of Lula da Silva and Dilma Rousseff that the oligarchs and corporations so opposed.

Unlike the 1964 coup, the degree to which the US was complicit is not yet known. Though, according to Latin American expert Mark Weisbrot, “there is no doubt that the biggest players in this coup attempt — people like former presidential candidates José Serra and Aécio Neves — are US government allies.”

But the US is at least tacitly complicit, because the day after the impeachment vote, Sen. Aloysio Nunes of the new coup government began a three-day visit to Washington. Nunes is no small player in the coup government; he was the vice-presidential candidate on the 2014 ticket that lost to President Rousseff and a key player in the effort to impeach Rousseff in the Senate. Nunes scheduled meetings with, amongst others, then-chairman and ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Bob Corker and Ben Cardin, as well as with Undersecretary of State and former Ambassador to Brazil Thomas Shannon.

The willingness to go ahead with the planned meetings with Nunes right after the coup suggests at least tacit acceptance or approval on the part of the Obama administration. And now, despite President Trump’s assurances that his government would not follow the interventionist path of Presidents Clinton and Obama, Trump has already offered Brazil the same tacit approval and support. In December 2016, Temer and Trump agreed on a phone call “to improve business relations.” According to Temer’s office, the two presidents “agreed to launch, immediately after the swearing in of the new American president, an agenda for Brazil-US growth.”

So, what’s happening in Brazil today? Just what the coup leaders said would be happening in Brazil today.

Ted Snider writes on analyzing patterns in US foreign policy and history.

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