Political Crisis Opens Up Space for Dialog With the United States – Crise Amplia Espaços de Diálogo com os EUA

Paulo Sotero –  Revista Interesse Nacional, 06/06/2016

The impeachment of Dilma Rousseff and the crisis that it generated was not a surprise to Washington. The interim government of Michel Temer and its foreign policy emphasis were well received and opens space for a renewal of bilateral dialogue and cooperation at a time when Latin America is changing and opening  up, as shown by the election of President Macri in Argentina, the normalization of US-Cuban relations and the breakdown of the Chavez regime in Venezuela. Washington does not underestimate the challenges the political crises for Brazilians, such as the exhaustion of state capitalism and the failure of its corrupt political class and of the system that produced it.  Add to the mix the uncertainties generated  by rise of populist candidates, from both the right and the left, in the presidential campaign in the Unite States. The desire of the Obama administration to invest in  a  deeper relations with Brazil remains, but won’t be acted on before  the impeachment of Dilma Rousseff is concluded, the  Temer administration consolidates its position and the outcome of the  November 8th elections in the United States is known. The good news is that the difficulties open time and political space for government officials and other interested parties to  prepare the way for productive initiatives.

Read the Article in Portuguese…

 

Brazil’s Olympic Greeting: Welcome to Hell

Beth McLoughlin – U.S. News, 07/18/2016

RIO DE JANEIRO — In Brazil’s oldest favela of Providencia, Diego Deus lives with his wife and 6-month-old son. He can walk to work at the Museum of Modern Art, a gleaming new addition to the city’s port zone that has been redeveloped in advance of this summer’s Olympic Games.

Unemployment has been steadily climbing in Brazil, a country in its worst recession since the 1930s, but Deus is one of many Rio residents who has found work directly or indirectly as a result of the Games. Proud of his neighborhood, he resisted being moved when 200 people were evicted to renovate Providencia.

“They wanted to take my house out [to build a cable car], but I resisted,” Deus says. “I don’t see myself living anywhere else. It might seem strange to say it, but I feel safe here, I can go out and leave my door open. People look out for you.”

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Brazil: Lula Favored in 2018 Election, Temer Tanks at 5%

Telesur, 07/27/2016

Suspended President Dilma Rousseff´s predecesor, former Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva,–popularly known as Lula–   is the favored candidate for the 2018 presidential election, while “interim” President Michel Temer trails far behind with just 5 percent, according to a new Datafolha poll commissioned by the Globo newspaper.

The poll, of 2,792 respondents conducted between July 14 and 15, found that the former labor leader and Workers’ Party founder Lula leads voter preferences with 22 percent, followed by the Green Party’s Marina Silva at 17 percent. Silva finished third in the 2010 preisdential election.

Lula has expressed interest in running in the 2018 election, saying that the more he and his ally Rousseff are attacked, the more likely he is to run.

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Mexico’s star wanes as reforms underwhelm, Brazil rises

Michale O’Boyle and Bruno Federowski – Reuters, 07/13/2016

Foreign investors in Latin America are warming to Brazil as a promising turnaround bet while souring on Mexico and its landmark energy reform that has yet to deliver.

Brazil has yet to recover from its worst recession in decades, inflation and interest rates remain among the highest in the region and it is saddled with a bloated public sector. In contrast, Mexico’s economy is growing at around 2 percent, has lower fiscal deficits and sounder public finances.

But while Brazil interim president Michel Temer’s reform agenda offers some promise, Mexico, once a darling of foreign investors, is now a source of disappointment. A slump in oil prices dashed hopes that President Enrique Pena Nieto’s energy sector opening in 2013 along with telecoms and banking reforms would boost foreign investment and supercharge growth while clouds are now gathering over its budget and economy.

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Brazil Police Investigate Panama Bank

Rogerio Jelmayer – The Wall Street Journal, 07/07/2016

SÃO PAULO—Brazil’s authorities are investigating a Panamanian financial institution that allegedly worked with “Panama Papers” law firm Mossack Fonseca  & Co. to set up offshore accounts for Brazilian clients, in an operation that is an offshoot of the Car Wash corruption probe.

Police and prosecutors said Thursday during a press conference that police have detained for questioning seven people in São Paulo state linked with the financial institution, FPB Bank Inc.

According to prosecutors, there is evidence that services provided by FPB and Mossack Fonseca, the Panama City-based law firm whose client records were exposed as part ofthe so-called Panama Papers leak, were used by clients in Brazil to hide money coming from bribes paid in a bid-rigging scheme at state oil company Petróleo Brasileiro SA, or Petrobras.

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Leader of Brazil’s Rousseff Impeachment Resigns From Top Job

Associated Press – The New York Times, 07/07/2016

RIO DE JANEIRO — The man who led efforts to impeach Brazil’s suspended President Dilma Rousseff resigned on Thursday as speaker of the lower house of congress, but kept the congressional seat that could help shield him from corruption charges.

Brazil’s top court already had suspended Eduardo Cunha from his duties over allegations of obstructing justice and corruption, including holding Swiss bank accounts worth millions of dollars in bribes.

Cunha kicked off the proceedings against Rousseff in December 2015, accusing her of violating fiscal laws, which the embattled leader denies.

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Brazil’s suspended president denounces indictment as a ‘political farce’

Reuters/The Guardian, 07/06/2016

Brazil’s suspended president Dilma Rousseff has told the senate commission considering whether to permanently remove her from office that the case against her is a farce, arguing that her alleged misdeeds were no more than “routine acts of budgetary management”.

In a letter to the commission read by her lawyer on Wednesday, Rousseff also promised to fight to carry out her mandate until the end of 2018.

“Everybody knows that you are judging an honest woman, a public servant dedicated to just causes,” she said. “I’ve honored those who voted for me.”

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Supreme Court Justice defends political reform in Brazil at event in Washington DC

Henrique Gomez Batista – Globo, 07/06/2016

Justice Dias Toffoli, from Brazil’s Supreme Court (Supremo Tribunal Federal), stated this Wednesday morning, during a presentation at the Wilson Center’s Brazil Institute that he believes that the “Car Wash Operation” investigation is doing a good job. When questioned on his opinion of Judge Sergio Moro, responsible for the “Car Wash” investigation in Curitiba, Toffoli repeated his opinion and stated that whileMoro has done a “good job” he is not responsible for the “judicial transformation in Brazil”.

He stated  “It is not the one judge changing the history of Brazil, but rather civil society in general”

Justice Toffoli reminded the audience that the  “Car Wash Operation” has come this far due to prior modifications of the constitution, which were approved by many politicians who are being investigated, such as the law that allows the use of plea bargains. Toffoli also emphasized that these changes started under Fernando Henrique Cardoso’s government.  It was during Cardoso’s government that the law of Fiscal Responsibility was instituted which gives the Public Ministry the transparency and liberty to elect the new Attorney General of the Republic.

“Obviously, there is also the Mensalão case, which saw big name politicians and business executives become indicted, giving further legitimacy to the rule of law,” he said.

Toffoli also defended the habeas corpus that some Justices granted during the Car Wash investigation by saying that it is a normal part of the legal process. Toffoli also defended a legal reform to end the “coalition presidentialism”, by emphasizing that the best thing for the country would be to adopt the district vote in the Chamber of Deputies, as opposed to the current proportional system implemented in the country.

Original Article (Portuguese) can be found here…

Translated into English By Julia Fonteles and Therese Kuester

Missing ex-Gitmo detainee unnerves Brazil

Joe Leahy – Financial Times, 07/06/2016

Brazilian police are trying to locate a former detainee of the US military prison at Guantánamo Bay after reports of his disappearance from Uruguay caused alarm in the country only a month before it is due to hold the 2016 Olympics.

The Uruguayan media reported that the former US prisoner, Jihad Ahmed Mujstafa Diyab, had been missing from his adopted home for three weeks and had possibly gone to Brazil.

“The federal police states that it has taken diverse measures and until now there is no confirmation of the entrance or presence of this foreigner on national soil,” the Brazilian federal police said in a statement.

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Minister of the Supreme Court orders the release of Paulo Bernardo, former Minister of PT who was in prison for the past six day

Bela Megale, Mario Cesar Carvalho,  Márcio Falcão & Leandro Colon – Folha de S.Paulo, 06/29/16

The Supreme Court Minister, Dias Toffoli decided on Wednesday (June 29) to release the former Minister Paulo Bernardo, detained in the Operation Custo Brasil (Cost Brazil), an investigation into the illicit activity of the Ministry of Planning. He was arrested and imprisoned Thursday, June 23.

Toffoli said that there is no part of the process that justifies the order for preventive arrest. There is no indication that Paulo Bernardo will flee the country, or a risk of his interference in the investigations, thereby granting him the right to house arrest.

The Minister determined that the São Paulo Judicial System, which is responsible for the current operation, reevaluate the necessity to apply cautionary measures. After Toffoli’s decision, judge Paulo Bueno de Azevedo decided that Bernardo would spend the duration of his trial under house arrest, he will have to attend a judicial session every fifteen days, cannot contact others who are being investigated or occupy public office. He will also have to hand in his passport to the police.

Paulo Bernardo’s release should happen during the next few hours, after the notification from Azevedo.

In his decision, the Minister criticized the use of preventive imprisonment, which represents the anticipation of punishment and cited the case of the Mensalão, the worker’s party first major political scandal, as an example.

“Not even in the in case 470, colloquially known as the Mensalão case and conducted by the former minister, Joaquim Barbosa, was there a decree for preventive prisons. In mensalão, all the defendants were charged guilty and have completed or are in the process of completing their sentence,” said Toffoli.

Toffoli also affirmed that this was an “illegal embarrassment, correctable through habeas corpus.” “There is no need to add that the order for the defendant’s preventative imprisonment it needed to be verified by the Supreme Court, which, in this case, cannot be substituted,” he added.

The Minister affirmed that the judicial decision to arrest Paulo Bernardo, “does not indicate one sole factual element” which proves he could jeopardize the investigation.

“The judge’s first hand decision is fragilely based, in the common conjecture that the accuser, given his position as former Minister and his connections with other people and companies who are also being investigated in this operation, could possibly interfere in the production of evidence, but does not indicate a sole factual element that could sustain these connections,” he said.

The Minster partially responded to an appeal made by Paulo Bernardo’s lawyer to the Supreme Court, which questioned that legality in the action determined by the judicial branch from São Paulo. The appeal signed by the defendants, Juliano Breda, Rodrigo Mudrovitsch and Verônica Sterman supported the argument that the São Paulo’s court hindered the legislation by conducting investigative speculation linked to Senator Gleisi Hoffman(PT- PR)., who must be overseen by the Supreme Court, given the constitutional immunity.

The defendant’s ask for an annulment of the action involving Paulo Bernarndo in São Paulo and requested that his case were to be conducted by the Supreme Court, since many of the related evidence are similar to ones involving his wife, the senator Gleisi Hoffman (PT-PR).

Toffoli did not identify indices of usurpation from the Sao Paulo Judicial Court in the case that justifies a change in courts from federal to national.

The minister said that the Supreme Court has already identified the Consist Company’s role  and has proceeded, at first hand, to the suspects who do not have constitutional immunity, which is the case with Paulo Bernardo.

“The arrest was absolutely illegal and profoundly unfair. The decision strictly followed the constitution and its Supreme Court precedents,” said Juliano Breda to Folha.

In a statement, Bernardo’s lawyers confirmed that the decision “deconstructed all of the foundations for Paulo Bernardo’s arrest. It became clear that the foundations were vague and that the legal requisites and constitutional were not present”.

Gleisi commended the release of the former minister during a session of the Impeachment commission stating that “This is essential for me because there were no grounds to justify his arrest. We never refused to collaborate with the investigations,” she said. “I want to express my condolences about this case. In this country, we condemn before acquiring proof and information,” she emphasized.

The former minister in Lula and Dilma governments, Paulo Bernardo was arrested this past Thursday (23) in the Operation Custo Brasil (Brazil Cost), an extension of the Car Wash (Lava Jato). The politician from the worker’s party (PT) is accused of being a major beneficiary from the contractors’ kickbacks in the Ministry of Planning from 2010 until 2015.

Toffoli was the Worker’s Party lawyer during former president, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva’s campaign in 2002 and 2006. He was nominated Supreme Court Minister in 2009 and was seen as a close friend to the party, but has kept his distance from the party ever since Dilma was elected. Today, he tends to align opinions with his Minister colleague, Gilmar Mendes, the Worker’s Party greatest opposition inside the Supreme Court.

A former Minister during the governments of Lula and Dilma, Paulo Bernardo was arrested last Thursday the 23rd as part of the investigations into the irregularities in the Ministry of Planning. Bernardo, a member of the Worker’s Party, has been accused of benefiting from bribes paid to the Ministry of Planning between 2010 to 2015.

Investigators from the Police and the Public Ministry estimate that about 100 million reais were sent from software company Consist, responsible for the administration of cosigned credits  to the Ministry of Planning as kickbacks.

The company received almost one Real for every loan payment whose actual value was 0.30 Reals. According to investigators, Paulo Bernardo and the Worker’s Party were part of those who received the surplus money.

Bernardo denies the accusation that he personally acquired  seven million reals in kickbacks.

Paulo Bueno de Azevedo, the judge who ruled that Bernardo should be in prison, defends his decision saying that “it was necessary to maintain public order, punish criminal action and aid in the application of the law”.

This past Wednesday, Judge Azevedo sent a statement to the Supreme Court that he was not informed by the Federal Police nor the Public Ministry that the detainment of the former minister had occurred in the office of his wife, Senator Gleisi Hoffmann.

The Senator is not the target of this investigation; however, she is now being investigated by the Supreme Court due to her husband’s involvement. According to investigators, information from Bernardo’s case should be used in her eventual investigation.

Azevedo defended the legality of his decision and said that Gleisi’s office does not have a privileged protection from judicial operations, therefore, would not require the former authorization from the Supreme Court to search the office.

The judge clarified that she had never been investigated or the target of the action for his arrest and that Bernardo clarified once arrested that the majority of his time was spent at his own residency in Brasilia.

The information from the judge’s ruling was sent to minister of the Supreme Court Celso de Mellos who asked for a clarification after the Senate examined the legality of an intrusion into the office of Gleisi without specific authorization by the Supreme Court.

The Senate argued that because Gleisi’s office is owned by the House, it is therefore given immunity in the face of legal action. Only the Supreme Court can give the permission for action to be taken in such.

The judge continued to defend his decision stating that “Although the House owns the office, it is still public property and as such there exists no legal restrictions on search and detainment in such. Unlike the Senator, the apartment does not have immunity to judicial action”.

Read the Original Article in Portuguese…

Translation By The Brazil Institute (Julia Fonteles & Therese Kuester)