Brazil’s Democracy Pushed Into the Abyss

Former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva of Brazil at an event this month in Rio de Janeiro. Credit Mauro Pimentel/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

WASHINGTON — The rule of law and the independence of the judiciary are fragile achievements in many countries — and susceptible to sharp reversals.

Brazil, the last country in the Western world to abolish slavery, is a fairly young democracy, having emerged from dictatorship just three decades ago. In the past two years, what could have been a historic advancement — the Workers’ Party government granted autonomy to the judiciary to investigate and prosecute official corruption — has turned into its opposite. As a result, Brazil’s democracy is now weaker than it has been since military rule ended.

This week, that democracy may be further eroded as a three-judge appellate court decides whether the most popular political figure in the country, former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva of the Workers’ Party, will be barred from competing in the 2018 presidential election, or even jailed.

There is not much pretense that the court will be impartial. The presiding judge of the appellate panel has already praised the trial judge’s decision to convict Mr. da Silva for corruption as “technically irreproachable,” and the judge’s chief of staff posted on her Facebook page a petition calling for Mr. da Silva’s imprisonment.

The trial judge, Sérgio Moro, has demonstrated his own partisanship on numerous occasions. He had to apologize to the Supreme Court in 2016 for releasing wiretapped conversations between Mr. da Silva and President Dilma Rousseff, his lawyer, and his wife and children. Judge Moro arranged a spectacle for the press in which the police showed up at Mr. da Silva’s home and took him away for questioning — even though Mr. da Silva had said he would report voluntarily for questioning.

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The evidence against Mr. da Silva is far below the standards that would be taken seriously in, for example, the United States’ judicial system.

He is accused of having accepted a bribe from a big construction company, called OAS, which was prosecuted in Brazil’s “Carwash” corruption scheme. That multibillion-dollar scandal involved companies paying large bribes to officials of the state-owned oil company, Petrobras, to obtain contracts at grossly inflated prices.

The bribe alleged to have been received by Mr. da Silva is an apartment owned by OAS. But there is no documentary evidence that either Mr. da Silva or his wife ever received title to, rented or even stayed in the apartment, nor that they tried to accept this gift.

The evidence against Mr. da Silva is based on the testimony of one convicted OAS executive, José Aldemário Pinheiro Filho, who had his prison sentence reduced in exchange for turning state’s evidence. According to reporting by the prominent Brazilian newspaper Folha de São Paulo, Mr. Pinheiro was blocked from plea bargaining when he originally told the same story as Mr. da Silva about the apartment. He also spent about six months in pretrial detention. (This evidence is discussed in the 238-page sentencing document.)

But this scanty evidence was enough for Judge Moro. In something that Americans might consider to be a kangaroo court proceeding, he sentenced Mr. da Silva to nine and a half years in prison.

The rule of law in Brazil had already been dealt a devastating blow in 2016 when Mr. da Silva’s successor, Ms. Rousseff, who was elected in 2010 and re-elected in 2014, was impeached and removed from office. Most of the world (and possibly most of Brazil) may believe that she was impeached for corruption. In fact, she was accused of an accounting maneuver that temporarily made the federal budget deficit look smaller than it otherwise would appear. It was something that other presidents and governors had done without consequences. And the government’s own federal prosecutor concluded that it was not a crime.

While there were officials involved in corruption from parties across the political spectrum, including the Workers’ Party, there were no charges of corruption against Ms. Rousseff in the impeachment proceedings.

Mr. da Silva remains the front-runner in the October election because of his and the party’s success in reversing a long economic decline. From 1980 to 2003, the Brazilian economy barely grew at all, about 0.2 percent annually per capita. Mr. da Silva took office in 2003, and Ms. Rousseff in 2011. By 2014, poverty had been reduced by 55 percent and extreme poverty by 65 percent. The real minimum wage increased by 76 percent, real wages overall had risen 35 percent, unemployment hit record lows, and Brazil’s infamous inequality had finally fallen.

But in 2014, a deep recession began, and the Brazilian right was able to take advantage of the downturn to stage what many Brazilians consider a parliamentary coup.

If Mr. da Silva is barred from the presidential election, the result could have very little legitimacy, as in the Honduran election in November that was widely seen as stolen. A poll last year found that 42.7 percent of Brazilians believed that Mr. da Silva was being persecuted by the news media and the judiciary. A noncredible election could be politically destabilizing.

Perhaps most important, Brazil will have reconstituted itself as a much more limited form of electoral democracy, in which a politicized judiciary can exclude a popular political leader from running for office. That would be a calamity for Brazilians, the region and the world.

big demonstration in support of former Brazilian president Lula.

Berlin Contra o Golpe group and the SOS Lula collective invite everyone to participate in a big demonstration in support of former Brazilian president, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, against his unfair sentence and Lawfare persecution.
The demonstration will take place on 21.02.2018 from 16:30 to 18:00, beside the historical clock in Potsdamer Platz, Berlin, during the Berlinale, Berlin Film Festival.
We want to show our indignation and solidarity with the Brazilian people in defense of democracy, which is threatened by political fraud aiming to subvert elections due this year by preventing Lula from standing.

We will also pay a tribute to Dilma Roussef inside the cinema after the showing of the film The Trial (O Processo) a documentary on her impeachment made by Maria Augusta Ramos.

Please bring any banners in support of Lula and in defence of democracy in Brazil.

Rough justice The trial against Lula da Silva is politically motivated and based on flimsy evidence, argues Germany’s former justice minister

(Foto: EPA -Former Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva at a rally with his supporters in Mossoró, Rio Grande do Norte state, Brazil.)

Brazilians will find out tomorrow (24 January) if the most popular politician in their country’s history, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, will go to jail or run for the presidency.

The former two-term, leftist president is appealing against a conviction for corruption and money laundering. If the appeals court upholds his conviction, Lula will face up to nine and a half years in prison.

The appeal court’s decision is important for a number of reasons. Firstly, because there are question marks hanging over the soundness of the original verdict and rule-of-law violations. Secondly, because the appeal court’s decision will determine whether Lula can stand as the candidate for the Workers’ Party (PT) in Brazil’s upcoming presidential election.

Brazil’s ruling elite want to stop this from happening. Their allies include Brazilian media giant, Globo.

Lula’s popularity is growing daily, while Brazil’s political institutions and courts are losing credibility due to corruption allegations and policies that are hurting Brazil’s poor.

Many Brazilians fear the appeal court will uphold the original verdict. They point to an escalating barrage of attacks by senior judges against Lula, his successor Dilma Rousseff and left-wing parties since 2013. Lula and his Workers’ Party are vilified daily as ‘corrupt, crooked, organised criminals’.

The onslaught is a response to Lula and Rousseff’s attempts to nationalise companies and redistribute wealth as a way to increase social equality. The current conservative government has already rolled back a number of progressive policies that threatened the political and economic interests of Brazil’s wealthy upper classes and their ties to international corporations.

Rousseff is also being punished by her opponents. Her impeachment in August 2016 has been described as a ‘new form of coup’ by renowned political scientist Aníbal Pérez-Liñán.

The legal basis for Rousseff’s impeachment is flimsy and inadequate. Despite this, her appeal is still pending. It’s possible the supreme court is waiting till Michel Temer (Brazil’s current, indisputably corrupt president) leaves office, at which point it will declare the matter effectively settled.

Many suspect Sérgio Moro, the judge who passed the original verdict, is involved in this political campaign. Moro serves at the first-instance federal court in Curitiba that is hearing the corruption cases against state-owned oil company Petrobras. He has denounced Lula publicly on several occasions – a clear sign of bias.

The legal basis for Rousseff’s impeachment is flimsy and inadequate.

That counts for little in Brazil, where even senior judges spoke out against Lula before he had actually been found guilty. Despite claiming ‘judicial independence’, they have undermined the principle of rule of law enshrined in Brazil’s constitution.

Lula submitted a dossier to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights outlining violations of rule of law and human rights by the Brazilian judiciary, and the UNHCR is unambiguous in its condemnation of such practices.

Despite this, the EU and international community are paying too little attention to the alarming developments in Brazilian politics. Perhaps they believe claims by Brazilian judges that the Lula case is part of a legitimate effort to tackle corruption.

Indeed, Transparency International reports show corruption in Brazil is endemic, undermining the state, economy and public sphere. It erodes public trust.

To combat corruption, Brazil needs effective legislation, punishment for all those who flout the law, and preventive policies. Uncovering and proving corruption can be difficult, especially when we’re dealing with political bribery.

Despite the accusations, Lula actually strengthened anti-corruption legislation during his presidency. Are the corruption proceedings against Lula simply a case of these strengthened laws being applied?

As indicated above, this seems unlikely. For a start, the current anti-corruption crusades have a strongly political slant. Brazil’s courts and political elite are apparently turning a blind eye to the flagrant corruption of President Temer and many of his (conservative) supporters in the Chamber of Deputies and Senate.

What is more, during the Lula trial, Brazil’s judiciary has repeatedly ignored key principles such as judicial impartiality and the right to a fair trial. Appeal hearings often quickly bring to light serious procedural breaches in investigations and trials, raising suspicions that court procedures are being abused for political ends.

Despite accusations against him, Lula actually strengthened anti-corruption legislation during his presidency.

Many examples of such breaches were outlined in Lula’s defence team’s petition to the UNHCR. The dossier alleges Lula was arbitrarily detained for questioning without prior summons. It also claims Lula’s rights to presumption of innocence, fair trial and privacy were violated. Specifically, wiretaps were placed on Lula’s and his lawyer’s phones and police searched his home. These claims are corroborated by Judge Moro’s ruling.

Moro argues these actions were justified due to the gravity of the charges against Lula. As further justification, he has raised allegations against Lula’s lawyer and claims Lula himself attempted to destroy evidence, influence witnesses and intimidate the court.

Brazilian legal experts speak of ‘lawfare’, where, under the pretext of combating corruption, courts abuse their power in order to support the Brazilian elite’s political battle against the hated Left.

The appeal court’s decision will need to take all this into account. The text of Judge Moro’s ruling is both long and verbose: 961 paragraphs spread across 186 pages (in the English translation).

Moro doesn’t just lay out the charges and his assessment of them, but bulks out the document with constant disparagements of Lula, vague assertions and repetitive rejections of motions filed by the defence team.

His motives are clear: Moro needs to cover up the striking lack of evidence against Lula. He won’t get far though. The document contains too many unsubstantiated and unverifiable assumptions, insinuations and assertions based on hearsay or on testimony made by prisoners who struck murky deals with the prosecution. It would not stand up in most European courts of law.

Even the star witnesses were unable to testify to more than the already established fact that President Lula was responsible for nominating the state-owned company’s directors.

As a result, the allegation that Lula accepted bribes in the form of cash and an apartment remains unproven. The charge that he, as president, was responsible for corruption at Petrobras seems equally tenuous in the absence of any evidence that he intervened personally, exerted influence or obtained any improper benefits from the company. Even the star witnesses were unable to testify to more than the already established fact that President Lula was responsible for nominating the state-owned company’s directors.

Judge Moro’s conduct of the trial reflected his partiality from the start. He repeatedly described Lula as being part of a ‘criminal system’. When Lula’s defence team filed motions complaining of judicial bias, Moro accused them of attempting to intimidate the court, prosecution and witnesses. He made the same accusation when they filed the dossier (which Moro declared to be unfounded) with the UNHCR. Moro also labelled Lula’s public criticisms of the judicial process ‘threats’ and ‘slander’, while at the same time defending public statements made against Lula by judges.

Judge Moro also contradicted himself: if there were proof for any of his allegations that Lula had suppressed evidence or attempted to influence witnesses, as the lengthy custodial sentence of nine and a half years suggests, there would be no justifying his decision that Lula should remain free until the final verdict by the supreme court.

In short, the appeal court needs to overturn Moro’s verdict. Upholding the verdict would not only diminish the credibility and effectiveness of efforts to combat corruption, but would also undermine the rule of law in Brazil. However, given the politicised nature of Brazil’s judiciary, it’s doubtful the appeal court will reach the right decision.

Quelle: http://www.ips-journal.eu/regions/latin-america/article/show/rough-justice-2543/

IN DEFENCE OF FORMER PRESIDENT LULA #StandWithLula

While trying to find a crime – any crime – to convict Lula in the courts, opponents of Brazil’s most important political leader engage in a trial By media, in the most extraordinary defamation campaign against a puBlic figure in the history of the country.
For more than 40 years in public service, every aspect of former President Lula’s life has been thoroughly vetted: political, fiscal, financial and even his personal life. No Brazilian politician has ever been investigated for so long: by the security agents of the dictatorship, the press, his political opponents and,
by congressional committees during his two terms.
Despite the false charges that he has suffered, nothing has ever been shown to be wrong with Lula’s life
because he has always acted with in the law – before, during and after having been president of Brazil.
Only the dictatorship dared to convict and jail Lula in 1980, under the infamous National Security Law. His
crime of “subversion” was fighting for democracy and the rights of workers.
Since the re-election of President Dilma Rousseff, in October 2014, Lula has become the target of a ver –
itable judicial witch-hunt. Politicized agents of the state, the Public Prose cutors Office, the Federal Police and the Judiciary, were mobilized to try and find a crime – any crime – with which to charge Lula and try him in the courts. Dozens of prosecutors, police in vestigators, Federal tax authorities and even judges have been frantically engaged in this process, in complicity with the monopolies in the media and professionals of du bious journalistic reputation.
In the absence of formal charges, since Lula has always acted within the law, they foment a trial by media
that is unfair and unbalanced – with out the right of response or rebuttal.
Rumors, inferences and selective in vestigative leaks are released with great fanfare, a true moral and polit-
ical lynching. It is clear that the goal of the mass media and the most retrograde sectors of Brazil is to take the former president to Court in an obvious attempt To keep Lula from being able to participate in the Brazilian political process.
They violated Lula’s banking and fiscal records, and those of his family, his public-speaking company and
the Lula Institute. They electronically wiretapped Lula’s calls, those of his family, his staff and even those of
his attorneys. In the early morning hours they raided and searched Lu la’s house, the homes of his children
and the Lula Institute.
They investigated all of the inter national travel by the former president – to discover who paid for the
travel, what aircraft was used, who accompanied him, where he stayed and with whom he spoke, includ
ing heads of state and government.
They investigated the lectures and even the gifts that Lula received when he was president.
And they found absolutely noth ing to link Lula to the Petrobras corruption scandal, the Lava Jato
investigaton or any other illegal activity. No questionable deposits no offshore accounts, no front
companies, not one penny was not honestly earned and declared for the payment of taxes.
Not even the confessed defend ants in the Lava Jato investigation, who made deals for reductions in
criminal and financial penalties in exchange for information, dared to say that Lula participated directly
or indirectly in the Petrobras corruption scandal. And this is terribly frustrating for the hunters of the
former president. In the absence of proof, evidence or reliable witnesses, Lula’s perse cutors submit the former president to a number of arbitrary constraints that violate not only his constitutional rights, but the principles of the democratic rule of law, threatening the entire society.
While trying to find a crime – any crime to convict Lula in the courts, opponents of Brazil’s most important political leader engage in a trial B y media, in the most extraordinary defamation campaign against a public figure in the history of the country.
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Lula’s speech following appeal verdict 24/1/18

Translated and edited for readability by Brian Mier

On January 24, 2018, after three conservative judges rejected ex-president Lula’s appeal against charges that he received illegal reforms in an apartment that prosecutors were unable to prove he ever owned or set foot in, a crowd of some 70,000 people gathered on Praça de Republica in downtown São Paulo.  After a series of speeches by some of the most important people on the Brazilian left, including MTST leader Guilherme Boulos, MST leader Gilmar Mauro, and CUT union federation leader Vagner Freitas, the former president took the stage. This is what he said:


As I arrived here I heard someone giving a speech. I don’t know who it was. He said that an election without Lula is a fraud. I became worried that people would leave here with the impression that this is a campaign event. This act is infinitely more important than a mere campaign event. This is an act in defense of national sovereignty and in defense of Brazil. Let me tell you something – after the court decision I felt that people were coming to greet me as if I were suffering. “Oh, Lula” they said, “be strong. Be brave, comrade”. First of all, I never had any illusion about what the court decision would be, never.  I never had any illusions about the behavior of the judges in relation to the Lava Jato investigation. Why didn’t I ever have any illusions about this? Because there was a deal made between the Judiciary and the Press in which they decided that it was time to destroy the PT party and our governance in the country. They no longer accepted the social ascension of the poor and the working class in this country. They no longer accepted the educational ascension that went from pre-school to university. They no longer tolerated that we created a program that sent 100,000 young people to study in universities abroad. They no longer tolerated the amount of credit given out to small farmers, the amount of credit for social housing through the Minha Casa Minha Vida program,   and they no longer could stand the amount of consigned credit given out by the public banks.  To them, it was no longer possible for the country to continue that way.  There were a lot of people driving cars and the cause of this was this disgraceful PT party and its government that helped all these poor people to buy cars. Cars aren’t for us. Our place is on overcrowded buses. The more wretched we are are the more they like it and the less traffic they have the more they like it. It’s simple, let the workers drive cars and let them ride on the bus to see what its like in this country.

Any lawyer up here would tell me, “President Lula, you have to respect the decision”. I respect the decision because it was theirs. But I do not accept the lie that their decision is based on.  They know that I did not commit a crime. I would like to offer to spend an entire day with these judges on live television for them to show me what the crime I committed was.  I am not worried that I won’t be able to run for president. I want them to apologize for the quantity of lies that they have told about me for the last 4 years. I want them to say what the crime that I committed is. I am now condemned another time for the disgrace of an apartment that I do not own, that isn’t mine. Look, if they’ve condemned me for this, at least give me the damn apartment – that would make things more simple. Give me the deed for it. I’ve already asked Guilerme Bolous [MTST leader] to send his people down there and squat in that apartment. If it’s mine, occupy it.  So, people, let me tell you something. I don’t want anyone to be worried just about Lula. I want you to worry about what is happening to 210 million Brazilians, and most importantly those who work and live off their salaries in this country.  I want you to understand that everything will get worse when they pass the pension reforms. I want you to understand that the FIES [government student loan program], which improved access to education in this country, is ending.  I want you to know that the PROUNI [student grant program] is shrinking.  I want you to know that that salaries are going down in this country. It’s important for you to know that jobs with signed labor cards will cease to exist and everyone will be stuck with intermittent jobs which only pay for hours worked [e.g. no more vacation, maternity leave, or benefits]. I want you to understand that they are removing rights from us that we won 60 years ago. Lula is on the defense bench, but the ones who were condemned are the Brazilian people, by the Coup that they made.  A human being can be imprisoned. Mandela spent 27 years in jail, and that did not weaken his struggle.  He returned and became president of South Africa. Here in Brazil I can tell the story of a poor soldier, who wasn’t even a Sargent, named Tiradentes, who was daring enough to think of independence in this country. He wasn’t just condemned by the government at the time. They hung him, they drew and quartered him and hung the pieces of his body on stakes in Ouro Preto in Minas Gerais so that nobody else would ever think about independence in this country.  Independence happened thirty years later, and 97 years after that when they proclaimed the first republic, General Marachal Deodoro de Fonseca needed a hero to justify the Republican Proclamation and the only hero they could find was this one who they hung, quartered and salted his meat for nobody to ever remember him again. And he became the only national hero and up to today when someone asks to name a hero in this country we remember Tiradentes. They have to know once and for all – and I’ve been saying this for a long time –  this is nonsense about how Lula has to be condemned because I am insignificant.

What is great in this country is the political consciousness of the Brazilian people,  who are beginning to show that they no longer accept subservience. If they show me the crime that I committed, I want to see it. They spoke for ten hours straight today – they read I don’t know how many pages –  and there is not one crime.  And so this story of condemning people who haven’t committed crimes just because the judge has conviction, or creating the theory of the “domain of fact”, which was used in the mensalão judgment, based on “I don’t want to know if you stole or not, you are the boss so you will pay the price”.  I want to tell them that I am not a radical person – if anything I am too moderate. They are not so accustomed to judging the innocent, to judging people who have honor.  For me, this judgment is an opportunity to travel across Brazil and start discussing with the Brazilian people what we had, what we are losing and what we can get back.  I didn’t even want to be involved with politics anymore.  I already was president, I already was approved of, but now I see that everything that they are doing is to try to prevent me from becomming a candidate – not even to win, just becoming a candidate. This provocation is so offensive that it gives me an itch and now I want to run for president of the Republic. Now I want to do it.  And they can try to hunt my right to be a candidate, no problem. I don’t want to dispute them with pens. I want to dispute with them for the consciousness  of the Brazilian people by saying what we want for this country. And if I committed one crime, present it to me. Present this crime to me and I will give up running for office. In fact I will give up appearing in public.  I am challenging them. I challenged the federal police, the Lava Jato prosecutors, Sergio Moro, and now I would like to challenge the three judges who ruled on my appeal: prove that I committed one crime. They judged me because this entire process is subordinated to Rede Globo TV Company, Veja Magazine, Estado de Sao PauloFolha de Sao Paulo and the Brazilian press, which does not tolerate the social ascension that the people conquered. They never supported it and they won’t do it. Who can forget that when Fernando Haddad and I created the PROUNI [student grant program] they said it would lower the quality of university education. They said it would put unprepared students in the university system. And after two years all studies showed that the best students were the poor one from the periphery who were studying through PROUNI.  They are ending the FIES student loan program because it showed that the government trusted students with credit that they could pay back after they graduated.  They thought this was an expenditure, but they don’t consider  lending money to companies as expenditure.  It’s only expenditure when its for students. I don’t have a university diploma but I want to tell these ignorant people who do have one that the best investment a nation can make is investment in education because it is education that will guarantee national sovereignty, the sovereignty of knowledge, scientific and technological sovereignty, productive sovereignty, and competitive sovereignty.  And they never accepted the fact that we sent the Free Trade of the Americas Proposal away, that we strengthened MERCOSUR.  They never tolerated that we created an institution to gather together all of the countries in Latin America and the Caribbean. They never tolerated our visits to 39 African nations. They said, “The place Lula should be visiting is the United States and not Africa,” because they have inferiority complexes. I visited Africa with great pride. On Friday at 1 AM I am flying to Ethiopia to talk about fighting hunger in Africa, because Brazil has good examples of social policies. They never tolerated this, comrades. They never tolerated the fact that a metallurgical worker without a college education would go down in history as the president who built the most public universities and who put the most students in universities in the history of the country. They never tolerated this this quasi-illiterate is the president who built the most public technical schools in the history of this country. They never tolerated that this illiterate and his government are the ones who settled the greatest number of landless peasants, who built the most houses, who raised the minimum salary more than anyone. These are the conquests that were judged today. And I want them to know that I am not as worried as they think I am.  Because they can’t arrest a dream of freedom. They can’t arrest ideas. They can’t arrest hope and Lula is just a man of flesh and blood. They can arrest Lula but the ideas are already in the mind of Brazilian society.

The people already know that it’s nice to eat well.  The people already know that it’s nice to live well. The people already know that it’s nice to travel by airplane.  The people already know that it’s nice to buy a new car. The people already know its nice to have a house, with a TV and a computer, where every child has a phone. The people learned that this is good and they think that we didn’t learn this and that we will be happy continuing to buy second class things. We are not second class people. We want our kids to have the same opportunities that they have. We want to put the son of a kitchen maid in the same school with the son of the boss to see who is more competent.  They won’t be able to condemn or arrest this. So, comrades, I don’t want you to ever lower your heads. None of this, “poor Lula, oh, he’s been condemned, oh, they want to arrest him”. Don’t lower your heads. And I say this, they are the poor ones who think that arresting Lula will end the struggle because Brazil has millions of men and women who are stronger than Lula, braver than Lula and more conscientious than Lula. So people, it’s not the time to resist or desist.  It’s time to continue down our path for the future of this country. They should prepare themselves because the Leftist Political parties are uniting to return, not just to govern this country, but to treat the Brazilian people with the respect that they deserve. To take care of the women, the children, the blacks, the Indians, the LGBT, to take care of those who are so marginalized in this country.  We are tired of prejudice. We are tired of envy. We are tired of hate.  We want to build a country of peace. A country where people greet each other, who say good morning, good afternoon, where people aren’t angry with each other like what is happening now. Right now I hear there is a protest on Paulista avenue by those guys in the yellow shirts. They protest in yellow shirts, but on Monday they put on  American shirts and fly to Miami to go shopping instead of spending their money here and generating jobs for our people. I would like to finish by thanking the unions and social movements who organized this event. I came here with Guilherme Boulos (MTST) and Vagner Freitas (CUT) to say that now is the time to march and to occupy Paulista avenue.

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The Lula Question – As Lula’s judicial saga moves into a new stage, the Brazilian left faces more questions than ever.

s the last vote on the Lula appeal came in, there was no surprise that the former president of Brazil would have his sentence upheld while the markets celebrated, with São Paulo’s stock exchange at an all-time high. What was surprising is that his punishment increased from nine to twelve years. But what does this mean for the Brazilian left, electorally and beyond?

While the sentencing doesn’t mean Lula will be arrested immediately, given that he still has a string of appeals left, it casts a shadow on his campaign prospects. If all the appeals fail, Lula will become ineligible to run in this year’s presidential race, thanks to Brazil’s Ficha Limpa (Clean Slate) law. This means trouble for the Workers’ Party, which has run a presidential candidate in every race since the post-dictatorship redemocratization process. PT candidates always outpaced other leftist candidates, guaranteeing the party’s electoral hegemony over the Left.

Yet Lula is bigger than the PT, and the party currently lacks another public personality that can propel the party beyond a 20-30 percent range of potential voters. The PT’s second-best scenario involves Lula tailoring and appointing a legitimate successor, as he once did with Dilma Rousseff. Technically, the PT has up to twenty days before Election Day to replace Lula with another candidate, meaning he can participate in the campaign until the very last minute.

This uncertainty, of course, transposes the Brazilian left’s intense fragmentation onto the electoral ground. The PT’s ally party, the Communist Party of Brazil (PcdoB), has nominated their own presidential candidate, Manuela D’Avila, while the Democratic Labor Party’s (PDT) Ciro Gomes angles for an alliance to strengthen a center-left project against the Right. Yet the Right’s threat is diminished by its own fragmentation, with the Brazilian Social Democracy Party (PSDB) gripped by infighting over Geraldo Alckmin and João Doria, and the liberal conservatives maneuvering against the far-right Jair Bolsonaro. The PSDB is the PT’s perennial electoral opposition, and although Alckmin is the party’s traditional choice, Doria ran a successful campaign to be mayor of São Paulo in 2016, through which he gained a significant media and political profile.

Bolsonaro is a problem for the Left, whether or not he has a real chance of winning. He rages against the LGBTQ community, wants to arm the police force to their teeth and give them more of a license to kill, speaks about protecting the traditional family, and employs nationalist speech while claiming that with him as president, Brazil will be Trump’s best friend. The fear of Bolsonaro is pushing even the non-PT left back towards Lula. They seek an appearance of unity and to expiate their own guilt ahead of time, in case the Left proves too weak to defeat the Right at the ballot box.

This reflects a deeper pattern of melancholia among the Brazilian left. The radical left struggles with a strong desire for the past as the key to future possibilities — particularly when it comes to the wasted opportunities by the PT —and the moderate left is stuck in a repetitive pattern of self-justification of why these possibilities can never be. Self-critique and the examination of one’s political program is replaced by placing the blame on external forces — the market, the political correlations, the Right. The Lula situation and the right-wing threat have heightened this melancholic state and blurred some of the lines between the different views of what is possible today. The radical left is losing the little cohesion that remains and the lesser-evil logic is gaining ground again.

The Party of Socialism and Liberation (PSOL), for example, is facing pressure to get closer to the PT. This is justified on the basis that the PSOL must do more base-building work to be less of a middle-class party. Yet it is known that the PT itself has long since abandoned serious base-building efforts outside of election time. The faithful base that is leftover is usually attached to other organizations, such as the Landless Workers’ Movement and the Central Workers’ Union.

This has placed the Homeless Workers’ Movement (MTST), which has grown in recent years, in the middle of a dispute. Its past affinities with the PT and its interpretation of Lula’s prosecution as the second phase of the 2016 coup ensure that the movement sticks with Lula. At the same time, PSOL members and groups have stood together with the MTST for years now, building occupations and protesting alongside one another, even when it was the PT government on the other side. Meanwhile, Guilherme Boulos, the MTST’s national coordinator, is considered PSOL’s preferred presidential candidate. This push-and-pull between the PT and the PSOL could strain the relationship of both parties with the homeless workers’ movement, which holds serious potential given the urgent nature of Brazil’s urban crisis.

The conundrums and contradictions that arise from melancholic thinking have put the Left in a defensive position. Every action it takes is constrained by the electoral conjuncture, resulting in persistent fragmentation. Worse, it’s still paralyzed by the question that even yesterday’s grim results did not put to rest: will Lula be a presidential candidate in 2018?

Original text here

Comments on a notorious verdict The trial of Lula – Book for free download on the internet

“Comments on a notorious verdict: The trial of Lula” might be the most important judicial document published in Brazil for decades. The present selection of articles came to exist after a spontaneous movement, and significant enough as well, of Brazilian and foreign lawyers who carefully verified the verdict rendered in the extent of the procedure which was processed at the 13ª Vara Federal de Curitiba, in the case that was known at the media as “the Guarujá triplex”.

From the Introduction by Geraldo Prado

ISBN 978-987-722-309-5

CLACSO. Instituto Defesa da Classe Trabalhadora. Instituto Joaquín Herrera Flores. Instituto Novos Paradigmas. Frente Brasil de Juristas pela Democracia.

Buenos Aires.

Enero de 2018

To download the book click here

 

Brazil’s Democracy Pushed Into the Abyss

Brazil, the last country in the Western world to abolish slavery, is a fairly young democracy, having emerged from dictatorship just three decades ago. In the past two years, what could have been a historic advancement ― the Workers’ Party government granted autonomy to the judiciary to investigate and prosecute official corruption ― has turned into its opposite. As a result, Brazil’s democracy is now weaker than it has been since military rule ended.

This week, that democracy may be further eroded as a three-judge appellate court decides whether the most popular political figure in the country, former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva of the Workers’ Party, will be barred from competing in the 2018 presidential election, or even jailed.

There is not much pretense that the court will be impartial. The presiding judge of the appellate panel has already praised the trial judge’s decision to convict Mr. da Silva for corruption as “technically irreproachable,” and the judge’s chief of staff posted on her Facebook page a petition calling for Mr. da Silva’s imprisonment.

The trial judge, Sérgio Moro, has demonstrated his own partisanship on numerous occasions. He had to apologize to the Supreme Court in 2016 for releasingwiretapped conversations between Mr. da Silva and President Dilma Rousseff, his lawyer, and his wife and children. Judge Moro arranged a spectacle for the press in which the police showed up at Mr. da Silva’s home and took him away for questioning — even though Mr. da Silva had said he would report voluntarily for questioning.

The evidence against Mr. da Silva is far below the standards that would be taken seriously in, for example, the United States’ judicial system.

He is accused of having accepted a bribe from a big construction company, called OAS, which was prosecuted in Brazil’s “Carwash” corruption scheme. That multibillion-dollar scandal involved companies paying large bribes to officials of the state-owned oil company, Petrobras, to obtain contracts at grossly inflated prices.

The bribe alleged to have been received by Mr. da Silva is an apartment owned by OAS. But there is no documentary evidence that either Mr. da Silva or his wife ever received title to, rented or even stayed in the apartment, nor that they tried to accept this gift.

The evidence against Mr. da Silva is based on the testimony of one convicted OAS executive, José Aldemário Pinheiro Filho, who had his prison sentence reduced in exchange for turning state’s evidence. According to reporting by the prominent Brazilian newspaper Folha de São Paulo, Mr. Pinheiro was blocked from plea bargaining when he originally told the same story as Mr. da Silva about the apartment. He also spent about six months in pretrial detention. (This evidence is discussed in the 238-page sentencing document.)

But this scanty evidence was enough for Judge Moro. In something that Americans might consider to be a kangaroo court proceeding, he sentenced Mr. da Silva to nine and a half years in prison.

The rule of law in Brazil had already been dealt a devastating blow in 2016 when Mr. da Silva’s successor, Ms. Rousseff, who was elected in 2010 and re-elected in 2014, was impeached and removed from office. Most of the world (and possibly most of Brazil) may believe that she was impeached for corruption. In fact, she was accused of an accounting maneuver that temporarily made the federal budget deficit look smaller than it otherwise would appear. It was something that other presidents and governors had done without consequences. And the government’s own federal prosecutor concluded that it was not a crime.

While there were officials involved in corruption from parties across the political spectrum, including the Workers’ Party, there were no charges of corruption against Ms. Rousseff in the impeachment proceedings.

Mr. da Silva remains the front-runner in the October election because of his and the party’s success in reversing a long economic decline. From 1980 to 2003, the Brazilian economy barely grew at all, about 0.2 percent annually per capita. Mr. da Silva took office in 2003, and Ms. Rousseff in 2011. By 2014, poverty had been reduced by 55 percent and extreme poverty by 65 percent. The real minimum wage increased by 76 percent, real wages overall had risen 35 percent, unemployment hit record lows, and Brazil’s infamous inequality had finally fallen.

But in 2014, a deep recession began, and the Brazilian right was able to take advantage of the downturn to stage what many Brazilians consider a parliamentary coup.

If Mr. da Silva is barred from the presidential election, the result could have very little legitimacy, as in the Honduran election in November that was widely seen as stolen. A poll last year found that 42.7 percent of Brazilians believed that Mr. da Silva was being persecuted by the news media and the judiciary. A noncredible election could be politically destabilizing.

Perhaps most important, Brazil will have reconstituted itself as a much more limited form of electoral democracy, in which a politicized judiciary can exclude a popular political leader from running for office. That would be a calamity for Brazilians, the region and the world.

Statement in Defense of Lula Workers’ Party delegations in the Federal Senate and in the Chamber of Deputies Convicting Lula is convicting Democracy and the People

President Lula is being subjected to judicial persecution that is unprecedented in Brazilian history. This persecution has a clear goal: to prevent Lula from getting elected again in order to, one more time, deliver the economic, political, and social accomplishments the Brazilian people need to increasingly stand ever more proud and sovereign.

A warning is in order: there is no evidence of any wrongdoing committed by Lula in these lawsuits. And there is no evidence because there was no wrongdoing whatsoever! In the meantime, evidence of his innocence is ignored and dismissed.

No one has ever been more fully investigated in all these years. No one has ever been so fully exposed and had their lives more thoroughly probed than Lula. Yet they could find nothing. No foreign account, no concealed assets. Nothing more than partisan convictions, unsubstantiated theories, arbitrary hypotheses, and intense political dispute justify and base the lawsuits against him.

At a juncture when, in Brazil, conservative politicians are acquitted and preserved and criminals are released to spend their millions abroad, despite substantive incriminating evidence, convicting Lula, the most popular leader in our history, without a thread of evidence, amounts to dealing a fatal blow to Brazil’s justice and democracy.

It is unacceptable that the justice system should proceed with an evidently political action to convict an innocent with the clear intention of interfering in the political dispute and to keep Lula from becoming a candidate. With this deliberate conduct, rife with extralegal and biased interests, and driven by countless transgressions of rights and guarantees enshrined in the legal order of the Democratic Rule of Law, the trials Lula is being submitted to offend the Brazilian constitutional system and international human rights treaties. By convicting Lula, they convict democracy and attempt to subjugate the will of the people.

So much arbitrariness has been inflicted on Lula throughout these tortuous inquests and processes, it suffices to mention the unlawful and shameful operation that took him into custody in March 2016 or the ridiculed public Power Point presentation riddled with assumptions, image montages, and sound bites, with the evident purpose of embarrassing the former president and submitting him to public humiliation, clearly offending the fundamental principles of the dignity of the human person.

Another extremely serious fact was the leaking by justice itself of recorded conversations between former President Lula and the then President Dilma Rousseff, whose illegality was ultimately acknowledged by the Brazilian Federal Supreme Court (STF) itself, upon whom it is incumbent to safeguard the Constitution. So far, however, the STF’s ruling has not led to the punishment or removal of the suspected judge, who shows no impartiality to try President Lula.

Moreover, among other demonstrations of the persecution Lula is being submitted to is the arbitrary decision by another judge prohibiting, without any plausible reason, the activities of the Lula Institute, without there even being any petition filed thereto by the public attorney’s office, just for the sake of public exposure and humiliation. So outrageous was the decision that it was rapidly overthrown by a higher court. Still, it is revealing of the diversified mosaic of measures that are being taken by part of the judiciary against former President Lula, with the sole purpose of embarrassing him.

Against Lula was adopted the so-called “criminal law of the enemy”, the judicial policy of previously identifying and fully criminalizing a person, regardless and even before the existence of a crime. In relation to Lula, they act like the “referee who doesn’t want to lose the game”, in the words of renowned Italian lawyer Luigi Ferrajoli, in a public analysis held last April 4, in Parliament in Rome.

Everyone in Brazil knows that the judicial persecution against Lula, actually lawfare, has been part of the Brazilian coup d’état’s political agenda, since long before any legal action began.

It is imperative to understand that the actions against former President Lula are being conducted by prosecutors and judges who have made a clearly ideological and partisan option, publicly expressed on social media. These prosecutors and judges have allied themselves with the conservative media, dominated by a small oligarchy of powerful families, with the political aim of persecuting and humiliating former President Lula and the Brazilian left as a whole. For this reason, these prosecutors and judges have adopted the criminal tactic of producing selective leaks of the investigations – a clear affront to the Brazilian law – to disseminate their absurd theories that Lula would be the “commander” of a sweeping corruption scheme. This dirty tactic, typical of authoritarian regimes, seeks public conviction in disregard for the due process of law and the principle of the presumption of innocence.

It is also for this reason that this arm of the Brazilian judiciary system adopted the tactic of abusively using pre-trial detention as a form of psychological torture to force plea bargainers to depose against the former president, which is not only an affront to the Constitution, but also to international human rights treaties. Everyone knows, in Brazil, that the chance that a defendant will be released or get a shorter sentence increases exponentially by accusing Lula.

There is, therefore, clear political selectiveness on the part of the Brazilian judiciary system. While politicians with ties to Brazil’s traditional oligarchies are protected or released, even in face of substantive evidence like recordings and suitcases full of illegal cash, Lula is convicted in the absence of any evidence.

It is worth underscoring that former President Lula never sought any protection or privileges of any kind. He has never refused to appear in court. He never purported to be above the law. Lula is not above the law, but he cannot be denied the law, which disposes that everyone is entitled to a fair trial.

Unfortunately, it is sad to verify that Lula was not given a fair trial. Far from that. He was prejudged and convicted by an oligarchic and venal media and by judges and prosecutors who are modern Savonarolas. This media-hyped pre-conviction had to be ratified by a legal sentence, even if unfair, unconstitutional, and illegal. As former President Lula has said, the judge and the prosecutors have become prisoners of their own lies.

Now, the appellate court that is to review Lula’s case, the 4th Region Federal Regional Court (TRF/4ª), has scheduled Lula’s trial for January 24, 2018, in record time in Brazilian history. This trial is going on in half the time required by the fastest trials ever held in that Court. It must be noted that Carlos Eduardo Thompson Flores Lenz, presiding justice of the TRF/4ª, stated, even before the case arrived at his court, that the ruling handed down by Judge Sérgio Moro that sentences former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva to nine and a half years’ imprisonment in the episode of the Guarujá (SP) triplex was “technically flawless”. Therefore, this is about playing a game with a stacked deck of cards, whose political aim is to prevent the candidacy of a great popular leader.

Even the prosecution’s petition recognizes there is no substantial evidence against the former president, besides the deposition of a plea bargainer who has been sentenced to 2 years in prison and who knew he could be released or have his sentence shortened should he accuse Lula, as has become customary in processes involving judges and prosecutors who, as a rule, act in a clearly selective and partisan way and merely on the basis of conjectures and arbitrarily built probabilistic hypotheses. According to the Brazilian law, plea bargains are invalid in the absence of substantive evidence.

Yet, given the paradoxical reasoning that prevails in these Kafkaesque processes against popular leaders, absence of evidence becomes proof of guilt. In these processes have also prevailed, as noted, the trampling of individual rights and guarantees, abuse of temporary arrests as an instrument of political torture to force plea bargains, unlawful pre-trial arrests, and all sorts of aggressions against the Brazilian Constitution and the international treaties on human rights.

In the specific case of Lula’s conviction, it should also be added that not only was there no evidence of his culpability, but also that there was substantial evidence of his innocence, as the fact that Lula never enjoyed the use of the apartment that, in the delirious allegation by the accusation he had received as “bribe”, and that the construction company has always held ownership of the property. This would be the only case of metaphysical ownership of a physical asset. Nonetheless, substantive evidence of his innocence was ignored in the purely political trial the former president was submitted to.

In face of this situation, Lula’s defense has already filed a petition with the United Nations Human Rights Committee. Acting in partnership with Geoffrey Robertson, a lawyer specializing in human rights in the international system, the defense rightly contends that the former president will not have any fair trials, in compliance with the due process of law and with ample right to defense, in the present political setting in Brazil, a country submitted to a coup d’état and exceptional measures.

This coup d’état, perpetrated by what has been termed “the most dangerous gang in Brazil” against a president widely known to be honest (Dilma Rousseff), always had as its ultimate goal to destroy the Brazilian people’s social and economic achievements and to impose, in arbitrary and illegitimate fashion, an agenda rife with social setbacks and destruction of rights that would have never been approved in free and democratic elections.

The Brazilian people know that the only “crimes” Lula committed were, among others, having lifted 42 million Brazilians into the middle class, having virtually eradicated poverty in Brazil, broadened educational opportunities for the poorest population, increased the minimum wage by more than 70%, enlarged healthcare services for needy Brazilians, reduced deforestation in the Amazon region, committed Brazil to the world fight against global warming, enabled true fight against corruption in a country that had always tolerated it, affirmed the country’s independence and sovereignty, removed Brazil from the FAO Hunger Map, and in short, started the construction of a fairer and solidarity country. A Brazil for all.

Thus, Lula is being persecuted for his virtues, his powerful symbolism as a popular leader dedicated to eliminating poverty and overcoming inequalities, which, in a crisis, clashes with the neoliberal and “austericide” imperatives of the coup-led government. Not for his alleged crimes.

But we believe that Lula is also being persecuted for what he means to the world. Unquestionably, Lula has set up a foreign policy designed to build a pluralistic, truly multilateral world, in which the emerging countries may also enjoy the benefits of development and participate in the great international decisions. Lula has also played a decisive role in the introduction of the main social themes in the world agenda, in committing the emerging countries to key environmental issues, and in initiatives designed to reform multilateral institutions and control world finances.

This way, Lula replicated, at the foreign level, the progressive policies he implemented domestically. Lula is a symbol of equality, social progress, and democratic multilateralism for the world. Lula represents the hope of overcoming neoliberalism’s concentration of income and wealth, promotion of poverty and inequality, rampant unemployment, exclusion, and injustice, and deeper division between the countries of the globe.

Lula symbolizes, above all, the idea that another world is possible.

For all of that, Brazil is willing to fight and combat this unfair persecution.

Lula represents everything the reactionary and antidemocratic oligarchy hates the most, for his personal struggle is intertwined with the collective struggle of the Brazilian people and of many oppressed peoples in the world.

Lula is genuinely a creation of the Brazilian people. He is their face and their heart. Lula is in the son of the bricklayer who became a doctor. In the mother who can afford to feed her children today. In the waters that today irrigate the northeastern semi-arid outback. In the light for those who, in the 21st century, lived in darkness, without electric energy. Lula is in the Mercosur, the Unasul, the Eclac, the BRICS. Lula is in the G-20, in the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Lula is in the solidarity with Africa. Lula’s example is in every international program designed to fight hunger and poverty.

Lula is the hope of reconciliation for Brazil. Only direct elections with Lula’s participation will be able to overcome the country’s extremely serious political, economic, and institutional crisis. Incarcerating Lula means keeping Brazil in an insoluble crisis. It is worsening the conflicting setting the country is imprisoned in.

And Lula is also a symbol in a world lacking world leaders truly committed to fighting the gaps between countries on this planet. Lula embodies the dream of equality and hope of a less asymmetrical world. A world oriented to satisfying the needs of the people, not dedicated to the maintenance of the privileges of the few who control globalized finances.

This dream cannot be imprisoned, this hope cannot be incarcerated.

We will react, we will fight back. Now, more than ever before, we will dedicate our strengths to acquit Lula. In every sphere and every court, in Brazil and abroad, we will denounce this scandalous injustice. This new coup against Brazilian democracy. We will denounce that, without Lula, the only leader capable of opposing the destructive agenda of the ongoing coup, the next Brazilian presidential election will be a big fraud. Without Lula, there will be no democracy in Brazil. Without Lula, the hopes of a better world dwindle.

We are certain of victory. We are – with Lula and the people – on the right side of History!

Lula’s Witch Trial: Who Are The TRF4?

Some are calling it the Coup’s endgame, others the “final battle” for Brasil’s next decade.

Former President Lula, who held office from 2003-2011 has twice the support of his nearest rival to succeed Putschist Michel Temer in the October 2018 elections.

However, on the 24th January in the southern city of Porto Alegre, he will face judgement on his appeal against a conviction which could prevent him running for office, a case which numerous critics, at home and abroad, have dismissed as baseless and without actual evidence. If his conviction is upheld he would not only be barred from the Presidency but face arrest and up to a decade in prison.

It is now widely believed, and not only amongst his supporters, that the case against Lula is political-legal persecution, or Lawfare, and there is also ample evidence to suggest that it has the full support of North Atlantic powers and corporate interests, which are represented by lobby organisations and think tanks such as AS/COA and the Atlantic Council, and thus permeates through English-language coverage of Brasil. Newspapers such as the Guardian, New York Times and Washington Post, continue to pretend that Lula’s case is being conducted normally and fairly. This mirrors what happened in the run up to Dilma Rousseff’s impeachment, “Brazil’s institutions are working”, a briefed corporate media insisted.

Comedian Gregorio Duvivier remarked in his Folha de São Paulo column, that in today’s Brasil, if you are against conviction without proof, you are deemed an extremist.

A conspicuous failure to prosecute anyone from the conservative US-backed PSDB (to whom Lava Jato’s inquisitorial Prosecutor-Judge Sergio Moro is connected), despite far greater and more tangible evidence such as that surrounding their defeated 2014 presidential candidate Aécio Neves, has made a mockery of insistence that the vast (and unprecedentedly well promoted) anti-corruption probe is politically neutral. In addition, the economic effects of Lava Jato, from its mandated freezing of construction and energy sectors, contributed to the economic contraction which many used to justify Dilma Rousseff’s illegal impeachment, a deepening of recession which Atlas Network-connected group MBL, campaigning for her removal, actually celebrated as a means of recruitment to their cause.

Crucial to this story is that the conservative bloc which now occupies Temer’s post-coup cabinet (and has since implemented a brutal neoliberal programme without the will of the people) includes 4 times defeated PSDB and heirs to ARENA Government of the 65-85 Dictatorship, now living on as “Democratas”, who have failed between them to win a Presidential election since 1998. These are, naturally, the political forces most involved, and most most vocal in their support of the case against Lula and the war on his PT (Workers Party) as a whole. The Brazilian right and their international supporters, although trying to rush through unpopular reforms and privatisations before Temer must leave office, know that they cannot realistically expect to win an election in which the still wildly popular Lula is a candidate, despite decades of intensifying media vilification.

Past articles 2015- present, that Brasil Wire has published on the subject of Lawfare in Brasil can be found assembled here.

There are also enormous concerns about the impartiality of Regional Federal Tribunal 4, or TRF4 which will judge on Lula’s appeal. The tribunal is made up of conservative judges João Pedro Gebran, Victor Laus and the more liberal Leandro Paulsen. Gebran, who is the TRF4’s rapporteur to the Lava Jato task force, is also from Curitiba where it is based, and a personal friend and former university colleague of controversial judge Sergio Moro. There have been some allegations that he is a godparent to Moro’s children or vice versa, which he denies. Lula’s defence team even asked for their respective wedding and children’s birth certificates to corroborate, a request which was refused.

During 2017, overseer of the appeal, TRF4’s President Carlos Eduardo Thompson Flores Lenz, in a brazen breach of conduct, enthused to the media about Moro’s handling of Lula’s case, calling it “impeccable”. The chief of his cabinet also shared various facebook campaigns demanding that Lula be imprisoned.

Historian Fernando Horta has grave doubts about the fitness of TRF4 in its current configuration to judge a case such as that of Lula, with its enormous political ramifications – in short it will decide Brasil’s political future.

“There are two things that strike me. One is that none of the 3 TRF4 judges are specialists in criminal law, they are in health, commercial and civil law. The other thing that frightens me is that Gebran, the leader of the Tribunal, is a personal friend of Moro. They went to university together and afterwards both worked in the same court in Western Parana state. And this is unusual in that the first Lava Jato conviction ever occurred in that court. In 2013, there was a motion for clarification filed there which represents the first time a Lava Jato case rose to the district court level. In Brazil, this process is done through lottery and their court was the one which was this case was awarded to. And from that point, all the Lava Jato resources passed through the same court with the same prosecutor/judge.  So, their court was awarded the first Lava Jato case in 2013. In 2014 both of them were transferred. They opened two judge positions in the court, where they knew the Lava Jato case would continue. Gebran, Moro’s personal friend, was transferred into a court where they knew Lava Jato was going to continue. In other words, they chose who would decide on Lava Jato in advance. The court is composed of various groups of three prosecutors. Each one has a president, but the Court (TRF4) itself also has a president who can step in and make a judgement in case of a split decision. If the ruling against Lula is 2 – 1 the court president can step in.  If Lula receives one vote in his favor there is a legal maneuver called an implementation motion in which judgement advances to a decision of the entire court, which if I am not mistaken is made up of 9 prosecutor/judges. But it is the court president (Carlos Eduardo Thompson Flores Lenz) who would coordinate that.”

The day of the judgement will be potentially explosive. Despite an effort to outlaw protests; Trade unions, and Social Movements such as MST, are planning to travel to Porto Alegre in support of Lula on January 24th. The PSDB Mayor of the city, Nelson Marchezan Júnior has in response taken the likely illegal step, of directly requesting that Michel Temer make the Armed Forces available to him against the demonstrators’ constitutionally-protected right of assembly.