External Affairs

A Coup is in the Air: The Plot to Unsettle Rousseff, Lula and Brazil

Neoliberal parties, the corporate media, a conservative judiciary, oil lobbyists, the white elite and right-wing groups, with generous help from outside, have ganged up to derail the country’s government. And it’s all being made to look like a popular uprising against a corrupt regime

President Dilma Rousseff, who is herself under attack from the combined opposition, flew to Sao Paulo to stand with Lula. Credit: Ricardo Stuckert

President Dilma Rousseff, who is herself under attack from the combined opposition, flew to Sao Paulo to stand with Lula. Credit: Ricardo Stuckert

Sao Paulo: In November 2009, The Economist put Brazil on its cover. Brazil Takes Off, read the headline, emblazoned on a photo of Rio’s iconic statue of Christ the Redeemer rising above blue waters like an inter-stellar rocket. Predicting that “Brazil is likely to become the world’s fifth-largest economy, overtaking Britain and France,” the magazine said that South America’s largest economy should “pick up more speed over the next few years as big new deep-sea oilfields come on stream, and as Asian countries still hunger for food and minerals from Brazil’s vast and bountiful land.”

In 2009, even as the world was reeling from a catastrophic financial crisis, The Economist saw Brazil as the great hope of global capitalism.

Back then, the British magazine was not the only one in love with Brazil. Under Lula da Silva’s leadership, the country was witnessing unprecedented prosperity and social change. Lula’s personal rise from shoe-shine boy and motor mechanic to the presidency of the biggest Latin American country was the stuff of legends. He was the subject of several books and a Brazilian box-office hit. At the G-20 summit in London in April 2009, US president Barrack Obama called him the “most popular politician on earth.” And with two of the biggest sporting spectacles – the FIFA World Cup (2014) and the Olympics (2016) – scheduled to happen in the country, Brazil, perennially branded the “country of the future,” finally appeared to be arriving on the global stage.

Seven years later, Brazil is looking like a completely different country. Lula, who retired in 2010 with an 80% approval rating, was detained this month for questioning in a multi-billion dollar corruption scandal that has seen some of his Workers Party (PT) comrades go to jail. His successor, President Dilma Rousseff is facing impeachment in the Congress. The country’s economy shrank by 3.5% last year, and this year won’t be any better. Inflation is in double digits and hundreds of thousands are facing unemployment. Millions of people have taken to the streets – both in support of and opposition to the government. No one cares two hoots about the Rio Olympics, which are less than five months away. And the corporate media – global and local – has already written off Lula, Rousseff and Brazil.

The Brazil story began to lose some of its shine in 2013, especially in the eyes of international business media. In September 2013, The Economist put Brazil on its cover once again. The report was scathing and blasted Rousseff, who had been running the country for three years by then and was facing an election the next year, for doing “too little to reform its government in the boom years.” It took Brazil to task for “too many taxes,” “too much public expenditure” and paying pensions that were too “generous.”

That had not been a good year for Brazil. The economy was faltering and hundreds of thousands of people had come out on the streets just ahead of the FIFA Confederations Cup to protest against corruption and demand better public services. The economy appeared to have stalled entirely.

So what went wrong between 2009 and 2013? How did Rousseff, declared the most powerful woman in the world in 2010 by Forbes, suddenly become weak and incompetent? How did the Brazil story turn from one of hope to that of despair in such a short time?

The answer is simple – oil, and the money, power and politics it generates.

Same old, same oil

In 2007, Brazil discovered an oil field with huge reserves in a pre-salt zone below the ocean surface. Within a year, the country had uncovered oil and natural gas reserves exceeding 50 billion barrels – the largest in South America. Brazil was now the new darling of the world’s oil merchants, and Wall Street.

State-owned Petrobras had enjoyed a monopoly over oil exploration in Brazil since its creation in 1953, but the sector had been opened up to Royal Dutch Shell in 1997. With the oil finds of 2007-08, global giants like Chevron, Shell and ExxonMobil were eyeing Brazil in the hopes of lucrative contracts. But no deals could be struck.

In 2007, Lula partially restored Petrobras’s monopoly over Brazilian oil. Laws made under the guidance of Rousseff, who was Lula’s chief of staff, gave the company sole operating rights, with all its earnings going to government’s social programmes on education and health. Petrobras also began partnering with state-owned oil firms from other countries, mainly China. (ONGC and Bharat Petroleum too are partners of Petrobras and have offices in Rio, the headquarters of the Brazilian company).

The US State Department and Energy Information Agency (EIA) soon began lobbying Brazilian officials on behalf of American companies. In secret US diplomatic cables released by Wikileaks in 2010, it was revealed how the Americans were worried about the presence of state-owned Chinese companies in Brazil, with one cable detailing how the US was trying to get the country’s laws changed to its advantage.

Dilma Rousseff with Petrobras workers in 2011. Credit: Roberto Stuckert.

Dilma Rousseff with Petrobras workers in 2011. Credit: Ricardo Stuckert

Brazil was soon in election mode to choose Lula’s successor, and his party, PT, had nominated Rousseff as its candidate. The main opposition party, the Brazilian Social Democracy Party (PSDB), which had always supported the privatisation of Petrobras, chose former Sao Paulo governor Jose Serra as its candidate. The US was keenly watching the elections; documents released by Wikileaks show that the US was banking on Serra’s win for a change in the laws. “Let these guys (PT) do what they want. The bidding rounds will not happen, and then we’ll show everyone that the old model worked … And we’ll change back,” a 2009 cable quoted Serra as telling the oil lobby.

But Serra bit the dust against Rousseff in the 2010 election. Petrobras remained the sole operator of Brazilian oil fields and its revenue continued to go to government social programmes.

Soon, Chinese firm Sinopec became active in oil exploration in Brazilian waters as it agreed with the law that stipulated a minimum 30% stake for Petrobras in all ventures. This was the end of the West’s honeymoon with Brazil. “As their lobbying failed to win oil contracts, Brazil became a villain, like Venezuela. The US government and oil firms launched a covert attack on us. Their media followed suit,” says a senior diplomat in Itamaraty, the headquarters of Brazil’s foreign ministry, speaking on condition of anonymity. “But the government also made a mistake by placing too much hope in Petrobras and oil, forgetting that it’s a commodity whose price can go down,” he adds.

Coming to power on the promise of making Brazil a more equal society with a strong welfare state, oil and Petrobras were at the core of the leftist government’s plans to use public resources and money to fight poverty, create public jobs and bring development to remote areas in Brazil. Petrobras was not a bad bet. In 2007, the company’s market capitalisation was $190 billion. In 2010, Lula’s last year in power, Brazil had grown at 7.5 % and things were looking up. Although there was a drop in Petrobras’ capitalisation and profits in the coming years, it remained one of the biggest oil companies in the world.

But things were set to get worse.

Enter the NSA

In June 2013, Edward Snowden, a US National Security Agency (NSA) system administrator, escaped to Hong Kong with a trove of top-secret documents. In the next few months, working with journalists from various newspapers, Snowden released a series of files that showed how the US government was spying on politicians, governments, companies and social movements across the globe. Surprisingly, Brazil was one of the top targets of the NSA, which was collecting more data from here than Russia or China. The Americans claimed their surveillance was part of their counter-terrorism measures, but the documents on Brazil – and countries like India – revealed an entirely different picture. It was soon evident that the NSA’s main targets in Brazil were Petrobras and Rousseff.

Edward Snowden on the cover of Wired magazine. Credit: Mike Mozart/Flickr CC 2.0

Explosive revelations. Edward Snowden on the cover of Wired magazine. Credit: Mike Mozart/Flickr CC 2.0

Rouseff’s email, official telephone and personal mobile phone had been tracked by the NSA, as had every email, phone call, message and all official documents on Petrobras’s network. With these revelations, US-Brazil relations reached their lowest point. Brazilian officials were quick to say the spying was done because of the US interest in their oil and gas.

At that time, Petrobras was about to auction one of its big oilfields, with several American firms expected to participate. But as Rousseff cold-shouldered Obama at the G-20 summit in Russia and Petrobras officials accused the US of stealing information that gave them “privileged position at the auction,” negative stories about the Brazilian company and its forthcoming auction began to appear in the western media. When the auction was held, no American company offered a bid. Serra’s prediction had come true.

With its trade secrets and information about its assets downloaded in NSA facilities, Petrobras was now a sitting duck. Its fall had just begun.

In March 2014, Alberto Yousseff, a convicted money-launderer who had been arrested five times, began to sing like a canary after negotiating a plea-deal with prosecutors in Curitiba, the capital of the southern Brazilian state of Parana. He named many big leaguers whom he said had benefitted from bribery, kickbacks and money-laundering in Petrobras. Since then, the probe into this scandal, being led by Judge Sergio Moro, has singed the country’s top businessmen, oil executives and, most importantly, the leadership of the PT. Known as “Operation Car Wash,” the probe has played out like a telenovela, with big names being netted by the police or sent to jail by Moro at regular intervals.

This month, the unthinkable happened. The most popular leader in the history of the country was on the verge of being arrested for alleged corruption related to Petrobras. On March 3, the federal police picked up Lula from his house under a “coercive warrant” (which forces a person to testify in a case) and grilled him for five hours at their office in Sao Paulo’s domestic airport.

As Lula was detained and released, tension gripped the country with a section of Brazilian society – upper crust and mostly white – celebrating the police action, while the other part protested against the “coup”. Brazil was vertically divided on the day Lula was detained.

History of coups

Brazil has been a divided country for quite some time. Few people in the country accept the existence of class and racial fault-lines, but these are visible every day in Brazil’s politics and social conflicts. After years of stress, the fault-lines began to rattle in June 2013 as Brazil was gearing up to hold the FIFA Confederations Cup; thousands came out on the streets protesting against the government, with some calling for the president’s impeachment and some even asking the military to “intervene”. Ignoring the class and racial nature of the protests, the media – local and international – called it the “Brazil spring” – an uprising against a corrupt and unpopular government.

A similar narrative has been repeated in the past few days since Lula’s detention. But many in the government are seeing it as a conspiracy. “What is happening in the country is a national and international conspiracy to destroy the PT, and to introduce in Brazil an economic model like the current [neoliberal] one in Argentina,” veteran Brazilian diplomat Samuel Guimaraes told reporters after Lula was detained by the police. “This is a coup in progress.”

Getúlio Vargas in 1930. Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Getúlio Vargas in 1930. Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Brazil is no stranger to coups. Nor is foreign interference – from the US – unknown here. In the 20th century, at least three Brazilian presidents had to lose their job – and one, his life – for following pro-people policies, much to the anger of the country’s elite, and Washington. In all the cases, their fall was blamed on high inflation, falling incomes and bad economic management. There is a clear historic pattern to it. Getúlio Vargas, who created Petrobras as a state company and gave social rights to the country’s poor, was hounded by the Rio elite led by a media moghul for corruption he never committed. In 1954, he ended his constant humiliation by putting a bullet through his chest.

The next one to fall was Janio Quadros, who won the presidential election with a record margin in 1961. The same year, Quadros invited the Argentinian revolutionary Ernesto “Che” Guevara to Brazil and honoured him with the Order of the Southern Cross. The move alarmed the Brazilian elite and Americans, who were both paranoid about the spread of communism in South America. Then Quadros, a maverick figure with no clear ideology, committed even a bigger mistake: nationalization of a huge mining company. In less than a year, he was stripped of his powers by the Congress dominated by old money, traditional elite and Washington loyalists. He quit his post and left Brasilia for reasons that remain a mystery till now.

João Goulart in New York in 1962. Credit: Wikimedia Commons

João Goulart in New York in 1962. Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Quadros was replaced by João Goulart. A centrist leader with progressive views, Goulart began implementing policies of high wages for the working people, agrarian reforms, voting rights to all Brazilians and social justice. As the Brazilian government took a slight left turn, John F Kennedy, who was US president and still recovering from his Bay of Pigs misadventure in Cuba, began discussing with his aides the ways of overthrowing Goulart. According to papers in the US National Security Archive, in March 1963 Kennedy told his aides, “We’ve got to do something about Brazil.” Soon after, the Brazilian media dubbed Goulart a communist and began complaining about high inflation. In 1964, on US command, the Brazilian army toppled Goulart to “save the country” from communism. Until today, many in Brazil’s elite circles refer to the coup as a “revolution”.

The world knows about the brutal junta regimes of Chile and Argentina, but it all started in Brazil – in 1964. Most South American countries were ravaged by decades of US-backed dictatorships. They began to return to democracy in the 1990s ,after the Cold War got over. Then in an ironic twist and a big jolt to the Monroe Doctrine, one country after another – starting from Venezuela to Brazil to Argentina to Uruguay and Chile — elected leftist governments. South America was no longer Washington’s backyard. In the past 15 years or so, all South American nations have witnessed sharp economic growth as they engaged with China for trade, making the Asian country the biggest player in the region.

Second time a tragedy

South America’s continuous leftward march has made the alarm bells go off in Washington once again. It has also made the local elite restless. After 13 years of PT rule, during which huge social welfare plans have been implemented, Brazil’s elite is worried sick about the “Bolivarisation” of Brazil – a reference to the leftist policies in Venezuela under Hugo Chavez. In Sao Paulo, the financial capital of South America, the cocktail circuit chatter often revolves around how to stop Brazil from “turning into Venezuela”. The anti-government protesters on the streets repeat the same slogans as they abuse anyone wearing red.

Many say that the tragedy of 1964 is being repeated. “We are facing a strategy of a coup d’etat against an elected president,” historian Paulo Alves de Lima told Russia Today recently. “We’re on the verge of a new stage of a rolling counter-revolution, of an even more restricted democracy, unbearably pregnant with arrogance and institutional violence…,” Lima told Brazilian journalist Pepe Escobar, who sees the “regime change” in Brazil as an attack on the BRICS group.

Many top Brazilian intellectuals, political observers, social activists, judicial experts and government insiders believe that unlike 1964, when the army took the lead in overthrowing the government, the current “counter-revolution” is being organised and led by neo-liberal parties in cahoots with the country’s business lobbies, right-wing groups, corporate media and “highly politicised judiciary”.

Aécio Neves. Credit George Gianni/Flickr CC 2.0

Aécio Neves. Credit George Gianni/Flickr CC 2.0

Leading the charge against the Rousseff government is the PSDB, which calls itself social democratic but is in fact a right-wing party that advocates neoliberal policies and the slashing of welfare. Having lost four consecutive presidential elections to the PT, the PSDB is witnessing a bitter feud between its leaders – who all want to be the country’s president. The party smelled a chance of victory in the 2014 elections after opinion polls projected that Rousseff has been weakened by the Petrobras scandal and street protests. In the middle of the election season, as Eduardo Campos, a popular candidate from the Brazilian Socialist Party, mysteriously died in a plane crash, PSDB candidate Aecio Neves began to imagine himself in the presidential palace. The western media projected him as a man who could save Brazil. A Morgan Stanley banker even compared Neves’ rise to that of India’s prime minister, Narendra Modi.

Neves was certain of his victory when Veja magazine published a story on the eve of the final round of voting in December 2014 claiming that the money-launderer Yousseff had told the police that Rousseff and Lula had known about the corruption in Petrobras. Yet, he lost the election. But within a month of Rousseff’s inauguration for her second term in January 2015, Neves began to call for her impeachment, still waving the Veja article as a “proof” of her complicity in the scandal.

The article, published without any response from Lula and Rousseff, was not an exception. The “Operation Car Wash” trial has been as much in the media as in the court, with regular leaks about accusations made in plea deals. The Curitiba magistrate, who is reportedly influenced by the Mani Pulite trial in Italy, has become a cult figure for the Brazilian middle-class as his photo and quotes are splashed across magazines and newspapers almost daily. But Moro, the judge, has also faced criticism for his tactics of keeping the accused in jail without bail and using plea deals to build cases against others. Even The Sunday Times of London recently ran an article on the judge, questioning the way he has been running the case.

The media-judicial complex

Moro seemed to care little for such criticism when he sent the police to detain Lula. Despite his name appearing in numerous articles linking him to the scandal, till now not a single piece of evidence has been produced against Lula – in a court or in the media. Also, the former president has never refused to cooperate with the investigation. So, when Lula was detained under the coercive warrant, many thought the judge had crossed a line. A Brazilian Supreme Court judge, Marco Aurélio Mello, publicly criticised the magistrate because “coercion would only be appropriate if Lula had been summoned and refused to testify, which did not happen.”

Judge Sérgio Fernando Moro. Credit: Waldemir Barreto/Agência Senado/Flickr CC 2.0

Judge Sérgio Fernando Moro. Credit: Waldemir Barreto/Agência Senado/Flickr CC 2.0

Despite Moro’s tough tactics, Lula’s detention did not go according to script. As soon as the news spread in Sao Paulo, fist-fights broke out between rival groups of people in front of the building where Lula lives. Then a tweet went out from the PT account saying that Lula was a “political prisoner”. With social media buzzing with news about the “kidnapping” of Lula by the police, hundreds of people jammed the streets in Sao Paulo, shouting “We will not allow a coup”. As reports of crowds gathering in other cities came in, Lula was allowed to leave. He went straight to the party headquarters and addressed a huge gathering of activists and students. “I deserve a little more respect in this country,” said Lula, looking tired but resolute. The same evening, Lula was at a meeting of unions, saying he could run for president in 2018. “I was hoping that you choose someone to run in 2018, but they poked the dog with a stick. So I want to offer myself to you [as a candidate],” Lula said at a packed square roaring with his name in downtown Sao Paulo.

Even hardcore supporters of the PT and Lula hold the party partly responsible for what’s happening in Brazil today. The involvement of party leaders in corruption has dented its image even among its followers. Besides, the party’s core support group of unions, social movements, left activists and ideologues have drifted away from the PT as Rousseff moved the government to the centre and cut herself off from these groups. In such a scenario, Lula’s arrest should have been a death-knell for the party. In the media – local and global – Lula was painted as an isolated figure. But the situation on the ground was different, with millions of his supporters rallying around him.

But there were more twists to come.

On March 11, Rousseff offered Lula a cabinet post in her government. After much discussion and delay, Lula agreed to be Dilma’s chief of staff (equivalent to prime minister). The move was seen by PT supporters as necessary to save the government from the “coup,” while the opposition was quick to brand it as an attempt by Lula to save himself from arrest in the corruption scandal. The next day, Moro released a tape of a phone conversation between the two leaders. In the wiretapped chat, the two are heard discussing Lula’s inclusion in the government. Playing it on prime-time news, Globo TV spun it as an attempt by Lula to dodge the law as federal ministers can be tried only in the Supreme Court. As if playing an unverified tape was not enough, Globo newscasters exhorted people to go out on the streets to protest against Lula and Rousseff.

Lula meeting union activists, students and people from social movements at a gathering last Friday, after he was detained for a few hours for questioning in a corruption scandal. Credit: Ricardo Stuckert

Lula meeting union activists, students and people from social movements at a gathering last Friday, after he was detained for a few hours for questioning in a corruption scandal. Credit: Ricardo Stuckert

The wiretapping of Rousseff’s phone by the Brazilian federal police, while talking to a former president, immediately triggered a comparison with the NSA surveillance. Enraged by the move, Brazil’s top judicial experts questioned Moro’s decision of recording a private conversation and leaking it to the media before it could be produced in court as evidence. But Moro justified his action by comparing it to former US President Richard Nixon and the Watergate scandal.

The 30-second clip, which has no judicial value anymore, has given enough ammunition to the opposition to demand Lula’s arrest and hasten the process of Rousseff’s impeachment. Even as Justice Mello of the Supreme Court blasted Moro by calling the wiretapping of the president’s phone a “crime”, the leaked tape and Globo’s hysterical headlines had the desired effect: Lula’s nomination to the chief of staff post was blocked and protests broke out against the government.

Two Brazils, two tales

A day after the wiretapped chat was released, some 1.5 million people, almost all wearing the canary yellow jersey of the Brazilian football team and waving national flags, came out on the streets across the country. With photographers capturing the sea of yellow and green from choppers hovering over Avenida Paulista in Sao Paulo, where 400,000 people had gathered in the biggest ever anti-government protest in the city, the next day’s newspapers were painted in yellow and green. It seemed the whole of Brazil was demanding the PT’s head. The narrative of “popular uprising against a corrupt and inefficient” government was back in the international media.

The truth is a little bit more complicated. Although dressed in national colours, the protest crowd was anything but national in character. A survey by Datafolha on the participants revealed that 80% of them were white, 77% had higher education and 75% belonged to high-income groups. In a country with a 50% white population, 11% with higher education, and less than 6% in top income groups, it is not difficult to guess the protesters’ profile. They mostly came from the upper crust of Brazilian society: rich, white and conservative.

The Brazilian elite has been restive with the leftist government; their favoured party, the PSDB, has been beaten constantly in elections. Under the PT’s rule, more than 40 million people have overcome poverty and joined the middle class. It has been the strongest-ever period of inclusive growth in a country notorious for inequality. Widespread social changes have occurred in Brazil. With laws that guarantee minimum wages and pensions, the middle-class can’t afford maids and drivers anymore. With quotas in education, black students are entering public universities and the professional job market in record numbers. And with rise in their incomes, the poor now travel by flight, shop in malls and buy houses in middle-class – and white – neighbourhoods. The established social order was disturbed under the PT’s rule.

A beneficiary of the Bolsa Familia programme. Credit: Ana Nascimento/Ministério do Desenvolvimento Social e Combate à Fome/Flickr CC 2.0

A beneficiary of the Bolsa Familia programme. Credit: Ana Nascimento/Ministério do Desenvolvimento Social e Combate à Fome/Flickr CC 2.0

Few countries have seen so much social change in such little time. Just like the rich exploded in anger in the times of change under Vargas and Goulart, this time too the country’s privileged classes are seething at the PT for giving direct cash to the poor under the Bolsa Familia programme (which inspired the MNREGA in India). In his speeches, Lula often taunts the Brazilian elite for not accepting this social change and resenting the improvement in the lives of poor people. Many in the PT believe that Brazil’s crisis has been manufactured by the elite to derail the government and put in power their own people.

“The first protests against Dilma happened in 2013, when we were preparing to host the FIFA Confederations Cup. At that time, the unemployment rate was at record low, inflation was in single digit, wages were rising and Dilma had 70% approval ratings, and yet people were demanding change. It made no sense. But that was the beginning of a colour-coded regime change operation in Brazil,” says a party official who did not wish to be named. “It was all organised and promoted over social media. It was almost like an intelligence operation,” he adds.

Although there is no evidence to suggest that the anti-government protests in 2013 were engineered from outside, the crowd then too was definitely elite. A survey by Datafolha done at that time had revealed that 90% of the protestors were white and 77% had higher education. Since 2013, all protests against the government have happened in affluent and middle-class areas, far from the areas where the majority of the people live. But the media has constantly called it the rage of ordinary Brazilians.

Brazil’s media is dominated by oligarchs. Once called A Country of 30 Berlusconis in a paper by Reporters without Frontiers, there has been an open war between the left-leaning government and the media since the beginning of Lula’s first term in 2003. In Rousseff’s years, the war has become dirtier. The onslaught on the PT governments has been led by the Globo group, which runs dozens of newspapers, magazines, TV channels and websites. The conglomerate, which has a near monopoly over news, entertainment, football and the carnival, has historically been anti-PT. It had also actively supported the 1964 coup. The group made enormous profits during the 21-year army rule.

But Globo’s belligerent tone has not gone down well with poor and middle class Brazilians, with many calling for its boycott. A day after the TV channel played the Lula-Rousseff tape, famous Brazilian actor Wagner Moura, star of Narcos on Netflix, posted a video on his Facebook page, expressing concern about the “media circus” and “political agenda” of the judiciary. “The press, of course, if we look back, were all involved in the coup of ’64,” Moura said in the video.

The night of long knives

The Brazilian mainstream media enjoys tremendous power in the country, but it seldom uses it to question the judiciary. All selective leaks from Moro and the federal police are dutifully published. There have been serious charges of corruption against top PSDB leaders, including Neves, and the speaker of the Congress, Eduardo Cunha, who is leading the impeachment process against Rousseff. But the media has not bothered to raise obvious questions about these leaders. The country’s top intellectuals see a bigger problem there. In the words of Jesse de Souza, a renowned sociologist, the judiciary has taken the position of a “higher moderating force,” above politics, once occupied by the military, and before that the monarchy. “The media has enabled this,” de Souza wrote in an article last week.

For leftist commentators, the country is facing a “coup,” and the media and judiciary are working in tandem. Miguel de Rosario, the editor of O Cafezinho, an alternative-leftist website, sees a bigger conspiracy bigger than in 1964. “Similar to 1964, the current coup attempt is backed by the largest Brazilian media group, Globo. Unlike 1964, the current coup attempt is the result of an ideologically-driven judiciary that has three purposes: to overthrow a democratically elected president; prevent former president Lula from running in the 2018 elections; and ultimately making the Brazilian Workers Party illegal,” he wrote in an article.

This may sound alarming but the way things are unfolding in Brazil, there is fear in the air: fear for the future of democracy and the rule of law.

CUT, the biggest trade union in Brazil, organised a massive show of strength in an indication that the Brazilian politics will now move to streets. Credit: Ricardo Stuckert

CUT, the biggest trade union in Brazil, organised a massive show of strength in an indication that the Brazilian politics will now move to streets. Credit: Ricardo Stuckert

On March 18, hundreds of thousands of ordinary people packed the streets in “defence of democracy” in 45 cities across the country. The biggest gathering happened in Sao Paulo where 250,000 people, including critics of Rousseff and Lula, jammed Avenida Paulista, despite the threats of violence from right-wing thugs. It was a show of strength against the “coup”. It was a show of Brazil’s diversity. The evening turned feverish when Lula, dressed in a red shirt, arrived on the avenue and spoke for 20 minutes, standing on the top of a bus parked across the avenue. “Nao vai ter golpe,” (we will not have a coup) shouted Lula and thousands of voices joined him. “Democracy is about the voice of the people, about the voice of the majority,” said Lula, electrifying the crowd.

Lula’s detention has energised Brazil’s left. The streets have been dominated by the right since 2013. Now, with leftists regrouping themselves many fear the worst: violence and social conflict.

The endgame

Ordinary Brazilians may be bracing themselves for street fights, but the real games are being played in Brasilia, the country’s capital. A Supreme Court judge, Gilmar Mendes, has stayed Lula’s appointment as minister. Cunha has joined hands with the PSDB to accelerate Rousseff’s impeachment. Michel Temer, the vice-president, has reportedly been discussing post-Rousseff government formation with Serra, who is now a senator. There are rumours that the impeachment process may get over by the end of April, and that Temer, who prominently figures in several corruption cases, will take charge of the country.

Brazil is on edge. A former president who transformed the country may go to jail. The current president, who faces no corruption charges, may be impeached. And all this in a year the country has to host the Olympics. But even as some worry the current crisis will cause damage to the country’s institutions and others call it a threat to democracy, Brazil’s elite don’t seem to care. In an indication of what’s cooking in Brasilia, famous news photographer Franco Ilimar published a snap of a lunch meeting on March 16, a day before Lula’s appointment to the government was stayed. In the photo Mendes, the judge who stayed Lula’s appointment, is seen having lunch with Serra and Arminio Fraga, a former manager of George Soros’ Quantum fund. The photo went viral on social media, with people wondering what was being discussed between the judge, the politician who features in the Wikileaks cables and a fund manager who represents the interest of US financial corporations.

Maybe they met to discuss football.

The power lunch. Credit: Twitter

The power lunch. Credit: Twitter

But with Serra, a master political strategist, at the centre of action after the humiliating defeat to Dilma in 2010, the next few weeks would be crucial for Brazil, PT and Petrobras. In Brasilia, it is being called the “do or die” battle, as political alliances on both sides of the aisle scramble to get numbers for and against Dilma’s impeachment. Dilma and Lula are fighting for their political survival and democracy, but lobbyists are already working hard to break Petrobras’ monopoly over Brazilian oil.

In the middle of all the bitter fights in courts, Congress and streets, the Brazilian senate recently passed a bill that would “cancel the requirements that Petrobras be the operator and hold at least a 30 percent working interest in all pre-salt fields”.  If the bill, sponsored by Jose Serra, becomes law it will end Petrobras’s control over the country’s oilfields. Though strongly opposed by some senators like Roberto Requiao from the state of Paraná, the bill was passed by the senate by a thin majority. Surprised at the rush to privatise the oil ventures, Requiao said the whole process is being done in a “hurry without going through committees, while lobbyists are attending offices on behalf of multinationals like Shell and British Petroleum”. But in the face of massive lobbying by oil firms, Requiao’s opposition to the bill was not enough. “Has Brazil lost the majority in the Senate to the transnational oil companies? I still hope not,” the senate veteran tweeted after the vote.

Now the bill goes to Congress and then to the president for approval. Rousseff, as president, could still veto the bill. But if vice president Michel Temer, who has fallen out with Dilma, takes over from her there is little doubt about the bill becoming law. Finally, the whole Brazilian drama – Lula’s detention, Dilma’s impeachment and the hounding of PT is boiling down to oil.

As if on cue from Big Oil, The Economist put Brazil on its cover again this week. “Time to go”, says the magazine over a photo of a sullen looking Rousseff. Repeating the same old script of “economic mismanagement”, the magazine has demanded the removal from office of a leader who won a clear mandate in a free and fair election barely 15 months ago.

The Brazilian elite and media too are following the same script. Like past presidents Vargas, Quardos and Goulart, if Dilma Rousseff has to leave office, oil firms would have won. And Brazil would once again have fallen to a coup.

Shobhan Saxena is an Indian journalist who reports on South America from Sao Paulo

  • Andrew James

    A really good article. Thanks

  • Douglas Giarletti

    The cognitive dissonance is explicit here, if you compare official documents, the party mentioned is by far exceeded by PSDB, PMDB, DEM, and PP, in terms of corruption, so you probably just taking in account only the official midia’s oppinion.

  • Pedro Silveira

    I wish our local media outlet were impartial as this. Thanks for bringing clarity over this chaos.

    • JOB

      Even thought i totally agree with the opnions on the articled its clerly not impartial, it tells a good and solid version of the story but its not whole thing…

  • Sergio

    Beautifully written, well balanced and raising issues which will be in History books.

  • Black

    What if Lula had a plan with Castro to remain in power indefinitely through, if necessary, fraudulent elections and populist leaders? What if their ambitious plan was to counter the U.S. with a left leaning Latin America with other Latin American leaders doing the same in their respective countries, imposing decades long left-leaning “democracies” to capitalist countries, doing business and diplomacy exclusively with democratic Russia, human-rights example China and Iran. And, while at that, shunning the U.S. and Europe in the midst of their worst recessions in decades?

    Lula and the highest ranking members of his party have been caught, persecuted, arrested since 2005, way before ‘pré-sal’ and decades after the United States’ sponsored coups in Latin America. Dilma is Lula’s plan B, José Dirceu, plan A, is in jail and will stay there. There is a lot of truth in this conspiracy theory when it comes to the U.S. helping Brazilians prosecutors but this article, like many other left leaning ones, is just another attempt to whitewash PT’s staggering incompetence to live up to its megalomaniacal ambitions, not some recent “trumped up charges” by Moro.

  • Maria Aparecida Alves

    I’m so sorry for someone who sounds intelligent can write such a biased article. Brazil has been robbed in billions of dollars, and this journalist is saying that there is a coup? Hello, I’m Brazilian, I have not been on the streets and I want them out of the government. They have destroyed Brazil, They have a communist ideology and they think Brazil and all its resources belong to them, therefore they can steal it for their own purposes. I WANT THEM OUT. And stop informing the world your own thinking of the real situation in Brazil. As a journalist, you should be impartial. Here you only show that you know nothing whatsoever.

  • shashank

    With such unscrupulous machinations by corporations and ‘unsc members’ to topple elected governments and manipulate balance of power , it is a miracle that sovereign nation states survive . Good luck to the people of brazil , i hope they don’t fall for this sham and don’t trade sovereignty for some little oil contracts.

  • Walter Rezende

    Perhaps a brazilian can explain this mess to you without having to retain to speculation and conspiracies, youre not even close to the thruth, here goes: The reason why the worker’s party got so popular is because of all the measures they created to help the poor, altho it was good for the less fortunate, its foundation’s never meant for them to get out of poverty, basicaly, they gave small amount of money to the poor instead of jobs or education. The fifa cup and the olimpics were brought to brazil by Dilma and Lula, and it was a great excuse to manufacture stadiums and other great construction projetcs, the scheme was all set, Lula had got the afection of the poor, had created a divide in the country, in a fictional split of elite right and poor left, had the motivation to build stuff for large events of wich they would use to sell contracts to companies illegaly, had petrobras venture off in a extremely expensive large source of oil, and had made government have a say in everything in petrobras, the scheme was simple: make everything look like its getting better(circus and feasts like roman times) by improving only what gives fast results, act as if they have most of the population on their side, enough to convince the people its true(they pay for people to defend them, more then enough evidence) so that they wont bother complaining, mainting an eternal election of the workers party(if lula won next election, it would have been 20 years of PT, plus our voting system is very suspicious) and get rich and live wealthy with illegal money from the people(they made petrobras responsible for the countries growth by leeching it like a vampire for both the State and corruption). the flaw in there plan is that brazilians knew who they really were all along, at least about half of the population, and the reason why brazil survived the crysis in 2008 was simple, petrobras had a lot of oil from the new source(that was beying sold even before it was harvested, we call it “sell the egg inside the chicken”) and construction for the world cup and olimpics would keep people hired for a reasonable amount of time, plus the government had a lot of money in reserve, but then came the crysis in 2013: brazil had not improved much in tecnology so it is very little competitive in tecnology, we basically sell feedstock, and the large expansion of the populist measures had been more then brazils wallet could handle, basically Dilma got in on her head and ignored that the situation wasnt so pleasing, in 2014 she was well aware of the upcoming trouble, as was any real economist, but she hid it to win the election again that year(we have a name for that, but makes no sense in english), in 2015 exactly 1 month after she took over again, the public reserves couldnt keep the crysis hidden any longer and it all came at once, now brazilians industries in the years before had grown more then they should because of the low tax rates for loanings and people had started loaning for the same reason, wich made them spend like theres no tomorrow, but in 2015 inflation sprung and petrobras was involved in so many bad bussiness for corruption purposes that the company was in big trouble, it had to cut out on people and had to stop beying the governments bitch(sorry for the bad word), because of that happening a month after the election and the beying proven that she knew about the crysis made people start to get mad at the workers party, after the car wash operation show all these scandals involving brazils largest state companies and the absurd amounts that were beying stolen(around 7 bilion in petrobras and nearly 200 billion in losses for bad bussiness that were from the start impossible to pay for them selves) people started to see their true colors, specially for the fact that Lula and Dilma aproved these contracts, and the people that before could buy stuff parceled in 36 months, now couldn’t pay for them and had to sell some of their stuff, at the same time, the government was raising taxes(wich are already high and everything made by our government is at least 3x more expensive then other countries, sometimes much more) and inflation was getting higher, the oil prices were dropping in the international market(could be intentional, but its impossible to know) because of this, companies had a bad time and many got fired, because of that they stoped buying and the economy snowball was going down, another fact that made dilma hated by people was the fact that everytime people went in protest, they got people protesting on their side, but the people on their side were sindicates and a terrorist group called MST(not legalized, adopted by workers party since the first lula government, never arested for crimes, 14 years of PT and still they exist lol) along with some other groups like the national student union(they had comunist flags and lectures in every event) and always protest in red with comunist t-shirts while the real people go with our nations flags, one of the thing that showed their intetion of eternal reign is that practicly every deal made by PT was with dictator countries like Cuba, Venezuela, Chile, Colombia, she even forgave african debt of 900 milion dollars, everything went to hell from there on in 2015, and by 2016 she still hadnt done a thing about the crysis and people were outraged, specially because of all the pittifull disonarable atempts to run from justice like make Lula head of staff(has justice privilegies) right before he gets arested for obstruction of justice and creating a new ministry for the former head of staff in a middle of a crysis just so that she doenst fire him. I probably am forgeting stuff, to many things are happening but that is preety acurate to our situation

    • TrushABC

      I only read half of this as it’s very hard to read without paragraph breaks. But, this nails it. It’s clear with PT’s messing of what determines “middle class” aka lowering the “requirements” really goes to show you what they have done with the perception of improvements. I’d write much more, but my other comments on here explain the facts clearly. Your sentiment matches very closely to every Brazilian I’ve spoken to about the situations.

      Oh, and I’ve spoken to poorer people in Brazil too. Even though they knew PT was corrupt, they voted PT only because they were scared a new government would take their “money” away. It was actually a PT supporting church pastor who told them to vote PT. Evidence shows Churches and their members benefiting financially by telling their members who to vote for.

  • Louis Chilson

    Yes, the working classes do not need to be told by Globo about unemployment. OK. …but he anti-government protests conducted largely by the middle and upper classes did not have too many working class people parading alongside them. The fact is the upper and lower middle classes DO NEED to be spoon fed biased, highly “selective” news and tendentious information by Globo for them to get into an aggressive, violent and blindly frenzied state against the very party that introduced anti-corruption legislation (FederalLaw 12.846, for example). The middle classes have been worked up by Media to see corruption coming from but one of the political parties. Now that the list of 300+ corrupt official is out, let’s see how Globo deals with that. So far, they have said very very little.

  • MSM7

    Why no mention of Brazil’s shrinking economy,rising unemployment and double digit inflation??? Oh I get it,That will make the ruling left wing look really bad.So carry on with the consipiracy theories.

    • Filipe Oliveira

      Because that says about economy, companies, why people are unemployed? well, then start your own company? life quality and social equality are not measured only by economics. If you are talented enough, smart and capable, do it yourself!

      • MSM7

        Why would I invest in a country that is in the middle of the worst recession,since 1930s. There are better opportunities in other part of the world.

  • JOB

    Gostei muito do artigo mas tambem discordo dessa parte, vemos como as narrativas vao mudando ao longo da historia. A globo foi justamente um dos principais atores contra as manifestaçoes, nao entendi isso

    • Louis Chilson

      A Globo sempre mede a temperatura antes de se comprometer. Foi assim no caso das Diretas Já. A Globo demorou muito tempo antes de começar a transmitir reportagens sobre a Diretas Já. Foi assim no caso de Collor. A Globo criou Collor (“O Caçador de Marajás”) assim como criou a imagem de Sérgio Moro. O Collor se tornou indesejável depois que ele sancionou a Lei nº 8.137 que dava um mínimo de cinco anos de prisão para quem sonegasse imposto de renda. Quando os membros da FIESP e a Globo viram isso, o prazo de validade do Collor estava decretado. Logo vieram as denúncias de seu irmão (sócio das Oragnizações Globo) contra a corrupção de PC Farias (ladrão de galinha comparado com os roubos cometidos por PSDB, PMDB e outros que o condenavam) e finalmente, a marcha dos caras pintadas promovida pela Globo. O que tinha contra Collor? Uma Elba. Vale a pena lembrar que Collor foi absolvido pelo STF posteriormente. As manifestações de 2013 começaram com o protesto contra o aumento da tarifa sancionada por Haddad, prefeito de SP (do PT). A atenção da mídia e o inconformismo do povo foi provocado pela reação violenta da Polícia Militar do Estado (Alckmin) contra quem se manifestava na Rua da Consolação. A revolta foi crecendo e a Globo e outros interesses corporativos enxergaram uma oportunidade para incentivar os protestos, mas com uma visão difusa, não comprometida com ideologia ou proposta concreta. Começaram incentivando aqules que removiam bandeiras partidárias das manifestações e assim por diante. Aos poucos quiseram transformar os protestos de 2013 em manifestações anti-governistas e anti- Copa (não vai ter Copa). A Globo não perde oportunidades para se impor como a formadora de opinião No. 1 do Brasil.

      • Fernando Porto

        Caro Louis, embora a polarização de opiniões seja inegável e os dois lados pareçam estar cristalizados em seus posicionamentos, o que por si só deveria despertar desconfiança e um intenso escrutínio pessoal em quem se encontra em qualquer dos lados, sigo achando dificílimo de compreender como o contingente pró-governo e os partidários do PT conseguem conciliar seu posicionamento com o que, ao que tudo indica, sejam provas cabais de corrupção envolvendo a Petrobras, grandes empreiteiras, o legislativo e membros do governo. Dessa forma, eu, como alguém absolutamente favorável à remoção de Dilma do governo, gostaria de lhe perguntar, muito diretamente, se você acredita que as evidências que vêm sendo levantadas pela Operação Lava Jato, são, então, na verdade, fabricações. Apreciaria uma resposta simples para uma pergunta simples, a despeito do escopo complexo. Houve ou não houve desvio de dinheiro da Petrobras, favorecimento de empreiteiras em contratos governamentais em troca de propinas e financiamentos ilegais de campanhas e enriquecimento ilícito por parte de membros do legislativo e do executivo como consequência desses supostos esquemas de corrupção. Um simples “sim” ou “não” me ajudaria tremendamente a entender de onde parte o posicionamento pró-PT entre pessoas com o teu aparente nível de educação (em oposição aos desfavorecidos intelectual e economicamente, ou de qualquer forma mais diretamente envolvidos com programas sociais, por exemplo). Obrigado.

        • Caa

          A resposta é simples. Nem todo mundo se posiciona pró-PT, ou pelo menos não incondicionalmente. A questão é que a mídia alardeia quando há alguma suspeita de corrupção envolvendo o PT e não faz o mesmo em relação a outros partidos, mesmo que as provas sejam ainda maiores. Vejo mais como uma indignação de uma parcela da população, sejam petistas, esquerdistas ou somente pessoas racionais, com a forma como as coisas estão sendo conduzidas. O que está claro, é o carater político de toda a ofensiva. A corrupção é o de menos, elegeram-se os alvos e depois procura-se o motivo para ataca-los. Já se noticiou tráfico de influencias do ex-presidente Lula, favorecimento ao filho, a nora, suposto apartamento comprado com dinheiro ilegal, barco, sítio, etc. Está claro que o interesse é sujar o seu nome impedindo-o de concorrer em 2018. Quanto a Dilma, o seu impedimento se baseará em “pedaladas fiscais”, coisa aparentemente ilegal, mas já praticada anteriormente desde a década de 1980, inclusive pela maioria dos governadores dos estados atualmente. Novamente, o alvo é o PT e depois encontra-se o motivo. Inicialmente, após as eleições cogitou-se fraude eleitoral, depois foi as contas de campanha, tentou-se vincula-la a corrupção na petrobrás com Pasadina, depois tentou-se com delações premiadas, finalmente as pedaladas. Foram inúmeros pedidos de impeachment. Não vejo isso de outra forma senão golpe. Bem, o que quero dizer, é que acredito que muitas pessoas sejam como eu, ou seja, não petistas, mas inconformadas com a reação da direita. Tenho muitas restrições com o PT, sobretudo quanto a alianças políticas e corrupção. Mas também não posso fechar meus olhos para os grandes avanços sociais que foram feitos. Analisando friamente, nota-se que há sim um complô no ar cujos atores são em especial a grande mídia, parte corrupta do judiciário e o legislativo. Enfim, não sei se você leu o texto, mas está bem explicado (tem traduzido no pravda e no cafezinho). Se explicar mais, estarei repetindo o texto. Enfim, resumindo não se trata de defender o PT, mas de defender a democracia.

  • JOB

    Yes! It is important to remember the role of globo in people`s opnion, because that monopoly of media plus the years of censorship in the dictature certainly change the people`s view on politics (badly i may add).
    But let`s not disregard every different opnion than ours as only alienated, for the good dialog we should listen too!

  • JOB

    The manifesations are from both sides dont forget!
    We should be able to legally impeach an president that commited crimes of course, but its important to see that this is not the opnion of the brazilian people. (i also dont thing that the others manifestations pro-PT represent brazilian people). And that we are seeing in progress a big manouver from a part of the judiciary and rede globo in this, and arresting a president democratically elected for privet interest its a coup!
    We should know the difference, and discuss the future of Brazil with a special regard to democracy, so rare in our small republic`s history.

    • GustavoLuiz

      A conspiracy involving the judiciary and Rede Globo? Are you for real? Globo blindly ignored and underreported most of the manifestations for months, it was revolting anti-journalism, to go out on the streets and see millions protesting only to have Globo and other media not mention a thing, or describe it as a few thousands here and there. They are reporting it now due to a growing popular sentiment that can’t be ignored, they finally reacted to the mounting social pressure against them always condoning and supporting the government. The Judiciary is lazy, overpaid, and inefficient, but they can’t ignore blatant crimes commited by heads of state and the ruling party forever. It’s part of their job description, how can that be construed as a conspiracy? You also shouldn’t believe a president is properly democratically elected when she is being accused of so much bribery and corruption (including related to her own election), and elections are done exclusively through black-box style electronic voting. I mean, seriously, 100% electronic voting is the single biggest crime Brazil has committed against its democracy. There’s a good reason no other country does that.

  • Ercelan

    Much informed now. Thanks

  • Bernard

    I have been living in Brazil since the late 90s and now have an American style bakery/coffee house/brunch here. I can personally testify to the IMMENSE progress the country has achieved since the labor party took office. Until then EVERYTHING in the country was for the top 30% (the ones who protest against the government) and the neocon elites were always subservient to foreign power and were the enablers of maintaining the country as a backwards commodity producer.

    Minimum wage increased several times above inflation (something bad for me as a business owner), hunger has been eradicated, millions of families now have a member who is going to college for the first time and the working class now has purchasing power. Every economic statistic possible is better than before the current party.

    Brazilian middle classes HATE poor people, especially uppity ones like Lula who is a Mandela like figure. A common complaint nowadays is that the streets are always jammed with cars because “anyone” can now afford a car. The ones going after him are the judiciary figures, the last bastion of authoritarianism and control by the old elites.

    the corruption charges are all phoney, against the president and Lula there are NO formal charges, only innuendo. During the past years Dilma gave free reign to the Feds to investigate corruption, including her own party. More people have been indicted in one year of PTs government than in all the 90s. However, by doing this it allowed a small time judge to crusade against PT by aligning itself with the media oligarchs. They thought the opposition would play fair, naïveté. The ones in the deepest are from the opposition but the media omits this.

    Brazil’s economy is highly solid, it has cash in the bank of more than 350 billion dollars, it is one of the USs main creditors. The country could close all its borders and be self sufficient if necessary. The country was growing in spite of the world recession because of internal development based on the minimal redistribution of wealth. Nobody here even knew there was an international crisis in 2008, insane speculation never got here, the banking system is very prudent and organized (a positive side effect of the rampant inflation in the 80s).

    the problem with the economy is a cascade effect. The industrial and technological backbone of Brazil is Petrobras and its giant construction companies, which do all the infrastructure projects and employ millions. The car wash investigation has put everything on hold. The government answer has been orthodox austerity (once more trying to be centrist and appeasing to international capital) further deepening the crisis. I started my business with a government low interest loan for small businesses which has been cut, just when we really need it.

    The only thing holding Brazil from becoming a superpower is inequality and its awful 1%. Brazil is so rich that it can afford to spend about a billion a day in interest payments on its debt, or about half the government budget. This debt is not external, it doesn’t belong to China, it belongs to about only 20,000 families in the country, even though international capital invests in the banking system these 20,000 own. This debt has never been audited formally like it was in Ecuador, which reduced it about 70%. It almost got their president assassinated.

    • TrushABC

      Lula is a very rich man. He is not poor, but he likes to play a poor person on TV. The middle class doesn’t hate poor people.

      Corruption charges are phoney? So all those paper trails, admittance from business executives, and tapped recording indicate phoney corruption? All this stuff was just made up?

      No formal charges? There have been many formal charges against business executives who have paid government bribes and over priced contracts. The head of Odebrecht just got 19 years in prison for this. So, where did the money go then? Who were these bribes paid too? Now, ask PT where the money went….. yeah..

      What you are saying is misleading. I challenge you to find verifiable sources.

      • Bernard

        Neither the president or former president have been formally accused of anything, many business leaders have and many politicians too, most from the opposition parties such as Aecio who was cited 5 times, but not them. They are being investigated by Moro, who has found nothing and relies on the Media to maintain this perception of guilt while simultaneously ignoring the groups of politicians that he shmoozes with.

        If you think the middle classes don’t hate the poor than you have never been here. They openly mock and berate the poor. Even op-eds in the major papers talk about this, one went so far to say that traveling abroad to places like NYC and Paris has lost its fun because you may run into your doorman on vacation. Another one said the problem with driving now is that “anyone” can afford to buy a car, and “they” don’t know how to drive. At least this guy got reprimanded.

        Verifiable sources are easy to find if you ignore the large media conglomerates of Brazil, especially Globo which backs coupd’etats.

        • TrushABC

          “If you think the middle classes don’t hate the poor than you have never been here.”. Complete BS. I have lived in Brazil, and I have spent many years there. I have family living in Brazil currently. I speak to my family every day in Brazil, and I spend about 4 to 6 months a year there.

          Some newspaper articles about the middle class hating the poor are blown way out of perspective. Go to the streets, go to parties, go to events where the middle class are and talk to them. We are not bigot people, we respect the poor, we respect ideals that help improve the situation of people who are less fortunate. All of that is respected by the middle class. What is not respected is corrupt government under the disguise of “helping” the poor while in reality they are stealing money and putting in “populism/populismo” policies which help ensure their elections on the backs of the people less fortunate.

          “Neither the president or former president have been formally accused of anything”. Dilma has been accused of using illicit funds to fund her campaign. There is evidence of this. That is the whole basis of her impeachment. One of Dilma’s responses recently was that it wasn’t fair because all politicians do this. Maybe so. Maybe not to the same extent. Maybe this is where the buck stops.

          Dilma really wants to help the poor? She just took 6 billion dollars out of the budget for Education and Healthcare to use as money and incentive to have other politicians and political parties support her during the impeachment process? Does someone who truly cares about the welfare of the poor people do this action? Or are these the actions of someone who cares about themselves. About staying in power. The answer is obvious.

          All of these are undisputed facts.

          Lula has been investigated, he has been brought in for questioning by the police. After his questioning he has been in panic. So, what happened. Dilma gave him a minister position to shield himself from the Federal Police and from Lava Jato. They claim it was to boost the government, ok then explain the following two actions. 1) I am sending you the paperwork, show it to the federal police if you need to incase of emergency. – this is a phone conversation recorded from Lula and Dilma. This is not normal procedure for becoming a minister.
          2) Normal procedure for becoming a minister requires at least 2 days and an official press run before it can proceed. The day Dilma made Lula a minister, she demanded the press to print a second printing the same day to ensure it made the press ASAP and to ensure he could become a minister the same day since there was a press run.

          This has never been done before in Brazil for any other minister. There has never been this expediting. So, to summarize, we have the expediting within the press as well as taped conversation with the president and Lula about showing the paperwork in an emergency if needed indicating he is a minister (and therefore out of juristiction from the federal police). What’s the hurry? You think it’s a big coincidence? You said Lula hasn’t been officially charge, it’s pretty obvious that he has evaded the charges by attempting to become a minister and then having the supreme court rule on the case preventing the “Lava Jato” team from pursuing Lula. This is the same team that has been investigating Lula and other people in Lava Jato for several years. The same team that has accumulates witness testimony and paper trails leading directly to Lula. Again. Not officially charged because Lula has been able to use his influence so far to evade justice.

          So, Lula hasn’t been formally arrested because the prosecution team is now unable to arrest him because he has been shielded by the Supreme Court. Supreme court will take 5 years to go to trial, if it even does.

          Let’s not forget Mensalão. Evidence upon evidence has convicted many politicians. Many who were just pardoned by the same PT biased Supreme Court. Why do you think Lula wants to be tried by the Supreme Court, now. It’s obvious. He and PT have influence there.

          “Verifiable sources are easy to find if you ignore the large media conglomerates of Brazil, especially Globo which backs coupd’etats. ” – Send me 2 verifiable sources then, because I can’t find any other than this type of “opinion” column which is not backed up by fact.

        • TrushABC

          “If you think the middle classes don’t hate the poor than you have never been here.”. Complete BS. I have lived in Brazil, and I have spent many years there. I have family living in Brazil currently. I speak to my family every day in Brazil, and I spend about 4 to 6 months a year there.

          Some newspaper articles about the middle class hating the poor are blown way out of perspective. Go to the streets, go to parties, go to events where the middle class are and talk to them. We are not bigot people, we respect the poor, we respect ideals that help improve the situation of people who are less fortunate. All of that is respected by the middle class. What is not respected is corrupt government under the disguise of “helping” the poor while in reality they are stealing money and putting in “populism/populismo” policies which help ensure their elections on the backs of the people less fortunate.

          “Neither the president or former president have been formally accused of anything”. Dilma has been accused of using illicit funds to fund her campaign. There is evidence of this. That is the whole basis of her impeachment. One of Dilma’s responses recently was that it wasn’t fair because all politicians do this. Maybe so. Maybe not to the same extent. Maybe this is where the buck stops.

          Dilma really wants to help the poor? She just took 6 billion dollars out of the budget for Education and Healthcare to use as money and incentive to have other politicians and political parties support her during the impeachment process? Does someone who truly cares about the welfare of the poor people do this action? Or are these the actions of someone who cares about themselves. About staying in power. The answer is obvious.

          All of these are undisputed facts.

          Lula has been investigated, he has been brought in for questioning by the police. After his questioning he has been in panic. So, what happened. Dilma gave him a minister position to shield himself from the Federal Police and from Lava Jato. They claim it was to boost the government, ok then explain the following two actions. 1) I am sending you the paperwork, show it to the federal police if you need to incase of emergency. – this is a phone conversation recorded from Lula and Dilma. This is not normal procedure for becoming a minister.

          2) Normal procedure for becoming a minister requires at least 2 days and an official press run before it can proceed. The day Dilma made Lula a minister, she demanded the press to print a second printing the same day to ensure it made the press ASAP and to ensure he could become a minister the same day since there was a press run.

          This has never been done before in Brazil for any other minister. There has never been this expediting. So, to summarize, we have the expediting within the press as well as taped conversation with the president and Lula about showing the paperwork in an emergency if needed indicating he is a minister (and therefore out of juristiction from the federal police). What’s the hurry? You think it’s a big coincidence? You said Lula hasn’t been officially charge, it’s pretty obvious that he has evaded the charges by attempting to become a minister and then having the supreme court rule on the case preventing the “Lava Jato” team from pursuing Lula. This is the same team that has been investigating Lula and other people in Lava Jato for several years. The same team that has accumulates witness testimony and paper trails leading directly to Lula. Again. Not officially charged because Lula has been able to use his influence so far to evade justice.

          So, Lula hasn’t been formally arrested because the prosecution team is now unable to arrest him because he has been shielded by the Supreme Court. Supreme court will take 5 years to go to trial, if it even does.

          Let’s not forget Mensalão. Evidence upon evidence has convicted many politicians. Many who were just pardoned by the same PT biased Supreme Court. Why do you think Lula wants to be tried by the Supreme Court, now. It’s obvious. He and PT have influence there.

          “Verifiable sources are easy to find if you ignore the large media conglomerates of Brazil, especially Globo which backs coupd’etats. ” – Send me 2 verifiable sources then, because I can’t find any other than this type of “opinion” column which is not backed up by fact.

        • TrushABC

          Yesterday’s news. Dilma has been formally accused and her case will go to the supreme court.

  • Marcus Rodrigues

    It is undeniable the economical interest of the richest countries over the brazillian natural riches. And upon finding so called brazillians that are selfishly keen to help them get hold of the said natural resources at the cost of the benefit of the largest part of the population, USA (specially), Europe and rich Asia will not think twice before helping to undermine a people’s government.

  • gwbush

    This article did not mention the GDP contraction of 3.8%. It does not mention the hundreds of millions of dollars stolen from Petrobas.

  • Pedro Vianna

    I’m sorry, but you are misinformed, or distorts the facts with the purpose of assist the coup against democracy.

    • TrushABC

      Just like Lula and PT, after listening to fact based evidence, and legitimate research you give the following response –> “Nope, it’s a coup”. There is mounting evidence against Lula and PT and nothing that has been provided that shows their innocence. As specifically relating to the impeachment… there is significant evidence of breaking the law. You break the law, you cook the books, you don’t get to run the country. That is all.

  • TrushABC

    Why did you leave the part out about the pro government supporters that support PT are much fewer in numbers and mostly paid for by PT. 100 reals a day to be taken off their job to go and support PT. So, the people that go and support PT in these “rallies” are desperate enough for 100 reals that they go ahead and do that. Why did you leave the part out about how PT made it almost impossible to “fail” someone in school which means that everyone passes to the next level no matter what. Great way to get those graduate numbers up. PT has also lowered the requirements of what it means to be middle class. Another great way to get the middle class numbers up. The problem is that you don’t know all of the facts, or that you are biased and choose to ignore these important facts.

    Also, PT has stolen billions of dollars. Intelligence, documents, paper trails, and witness testimony is proving that. The supreme court just pardoned a bunch of politicians who were sentenced in Mensalão. How’s that for an impartial supreme court? Why do you think Lula wants to be tried by the supreme court. He has influence, and it will take 5 years to go to trial.

    After questioning Lula, he went into panic mode and suddenly became a minister with a press run demanded by Rouseff to expedite the normal 2 day process to a single morning. Oh, and then there is the audio recording… you know, the one where you had purposely thrown in the word “unverified” as if you know anything about it being verified or not. Also, Rouseff and Lula have both confirmed it was them on the audio recordings.

    The problem with your article, your choice of terminology makes it sound like you are purposely being biased. That’s the biggest problem with some journalism.

  • TrushABC

    Ok, the people who have provided information that are “pro impeachment” here have all backed it up with facts easily verifiable on the Internet. Where’s your data? The difference is, my and other peoples “anit-PT” sentiment comes from facts. Please provide verifiable information that backs up your claims.

  • TrushABC

    Misleading and biased.

  • TrushABC

    You just posted this under a different name. Using multiple accounts to copy and paste the same message. Weird. Sketchy. Well, here’s my response to the same post you posted under a different account earlier.

    There is no evil hand here. Have you seen the people in the streets. The millions of people. People banging pots from their apartment buildings shouting “Fora Dilma”.. meaning “Dilma Out!”. Have you seen the pro-government protests. You know the ones who are paid by PT to go out and support them? Now, think about “evil hands”. PT is paying for support. Everyone against the government is doing it out of passion and frustration – change is wanted. No one wants the corrupt PT in power anymore. Majority of Brazilians are against what coup? The one back in the 50’s? That was 50 years ago. Today is not a coup, and most Brazilians are for the ousting of PT. Look at the protest numbers. Anti-PT protestors are 10 fold what they are for pro-government protestors, and like I said before, there is hard facts that PT supporters rallying in the streets are taken off their jobs and paid 100 reals a day to go and demonstrate for PT.

  • TrushABC

    In response to Bernard:

    “If you think the middle classes don’t hate the poor than you have never been here.”. Complete BS. I have lived in Brazil, and I have spent many years there. I have family living in Brazil currently. I speak to my family every day in Brazil, and I spend about 4 to 6 months a year there.

    Some newspaper articles about the middle class hating the poor are blown way out of perspective. Go to the streets, go to parties, go to events where the middle class are and talk to them. We are not bigot people, we respect the poor, we respect ideals that help improve the situation of people who are less fortunate. All of that is respected by the middle class. What is not respected is corrupt government under the disguise of “helping” the poor while in reality they are stealing money and putting in “populism/populismo” policies which help ensure their elections on the backs of the people less fortunate.

    “Neither the president or former president have been formally accused of anything”. Dilma has been accused of using illicit funds to fund her campaign. There is evidence of this. That is the whole basis of her impeachment. One of Dilma’s responses recently was that it wasn’t fair because all politicians do this. Maybe so. Maybe not to the same extent. Maybe this is where the buck stops.

    Dilma really wants to help the poor? She just took 6 billion dollars out of the budget for Education and Healthcare to use as money and incentive to have other politicians and political parties support her during the impeachment process? Does someone who truly cares about the welfare of the poor people do this action? Or are these the actions of someone who cares about themselves. About staying in power. The answer is obvious.

    All of these are undisputed facts.

    Lula has been investigated, he has been brought in for questioning by the police. After his questioning he has been in panic. So, what happened. Dilma gave him a minister position to shield himself from the Federal Police and from Lava Jato. They claim it was to boost the government, ok then explain the following two actions. 1) I am sending you the paperwork, show it to the federal police if you need to incase of emergency. – this is a phone conversation recorded from Lula and Dilma. This is not normal procedure for becoming a minister.

    2) Normal procedure for becoming a minister requires at least 2 days and an official press run before it can proceed. The day Dilma made Lula a minister, she demanded the press to print a second printing the same day to ensure it made the press ASAP and to ensure he could become a minister the same day since there was a press run.

    This has never been done before in Brazil for any other minister. There has never been this expediting. So, to summarize, we have the expediting within the press as well as taped conversation with the president and Lula about showing the paperwork in an emergency if needed indicating he is a minister (and therefore out of juristiction from the federal police). What’s the hurry? You think it’s a big coincidence? You said Lula hasn’t been officially charge, it’s pretty obvious that he has evaded the charges by attempting to become a minister and then having the supreme court rule on the case preventing the “Lava Jato” team from pursuing Lula. This is the same team that has been investigating Lula and other people in Lava Jato for several years. The same team that has accumulates witness testimony and paper trails leading directly to Lula. Again. Not officially charged because Lula has been able to use his influence so far to evade justice.

    So, Lula hasn’t been formally arrested because the prosecution team is now unable to arrest him because he has been shielded by the Supreme Court. Supreme court will take 5 years to go to trial, if it even does.

    Let’s not forget Mensalão. Evidence upon evidence has convicted many politicians. Many who were just pardoned by the same PT biased Supreme Court. Why do you think Lula wants to be tried by the Supreme Court, now. It’s obvious. He and PT have influence there.

    “Verifiable sources are easy to find if you ignore the large media conglomerates of Brazil, especially Globo which backs coupd’etats. ” – Send me 2 verifiable sources then, because I can’t find any other than this type of “opinion” column which is not backed up by fact.

  • TrushABC

    We can debate about the rich vs poor all the time, but it’s not relevant to the case. By turning this into a rich vs poor argument we would be forgetting all of the corruption and all of the criminal activity by PT in which there is ample evidence, paper trails, documentation, and witness testimony. This is why PT is out in the eyes of Brazil. It’s not about the rich vs the poor.

  • TrushABC

    I did read Glenn Greenwalds article. His qualifications have nothing to do with anything. I have respect for Glenn Greenwald. The article was based on Lula’s responses. Greenwald would ask a question and Lula would respond which would form the basis of the article. Lula is intelligent and is well with words, and so he knows hot to handle these interviews. I felt Glenn was trying to be as objective and impartial as possible, but I there were several statements he made that bothered me and made him sound biased, including..

    “there are very serious problems, I think even worse cases of corruption in other parties, including the ones spearheading the impeachment process against Dilma.”

    Does this somehow validate PT? I think the fact that the ruling party is involved in a corruption scandal is the absolute most important. To use the justification that “well the other parties are even more corrupt” as a way for self justification is absolutely ridiculous. Don’t worry, the corruption probe is targeting everybody, and not just PT.

    This article does not show Lula’s innocence. There is a lot of evidence against Lula and then in typical Lula fashion he is denying it. Ok, well I didn’t expect anything out of this. The people of Brazil don’t need globo to tell them anything, It’s 2016 there is more information than ever available to everyone on the Internet, and much more information relating to this in Portuguese than in English.

    Glenn interviews Lula and gives Lula a voice. I think that’s very good. I think it’s important to be impartial. This doesn’t convince anyone of Lula’s innocence.