Friday 21st of June 2019

return of boots and all...


For Brazil, the world’s fourth largest democracy, to have elected the extreme right-wing Jair Bolsonaro is stunning.

Just a decade ago Brazil’s president Lula da Silva was one of the most progressive and strongly socialist leaders in the recent history of Latin America.

Clearly a lot has gone wrong in Brazil and people feel angry but it is still amazing that people are prepared to elect someone who says that refugees are “the scum of the earth” and is prepared to say “if I see two men kissing each other in the street I’ll whack them.” Even more bizarre was his statement in May 1999 that “I’m in favour of torture.” He also talked about his five kids, saying “four of them are men but on the fifth I had a moment of weakness and it came out a woman” further claiming “I would be incapable of loving a homosexual son… I’d rather my son died in an accident than showed up with some bloke with a moustache.”

As a member of Congress and a long-standing defender of the military dictatorship he said in 1993, “Yes, I’m in favour of a dictatorship. We will never resolve grave national problems with this irresponsible democracy.” The truth is the military dictatorship which lasted from 1964 to 1985 presided over the killing and disappearance of hundreds of progressives, claiming they were trying to save their country from communism.

Bizarrely in the election campaign Bolsonaro called for his left-wing political opponents to be shot but this was just two days before he was stabbed in an assassination attempt at a mass rally. Although this meant he had to spend most of the rest of the campaign confined in hospital, it did not prevent him winning in a landslide and immediately receiving congratulations from Donald Trump. One of Bolsonaro’s first decisions was to do exactly what Trump has done and announce he will move Brazil’s Israel embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

The 63-year-old new president crushed the Workers Party candidate, Fernando Haddad, in the run-off on October 28. One of the main reasons he won so easily was that the former president Lula da Silva was not allowed to run against him because he was imprisoned on charges of corruption. Sergio Moro, the judge who sentenced Lula, has now been rewarded by being appointed the new president’s minister for justice and public security: a good reward as the opinion polls show had Lula been allowed to run he would have won.

Apart from Lula being prevented from running by allegations of corruption and money laundering, the other main factor in Bolsonaro’s election was the collapse of the Brazilian economy over the last five years. This has been Brazil’s worse recession in over half a century and it has undoubtedly fuelled the nation’s rising crime which now sees over 60,000 murders a year. As well as public anger powering his election it also led to a landslide in the Brazilian congress where over half of its members have just been elected for the first time and sixty percent of the congress is now held by right-wing parties. Because he did not trust Brazil’s media Bolsonaro’s campaign was basically run through the internet as his main way of reaching people.


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turning extreme loony right...

The former leader of the Labor Party, Mark Latham, has joined One Nation and will run for the NSW Parliament.

Key points:
  • Mark Latham will run for NSW Parliament and lead the state branch of One Nation
  • He says immigration, congestion, over-development and power prices will feature in his campaign
  • ABC elections analyst Antony Green believes Mr Latham will be elected in the upper house


Speaking on Alan Jones' 2GB radio program this morning with One Nation leader Pauline Hanson, Mr Latham said he was putting his hand up because he believed NSW voters needed a third choice.

He identified immigration, congestion, over-development and electricity prices as some of the issues he would use to campaign.

But Mr Latham also hit out against "political correctness" and "divisive identity politics".

"These are all issues that are banking up in NSW they haven't been addressed by the major parties," he said.


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disdain for the indigenous peoples of brazil..

On 1 January, Jair Bolsonaro will be sworn in as Brazil’s 38th president. He has expressed open disdain for the indigenous peoples of Brazil, and it is no exaggeration to say that some of the world’s most unique and diverse tribes are facing annihilation. Genocide is defined by the UN as “the intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group”. Large-scale mass genocides rightly receive global attention, yet countless others go unreported and unpunished because the victims number only a few hundred, or even a few dozen.

Right now, deep in the Amazon rainforest, a small tribe of survivors is on the run. They are the Kawahiva, an uncontacted tribe of just a few dozen people, the victims of waves of horrific attacks which have pushed them to the brink of extinction. We know almost nothing about them, except that they are fleeing chainsaws in a region with the highest rate of deforestation in the Amazon. Brazil’s first ever investigation into the genocide of an uncontacted tribe was launched in 2005, and 29 people suspected of involvement in killing Kawahiva were detained but later released, including a former state governor and a senior policeman. The case stalled for lack of evidence.

 Bolsonaro’s election is catastrophic news for Brazil’s indigenous tribesFiona Watson  Read more

The Kawahiva’s territory lies near the town of Colniza, one of the most violent areas in Brazil, where 90% of income is from illegal logging. Survival International, the global movement fighting for the rights of tribal people, has recently called for increased police protection for the team responsible for protecting the Kawahiva’s land. FUNAI, Brazil’s Indian Affairs Department, has been prevented from properly carrying out its work in the area due to violence from illegal loggers and ranchers, leaving the tribe exposed. 

Preventing a genocide of uncontacted people is not a priority for Bolsonaro. He once said: “There is no indigenous territory where there aren’t minerals. Gold, tin and magnesium are in these lands, especially in the Amazon, the richest area in the world. I’m not getting into this nonsense of defending land for Indians.”

Indigenous peoples are frequently regarded as obstacles to the advance of agribusiness, extractive industries, roads and dams. As more rainforest is invaded and destroyed in the name of economic “progress” and personal profit, uncontacted tribes become targets – massacred over resources because greedy outsiders know they can literally get away with murder. These are silent, invisible genocides, with few if any witnesses. The news often only emerges months, if not years, later.

Jair Bolsonaro himself has declared: ‘It’s a shame that the Brazilian cavalry wasn’t as efficient as the Americans, who exterminated the Indians.’’ 


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the planet does not deserve this nasty dictator...


The world needs to understand what Brazil has become, before it’s too late. Jair Messias Bolsonaro’s Brazil is not just another country that elected a far-right president at a time when the world’s most powerful nation is led by Donald Trump. It’s not just South America’s version of the current trend of countries sliding into authoritarianism, like we’ve seen in Hungary, Poland, Turkey and the Philippines. It’s not simply a peripheral nation with a pathetic leader. Brazil has become the apocalyptic vanguard that signals how radical this moment is – one with the power to worsen the climate crisis at top speed and blight the entire planet.

The election of Bolsonaro is a response to what we might call civilisation’s new discontent. Maybe people can’t identify the source of their anxiety, which has driven up the consumption of tranquillisers and sedatives. The average citizen might apply more familiar labels to the corrosion of their quality of life, air, and water; to a relentless fear of the “other”; to the feeling they’re walking in quicksand. But what’s underpinning this new discontent pervading all areas of human experience is our climate crisis.

Bolsonaro was elected in October, on his pledge to go back “50 years”. Fifty years ago, Brazil lived under a military dictatorship. For Bolsonaro and his followers, who are outright defenders of torture and the elimination of adversaries, it was a glorious era. Despite the terrifying menace of nuclear war, the world was still a place where science promised nothing but progress and solutions – it delivered no bad news, like global warming, that led to limitations on an individual’s daily life or on government actions. It was a time when white, heterosexual men held power and knew precisely who they were. They may have faced some resistance from minorities, but they still enjoyed absolute hegemony.

We cannot comprehend what is now happening in Brazil – and around the world – unless we understand that our culture wars are tightly bound up with humanity’s need to say goodbye to 20th-century illusions of power and face a planet made more hostile by human hand. Things will soon reach catastrophic levels if nations and their residents do not unite in a global effort to do something extremely hard and unpopular: impose limits on ourselves to counteract global warming.

The election of Bolsonaro ties all this together like no other event. The Bolsonaro administration promises a “new era” – a return to a time free of doubts and insecurity, with certainty about what a man is and what a woman is and a clear sense who’s in charge of the public sphere and the family. Their ultra-conservatism is at times corny, at times biblical – but never innocent.

Soon after Bolsonaro’s inauguration last week, the minister of women, family, and human rights, Damares Alves – an evangelical pastor – stated in a video that now “girls wear pink and boys, blue”. Beside her, a supporter held an Israeli flag. Some neo-Pentecostals likewise waved Israeli flags at the inauguration. These religious groups, who are growing numerically and wielding greater power in Brazil, voted overwhelmingly for Bolsonaro...


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the brazilian bulldozer...


"Once the invaders have taken away the wood, they divide our land into plots and sell it," says Karipuna. The 32-year-old is wearing jeans and a T-shirt and standing in the office of the indigenous aid organization Cimi in Porto Velho, the capital of the Amazon state of Rondônia. 

The bright room is decorated with photos of people of various ethnicities while spears, bows and quivers full of arrows hang in a corner. Laura Vicuña, who heads the aid organization's local office, has just returned from a several-day trip into the protected territory. The telephone is ringing nonstop; the election victory of right-wing extremist Jair Bolsonaro has alarmed both indigenous people and aid workers. 

Less and Less Respect

"We're afraid that we could lose everything now," says Karipuna. In April, the tribe chief appealed to the international community at the United Nations in New York. He reported that deforestation has increased in the past two years, with less and less respect for protected territories. "I'm seeking the help of the United Nations to prevent a massacre of our people!" 

Bolsonaro, meanwhile, is a friend to cattle farmers, lumberjacks, gold prospectors and soybean growers -- the very types of people who present a threat to the rain forest. Their representatives in the National Congress, the representatives of the Brazilian agricultural industry, have a powerful lobby, and they supported Bolsonaro during his election campaign.



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blame bolsonaro for it...

Firefighters in Brazil are searching for about 200 people missing after a dam at an iron ore mine burst. Scores of people were trapped by the river of sludge released when the dam failed.

The dam, owned by mining firm Vale SA, partially collapsed on Friday, sending torrents of mud and sludge into the forest and villages below. The effluent washed away roads and destroyed buildings in its path.


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the ugly bolsonaro's boots...

The departure in exile of the deputy of Rio de Janeiro Jean Wyllys to "save his life" has terrified many Brazilian human rights activists. The MP, a member of the LGBT movement (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender), has announced that he will not return to his country for the "next four years", which is the full mandate of the new president — Bolsonaro — because of the death threats he continues to receive. "During the election campaign, there were at least four LGBT deaths a day, and the state still did not recognize homophobic violence. I was particularly attacked because of the "fake news" launched by the president, so much so that a Rio judge could suggest, on a Facebook thread, my execution, without any bother", he explained, Thursday, January 24, to the newspaper Folha de S. Paulo.

Jean Wyllys, 44, who was due to begin his third term on February 1, is the first openly gay MP to be elected to the federal Parliament. Since 2010, it has emerged as one of the symbols of the struggle for the rights of sexual minorities. In particular, he has faced on many occasions, and often alone, evangelical deputies whose presence in Parliament has increased significantly over the past ten years. Despite all those who waved the Bible at his words, Jean Wyllys has obtained the repeal of several articles of the Brazilian Civil Code, allowing the civil union between people of the same sex. He also fought for years for a law allowing prostitutes to benefit from a retirement fund after twenty-five years of activity.


Translation by Jules Letambour.


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a simplistic dictator in rio...

Full Episode of "The Battle of Rio"

"People want to break the system - and the great symbol to break the system was Bolsonaro" – Rodrigo Amorim, MP and friend of new President Bolsonaro 

Jair Bolsonaro vaulted to power on a pledge to smash corruption and endemic violent crime that sees around 60,000 in Brazil murdered each year. Bolsonaro lets police shoot to kill, his army of supporters love him for it. It seems not to matter that the former soldier praises past military dictatorships, or that he trash-talks women, or that he is a homophobe.  

But there was one killing that’s become a rallying point for those who oppose the new president. Black, gay, favela-raised politician Marielle Franco was a fierce critic of a policing system that kills a reported 5000 people a year.

A year ago she and her driver were gunned down by unknown assailants. Just this month, two ex-military police were arrested in connection with the killings. 

In death, Marielle Franco looms as large as she did in life. As preparations get under way for the spectacular annual Carnaval, huge flags are unfurled bearing her image. She has become a heroine and galvanising figure for opponents of the new order. 

In Rio, reporter Sally Sara moves from wealthy gated communities to crime-infested favelas to explore why yet another democracy has turned to a hard-right absolutist leader.


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the brazil nut...

Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro has cancelled a planned trip to the United States after protests from gay rights and environmental campaigners. 

Mr Bolsonaro was due to attend a ceremony in his honour in New York later in May organised by the Brazilian-American Chamber of Commerce. 

Several venues in the city have decided not to host the event. 

His spokesman blamed New York Mayor Bill de Blasio and the "pressure of interest groups". 

The American Museum of Natural History had originally agreed to hold a gala dinner for the Brazilian president, 

But it drew heavy criticism for agreeing to host a ceremony at which Mr Bolsonaro, who has advocated relaxing environmental policies, was scheduled to receive a person of the year award.

Other sponsors, including Delta Airlines, the Financial Times newspaper and management consultancy Bain & Co, have pulled out of the event.


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Methinks that the visit was cancelled because Bolsanaro may have been warned that going to the American Museum of Natural History would be a "trap". The Bolsanaro government has inflicted a cut of 42 per cent to scientific research in Brazil, has plans to destroy more Amazonian rainforest and to displace Indian tribes and to boost the military. 


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brazil burnings...


Ex-Brazilian President Lula

'Bolsonaro Is Setting the Whole Country on Fire'

In an interview with DER SPIEGEL, former Brazilian President Lula da Silva discusses the loneliness of his prison term, the U.S. influence on Brazil and the threats he says are posed by the country's current leader, Jair Bolsonaro.

Seven months ago, DER SPIEGEL correspondent Jens Glüsing asked the Brazilian Supreme Court for permission to conduct an interview with the country's former president, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, who has been in prison for over a year. Until April, all interview requests had been rejected, but permission was then unexpectedly granted. Glüsing was allowed to speak to Lula for 60 minutes in a windowless conference room at police headquarters in the city of Curitiba in southern Brazil. Two armed policemen were present for the duration of the interview. DER SPIEGEL's correspondent was permitted to greet the former president with a handshake, but after that he was required to keep a distance of about 3 meters (about 10 feet).

The former president seemed to be in excellent physical and mental condition and he also seemed combative. But Glüsing did not get to see the former Brazilian leader's actual prison cell. It's on the fourth floor of the building and doesn't have bars on the windows. Visitors report that it is 15 square meters in size. Lula keeps in touch with the world via a TV with a USB connection and is well informed about national and international politics. Each morning, prison staff save a press review and important documents on a USB stick for him. He has no access to the internet. The former president spends a lot of time reading in prison and he is permitted access to sunlight three times a week. At his request, a treadmill was installed in his cell so he can keep fit.

DER SPIEGEL: Mr. President, how are you doing? Are you lonely?

Lula: I can deal with it. I am also greeted loudly three times a day by my supporters, who camp outside on a street corner. When I get out of here, I will be eternally grateful to these people. I hope that once I leave this building through the main entrance, I can have a proper drink with them.

DER SPIEGEL: You've always been a very communicative, sociable person. How are you able to stand such a small cell?

Lula: I will tell you something I haven't told anyone before. When I started my career in the labor union many years ago, I was extremely shy. Whenever I was supposed to speak at an event, I got nervous. To prepare myself, I stuck photos of many people on the wall of my room and practiced my speech in front of them. I was speaking to an imaginary audience. When I feel like speaking to an audience in my cell today, I also just stick photos to the wall.

DER SPIEGEL: Your imprisonment has also been a burden for your family. Your accounts have been frozen and your daughter is now selling sweets on the internet.

Lula: All of this is difficult for them, but I don't want to complain. As a child, when I lived with my mother, I often saw her sitting next to the stove on Sundays. There was absolutely nothing she could have prepared a meal with, but she didn't complain. At least my children have enough to eat. Of course, I wish they didn't have to go through this. But in time, the truth will show its face.

DER SPIEGEL: You were sentenced to 12 years by an appellate court for corruption and money laundering. Recently the sentence was reduced to just short of nine years. You were convicted of having received an apartment from a construction company, which in return is said to have been given preferential treatment in the awarding of the contract to the oil company Petrobras, which is half-owned by the government. How do you intend to prove your innocence?

Lula: I don't have to prove that I'm innocent. I demand that the judiciary prove my guilt. I was convicted in the first instance without the presentation of a single piece of evidence. The prosecutor in charge gave a PowerPoint presentation to justify the charges against me. During the trial it was stated that there was no clear evidence and that the charges were based on "convictions." Even Judge Sérgio Moro, who convicted me, did not produce any evidence. He referred to "indeterminate facts." The appeals court then sentenced me without reading the case files. They wanted to prevent my candidacy as quickly as possible.

DER SPIEGEL: The prosecutors accused you of acting as the head of a criminal organization.

Lula: Somebody needs to finally prove that I own this apartment and that I received money from the construction company or money from Petrobras. It's unacceptable for someone to be in custody waiting for the justice system to produce evidence. I'm fighting for the truth to finally come out in its own right.

DER SPIEGEL: It's possible you will have to spend years in prison.

Lula: It could take a while. No problem. It's tough. I'd rather be free, but there's one thing I won't give up at any price: my dignity.

DER SPIEGEL: Shortly before your arrest, you were campaigning for the election on the border with Uruguay. You said at the time that all you needed to do to be safe from the judiciary was to step across the border. Do you regret that you didn't go into exile?

Lula: No. There were a few things I didn't want to give up. I am 73 years old, I was president of Brazil and I am too well known. I didn't see myself as a refugee. Important people spoke with me about whether I should leave Brazil or seek refuge in an embassy. I decided to stay in the country. I am fighting for the truth. I want to prove that my accusers are liars, even if I have to do that from custody. I have a clear conscience. I am convinced that Judge Moro and the prosecutors who put me behind bars do not sleep as well as I do.

DER SPIEGEL: Did you expect that you would be arrested?

Lula: From the beginning, I was convinced that the real target of Operation Lava Jato (editors: the name of the corruption investigation) was me. I was fully aware that it wasn't likely that my opponents would remove my successor, Dilma Rousseff, who also comes from the Labor Party, from office only to then allow me to be re-elected President. It didn't fit together.

DER SPIEGEL: Do you see yourself as a political prisoner?

Lula: Judge Moro, who convicted me, has since been appointed Justice Minister by Jair Bolsonaro, the new president. A few days ago, Bolsonaro publicly admitted that he had agreed with Moro to move him to the next vacant justice position at the Supreme Court. That shows that it was all planned in advance.

DER SPIEGEL: Moro is defending himself against such accusations ...

Lula: Moro made sure that Bolsonaro was elected president by preventing my candidacy.

DER SPIEGEL: The economy boomed under your leadership and millions rose out of poverty. But a political and economic crash followed, and last year Bolsonaro, a right-wing radical, was elected president. What went wrong with your country?

Lula: Economic policy isn't magic. You have to be credible to be respected. That's why I had the support of Gerhard Schröder and Angela Merkel, George W. Bush, Barack Obama, Jacques Chirac, Nicolas Sarkozy, Tony Blair and Gordon Brown. Brazil was on its way to becoming the world's fifth-largest economic power, and now we have this disaster. Bolsonaro is like the Roman emperor Nero: He'ssetting the whole country on fire. He doesn't use the words employment, growth, investment and development. He doesn't want to build anything. He just wants to destroy. We've got a president who is clicking his heels in front of the American flag. Brazil doesn't deserve this.

DER SPIEGEL: Isn't your Workers' Party (PT) partly to blame for the decline? It once promised to fight corruption, but now the party itself is entangled in numerous corruption scandals.

Lula: There is no party in Brazilian history that has created more instruments for combating corruption than the PT. We've not only created tougher laws, but also greater transparency. That's how corruption came to light. We've made mistakes, and we are paying for them. But it's only the treasurer of our party who is in prison, even though all parties raised money in the same way. PT is not being punished for its mistakes, but for what it did right.


Lula: The Brazilian elite do not accept the rise of the poor. My crime was that I made it possible for the poor to study, to use the same sidewalks as the rich and for them to suddenly be able to go to shopping centers and airports. This country belongs to everyone. PT has been generous to those who need the Brazilian state, but it has not neglected the rich. I bear my cross, but the sins were committed by others.

DER SPIEGEL: The public prosecutor's office claims there was a gigantic corruption system surrounding Petrobras to finance the parties.

Lula: That's a lie. There may have been one or two cases. Petrobras is a huge company that moves 30 billion real a year, the equivalent of 6.6 billion euros. I just read a book about the history of oil and the power politics associated with it. I've been convinced ever since that what is happening in Brazil has to do with the interests of the U.S. oil companies.

DER SPIEGEL: Are you serious?

Lula: The Americans and the Brazilian elite didn't want to the deep-sea oil deposits that were discovered during my government to be extracted only by consortiums in which Petrobras held a majority stake. They're opposed to the fact that 75 percent of the money from license fees is invested in the education system so that Brazil, which is 200 years behind, can finally catch up. Or that it will be used to finance research, technology and the health system. That's why they overthrew my successor Dilma Rousseff. It's also why all the illegal maneuvers followed to prevent me from being able to run again. They knew that I would be elected president, even if I were in prison. Public Prosecutor Deltan Dallagnol, who is persecuting me, is a puppet of the U.S. Justice Department.

DER SPIEGEL: But not all the accusations have come out of nowhere. Odebrecht, the Brazilian construction company at the center of the corruption investigations, is said to have bribed politicians throughout Latin America. Did you have too close a relationship with Odebrecht?

Lula: No. And I don't regret any relationship I had with companies, banks, businesspeople and workers. I have always been aware of how important Odebrecht is for Brazil. It's quite possible that the people who were trying to destroy Rousseff and Petrobras also had an interest in busting up the big Brazilian construction companies. You can investigate allegations of corruption and expose corruption perfectly well. And if the owner of Odebrecht has practiced corruption, then he should be arrested. But the company should continue to work to create jobs and prosperity. Who would benefit if the construction companies were to go under? Who has an interest in Brazilian companies not being active in Africa or other South American countries? The competitors in Europe and the U.S.

DER SPIEGEL: The Brazilian elite that you criticize so harshly courted you when you were in government.

Lula: I always said: I govern for the rich and for the poor. But everyone needs to know that my preference belongs to those who are most in need. At the end of my term in office in 2010, I had approval ratings of more than 80 percent. There was a national consensus regarding my person.

DER SPIEGEL: How do you explain the fact that you are so hated by an element of society today?

Lula: Brazil's media has been stirring up hatred against me since 2005. Mário Soares, the former Portuguese president, told me during a visit: Lula, I don't understand how you are a god in the foreign press, but a devil in the Brazilian press. This hatred grew even stronger after the mass protests in 2013. After the 2014 election, which my successor Rousseff narrowly won, the opposition initially refused to accept the result. The right is always preaching that their enemy is the Labor Party, that they must destroy us. But they didn't succeed in doing that. They just won a single election.

DER SPIEGEL: Bolsonaro, though, isn't a representative of the traditional opposition ...

Lula: He's not capable of serving as president. Why did he win anyway? Let me quote the Mozambican author Mia Couto: "In times of terror, we choose monsters to protect us." A guy comes along who was a member of parliament for 28 years, but never achieved anything, and manages to sell himself as the "new one." He wasn't elected because his supporters believe he is the better alternative. It was because he opposes the PT. It was a protest vote.

DER SPIEGEL: Is democracy in peril in Brazil?

Lula: Bolsonaro doesn't think much of democracy. He and his people know only one thing: weapons. He simulates a pistol with his hand in almost every photo. The first thing he did was to send the Cuban doctors home, who were the only people guaranteeing health care in many poor regions. Then he took on environmental policy and eroded workers' rights. Now, he's talking about a major pension reform. It may help the banks, but not the people. This man is a danger to Brazil. He's destroying everything we have built.

DER SPIEGEL: Nonetheless, he enjoys the support of the armed forces.

Lula: Those in the military who support him seem to have forgotten all nationalist principles. In my view, this includes not only protecting our borders, but also our biodiversity, our water, our Amazon region, our industry.

DER SPIEGEL: You had a good relationship with the armed forces during your time in office. Why are the generals now turning against you?

Lula: I'd like to know that too. When I get out of here one day, I want to have a serious discussion with several officers. I don't understand why the army chief suggested my conviction to the Supreme Court before the election to prevent my candidacy. My government always treated the military well.



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Bolsonaro is doing the US psychopathic bidding in Brazil. Boots and all. 



politicised abuse of prosecutorial powers in brazil...

AN ENORMOUS TROVE of secret documents reveals that Brazil’s most powerful prosecutors, who have spent years insisting they are apolitical, instead plotted to prevent the Workers’ Party, or PT, from winning the 2018 presidential election by blocking or weakening a pre-election interview with former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva with the explicit purpose of affecting the outcome of the election.

The massive archive, provided exclusively to The Intercept, shows multiple examples of politicized abuse of prosecutorial powers by those who led the country’s sweeping Operation Car Wash corruption probe since 2014. It also reveals a long-denied political and ideological agenda. One glaring example occurred 10 days before the first round of presidential voting last year, when a Supreme Court justice granted a petition from the country’s largest newspaper, Folha de São Paulo, to interview Lula, who was in prison on corruption charges brought by the Car Wash task force.

Immediately upon learning of that decision on September 28, 2018, the team of prosecutors who handled Lula’s corruption case — who spent years vehemently denying that they were driven by political motives of any kind — began discussing in a private Telegram chat group how to block, subvert, or undermine the Supreme Court decision. This was based on their expressed fear that the decision would help the PT — Lula’s party — win the election. Based on their stated desire to prevent the PT’s return to power, they spent hours debating strategies to prevent or dilute the political impact of Lula’s interview.

The Car Wash prosecutors explicitly said that their motive in stopping Lula’s interview was to prevent the PT from winning. One of the prosecutors, Laura Tessler, exclaimed upon learning of the decision, “What a joke!” and then explained the urgency of preventing or undermining the decision. “A press conference before the second round of voting could help elect Haddad,” she wrote in the chat group, referring to the PT’s candidate Fernando Haddad. The chief of the prosecutor task force, Deltan Dallagnol, conducted a separate conversation with a longtime confidant, also a prosecutor, and they agreed that they would “pray” together that the events of that day would not usher in the PT’s return to power.


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drastically decrease brazilians benefits...

MICHAEL FOX: Workers are striking around Brazil today against President Jair Bolsonaro’s push for pension reform. They say if approved, pension reform will drastically decrease benefits and increase the number of years necessary to acquire those benefits. The unions here say that it’s a push toward privatization which would be disastrous for workers if this is pushed through, and they say they are up in arms and they’ve hit the streets. Banks are closed, schools are out, post offices are closed, and public transportation in major cities has been ground to a halt. That’s the situation here, with the bus system here in Florianopolis, not happening.

So people have been out since very early this morning, since before dawn, blocking roads around the country. Here people are about to start marching around the city against the pension reform, but also against Bolsonaro’s major cuts to to federal universities and to education. Students is one of the main sectors that have come out. Many students slept out at their universities and at their high schools, and were able to come here, and they’ve been amassing here today. And so they are obviously against the cuts, but they’re also against pension reform. They’re one of the major sectors that’s going to be hit by this pension reform if it is approved, because they say they still have their whole working lives in front of them.

I was interviewing people earlier today, and they say they are ready and they’re out in the streets against this. The other thing that people are calling for is the release of former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva. Obviously with the recent leaks of The Intercept that came out just this week showing that there was collusion between former Judge Sergio Moro and federal prosecutors in the case against Lula. People are calling for that case to be thrown out and for Lula to be free. They say Lula is innocent, and that he is necessary to be out in the streets. And that is one of the major rallying cries.

The protests, the manifestations are happening. Demonstrations are happening around the country. [Name inaudible], the president of Brazil’s largest labor federation, said earlier that roughly 40 million people were expected to participate in today’s general strike. Now, that would rival the general strike of April 2017 against the labor reform under the government of Michel Temer, and that was one of the largest in Brazil’s history.

Now, it’s still too early to tell exactly the impact that today has had and how many people have participated politically, because the whole focus, the idea today, was for people to strike, to not go to work, and to stay home. Now, we still saw relatively large mobilizations in Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo, Florianopolis, and in major cities all around the country. But that was not the focus. That was not the idea. These were not going to be the big protests that we saw over the last few weeks against the budget cuts to education.

Now, that is one thing that the media has already tried to downplay, and show how since there weren’t people in the streets then this was a failure. And union leaders already gave a heads up to their members early on that that was not necessarily what was expected, but that is what the media would be–the angle the media would be trying to play. Again, it’s hard to tell, also, what kind of an impact this will have on the pension reform being pushed through Congress right now. One thing is for sure. The students, the teachers, the unions, the workers that came out today or that stay home from work have promised they’re in it for the long haul, and they’re going to continue to fight regardless.

Michael Fox, The Real News, Florianopolis, Brazil.


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