Brazil Holds Regional Meeting on Refugees

Representatives of about 36 countries and territories from Latin America and the Caribbean are participating as of today at a meeting that will contribute to the Global Pact on Refugees, which the United Nations should adopt in September.

The meeting is led by UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Filippo Grandi, and have the presence of observers from other nations, as well as entities of the Brazilian civil society.

The Latin American and Caribbean Consultation Meeting such as the Regional Contribution for the Global Pact on Refugees will be held for two days at the Itamaraty Palace, seat of the Brazilian Foreign Ministry, and will assess the results reached by this country in international protection.

The event will compile and strengthen recommendations as of the experience of the Latin American and Caribbean countries in this field.

The UN office in Brazil recalled in a note spread here that the assessment of the regional results are based on the Brazil Declaration and Action Plan, adopted in December 2014 by 28 countries and three Latin American and Caribbean territories, adopting an action agenda for the following 10 years.

UNHCR statistics place Latin America and the Caribbean as a shelter for a 16 percent of about 65 million people force to be displace due to conflicts, wars and persecutions throughout the world.

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Brazil: Lula Supporters Convene in Porto Alegre Before Trial

Construction of the “Encampment for Democracy and in Defense of Lula” is currently underway by members of the Popular Brazil Front.

Dozens of jurists, intellectuals and politicians have convened in the Federation of Workers in Financial Institutions of Rio Grande do Norte, Fetrafi, to discuss the legal right of former Brazilian President Luiz Inacio "Lula" da Silva to run in this year's presidential election, as well as defending democracy. 

RELATED: Brazilian Prosecutor Say He 'Sees No Reason' to Detain Lula as Former President Pledges to Clear His Name

A sticking point in the discussion revolved around a number of irregularities in the Operation Car Wash investigations. Lula has been sentenced by judge Sergio Moro for his alleged connection to the graft scandal. His appeal ruling is scheduled for Jan. 24.

“Maybe much greater than those judicial deficiencies is the use of the Criminal Law for political ends,” said Jacson Zilio, professor of Criminal Law at the Federal university of Parana, UFPR. “This is a process in which what is in debate is precisely that destruction of the democratic state governed by the rule of law in which criminal processes are configured as processes of exception.”

Another professor of Criminal Law at UFPR, Juarez Cirino, shared Zilio's opinion, according to Brasil de Fato. He said that as a result of successive electoral losses by Lula's political opponents, as well as the projected loss at the polls later this year, “they've discovered this method of political struggle, dislocating the electoral campaign from public squares” to the Fourth Regional Federal Court, TRF-4 in Porto Alegre, capital of Rio Grande do Sul.

Cirino went on to note that Lula, as many people had anticipated, “was condemned without proof and the people are here, united, in in order to support him at this point in time.”

Having left office with a record approval rating of 83 percent, according to Datafolha, Lula now leads upcoming presidential polls conducted by Vox Populi, Datafolha, Data Poder 360, Instituto Parana, the National Confederation of Transportation/MDA and Ipsos. His two terms in office were marked by slew of social programs, lifting millions of Brazilians out of poverty and removing the country from the U.N. World Hunger Map. He also made significant improvements in housing and education, which stand in contrast to those who governed the country in the past.

Brazil's Fourth Regional Federal Court, TRF-4, will rule on his passive corruption case on Jan. 24. Some argue that the trial was scheduled in a loathsome twist of planning as it falls on the one-year anniversary of his wife's stroke that led to her death.

Construction of the “Encampment for Democracy and in Defense of Lula” is currently underway by members of the Popular Brazil Front and landless farmers. The site will play host to supporters of Lula's cause as they accompany the ruling in Porto Alegre.

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Lula's Trial Follows Antidemocratic Script in Brazil

Brasilia, Jan 16 (Prensa Latina) The national leader of the Workers' Party (PT) of Brazil, Gleisi Hoffman, said today that the trial of former President Luiz Inacio Lula Da Silva is the continuation of the democratic rupture that started in 2016.

In a speech at a public rally, Hoffman noted that it would be the third stage of the coup d'état against the democratic system, and recalled that the first stage was the expulsion of Dilma Rousseff from the Planalto Palace.

She pointed out that the second stage was the government's annulment of the rights conquered by the workers, 'and now they want to strip the Brazilian people of their right to elect Lula again as president'.

The ex-president will be tried on January 24. The case refers to the first sentence granted by Judge Sergio Moro, who is in charge of Operation Lava Jato in Curitiba, Parana.

Experts say that whatever the result is, it will be a time of definition for Brazilian politics in 2018 and the next few years, according to the website

Lula is being tried because he 'allegedly' received a triplex apartment in Guaruja, in the state of Sao Paulo, from the Brazilian company OAS as part of a bribe.

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Brazil's Former President 'Unfazed' By Due Corruption Ruling

Luiz Inacio 'Lula' da Silva says there's insufficient evidence to uphold his conviction for corruption and money laundering in Brazil's massive "Car Wash" investigation.

Former Brazilian President Luiz Inacio 'Lula' da Silva is "not concerned" by an imminent appeals-court ruling after being convicted in July of corruption and money laundering as part of the massive "Car Wash" investigation. 

At a press conference at the Lula Institute, Lula – who continues to lead the polls for next year's presidential elections – told reporters he was unfazed by the ruling's possible outcome, scheduled for January 24, in the southern city of Porto Alegre.

He emphasized that while insufficient proof has been provided to uphold his sentencing by judge Sergio Moro, a number of legal tools remain at his disposal and can be invoked if necesary.

RELATED: Lula Will Call a Constituent Assembly If He Wins Presidency in Brazil

Asked how he would reinvigorate Brazil's economy, the former president said that, in contrast to the line taken during his first two terms in office when he spoke about "distributing income, nowadays we must start talking about wealth distribution."

He also vowed that, if re-elected, he would use the country's international reserves to jumpstart the economy, which would, in turn, incentivize the domestic market.

Lula also reiterated his promise to democratize the media, something he had previously hoped would occur during former Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff's second term in office.

And he offered his thoughts on the overall political environment in Brazil, which has been rocked by a slew of scandals and corruption cases in the ongoing "Car Wash" graft investigation.

His interview coincided with the release of the latest CNI/Ibope survey, which revealed that a mere six percent of the population considers the administration of Senate-imposed President Michel Temer to be "excellent" or "good."

Renato da Fonseca, executive director of CNI's Research and Competitiveness department, said the survey indicates that "the population, in general, still doesn't perceive" any improvement "in the economy."

The poll, which surveyed 2,000 people in 127 municipalities between December 7 and 10, with a margin of error of two percentage points, also showed that 88 percent of respondants reject Temer and 90 percent distrust him.

Over the past few months, polls undertaken by Vox Populi, Datafolha, Data Poder 360, Instituto Parana, the National Confederation of Transportation/MDA and Ipsos have all shown that Lula enjoys a comfortable lead in Brazil's 2018 presidential election.

His term in office was marked by a slew of social programs, which lifted millions of Brazilians out of poverty and removed the country from the UN World Hunger Map.

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Interview with Luis Inacio Lula

1. In your opinion, what was the reason for the coup against Dilma Rousseff?

As a matter of fact, the conservative forces never accepted the outcome of the 2014 elections. The majority of the people voted for the continuity of the popular government and rejected the return of neoliberalism, but the right-wing refused to respect the people’s democratic choice. They have the media monopoly and an enormous economic power, so they were sure they were going to defeat us. But despite the massacre of the press against us, the population did not allow itself to be manipulated. They voted to stop the historic setback announced by the tucanos [members of the PSDB], they voted so the country would keep following the path of national independence, development, income distribution and social inclusion. Just the day after the election, the sabotage against Dilma's government and the conspiracy to overthrow it, began. It was damaging agendas after damaging agendas, both in the Chamber of Deputies and in the Senate, to cripple the economy, to scare investors and consumers, while government projects, so necessary to the country, did not pass or were completely disfigured. What has become more clear by now, even for many people who have been deceived by the lies of the press, is that it was not a coup only against Dilma or the Workers' Party [PT]. It was a coup against public education and healthcare, a coup against the rights of workers and pensioners, a coup to privatize public enterprises and the Pre-Salt, a coup to denationalize the Amazon, a coup against the country.

2. How do you evaluate the role of the media and more specifically of Rede Globo in the Coup?

The great communications monopolies were decisive for the coup. Rede Globo, in particular, was one of its main articulators and its great propagandist. The coup would not have been possible without the systematic attack and sordid campaign of demoralization that Rede Globo made against Dilma's government and the PT. To ease the path the coup, it helped stifle the accusations against the coup leaders (the shielding of Aécio Neves is a blatant example of this), which would only appear after the President was overthrown. Globo did not hesitate to ally itself with Eduardo Cunha to sabotage the government and scandalously protected him until he finished his dirty work. It sold to the country the false idea that all of the nation’s problems were created by the PT, and that removing the PT from the government would suffice - even if it would hurt the rule of law and democracy - for Brazil to become a marvel. Today, without any shame, it tries to convince the workers and poor people that the people will live better without labor rights and retirement.

3. Sérgio Moro, a judge from a lower court, convicted you in the legal action regarding the apartment in Guarujá. You are also being prosecuted in other judicial processes. Why are you being prosecuted by Justice?

Judge Moro says, in the sentence that condemned me, that the said apartment is not mine, but that it does not matter. Those responsible for the Car Wash [Operation] have said that there is no evidence against me, but that they have the personal conviction that I am guilty. For years, they've scoured my life down, and they have been unable to find a single illegal act of mine as President, but that does not matter to them, either. Everyone knows that a basic principle of law, which is sacred in all true democracies, is that the burden of proof lies with the accuser, not the accused. For others, this principle holds true. Not for me. My innocence is more than proven in the records, but this is simply not taken into account. I have 40 years of public life, dedication to the workers, the poor, the country. Is this my crime? Having taken Brazil off the hunger map? I can not settle for so much arbitrariness. What is the reason for this partisan type of justice? I even think that those who have plotted the coup cannot accept that Lula will run for the presidency again ...

4. If elected, what steps will you take to improve the lives of the people and the course of the country?

It's early to speak as a candidate, much less as an elected representative. Rather, we must prevent the coup plotters from destroying the social rights that were hard won by the Brazilian people in the last decade. And prevent them from privatizing, at a despicable price, public enterprises. And it is also necessary to ensure that the next elections are indeed free and democratic, that the attempt to criminalize left-wing and popular movements does not prevail. But I do not doubt that Brazil has a way. I really trust in the future of Brazil. A new government, a legitimate one, the fruit of the popular vote, with a progressive vision for the country, can perfectly take Brazil out of the quagmire in which it is today. We have already ruled the country and proved in practice that Brazil could be a sovereign nation, with real economic growth, job creation, income distribution, social inclusion and expansion of educational opportunities at all levels. For this, it is necessary to believe that the popular classes are not a problem, but a solution. When the poor of the city and the countryside can buy again, that is when business will sell again, and industry will produce and with that, investment will return. It will also be very important to elect a better Congress than the current one, with more representatives of the workers, peasants, women and young people.

5. For all that Brazil has been through - such as the coup, unemployment, corruption, media manipulation - many people do not believe in politics anymore. What should we do in the face of this hopelessness?

I do not think we have the right to give up. My mother taught me that. We always have to fight, always try to make tomorrow better. I'm 71, and I do not want to give up, so a young man has no right to give up. I did not give up surviving when I was born in a region where many children died before the age of five. I did not give up organizing the workers during the dictatorship. I built with my companions the largest political party in Latin America, and I was president of Brazil for two terms, the best evaluated by the people until today. If I got all this without a college degree, no rich dad, why should a young man give up? If you think politics is bad, get into politics and try to yourself, be the militant or political leader you dream of for Brazil.

6. Today, who are the main adversaries so we can have a country with social justice, solidarity and opportunity for all?

I think today there are a lot of people resentful in Brazil, many people who are in a bad mood, thinking that selfishness will solve something. Many entrepreneurs want to take the rights of workers and retirees without realizing that if the worker and retiree do not have money, they will not consume what is produced. The great strength of our economy is the internal market. Then he may think he's going to do well as an enemy of the workers and eventually his sales will fall. Some people resent the improvement of the life of the poorest and want a country for the few, only for a third of the population. Some people defend almost going back to slavery. These people need to understand that this is not good even for them because a country for a few is a weak, insecure, unstable country. Such a country does not attract foreign investors, it attracts only parasites in search of quick wealth, that come to extract natural resources or buy cheap companies. A society of solidarity is not only a matter of justice - even if it is the most important - but also of necessity. When the poor and the workers improve their lives, the whole society lives.

7. What do you recommend regarding organization and focus to the Brazil Popular Front [Frente Brasil Popular] to advance the fight against the setbacks and for democracy?

I think the Front is an extraordinary thing because it brings together different sectors of society - workers from the countryside and the city, women's movements, racial equality movements, against sexual discrimination, environmentalists, young people, not to mention the progressive intelligentsia - to analyze Brazil and to fight for its transformation. It has been fundamental in resisting the political and social setbacks. And it certainly can be very important in the recovery of a popular project for the country. I think the focus of the Brazil Front is correct, combining formulation and permanent mobilization. I also think it is very important that we explain to the people what we are advocating. Even for those who have been in favor of the coup, so they can realize that they have been deceived and are also losing their labor rights and their retirement benefits. It is necessary to give hope to the people that another Brazil is possible and that, with a popular government, better days will come.

8. Often, politicians decide the lives of Brazilians and the country in closed in offices in Brasilia. You have already made many trips through the countryside of Brazil, in caravans like this one, now, in the second semester. What did you learn about our people in these experiences?

I learned that the Brazilian people are very strong and are very generous and that one cannot govern the country from Brasilia, from the Paulista Avenue or the south zone of Rio. For someone living in these regions, a program like Lights for All may mean nothing. But it brought electricity, brought many Brazilians to the 21st century. Without light, a young man cannot study. Without feeding himself, with a good lunch at school, the young man cannot study. We have created the Food Acquisition Program, which supports local farmers and reinforces the school lunch with healthy food, and today it is being destroyed. The children have to eat, but they also have to have clothes to go to school. To receive the benefit, the Bolsa Família requires that the children go to school. Without transportation, a young man from the countryside cannot study. We created the Caminhos da Escola program, which took school buses through the countryside of Brazil. Without water, how can you live, even more, study? We installed millions of cisterns in the hinterland. And if you do not have a college, how do you study? We expanded universities, Federal Institutes of Education, technical schools, bringing them to the countryside. There were hundreds of new university extensions in every state of the country. Bahia had only one federal university; today, it has four. I know the size of this country personally, that it is not small, and whoever governs it cannot have a small mind or soul. You have to listen to the people, take the road, talk, seek solutions, give strength to civil society. And you have to open the palace to the people, to make civil society participate in the construction of solutions for the country.

9. How do you evaluate the US government's threats in the face of the situation in Venezuela? How should Brazil have acted in the peace process in Venezuela?

It is unacceptable that Trump makes military threats to Venezuela. In fact, to any country, in any region of the planet. Venezuela has the right to self-determination. It is the Venezuelan people who must freely decide the fate of the country. If there is an institutional crisis, it is necessary to overcome it through dialogue and political negotiation, but always respecting the rulers who were elected by popular vote, within the democratic rules, as was the case of President Chávez and as is the case of President Maduro. In 2003, when Venezuela was experiencing a similar crisis, I proposed the formation of a group of friendly countries of Venezuela, quite plural, that ended up contributing to the restoration of normality and peace. Today, unfortunately, Brazil has no moral authority to help. It is ridiculous that a putsch government, illegitimate, enemy of its own people, wants to teach democracy lessons to Venezuela. When we return to having a democratic and popular government, Brazil will once again collaborate, without undue interference with the sovereignty of our neighbors, to consolidate peace and democratic stability in South America

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Protests in Several Brazilian Cities Against Temer's Labor Reforms

Social movements aim to stop labor reforms passed by the lower chamber and set to be voted on in the senate.

Demonstrations are taking place throughout Brazil Thursday as momentum builds in support of former Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva who was sentenced to nine years and six months on charges of corruption and money laundering by judge Sergio Moro.

RELATED: Sao Paulo Forum, Meeting of Latin America’s Left, Defends Venezuela

Organized by the Popular Front of Brazil, the Worker's Party and a host of unions and other social movements, Thursday's demonstrations also build off previous demands by the Brazilian people that include the immediate removal of current president Michel Temer, free democratic elections, and an end to approved labor reforms and pension reform proposals.

The FBP stated that it wants "to relate the persecution of the ex-president with the agenda of regression in the labor laws and to reaffirm, against this picture of intense political and institutional crisis, the need for direct elections for the presidency of the Republic."

According to the FBP, there is no evidence supporting the charges against the former head of state. Following the decision, Lula's lawyers appealed the court sentence, contesting ten of the deciding factors in the case, while the Federal Public Ministry filed an appeal against the ruling Monday.

President Vander Freitas of the Central Worker's Union, said, "For the 'Casa Grande', Lula represents the danger of a popular and workers' government coming back to power to restore democracy, equality, justice and social inclusion."

"The condemnation of Lula by (Judge Sergio Moro) is a further blow to the already weakened Brazilian democracy because when justice takes sides, condemns without evidence, acts only for presumption of guilt and a judge becomes accusatory, there is something serious happening," said Guiljerme Boulos, the national coordinator of the Landless Workers' Movement.

RELATED: Brazil: Lower House Committee Rejects Charges Against President Temer

During a televised press conference July 13, the 71-year-old Workers’ Party leader said that his prosecution is politically motivated and is intended to destroy his group’s reputation ahead of the 2018 elections.

However, despite the trial and his pending sentence, surveys conducted ahead of Brazil’s 2018 presidential elections puts Lula as the top choice for voters in the country.

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Cuba Defends Lula, Maduro at Sao Paulo Forum in Nicaragua

The 23rd Sao Paulo Forum meets in Managua this week to advance the unity of Latin America's left in the face of renewed attacks by global capitalism.

The Cuban delegation at the 23rd Sao Paulo Forum reaffirmed their support for Venezuelan President Maduro and former Brazilian President Luiz Inacio "Lula" da Silva Sunday, claiming both leaders were victims of an “imperialist offensive."

    Why Can’t the US Left Get Venezuela Right?

In an interview with Prensa Latina, Jorge Arias, deputy head of the Department of International Relations of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Cuba, emphasized the Cuban delegation's solidarity with Lula and Venezuela's Bolivarian process.

Arias argued the attacks against Maduro's government and the recent ruling against Lula were part of an “imperialist offensive” waged by the oligarchic right to besiege the region and reverse the gains made by the left during the past two decades.

Arias' comments come just days after former Lula's politicized conviction on corruption charges and in the midst of continuous attempts to derail the Bolivarian Revolution in Venezuela, which faces a crucial democratic test later this month as representatives are elected to the country's National Constituent Assembly.

The Cuban delegation was joined by delegates representing social movements, popular bases and leftist parties across Latin America and the Caribbean at the 23rd Sao Paulo Forum, convened Sunday in Nicaragua's capital Managua.

The objective of the three-day conference is to further advance the regional, ideological and practical unity of the continent's left in its fight to consolidate its national liberation goals in the face of a renewed offensive by global capitalism against the peoples of the region.

Upon arriving in Managua Saturday, Puerto Rican independence leader and recently-released political prisoner Oscar Lopez Rivera stressed the importance the forum in remarks to reporters.

    Movements Call for ' World Without Walls' to Fight Global Crises

"My freedom was achieved due to the solidarity of people like (those in) Nicaragua, who love freedom and justice," said Lopez Rivera, who was released in May after spending 36 years in prison for his fight to liberate Puerto Rico from U.S. colonialism.

The forum will also officially adopt the Consensus for Our America, a 24-page document dedicated to late Cuban revolutionary leader Fidel Castro that lays out the principles, purpose, objectives and priorities of the forum's participants. The forum's participants hope that the text, drafted collectively in past work sessions, will serve as a key programmatic document for progressive forces in not only Latin America, but the entire globe.

“The accumulation of capital is leading to the concentration and centralization of it (through) neoliberal policies focused on privatization and private appropriation of state enterprises, as well as the use of public funds to socialize the losses of private enterprises,” the document points out, adding that global capitalism seeks to eliminate any progressive or leftist presence from the world's social, institutional and political spaces.

Founded by the Worker's Party of Brazil in 1990, the Sao Paulo Forum was established in a bid to unify the efforts of the world's major leftist forces in the wake of Soviet socialism's collapse and the advance of neoliberalism, which stripped workers and poor people of hard-fought gains while privatizing previously off-limits sectors of national economies and the global commons alike.

The forum will entail various working groups and plenaries before ending Tuesday, a night prior to Wednesday's celebration marking 38 years since the triumph of the Sandinista Revolution. The revolution deposed U.S.-backed dictator Anastasio Somoza and brought the Sandinista Liberation Front to power, ushering in a period of sustained economic progress, poverty reduction, peace and stability in the Central American nation.

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Lula Says He'll "Do More and Better" as President of Brazil

Lula emphasized that democracy “demands commitment. Democracy entails that our capacity to listen is equivalent to our ability to speak.”

During a ceremonial launch of the second phase of the Lula Institute Democracy Memorial, former Brazilian President Luis Inacio Lula da Silva emphasized that speaking about “democracy at this moment is very important and necessary. It's almost like the air that we breath.”

RELATED:  Rapporteur Recommends Sending Brazilian President to Trial

The statement came Monday as Lula addressed the crowd about the need to discuss the terms of democracy during the current political climate.

“For inasmuch as we remain silent and accept what's being told to us on a daily basis, such measures start to gain traction,” he said. In the same breath he noted, “soon, we start to believe the world to be normal and soon enough we start to believe that somebody like Bolsonaro, the result of hate spewed by Globo Television Network, to be normal.”

Lula was referring to Jair Bolsonaro, a congressman and 2019 presidential hopeful who, like U.S. President Donald Trump, has become renowned for his abrasiveness. Some of his more infamous statements include that the error committed by Brazil's military dictatorship “was to torture and not kill," adding that “Pinochet should have killed more people.”

In contrast to his presidential opponent, Lula emphasized that democracy “demands commitment. Democracy entails that our capacity to listen is equivalent to our ability to speak.”

RELATED: Right-Wing Brazil Govt Continues Attacks on Indigenous Agency

Acknowledging that Brazil is far from building a just democracy, Lula promised that he wouldn't return to serve as president to “do the same” but to “do more and better.” He stressed that one of the things that he could have done better in his previous administrations was in “relation to the media.”

Also on Monday, Lula signed a petition titled, “Brazilian People's Manifesto for the Annulment of the Impeachment – Dilma Return.” The document demands the revocation of the impeachment of former Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff.

It reads, in part, that Rousseff, having been democratically elected by 54 million voters, should be reinstated as president to complete her term. “We speak on behalf of those who chose her to govern Brazil and also on behalf of those who didn't elect her but who perceive the impeachment as a coup against democracy.

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