Brazil, Host for the 7th Time of World Social Forums

Brasilia, Mar 13 (Prensa Latina) For the seventh time since its creation in 2001, Brazil welcomes thousands of participants at the World Social Forum from today to the 17th in the city of Salvador, capital of the state of Bahia.

With a birth certificate in Porto Alegre, where it was held again in 2002, 2003, 2005 and 2012, the great meeting of social, people's and trade union movements was also organized in 2009 by another Brazilian city, Belem.

Besides Brazil, another five nations were already witness to these events: India, in 2004; Kenya, in 2007; Senegal in 2011: Tunis, in 2013 and Canada, in its more recent edition of 2016.

In its Salvador de Bahia event, starting today with a grand march from Cmpo Grande until the Castro Alves square, in the ancient center of the city, the World Social Forum 'has everything to i9mpact politically in the present situation', valued the member of the Facilitating Group, Carlos Tiburcio.

For the journalist and director of the web Radio Democracia en el Aire - Red de Resistencia Democrática, there are strong reasons for this global venue to become a great trench of resistance to the offensive of international capital, and will also have special importance for tje social and political Brazilian forces.

According to the also founder of the Forum, over 1300 self-paid activities were already registered for the event, whose fundamental nucleus will take place in Campus Ondina, of the Federal University of Bahia.

The Forum's program includes, among others, a colloquium on March 14 on the state of exception in Brazil and inequalities, democratic fragility and power of elites.

Work sessions of the meeting will start with the panel

'Tutoring democracies: media, power and manipulation', in charge of journalists Ignacio Ramonet and Martin Granovsky.

Other issues to be debated there are judicialization of politics or the politicization of justice; Inequalities: which, why and until when?; Racism, violence and discrimination: human rights in the coup d'état Brazil.

The colloquium will conclude with a debate about the left's challenges: the fight for unity in an uncertain future, for which he announced the presence of director of the Center of Social Studies of Portugal, Boaventura de Sousa Santos.

As part of the program there will also be the World Women and Peoples Assemblies, Movements and Territories in Resistance, as well as the so-called convergence activities, the self-managed ones and others of political-cultural nature.

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Brazil Supreme Court Rejects Lula's Habeas Corpus Appeal

Four judges out of five voted to uphold the sentence, which could send Lula to prison in the coming weeks.

Judges of Brazil's Supreme Court rejected Tuesday the appeal presented by former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva's defense against a 12-year prison sentence previously issued over corruption and money-laundering charges.

RELATED: Brazil: Public Prosecutor Orders former President Lula da Silva to Start 12-Year Sentence

The sentence against Lula, who remains the top candidate in all presidential polls including the latest Barometro Politico Estadao-Ipsos which put him ahead of the pack with 42 percent, was already appealed and confirmed by a previous court in January.

Candidates condemned over criminal charges are prohibited to run for elections according to Brazil's electoral law.

As a last resort, Lula would still be entitled to appeal the Supreme Court's decision at the Superior Federal Tribunal.

Lula has denied all the charges, arguing it was part of a political move aimed at preventing him to run for the presidential elections.

Lula launched his pre-presidential candidacy at an event hosted at Exominas in Belo Horizonte last month.

During his speech, he said that his “torturers,” in reference to judges, the corporate media and others who have pursued him on alleged corruption charges, can arrest “my flesh, but my ideas will carry on free. They will not detain our dreams.”

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Brazil's Lula Da Silva Launches Candidacy, Says 'They Can Arrest My Flesh But Not My Ideas'

Lula emphasized that he's unsure what will happen in the coming months.

Former Brazilian President Luiz Inacio 'Lula' da Silva has launched his pre-candidacy for this year's presidential election during an event hosted at Expominas in Belo Horizonte, Minas Gerais. Speaking to the crowd on Wednesday, he said that his “torturers,” in reference to judges, the corporate media and others who have pursued him on alleged corruption charges, can arrest “my flesh, but my ideas will carry on free. They will not detain our dreams.”

RELATED: Brazil: Lula Appeals Sentence on 'Technical Grounds'

Lula emphasized that he's unsure what will happen in the coming months. “What I do know is that I do not respect the (court's) decision ... For this reason, I'm a (presidential) candidate. I'll return to ensure that our people benefit from their rights and live better.”

Criticizing Globo, Brazil's largest media outlet, Lula said numerous hours of negative coverage had been dedicated to demonizing him. “What they don't understand is that the people know me,” he said adding "I doubt that their conscious is calm.”

Lula pointed out that the problem faced by the mainstream media is not him, but millions of others who believe in his ideas. “They can try to do away with me, tell the number of lies they tell headed by Rede Globo; they can try to demonize PT (Workers' Party). They are dealing with a different human being because I'm not me, I'm the incarnation of a piece of cell in each of you.

During a radio interview before his speech, Lula commented on the military intervention in the state of Rio de Janeiro. “I fear that the intervention in Rio de Janeiro is pyrotechnics, a maneuver of political interest... If the state is absent regarding public policies in impoverished areas, violence appears.

”He added: “Temer has found a way to become a presidential candidate and believes that public safety can be an important issue to secure a niche.”Lula has appealed his 12-year sentence for corruption on “technical grounds.” His lawyers say the written indictment contained 38 omissions, 16 contradictions and five areas that were unclear.

The faults raised should "result in the annulment of the whole process or acquittal of Lula," his lawyers said.

Former Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva is greeted by supporters during a rally in Belo Horizonte, Brazil February 21, 2018. REUTERS/Washington Alves



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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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