'Coup Not Over': Lula, Rousseff Lead 1000s in Brazil Rally

The former presidents attended the inauguration of a popular water diversion project.

Former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva and ousted President Dilma Rousseff attended the San Francisco River Transposition, organized Sunday by leaders of social movements, artists and intellectuals in the Brazilian city of Monteiro.

RELATED: Make Brazil Great Again: Top Leftists Want Lula as President

"The coup is not over yet. It is underway with systematic lies like the one lived here in Monteiro, where someone, who never raised a finger to the diversion of these waters, dares to take credit for it now," Rousseff said, referring to the administration of Michel Temer.

The rerouting of the river São Francisco to supply water to the population of Monteiro in the state of Paraíba, as well as other cities in the area, is an accomplishment of the previous governments of Lula and Rousseff.

"I am very proud to see the water come here, I fought a lot for this together with Lula," the former president said.

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A large gathering received the leaders of the Workers Party, or PT, in an event organized by social movements, who had prevented Temer from inaugurating the beginning of work on the water delivery days earlier.

"They always knew that the democracy of our government benefited the Brazilian people, they know (the right-wing) that during four elections we won and they lost, because they never got to present projects for the development of the country," Rousseff added.

RELATED: Brazil's Temer Could Face Impeachment as Key Witness Testifies in Fraud Case

During his speech, Lula thanked those present.

"Leaving where I left and getting where I am, was only with the hand of God and the Brazilian people," he said.

"I'm not a professional, I'm not a lawyer, I did not go to college, but ... I know what it's like to have a big belly full of bad things from drinking dirty water, I have honor, and I am proud to be able to contribute to the fact that this town has water today."

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Brazil Corrupt Foreign Minister Resigns Over 'Health Problems'

Jose Serra was found to have received US$7.2 million in a corruption scheme revealed by a recent investigation.

Brazil's Foreign Minister Jose Serra, known for inviting Chevron back into the country, resigned from his post Wednesday, citing health reasons.

RELATED: How the Pro-Coup US Is Undermining Brazil's Democracy

Serra said in a letter to President Michel Temer that he leaves "with sadness, but aware of my health problems that prevent me from keeping up with the pace of international travel required by my role as foreign minister."

"To me, it was a source of pride to be part of his team,” wrote Serra. “I will honor my mandate as a senator in Congress, working to approve projects that seek the recovery of Brazil's economy, social development and democratic consolidation."

He gave no details on his health but said doctors told him recovery would take four months.

The Brazilian top diplomat received US$7.2 million in Swiss bank accounts in the mass corruption scandal with state-owned Petrobras known as “Operation Car Wash,” according to Odebrecht, also investigated for bribery.

The money received by Serra was used to finance his presidential campaign in 2010, when he lost to Dilma Rousseff, who was impeached last year in what many considered a parliamentary coup.

According to documents leaked by WikiLeaks, Serra met with the U.S. government during the Olympics, even before he was selected by Temer, who was also implicated in the corruption scandal.

Serra was seen as a U.S. State Department darling when he ran for president, described in cables as having “little patience for — and little in common with — the antics of the ‘resource caudillos’ (Evo Morales, Hugo Chavez) that now lead South America's anti-Washington Left." To add to this, Serra was seen in Washington as having the best shot against President Dilma Rousseff who “might well function as a positive interlocutor for the United States,” if his qualities are “managed carefully.”

He came to political prominence as health minister during Fernando Henrique Cardoso's presidency from 1994 to 2002, when he defied the international pharmaceuticals industry and allowed generic copies of brand-name drugs to be made in Brazil without the permission of the company that owns the patent.

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Wife of Brazil's Ex-President Lula da Silva Dies of Aneurysm

Lula's Workers' Party announced the death of the former first lady of the nation at the age of 66.

Marisa Leticia Rocco, wife of the former Brazilian president, Luiz Inacio "Lula" da Silva, died on Thursday in the city of Sao Paulo from an aneurysm, said the Workers' Party lawmaker Benedita da Silva.

RELATED: Lula Targeted Once Again in Petrobras Corruption Scandal

Rocco, 66, was taken on to the emergency room at Sao Paulo’s Hospital Sirio Libanes on Jan. 24 due to a stroke,  but her health quickly deteriorated. She was in an induced coma and her doctors described her condition Wednesday as "irreversible."

"I want to announce the death of the wife of former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, who has authorized us to do so, and ask for a moment of silence on behalf of who was the first lady of Brazil," said the Workers' Party, or PT, lawmaker Benedita da Silva in Brazil's lower house of Congress.

Rocco was Brazil’s first lady between 2003 and 2011, and was accused several times without proof of allegedly accepting, along with Lula, bribes from construction giant Odebrecht, one of the companies implicated in the corruption scandal centered on state-run oil company Petrobras. 

Lula published on his Facebook page a message thanking "all the expressions of affection and solidarity received in the last 10 days for her recovery."

Rocco had four children, three of them with Lula, and was his second wife. They married in 1973 when they were both widows, and she participated in the founding of the Workers' Party in 1980.

"The family authorized the preparatory procedures for organ donation," Lula had written on his Facebook page nearly an hour before news of his wife's death was released. 

Lula, despite being continuously accused of corruption, has suggested more than once that he may be a candidate in Brazil’s 2018 presidential election.

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Brazil: Barbarity Takes Over Prisons with 130 Deaths

Cruelty finally seemed to take over Brazilian prisons, where in the first two weeks of this year more than 130 prisoners were killed, most of them being slit or charred.

'The scene was a barbarity. They were decapitated bodies. Much destruction 'are the impressions of the Secretary of Justice and Citizenship of Rio Grande do Norte, Wallber Virgolino da Silva, after the massacre occurred in Alcazuz penitentiary, the largest in the state and where 26 inmates were killed yesterday.

Expert witnesses confirmed Da Silva's appreciation and confirmed that all of the dead were decapitated or charred. In all cases, the experts added, the corpses had sharp object marks and apparently, none had any traces of shots.

The prison of Alcazuz was shaken for 14 hours by a revolt that began on Saturday afternoon and could only be stifled the day before after military police forces, including shock troops and the Special Operations Battalion, could enter the area of the disturbances in a quiet way.

This was the largest massacre recorded in the history of the prison system in Rio Grande do Norte and, according to the Secretary of Public Security and Social Defense Caio César Bezerra, the outbreak occurred when prisoners invaded another one of a rival faction to massacre their opponents.

At the Paraná State Penitentiary of Piraquara, located in the metropolitan region of Curitiba, 28 prisoners were fleeing and two killed yesterday in clashes with police trying to stop the stampede.

So far this year, riots in Brazilian prisons have killed at least 134 inmates, more than a third of all murders recorded last year in the precincts (372).

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Brazilian Literature with Record in Casa de las Americas Award 2017

Havana, Jan 10 (Prensa Latina) The Casa de las Americas Literature Award received a record number of works this year in the section of Brazilian fiction literature, with 135 works, and even today new proposals are coming to Cuba.

Jorge Fornet, coordinator of the contest, said that the number of texts received so far is of 390 books, which may continue to increase, because there are still receiving more projects.

The categories in contest are Novel, Poetry, Historical-Social Essay, Testimonial Literature, Brazilian Literature of Fiction, and the Prize for Studies about the Black Presence in Contemporary Latin America and the Caribbean.

The activities of this event will start next Monday with the constitution of the jury in the Sala Che Guevara, Casa de las Américas, and then the judges will travel to the southern city of Cienfuegos, where most of the readings will be held, said Fornet.

During the deliberations' days, Casa de las Americas will maintain a program of lectures, panels and presentations of books and magazines.

The Award ceremony is scheduled for Thursday, January 26 in the Sala Che Guevara, witness of that event during the 58 editions of the contest. Among other activities we will have the exhibition In the space: from the sculptural to the installation, and will perform actions dedicated to the 50 years of the publication of One Hundred Years of Solitude, iconic novel by the Colombian Gabriel García Márquez (1927-2014), to which Casa de las Americas will dedicate different activities during 2017.

  • Published in Culture

Brazilian Penitentiary System Shows Social Abyss, says Researcher

Brasilia, Jan 6 (Prensa Latina) More than economic, social and racial inequity, the degrading Brazilian penitentiary system reflects today the abyss existing in terms of access to justice and guarantee of fundamental rights, said researcher Camila Nunes Dias.

To describe in one phrase the jail system of Brazil, I would say 'it is a machine to destroy persons, do away with their dignity, their health and their dreams', resumed the also professor at the Federal ABC University of Sao Paulo.

Interviewed by portal Vermelho, of the Brazilian Communist Party (PCdoB) regarding the massacre occurred at the beginning of this year at the Penitentiary Complex Anisio Jobim, in Manaus (Amazon), where 56 inmates were killed, described by president Michel Temer the eve as a 'terrifying accident'.

Following the bloody rebellion, the office of the High Commissioner of the United Nations for Human Rights said this is not an isolated case, but 'a reflection of the chronic situation' of the jails of Brazil.

In a message spread here, the UN High Commissioner demanded of Brazilian authorities to open 'an immediate, impartial and effective investigation' of the bloody incident and those resulting responsible be taken to justice.

Nunes Dias recognized it is difficult to describe the present scenario of the prisons in the country. It is a very big system with peculiarities in each state, but with something in common in every case: dreadful, degrading conditions of confinement, valued the member of the Study Nucleus on Violence of the Paulist university.

The jail institutions do nothing but submit inmates to suffering, violating their rights and stigmatizing them, deepening in them a 'criminal' identity, she indicated.

The eve, the interim head of the General Prosecution of the Republic (PGR), Nicolao Dino, announced they will investigate penitentiaries in the states of Amazon, Rio Grande do Sul, Pernambuco and Rondonia, in order to determine possible non-compliance of 'constitutional and infra-constitutional norms'.

The PGR recalled in a note broadcast here that the State of Brazil responds to the Interamerican System of Human Rights for violations detected in prisons of Rio Grande do Sul, Rondonia, Pernambuco, Maranhao and Sao Paulo.

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FIBA to Evaluate Creation of New Basketball Confederation in Brazil

Brasilia, 26 Dec (Prensa Latina) An official at the International Basketball Federation (FIBA), José Luiz Sáez, has proposed that a new Brazilian confederation be created to put an end the crisis facing the sport in the South American nation.

Sáez's proposal is to disband the FIBA Brazilian Basketball Confederation (CBB) - suspended since last November due to debts totaling millions of dollars - and create another entity free of debts in its place.

According to the UOL news site, one of the main points in discusssion is who would assume liability for the debt of 17 million reais (more than five million dollars) left by the disastrous management of Carlos Nunes, at the close of 2015.

This is not the first time a Brazilian federation has had to be disbanded due to mismanagement, the on-line news site also cited the example of the Brazilian Sailing and Motor Confederation.

In an official note at that time of suspension, the Brazilian Confederation said that it was surprised by the action,but understand the position of the FIBA and would not appeal its decision.

In January, FIBA will meet again to reevaluate the situation.

  • Published in Sports

Brazil's Lula faces new corruption charges

Brasília (AFP) - New corruption charges linked to Brazil's massive embezzlement scheme at Petrobras oil company were filed Thursday against former president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, prosecutors said.

A judge will now have to decide whether Lula, whose spokesman called the charges "invented," should face trial.

The Workers' Party founder is already set to be tried in other cases, with the mounting scandals likely to wreck the once hugely popular leftist leader's chances of a political comeback at elections in 2018.

In the latest case, federal prosecutors accused Lula of taking bribes from the construction giant Odebrecht in the forms of an apartment and land on which to build his Lula Institute think tank in Sao Paulo.

Odebrecht is the company at the heart of a massive embezzlement and bribery scheme at Petrobras, Brazil's most important state enterprise.

Dozens of politicians have been accused of taking bribes from Odebrecht and other construction companies to line their own pockets and boost party campaign funds in exchange for facilitating inflated contracts for the companies with Petrobras.

Eight others, including the former head of Odebrecht -- Marcelo Odebrecht -- are named alongside Lula in the latest complaint, in which prosecutors allege a total of 75 million reais ($22.1 million) in bribes linked to eight Petrobras contracts.

Lula "is accused of practicing the crimes of passive corruption and money laundering," the federal prosecutors' service said in a statement. His wife, Marisa Leticia Lula da Silva, is accused of money laundering.

Lula's representative Jose Chrispiniano said that corruption prosecutors investigating the Petrobras affair "have invented a new story for their obsessive quest to paint the ex-president as responsible for the embezzlement."

Lula had already been ordered to stand trial for alleged corruption and money laundering in the pay-to-play scandal. He will also stand trial for obstruction of justice.

An outsized figure of the Latin American left, Lula has said he is willing to run for office again in 2018 and polls show he would be a frontrunner, despite the increasing cloud of corruption.

However, he has lost the once heady ratings he enjoyed during his 2003-2010 presidency and is blamed on the right for the country's mounting economic woes.

His successor Dilma Rousseff was impeached and removed from office earlier this year for violating budget rules and his Workers' Party was trounced in recent municipal elections.

Marcelo Odebrecht has already been convicted on earlier charges and was sentenced to 19 years in prison. However, he and nearly 80 other executives from his company are currently cooperating with prosecutors in a plea bargain to get reduced sentences.

Their testimony, alleging participation of top politicians in the bribery scheme, is expected to set off more political bombshells in Brazil. The current president, Michel Temer, is among those being named in the testimony, according to Brazilian media reports.

  • Published in World
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