Impeachment of Dilma Must Be Annulled, Brazilian Professor Says

The express recognition by Michel Temer that the coup against the constitutional president Dilma Rousseff was a consequence of the fact that she did not give in to the blackmail of former Congressman Eduardo Cunha does not leave today another alternative to the Supreme Court that to annul the impeachment.

The opinion was supported by the doctor in Criminal Sciences Leonardo Isaac Yarochewsky, who in a commentary published on the website Justificando remarked that in a moment of serious institutional crisis respect to the Constitution of the Republic is expected to prevail over economic, political and other interests.

'Faced with the facts publicly admitted by one of the protagonists of the coup (Temer), the Supreme Court has no alternative but to annul the impeachment, if it does not want to definitively enter history as an ally of the process that removed a president from power who did not commit crime of responsibility,' the academic said.

In a TV interview last Saturday, Temer acknowledged that the former member of the Chamber of Deputies, Cunha (who is serving 15 years in prison for corruption, money laundering, and tax evasion) agreed to start the trial of Dilma in revenge against the then ruling Workers' Party.

'From the outset, and during all stages of the process -Yarochewsky said- the defense of the former president argued that Cunha had a deviation from purpose or abuse of power upon receiving the complaint against Dilma and the request for admission of impeachment.'

Yesterday, the defense lawyer of the deposed president, José Eduardo Cardozo, asked the Supreme Federal Court (STF) to include the interview granted by Temer to TV Bandeirantes in the process opened there, and that have yet to be tried, which requests the nullity of the Political trial to Roussef.

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Brazil leads FIFA rankings, Iran best in Asia

Brazil has taken over at the top of the FIFA rankings for the first time since 2010. 

After losing Lionel Messi to a four-match ban, Argentina lost 2-0 at Bolivia last week and dropped to No. 2. 

World Cup winner Germany is still No. 3, followed by Chile and Colombia. South American teams tallied more ranking points last month by playing two World Cup qualifiers. European teams played one. 

European champion Portugal is No 8, while Switzerland entered the top 10, up two to ninth, one ahead of above Spain. 

Mexico climbed one to No 16 and leads CONCACAF teams. The United States climbed seven to No 23. No 19 Egypt leads African teams, and No 28 Iran is Asia's best. 

World Cup host Russia fell one to No 61.

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Brazil Court Launches Trial that Could Boot Temer from Office over Illegal Campaign Funds

If Michel Temer is removed as president, it would mark the second transition of a government in Brazil in less than one year.

A Brazilian court kicked off a trial Tuesday over illegal election campaign financing that could unseat unelected President Michel Temer less than one year after he was installed as head of state through a parliamentary coup against his predecessor Dilma Rousseff.

RELATED: Literally Unelectable: Court Bars Temer from Running for Office

The country's top electoral court, known by its Portuguese acronym TSE, will head the case related to years-old accusations of illicit funding in Temer's campaign when he was Rousseff's running mate in her successful 2014 bid for re-election. 

Temer's right-wing PMDB party was formerly in a coalition with Rousseff's Workers' Party, also known as the PT, before a rupture last year that helped pave the way for the controversial and ill-footed impeachment process, widely condemned as a parliamentary coup. Temer, then Rousseff's vice president, became a key backer in ousting Rousseff, aligning more closely in the process with the conservative PSDB, which lost the 2014 election to Rousseff and is ironically behind the complaints filed with the TSE. 

After the TSE recognized Rousseff and Temer's win in 2014 against PSDB candidate Aecio Neves and his running mate Aloysio Nunes, who is now Temer's foreign minister, the PSDB filed complaints to reopen the legitimacy of the election victory, alleging irregularities in campaign financing linked to the corruption scheme in the state-run oil company Petrobras. 

The outcome of the trail could annul the results of the 2014 election, but justices could also rule to throw out the case since Rousseff is now longer in office. 

Both Temer and Rousseff are involved in the case and deny the allegations. Their defense teams will make their cases in the coming days.

Despite being ousted in a process her rivals painted as a bid to root out government corruption, Rousseff has not been accused of personal enrichment or financial impropriety, but rather was impeached on the basis that she cooked the books with common accounting tricks ahead of her re-election campaign.

Temer, on the other hand, is a target in Brazil's central corruption investigations known as Operation Car Wash and has already been found guilty of breaking election financing laws in a regional election court in São Paulo. As a result of the case, the sitting president has been banned for running for office for eight years — a fact that did not prevent him being installed as president as year. 

It is expected that Temer's defense will attempt to stall the trial as much as possible in attempts of postponing the conclusion until the 2018 presidential election to avoid being booted from office early. His ally Eduardo Cunha — also a member of the PMDB party and former speaker of the lower house of Congress who was the chief architect behind Rousseff's ouster — was notorious for using stall tactics when he faced suspension last year, dragging out the process for months. 

At the beginning of the trial, TSE rapporteur Judge Hernan Benjamin noted that the case has already been pending for about two and a half years and urged the court to "avoid procrastination" and "expedite" the process with this fresh trial. 

"The 2014 election will be known as the longest in Brazilian history, closing the ballot boxes and counting the votes, but the result is being discussed through the judicial process," he said, according to Brazilian daily Folha de S. Paulo. 

Benjamin has prepared a more than 1,000-page report on the case. Judges can request time to study the report during the proceedings, which could drag out the trial for days or even months. 

TSE Judge Gilmar Mendes said last week that it is not yet clear how long the trial will take. 

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Brazil Coup Architect Eduardo Cunha Sentenced to 15 Years for Corruption

The man who led a campaign to paint Dilma Rousseff as a corrupt politician has drowned in his own fraud scandals.

A Brazilian judge sentenced Eduardo Cunha, the former speaker of the lower house and mastermind behind the parliamentary coup against former President Dilma Rousseff, to 15 years in jail Thursday for corruption charges.

OPINION: Democracy Is Dead in Brazil

The sentence is the result of a criminal suit investigating Cunha for fraud related to millions of dollars in kickbacks he received for the 2011 purchase of an oil field in the West African country of Benin by the state-run oil company, Petrobras, which has been at the center of a major anti-corruption probe in the South American country known as Operation Car Wash.  

Federal Judge Sergio Moro handed down the sentence over charges of corruption, money laundering and tax evasion. The former head of the lower house has been held in pre-trial detention since last October. 

"The responsibility of a federal parliamentarian is enormous, and therefore so is his guilt when he commits crimes," said Moro. "There is no bigger crime than that of trying to use one's parliamentary mandate and the sacred trust the people place in it to obtain personal gain."

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According to Moro, Cunha received US$1.5 million in bribes for the Benin oil field contract, which, according to an internal Petrobras investigation reported by local media, resulted in US$77.5 million in losses for the state-run oil company after no oil was found at the site. 

While Cunha's defense team has said that they will appeal the decision, Moro confirmed that the politician will remain behind bars while the appeals process moves forward. 

IN DEPTH: The Coup That Ousted Brazilian Democracy

Despite himself facing multi-million dollar bribery and fraud charges, Cunha was a key architect in painting the impeachment process against Dilma Rousseff as a campaign to root out government corruption.

A member of unelected President Michel Temer’s PMDB party, Cunha is accused of corruption, money laundering and tax evasion linked to raking in at least US$5 million in illicit kickbacks between 2006 and 2012 and hiding the wealth in Swiss bank accounts.

Cunha was removed from his position as speaker of the lower house last September after being suspended in May 2016 — just weeks after the lower house pushed through the impeachment bid against Rousseff — to face an impeachment process over accusations that he intimidated lawmakers and hampered investigations. The Congress voted overwhelmingly by 450 to 10 to remove the unpopular politician.

The overwhelming decision to remove Cunha also stripped him of the parliamentary immunity he long enjoyed, opening him up to the corruption charges. Authorities arrested him at his apartment in Brasilia last October over accusations he hid laundered money in secret Swiss bank account while in office.

Despite the power he has wielded over Brazilian politics, polling over the past year has repeatedly unmasked Cunha as one of the most unpopular politicians in the country, including among his own party.

Several other top Temer allies have also been targeted in the Operation Car Wash investigations that have led to the arrests of dozens of politicans and economic elites over bribery schemes and corruption linked to Petrobras.

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'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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