Fernando Haddad Denounces Persecution Against Progressive Leaders

Fernando Haddad, former candidate for the Brazilian presidency of the Workers' Party (PT), denounced on Tuesday the judicial persecution against the most prominent left-wing political leaders in Latin America.

According to Haddad, anomalous processes are taking place in the region's judicial systems that put popular sovereignty at risk.

'We have to be very careful because this new way of doing politics erodes democracy', warned the former presidential candidate in an interview with the Sputnik agency.

Haddad mentioned the case of former Argentine President Cristina Fernandez, against whom eight different cases were opened.

The current senator has repeatedly denounced being the victim of unprecedented political and judicial persecution.

Former Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva is also the target of a legal war and has been serving 12 years and one month in prison since April 2018 for never-proven corruption offences.

Lula was jailed when all the polls gave him as the favorite candidate to win the Brazilian presidency in the October 2018 elections and the PT had to replace him with Fernando Haddad.

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Lula Immediately Sent Back to Prison After Grandson’s Funeral

Lula da Silva was allowed to meet his family and say goodbye to his grandson only for nine hours before being sent back to prison.

The former Brazilian President and one of the most revered left leaders in Latin America, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva was returned to prison nine hours after he was allowed to attend his grandson's funeral

RELATED: UN Human Rights Council To Probe Lula's Case in March

He was at the crematorium for 2 hours before being taken away by the military police for his return back to jail where he arrived within nine hours of leaving the prison.  He could barely meet his followers who gathered in support of the leader. 

The 7-year-old grandson of Lula, Artur Araujo da Silva, died Friday morning in the Barthia Hospital, in Santo Andre, Sao Paulo state, due to complications related to meningococcal meningitis.

This is the second time in which former President Lula tried to leave temporarily to attend a family situation of this kind. On Jan. 29 his brother Genival "Vava" Inacio da Silva died of cancer. The leader of the Workers Party (PT) was not allowed to leave prison on that occasion, even though constitutionally he has the right under these circumstances.

This time, however, he was allowed to leave. On Saturday, a large number of his followers were gathered to greet him. Lula said during the funeral that when he meets Arthur in heaven, he will prove his innocence because the seven-year-old faced bullying in school due to the imprisonment of his grandfather.

Lula will momentarily leave prison today to attend the wake of his grandson Artur, who died from meningitis this morning. He will travel from Curitiba to São Paulo. was recently denied his right to attend his brother's funeral.

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Former President Dilma Rousseff and ex-presidential candidate Fernando Haddad were present during the funeral among other PT members. 

Gleisi Hoffmann, a Brazilian lawmaker and national President of PT, said, "Lula is very sad, he says he never expected news like this. He said that it should be forbidden for a father to bury his son or for a grandfather to bury his grandson."

Artur had visited Lula twice in the prison in the southern state of Parana, where the former President has been held since April 7th, 2018, serving a 12-year and one month sentence.

Lula da Silva, who was arrested after being allegedly convicted in the Lava Jato corruption case by a Federal Regional Court, is internationally recognized as a political prisoner. He has maintained his stance of innocence and determined to prove the same.

After a back-and-forth, Lula has been authorized to leave prison temporarily, in order to attend the funeral of his grandson.

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Brazil Ministry Requests Schools to Recite Nationalist Slogans

Teachers were asked to read Bolsonaro's slogan, "Brazil before everything. God above everyone," to classes as part of a message from the Ministry of Education.

Brazil's far-right government requested that schools record students reciting the national anthem before the flag and for faculty to make students read nationalist slogans aloud.

RELATED: Lula: Brazil 'Cannot Submit to US Imperialism' in Venezuela

Education Minister Ricardo Velez Rodriguez sent an email Monday to schools requesting that teachers submit their videos to the ministry after the first day of classes, according to a ministry statement.

They also requested that students be made to read nationalist messages based on President Jair Bolsonaro's 2018 campaign slogan: "Brazil above everything, God above everyone."

"Brazilians! Let us greet new times in Brazil and celebrate responsible and quality education being developed in our schools by teachers, for the benefits of you, the students, who constitute the new generation," read the message to be shared with students.

“I realized the mistake,” Velez Rodriguez said Tuesday, a day after the education ministry emailed his instructions and stoked outrage. There had been no request for parental consent for the act of filming children in the classroom.

Educators and lawyers criticized Rodriguez’s move Tuesday and began a Federal Prosecutor's Office of Citizens' Rights investigation into the constitutionality of the administrative act.

The prosecutor, who is part of the Federal Public Prosecutor's Office, reported that he made a "request for clarification" to the minister, and asked Velez Rodríguez to file a claim of justification within 24 hours, which is not obligatory though it does put the investigation into motion.

When it comes to education, Brazil faces a crumbling infrastructure, a shortage of teachers, and high levels of illiteracy. In 2014, Brazil's literacy rate hovered around 92 percent.

“This is unreal. Schools are overburdened with work, still matriculating students, thousands of problems, and we are going to stop and do this?” said Rosana Lima, assistant head teacher in Rio de Janeiro, The Guardian reported. “You are doing government propaganda.”

Bolsonaro has vowed to eliminate perceived leftist influence in schools, including sex education and political debate, after Workers' Party rule  in 13 of the last 15 years.

Activists and NGOs have been concerned about growing authoritarianism under Bolsonaro, who has openly praised the country’s 1964-85 dictatorship.

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Brazil: Bolsonaro Seeks To Up Retirement Age in Pension Reform

The far-right Brazilian president seeks to increase the minimum retirement age and to establish a capitalization scheme.

On Wednesday Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro delivered his Social Security Reform Proposal to the country's National Congress, which would mandate a minimum retirement age of 65 for men and 62 for women at the end of a 12-year transition period.

RELATED: Indigenous Territory Invasions, Threats Worsen Under Bolsonaro

"I would not like to have to reform the pensions, but I am obliged to do so. Otherwise, the country could go bankrupt in 2022 or 2023," Bolsonaro said, as reported by Iberoeconomia.

The transition time proposed by the Bolsonaro administration is smaller than that proposed by former President Michael Temer, who foresaw 21 years.

In the pension reform proposal, the Brazilian government would establish new employee contribution rates and is also expected reform public servant and military pensions.

Bolsonaro's economic team previously said that the Social Security Reform Proposal will seek to implement a capitalization scheme, which means that each worker finances his or her own retirement with deposits into an individual account. However, details about this capitalization scheme have not been presented yet.

Once delivered to the Congress, Bolsonaro’s proposal will have to follow the normal legislative process of approval. First, it will go to the Chamber of Deputies' Constitution Justice and Citizenship Commission, which determines the constitionality of the law. Then the Chamber of Deputies creates a special sub-committee on the subject.

If approved by this sub-committee, the text goes to a floor vote in the lower chamber, the Chamber of Deputies, where it then goes through two rounds of discussion and voting. In both rounds, Bolsonaro’s proposal needs to be approved by at least 308 of the 513 members. 

Then the Social Security Reform Proposal will go to the Senate, where it must obtain at least 49 votes. If senators change the text of the law, the proposal will return to the Chamber of Deputies for reconciliation. 

The reform is approved when both lower house lawmakers and senators have reconciled a law with common text.

In Brazil, the current retirement rules do not require a minimum age. A full retirement, which means an amount equal to 80% of the highest contributions, can be obtained after 35 years of working contributions for men, and 30 years of contributions for woman.

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Cuban doctors who do not find employment in Brazil can return to Cuba

The Cuban Public Health Ministry said Tuesday that doctors who decided to stay in Brazil after the island’s termination of its involvement in the More Doctor Programs and who do not find employment there will be allowed to return to work on the island’s public health system.

The statement, read on primetime TV newscast, follows the recent decision by the new Brazilian government to close permanently the More Doctors Program.

Before his inauguration, Jair Bolsonaro had promised Cuban doctors who chose not to return to the island at the end of their mission, and others who made families with Brazilian nationals that they would be employed, but that offer has not materialized.

The Public Health Ministry note added that while this is happening, enemies of Cuba in the United States are lobbying for the resuscitation of the repudiated parole program for medical doctors that was cancelled by the Obama Administration.

“Taking into consideration the current circumstances, and putting above all the human dignity, rights, and the safety of our doctors, including those who decided not to return after the completion of their mission, the Public Health Ministry ratifies that its willing to receiving them back in the homeland and offer them jobs in the national health system,” the statement said.

It added that the Cuban Embassy and its consulates in Brazil are ready to support their return, offering them the required documentation.

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Protests as Brazilian court doubles ex-president Lula’s jail term (PHOTOS, VIDEO)

Brazilian prosecutors have doubled former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva’s jail sentence following his second corruption and money laundering case. His supporters took to the streets in protest across Brazil Thursday.

Lula, 73, who led Brazil between 2003 and 2010, was convicted on corruption charges in 2017 and sentenced to 10 years in prison. He later had the conviction upheld in January 2018 for which he is currently serving a punitively extended 12-year sentence. Now, an additional 12 years and 11 months have been added to his sentence following this latest conviction.

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Brazilian theologian Frei Betto to deliver conference in Pedagogy 2019

AVANA, Cuba, Feb 6 (ACN) The conference Education and Critical Consciousness, by Brazilian theologian Frei Betto, will be one of the main activities of the XVI International Pedagogical Congress 2019 on its third day.

According to the program, a special intervention of Jordan Naidoo, director of the Support and Coordination Division of the Education Agenda 2030, is scheduled, and a panel focused on the role of trade unions and the continental dialogue on education, the Confederation of American Educators and the Latin American Parliament will be held.

The II Meeting of Rectors and Principals of Schools will also be held, as well as the panel named Socialization, visibility and impact of scientific results in education, health and Cuban sport.

Another activity that will complement today's agenda is the conference on teacher training in the historical perspective - critical of sustainable development.

The afternoon will be crowned with a panel that will debate the role of culture in the face of imperial domination strategies, coordinated by Alpidio Alonso Grau, Minister of Culture of Cuba.

The International Pedagogy Congress 2019 is underway this week in the presence of more than a thousand specialists from some 40 nations, and is dedicated to the Objectives of Sustainable Development, the Agenda 2030 and the 500 years of the foundation of the village of San Cristóbal de La Habana.

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Ed Sheeran to Perform Three Concerts in Brazil

British star singer and composer Ed Sheeran will do three concerts in Brazil in February, according to media reports.
The author of Shape of you will present in this South American country a show that forms part of the Divide tour, which began in March 2017 and will conclude in August, through which the 27-year-old artist promotes his latest album of the same name.

Sheeran will perform in Sao Paulo on February 13 and 14, at the Allianz Parque stadium, and will go up to the Arena Gremio in Porto Alegre on February 17.

This time, in addition to his guitars, the musician will bring his entire production for stadium performances.

With more than 38 million copies of his three studio albums sold to date, Sheeran is one of the most successful artists since the release of his first album +(Plus) (2011), with hits such as Thinking out loud or Shape of you, the most played track in the history of Spotify, a multi-platform application used to play music via streaming (download).

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