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 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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Former Brazilian Presidents to be at Castro's funeral

Rio de Janeiro: Former Brazilian Presidents Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva and Dilma Rousseff will attend the funeral ceremony of Cuban leader Fidel Castro, the Lula Institute announced.
 
They will travel to Havana this weekend, Xinhua news reported on Friday.
 
Castro passed away on November 25, at the age of 90. The revolutionary leader lead Cuba for almost five decades.
 
Castro was cremated, and his ashes travelled through Cuba this week and would be buried on Saturday.
 
Both Lula and Rousseff have met Castro. During the Lula administration, Brazil and Cuba improved their ties, a policy continued by Rousseff, Lula's successor in office.
 
Both the Brazilian leaders published heartfelt statements regretting Castro's death hours after the Cuban government confirmed his passing. 
 
They hailed Castro's leadership and legacy. Lula compared losing Castro to the loss of an elder brother.
 
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Int'l Seminar in Brazil to Make Amends for Lula and Dilma

Brasilia, Sep 23 (Prensa Latina) The 11th International Seminar of Struggle aganst Neoliberalism organized by newspaper Inverta, will close with a ceremony to make amends for expresidents of Brazil Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva and Dilma Rousseff, announced its organizers.

The venue, which will have the presence of guests from Cuba, Bolivia, Venezuela, China and the People's Democratic Republic of Korea, will be held next Saturday at the High Institute of Education of Rio de Janeiro.

Two tables of analysis and debate are in the program of the meeting. The first on 'The 2016 Coup in Brazil: international and national aspects', and the second will center its attention on the resistance to the parliamentary-judiciary coup that cut the mandate of Rousseff, elected for over 54 million Brazilians to govern until 2018.

The seminar will commemorate 25 years of Inverta's foundation, organ of the Communist Marxist-Leninist Party (PCML) of Brazil, which occurred on September 20, 1991.

The editor in chief and founder, Aluisio Pampolha, said the paper was created by popular organizations, neighbor associations, movemernts of rural workers, tradeunionists and intellectuals that form the Center of Popular Education and Economic and Social Research (Ceppes).

Among the attendants to the Seminar will be exministers of Justice

Eugenio Aragao, Science and Technology, Roberto Amaral; the former ambassador of Brazi8l before the Union of South American Nations (Unasur) Samuel Pinheiro Guimaraes, and Vitor Guimaraes, of the Movement of Roofless Workers (MTST) / Front Fearless People.

Also participants of the Movement of Rural Landless Workers (MST), the Front Brazil Popular, the Union of Negroes for Equality, the People's Levante of Youth, the Central of Workers of Brazil (CTB), The Single Central of Workers (CUT) and the Oilmen Trade Union of the State of Rio de Janeiro (Sindipetro RJ), among others.

The guest list also includes the Movement of Struggle against Neoliberalism and for Socialism, the Network of People's Women and Men Doctors, the group Casa de las Americas of Nova Frigurg, the Cultural Institute Karl Marx, the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, the Workers' Party (PT) and the Communist Party of Brazil (PCdoB), to only mention some.

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Brazilian Film 'Aquarius' Latest Casualty of Political Crisis

The director and cast of the highly-celebrated film "Aquarius" protested the "coup" against Dilma Rousseff while representing Brazil at Cannes.
 

The country’s embattled Oscar’s selection committee nominated David Schurmann’s “Little Secret” as Brazil's offering for Best Foreign Language Film at the Academy Awards in February 2017. At least two films dropped out of the running for the prized spot in protest of the appointment of film critic Marcus Petrucelli to the selection team.

Petrucelli has publicly criticized Aquarius director Kleber Mendonca for his denunciation of Brazil's unelected President, Michel Temer, who was part of the cabal of conservative politicians who spearheaded the removal of the twice-elected Rousseff.

In social media posts, Petrucelli previously accused Mendonca of embarrasing Brazil at the Cannes Film Festival. Mendonca and the cast of Aquarius had staged a protest on the red carpet at Cannes in May just days after Rousseff's was suspended from office on allegations of corruption. She would subsequently be impeached on Aug. 31. Cast members held up signs with messages such as “Brazil is experiencing a coup d’etat.”

Onlookers at Cannes responded to the protest with applause, while Petrucelli dubbed the claim of a coup a “lie.”

OPINION: A Flimflam Impeachment: The Overthrow of Dilma Rousseff

Schurmann, director of the Oscar submission “Little Secret”, told Variety that Brazil’s Oscar selection process fell victim to the country’s political climate, which elevated pressures to single out a film with “a political angle and agenda,” which may not necessarily the best film.

Previously, Mendonca told Variety that there was a great deal of speculation that “Aquarius” would be “sabotaged by the illegitimate government.”

“Aquarius” tells the story of an aging music critic, played by Sonia Braga, who resists pressure from a bullying property developer to sell her apartment with a stubborn and humorous air that spikes tension through the course of the film.

Ccritics have described the film as a metaphor for some of Brazil’s deep-seated problems, such as corruption.

Though pushed out of the Best Foreign Language Film category, “Aquarius” could still have a shot at making it to the Oscar’s with Sonia Braga as a nominee for best actress in a leading role after her performance was highly celebrated at Cannes.

The controversy over the Oscar’s selection comes less than two weeks after the vote in the Senate to definitively remove Rousseff from office and install Michel Temer as unelected president.

One of the first contentious moves by Temer’s interrim government was to axe the Ministry of Culture, folding it into the Ministry of Education for the first time since the offices were separated in 1985 after the fall of the dictatorship.

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Brazil Coup Plotter Eduardo Cunha Impeached in Lower House

Lawmakers approved a June congressional ethics committee recommendation in favor of impeaching Cunha.

Former president of the chamber of deputies and mastermind of President Dilma Rousseff's impeachment, Eduardo Cunha, lost his seat in the lower house Monday night that had so far given him immunity against judicial proceedings over corruption charges.

IN DEPTH: The Coup That Ousted Brazilian Democracy

Representatives voted overwhelmingly in favor of his removal with 450 votes for impeachment, nine abstentions and 10 votes against, when the approval required only 257 deputies, with a minimum of 420 attending the vote.

At the end of the vote, Cunha left the assembly surrounded with guards while opposition representatives chanted "Cunha Out!"

Cunha has been investigated for lying about hiding over US$5 million in laundered money in secret Swiss bank accounts. He denied having money offshore, but accounts tied to him were repeatedly confirmed by Swiss officials.

According to surveys issued Monday, on the day of the vote by local media, at least 298 deputies—out of a total of 513—declared they would vote in favor of his impeachment. Only four said they would vote to absolve him, 183 said they would abstain and 26 said they would not attend the session.

Lawmakers are expected to vote on a June congressional ethics committee recommendation in favor of impeaching Cunha.

In May, he was suspended from his position as head of the lower house by the Brazilian Supreme Court over accusations of intimidating lawmakers and hampering investigations, one month after the lower chamber voted in favor of Rousseff's impeachment. He faces an eight-year ban from elected office.

Cunha is notorious for using stalling tactics as the issue of his suspension stood before the council of ethics for months after having been initiated in October, making it the longest process in the history of the council.

RELATED: Brazil Coup Plotter Eduardo Cunha Hosts Lavish Goodbye Barbecue

Supporters of the Rousseff said Cunha initiated impeachment proceedings against Rousseff as payback after members of her party voted to look into corruption allegations against him.

Rousseff has said that despite the fact that Michel Temer is the acting president, Cunha is really the person in charge in Brasilia, the federal capital. Both Cunha and Temer are members of the Brazilian Democratic Movement Party.

Cunha was a key architect in painting the impeachment process as a campaign to root out government corruption, despite himself facing multimillion dollar bribery and fraud charges.

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