Protests in Several Brazilian Cities Against Temer's Labor Reforms

Social movements aim to stop labor reforms passed by the lower chamber and set to be voted on in the senate.

Demonstrations are taking place throughout Brazil Thursday as momentum builds in support of former Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva who was sentenced to nine years and six months on charges of corruption and money laundering by judge Sergio Moro.

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Organized by the Popular Front of Brazil, the Worker's Party and a host of unions and other social movements, Thursday's demonstrations also build off previous demands by the Brazilian people that include the immediate removal of current president Michel Temer, free democratic elections, and an end to approved labor reforms and pension reform proposals.

The FBP stated that it wants "to relate the persecution of the ex-president with the agenda of regression in the labor laws and to reaffirm, against this picture of intense political and institutional crisis, the need for direct elections for the presidency of the Republic."

According to the FBP, there is no evidence supporting the charges against the former head of state. Following the decision, Lula's lawyers appealed the court sentence, contesting ten of the deciding factors in the case, while the Federal Public Ministry filed an appeal against the ruling Monday.

President Vander Freitas of the Central Worker's Union, said, "For the 'Casa Grande', Lula represents the danger of a popular and workers' government coming back to power to restore democracy, equality, justice and social inclusion."

"The condemnation of Lula by (Judge Sergio Moro) is a further blow to the already weakened Brazilian democracy because when justice takes sides, condemns without evidence, acts only for presumption of guilt and a judge becomes accusatory, there is something serious happening," said Guiljerme Boulos, the national coordinator of the Landless Workers' Movement.

RELATED: Brazil: Lower House Committee Rejects Charges Against President Temer

During a televised press conference July 13, the 71-year-old Workers’ Party leader said that his prosecution is politically motivated and is intended to destroy his group’s reputation ahead of the 2018 elections.

However, despite the trial and his pending sentence, surveys conducted ahead of Brazil’s 2018 presidential elections puts Lula as the top choice for voters in the country.

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Lula Says He'll "Do More and Better" as President of Brazil

Lula emphasized that democracy “demands commitment. Democracy entails that our capacity to listen is equivalent to our ability to speak.”

During a ceremonial launch of the second phase of the Lula Institute Democracy Memorial, former Brazilian President Luis Inacio Lula da Silva emphasized that speaking about “democracy at this moment is very important and necessary. It's almost like the air that we breath.”

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The statement came Monday as Lula addressed the crowd about the need to discuss the terms of democracy during the current political climate.

“For inasmuch as we remain silent and accept what's being told to us on a daily basis, such measures start to gain traction,” he said. In the same breath he noted, “soon, we start to believe the world to be normal and soon enough we start to believe that somebody like Bolsonaro, the result of hate spewed by Globo Television Network, to be normal.”

Lula was referring to Jair Bolsonaro, a congressman and 2019 presidential hopeful who, like U.S. President Donald Trump, has become renowned for his abrasiveness. Some of his more infamous statements include that the error committed by Brazil's military dictatorship “was to torture and not kill," adding that “Pinochet should have killed more people.”

In contrast to his presidential opponent, Lula emphasized that democracy “demands commitment. Democracy entails that our capacity to listen is equivalent to our ability to speak.”

RELATED: Right-Wing Brazil Govt Continues Attacks on Indigenous Agency

Acknowledging that Brazil is far from building a just democracy, Lula promised that he wouldn't return to serve as president to “do the same” but to “do more and better.” He stressed that one of the things that he could have done better in his previous administrations was in “relation to the media.”

Also on Monday, Lula signed a petition titled, “Brazilian People's Manifesto for the Annulment of the Impeachment – Dilma Return.” The document demands the revocation of the impeachment of former Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff.

It reads, in part, that Rousseff, having been democratically elected by 54 million voters, should be reinstated as president to complete her term. “We speak on behalf of those who chose her to govern Brazil and also on behalf of those who didn't elect her but who perceive the impeachment as a coup against democracy.

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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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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'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.

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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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Jailing Lula Would Cause Problems for Brazil Says Temer

The president said it would be a problem if the popular former head of state, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, was jailed as part of ongoing investigations.

On Monday, Brazilian President Michel Temer – who gained power through a parliamentary coup in August – said that an ongoing investigation into the popular ex-president, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, could create problems for the country.

RELATED:​ Campaign to Support Lula Launches as Bribe Probe Circles Temer

“If Lula was jailed, would this cause a problem for the government? I think it would cause a problem, not just for the government, but for the country,” Temer said in an interview with TV Cultura.

The wildly popular ex-president is expected to run again in the 2018 elections, but he currently faces three investigations into alleged corruption connected to the long-running “Car Wash” scandal. Lula vehemently denies all allegations and was cleared last August by Judge Sergio Moro of charges that he had bought an apartment using money from the state oil company Petrobras, which as at the heart of the “Car Wash” investigation.

Temer appeared to blame the possibility of unrest on the powerful social movements which have supported Lula's Workers Party in the past. “The social movements, especially in the event of a judicial decision (against Lula) could create instability,” continued Temer.

Temer's comments come just days after protesters shut down a major highway in Sao Paulo in protest of the Temer government's proposal to freeze social spending for the next 20 years, and one week after the launch of a national campaign in support of Lula organized by various social movement groups. Since Temer came to power in a parliamentary coup against the democratically-elected Dilma Rousseff last August, his government has arrested at least nine members of the powerful Landless Workers Movement, or MST, and on Nov. 4, armed state police raided a key MST school in Sao Paulo.

RELATED: Brazil Court Moves on Corruption Probe of President Temer

Temer himself faces ongoing allegations of corruption. Just last week lawyers for former President Rousseff presented a Brazilian court with evidence that a key player in the Petrobras scandal had deposited millions of dollars in the general election fund of Temer's PMDB party, which subsequently issued a check – a copy of which Rousseff's lawyers submitted to the court – for the same amount to Temer's personal election fund.

In the same interview, Temer said he was “not worried” about the investigation, which could depose Temer and his government if it finds he did accept illegal donations.

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UN Accepts Petition Stating Brazil Judge Violated Lula’s Rights

The U.N. accepted the case that Judge Moro violated former President Lula da Silva’s presumption of innocence and detained him arbitrarily.

The U.N. accepted a petition from lawyers of former Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva claiming that the judge overseeing the Petrobras corruption case had violated Lula da Silva’s rights by charging him with the same allegations several times and detaining him arbitrarily without any evidence.

The United Nations Human Rights Committee agreed to investigate the allegations that Judge Sergio Moro had “violated Lula’s right to privacy, his right not to be detained arbitrarily and his presumption of innocence.”

Lula da Silva said in his request that the case was “highly political” and the result of “a series of arbitrary violations of rights,” including the illegal searching of his home, as well as his children’s homes and the Lula Institute.

The attorneys also added that the judge abused his position and leaked confidential information to the press, disclosed recordings obtained illegally and used temporary detention of key suspects in order to reach an agreement that would affect Lula.

Brazil has six months to respond to the petition, with the committee, comprised of 18 international jurists, set to take up to a further six months to reach a decision.

Brazil ratified the committee’s protocol in 2009 and Lula’s lawyers expect the state to implement any findings the committee makes.

According to the lawyers, Moro infringed on Articles 9, 14 and 17 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights by continuing these actions.

After a two-year investigation, the federal police of Brazil has failed to find any evidence linking Lula to the Petrobras scandal such as secret bank accounts, offshore companies or illegal deals. In September, Judge Moro ruled that Lula should face trial for corruption and money laundering charges, even though he had previously released a report clearing Lula of all charges.

Moro acknowledged that Lula and his family do not own property that investigators thought belonged to the politician, dashing claims they were bought with money allegedly obtained through illegal contracts with Petrobras.

The charges are part of a broad police investigation known as “Operation Car Wash” that has targeted dozens of politicians for fraud within the state-run oil company Petrobras.

Lula and his wife, Marisa Leticia Lula da Silva, are formally accused of corruption, fraud and money laundering. The former president of the construction company OAS, and an engineer at the construction company are also accused of corruption.

According to allegations from federal police, Lula was the mastermind of a corruption scheme at Petrobras, and directly benefited in the form of a gifted apartment in Guaruja and a farm in Atibaia, both in the state of Sao Paulo.

Lula has denied any wrongdoing and has previously said that his persecution is driven by political interests that want to destroy his candidacy, as he has one of the highest approval ratings in the country.

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