Gua Tolong Lu Lu Tolong Gua ( I help you, you help me) Brazilian Style sparks Street Protests

March 18, 2016

Gua Tolong Lu Lu Tolong Gua ( I help you, you help me) Brazilian Style sparks Street Protests

by Bruce Douglas

 Najib-Rosmah Partnership with a Samba Twist

Calls secretly recorded by investigating Judge suggest the President gave her predecessor a government role to avoid prosecution on corruption charges.

In the latest of a series of explosive revelations that could bring down the Brazilian government, a secretly recorded phone call between former President Luiz Inácio “Lula” da Silva and his successor, Dilma Rousseff, suggests his appointment to a ministerial position on Wednesday ( March 16)  was motivated by a desire to avoid prosecution in Brazil’s worst-ever corruption scandal.

Judge Sergio Moro, the lead prosecutor in Operation Lava-jato, a two-year investigation into corruption at the state-run oil company, Petrobras, released nearly 50 audio recordings to the media on Wednesday evening, prompting chaotic scenes in congress as opposition deputies demanded Rousseff’s resignation.

On Thursday morning (March 17) Lula was sworn in as a cabinet minister amid chaotic scenes inside and outside the presidential palace in Brasília.

Supporters inside the gallery where the ceremony took place started chanting his name as he walked in, while an opposition congressman who shouted “shame” was quickly bundled out. In a surprising development, a low-level federal judge in Brasília issued an injunction suspending Silva’s nomination, though government officials expected it to be overturned swiftly by a higher court.

Thousands of protesters congregated outside the presidential palace where government supporters, dressed in the red colours of the ruling Partido dos Trabalhadores, squared off against protesters dressed mainly in the yellow and green strip of the Brazilian football team.

On Wednesday night tens of thousands of Brazilians had gathered in São Paulo, Brasília, Belo Horizonte and other major cities to demand the president’s resignation. In Brasília, riot police fired tear gas and stun grenades at more than 5,000 demonstrators outside the presidential palace and Congress building. Many waved banners calling for Lula’s arrest. Thousands more demonstrators packed the main Avenue Paulista in São Paulo.

Earlier in the day (March 17), Lula was appointed cabinet chief in a controversial move that Rousseff said would strengthen her government, but which critics argued was an attempt to shield the former President, who is under investigation for corruption and money-laundering, from prosecution.

Under Brazilian law, government ministers can be tried only in the “privileged forum” of the supreme court. Opposition activists believe any trial in Brazil’s highest court is likely to progress much more slowly than in the federal court.

They also believe that the supreme court justices – many of whom were appointed by Lula and Rousseff – may prove far more sympathetic than Moro. The judge, from the southern city of Curitiba, has already handed down a number of severe sentences for some of Brazil’s top businessmen who have been found guilty of involvement in the Petrobras scandal.

In the most damaging conversation, recorded on Wednesday afternoon, Rousseff tells Lula that she is sending him over his ministerial papers “in case of necessity”. The Brazilian media and opposition have interpreted the remarks to mean that she was giving him the papers quickly so that Lula could show them to police to avoid detention.

A note published on the presidential palace website late on Wednesday disputed the opposition’s interpretation of the call. It states that Rousseff sent Lula the terms of office for him to sign in case he was unable to attend the swearing-in ceremony, due to take place in Brasília at 10am on Thursday. It also said that the presidency would be pursuing legal action against Moro.

The former President is accused of receiving benefits-in-kind from construction companies involved in the Petrobras scandal. Prosecutors allege he is the real owner of two luxury properties registered in the names of others. Lula denies the charges.

On March 4, he was briefly detained by police in São Paulo and taken in for “coercive questioning”, along with his wife, Marisa Letícia, and his eldest son, Fábio Luiz. On his release, a highly emotional Lula told supporters he had felt he had been “kidnapped” and questioned why Moro had used such an aggressive tactic when he had repeatedly offered to testify over the case.

That same day he also vented his frustrations to Rousseff, in another phone call that was secretly recorded by investigators and released by Moro to the press on Wednesday evening.

In that recording Lula lambasted Moro’s actions as “an unprecedented firework display”, after Rousseff noted the coincidence of damaging revelations being leaked to the press the day before his detention.

Lula added that the prosecutors in charge of the case “think that with the press leading the investigative process they are going to re-found the republic. We have a totally cowardly supreme court, a totally cowardly high court, a totally cowardly parliament … a speaker of the house who is fucked, a president of the senate who is fucked, I don’t know how many legislators under threat, and everyone thinking that some kind of miracle is going to happen.”

Notably, however, in that same conversation Lula also said “he would never enter government to protect myself”.

Moro’s decision both to record the phone conversations between the former and current President and to release them to the press has come in for severe criticism, even by those appalled by Lula’s decision to join the government.

The judge justified the decision by stating that the conversations were in the public interest. “Democracy in a free society requires that the governed know what their governors are doing, even when they try to act in the dark,” he wrote.

Moro also said he believes Lula had advance warning of the raid on 4 March and may have known his phone was tapped.

The latest revelations will intensify yet further the political polarisation in the country. By midnight on Wednesday there were reports of demonstrations against the government in at least 17 of Brazil’s 26 states.. In Rio de Janeiro, Adriana Balthazar, from the Vem Pra Rua protest movement, told the newspaper Folha de São Paulo that if Rousseff did not resign, there would be further protests. Other opposition activists want to organise a general strike starting next week.

In tense scenes at Thursday’s demonstrations a police cordon establishing a 50 metre gap between the two groups broke down, as anti-government activists broke through the police lines to taunt the other side.

“I came here for free,” they chanted, referring to the widespread allegation that PT supporters are in the pay of the government. “Fascists, fascists,” the government supporters shouted back. Police on horseback moved in on several occasions to restore order as firecrackers exploded and threats were exchanged.

The judge’s decision to to record and release the phone conversations between Dilma Rousseff and Luiz Ignacio Lula da Silva has come in for criticism.

Photojournalist Karina Zambrana, 26 said she was attending today’s pro-government protests in defence of democracy. “This is a very dangerous moment,” she said. “The major media organizations in Brazil are whipping people into a frenzy so they want war. We don’t want war. We are here for democracy.”

Civil servant Dimitri Silveira, 33, said he was not looking for conflict but that protesters were seeking to provoke government supporters. “We don’t want conflict. We want to defend our democratically-elected president but it seems all of our country’s institutions – the Police, the Judiciary – are against us,” he said.

Anti-government activists, however, have vowed to continue demonstrating until Rousseff leaves office.

“[This government] are robbing us and they have no shame,” Gustavo Bertosi, a 23-year old law student said.Asked whether he thought there was the possibility of conflict between the two sides, he smiled and said yes.

Ernesto Junior, 42, who described himself as a failed businessman, said “I just want what is best for the country. It’s not about right or left. No one can accept what is going on.”

Last Sunday, millions of Brazilians took part in the largest anti-government protests the country has ever seen. A pro-government rally is planned for Friday.

On top of the corruption allegations, Brazil is suffering from its worst recession in at least 25 years, with the economy shrinking 3.8% last year, and the forecast for 2016 similar. More than a million Brazilians protest against ‘horror’ government.

Rousseff is also facing separate impeachment proceedings, accused of illegally using state banks to plug budget deficits. Another case against her, in the supreme electoral court, claims her presidential campaign in 2014 was financed with cash from the Petrobras scandal. Last week, Rousseff insisted to the press she had no intention of resigning.

Brazil’s entire political class is now in the firing line. Opposition politicians who attempted to join Sunday’s anti-government protests were booed and forced to leave. Alongside Lula and Rousseff, Brazil’s vice-president, speaker of the house, president of the senate and main opposition leader have all been accused of involvement in the Petrobras corruption scandal.

Transcript of call between Rousseff and Lula, 16 March

Rousseff: Hello.

Lula: Hello.

Rousseff: Lula, let me tell you something.

Lula: Tell me, my love.

Rousseff: It’s this, I am sending Messias [Jorge Rodrigo Araújo Messias, Deputy Head of Legal Affairs at the cabinet office] round with the papers, so that we have them, just in case of necessity, that is the terms of office, right?

Lula: Uh-huh. Ok, ok.

Rousseff: That’s all, wait there, he is heading there.

Lula: OK, I’m here. I’ll wait.

Rousseff: Right?

Lula: OK.

Rousseff: Bye.

Lula: Bye, my love.

9 thoughts on “Gua Tolong Lu Lu Tolong Gua ( I help you, you help me) Brazilian Style sparks Street Protests

  1. Brazilian samba style leads Lula and Rousseff into trouble with the Law. They should come to Putrajaya and learn joget style politics from Najib and Rosmah and visit the Mines Resort to be tutored by Tun Dr. Mahathir in the art of political survival.

    What do you think CLF, Conrad, Orang Malaya, Tok Cik Who says we cannot learn democratic governance from BolehLand! We have plenty to export to corrupt leaders around the world. After all, we have outdone Robert Mugabe and his wife of Zimbabwe.

    But if they have understood democratic governance from Singapore, Sweden and Norway, Lula and Rousseff would not be in trouble today. Corruption and abuse of power do not pay, a lesson that has escaped Najib and Rosmah at least for the moment.–Din Merican

  2. Only for the moment as you say. But Lula and Rousseff ‘s days are numbered because the Brazilians despite the economic problems of their country are very much more matured politically then our countrymen. And they will stay the course until the duo are gone. In Malaysia with these mindless and spineless UMNO members I guess we are stuck with Najib and Rosmah until Najib;s money runs out and the country’s finances hit rock bottom.

  3. Interesting developments in Latin America :

    1) Disastrous economic policies (plus low oil prices) of Nicholas Maduro of Venezuela resulting in a big mess.

    2) Evo Morales of Bolivia – lost in his bid to run for President of Bolivia once more. This, I think, is a healthy sign of Bolivian democracy.
    Morales achieved a lot as President of Bolivia.

    3) Brazil – scandal as described in the article above. But we need to remember that Brazil has one of the most unequal wealth distributions amongst the developing countries, and this is the revenge of the Brazilian Right against the achievements of the PT during Lula’s presidency.

    Then there is Turkey under Erdogan. Managed the economy well initially.
    Getting more repressive, pushing Islamist policies and getting increasingly unpopular.

  4. Brazil no compare la to Bolehland la, Dato’. They are Soccer Giants. Our rank in FIFA is like – what the ?!@**

    Brazil’s polity may be divided into the Elites, Middle class and a huge Underclass – but they are all Brazilians first. ‘Fascist’ tendencies are kept in check by the humongous disenchanted favelas. Dictatorship and Absolute Plutocracy ain’t viable in the long run, due to the enshrined checks and balances. Impeachment of errant politicos – like those two Bras is imminent Their politics is just like ‘Soccer’ – “I sock you One, you Sock me Two..”; and Curi Ayam (Foul – Offside) is frowned upon.

    Over here, we have devolved into only two distinct classes under Jibros – Apa-pun-boleh and Semua-tak-boleh. We only Bersilat and can’t even win the Melayu sport of Sepak Takraw.. One side (the Elites) are experts in Curi Ayam. The other side (the defunct Majority), totally Kaki Ayam (Shoeless). It ain’t about skill and team spirit but brute force and twittering Carma-types . It’s also the number of Penalty kicks into own goal – the more the better. Jibros et al are extremely good Poachers – problem is they steal from themselves and those who depend on them. TH, KWAP, FGV etc raided to the point of exsanguination. Then they ask the slit-eyed PRC Chinapek referee to buy them out, so that they can blame the sepek local Chinapek.. Mana A Sai (how can..)!

    Bolehlanders are Brilliant. Because our Beautiful Game is like playing Sepak Takraw using Soccer rules. Confused or not?

    (Btw, i heard that the mega-Phallic Tower – 2nd longest, err.. tallest, is to be built regardless of the ‘Iklim’ (Weather). Heil Jibros.., Mega-hail!)

  5. If the whole world came to learn n do what they’re doing, ha, ha, ha. Din, u’re the first one to find no places to blog n say what u like.

  6. Bersih had its’ time. What matters are still conscience of many UMNO Malays that are still asleep.
    I am suprised that there are still enough UofNottingham Malaysians who could vote down the motion to take down Najib’s picture within Malaysian student group. I had previously thought it is the University administration who would disagree.
    “Our power is in our ability to make things unworkable,” argued prominent civil rights organizer Bayard Rustin.

    Gene Sharp, the godfather of the field devoted to studying “civil resistance,” … divided the tactics into three categories.

    The first encompasses methods of “protest and persuasion,” including public assemblies..

    second grouping, “methods of noncooperation,” encompasses economic boycotts, student walkouts and workplace strikes.

    his third category, “nonviolent intervention,” includes sit-ins, land seizures and civil disobedience.

    “Harsh repression against nonviolent resisters may be perceived as unreasonable, distasteful, inhuman, or harmful to… the society,” Sharp explains.

    .. provokes sympathetic onlookers to join the demonstrations, and encourages defections even within those groups that might regularly be opposed to protests.

  7. All this is a mess, Mr. Merican. I just read The Intercept’s* piece on this and it does make interesting reading. Actually the parallels to Malaysia is disappointingly obvious.

    “TO BELIEVE THAT the influential figures agitating for Dilma’s impeachment are motivated by an authentic anti-corruption crusade requires extreme naïveté or willful ignorance. To begin with, the factions that would be empowered by Dilma’s impeachment are at least as implicated by corruption scandals as she is: in most cases, more so.”

    “All of this raises the very clear danger that the criminal investigation and impeachment process are not a legal exercise to punish criminal leaders, but rather an anti-democratic political weapon wielded by political opponents to remove a democratically elected president. That danger was even more starkly highlighted yesterday when it was revealed that a judge who issued an order blocking Lula’s cabinet appointment by Dilma had days earlier posted to his Facebook page numerous selfies of him marching in the anti-government protest over the weekend. As Winter wrote, “Convincing the public that the Brazilian judiciary is ‘at war’ with the Workers’ Party will be an easier task than it was two weeks ago.”

    “In other words, it all seems historically familiar, particular for Latin America, where democratically elected left-wing governments have been repeatedly removed by non-democratic, extra-legal means. In many ways, PT and Dilma are not sympathetic victims. Large segments of the population are genuinely angry at them for plainly legitimate reasons. But their sins do not justify the sins of their long-standing political enemies, and most certainly do not render subversion of Brazilian democracy something to cheer.”

    *Yeah citing the Intercept in problematic but most of it’s stories and analysis are spot in.

  8. It is all about form and substance. Sometimes form is the substance and there are other times when substance also doubles up as form. They reinforce each other and you cannot focus one without the other. However, in Third World Countries the forms of the political system is frequently used to undermine its substance.

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