- Created: Tuesday, 01 August 2017 10:19
- Written by Alvaro Michaels
On 12 July, Lula, ex-President of Brazil (2003-2010), was convicted of being gifted an apartment in São Paulo valued at $300,000 by a business contractor. The use of the apartment against Lula was one of five cases prepared against him. This is another huge blow against the Workers’ Party (PT) following the expulsion of Dilma Rousseff as president, and hits its chance of winning the presidency again with Lula in 2018. The PT has called Lula's conviction and sentence ‘an attack on democracy’. Lula has denied all charges and was given leave to appeal and released.
Two weeks before Lula’s sentencing, the same judge, Moro, sentenced Antonio Palocci to 12 years in prison for corruption. He had been a minister in the Lula and Rousseff governments. Palocci was named in the giant corporation Odebrecht’s list of politicians regularly taking bribes in exchange for lucrative contracts with the state oil corporation Petrobras. This ‘Operation Car Wash’ scheme mostly developed when Lula's PT was in power, from 2003 to 2016. $10m of this was directed to Lula’s PT campaign finances.
The last three years of deep economic crisis, working class austerity and political scandals has created a situation where the candidates from the big political parties like the conservative Brazilian Social Democratic Party (PSDB) are widely detested. On 6 June police arrested the former tourism minister, Henrique Eduardo Alves, of the Brazilian Democratic Movement Party (PMDB), charged with bribery in the construction of a 2014 World Cup stadium in Natal. The previous weekend President Temer’s aide, Rodrigo Rocha Loures (PMDB), was arrested having previously been stripped of his congressional seat and consequently of parliamentary immunity, for being caught with a suitcase containing 500,000Reais (over $100,000) of alleged bribe money received from the meat packing giant corporation JBS. It is claimed that he was acting as Temer’s interlocutor with JBS to ‘resolve’ its problems. In mid-June Temer (PMDB), the current unelected replacement president, was acquitted of financial irregularities in the 2014 election campaign, when he ran as vice president, in the Superior Electoral Court by a four to three vote. The day after, he was forced to deny damaging press allegations that the country's secret security service, ABIN, had spied on the justice overseeing the ‘Operation Car Wash’ investigation. He still faces charges of corruption and obstruction of justice. He received a miserable 7% public approval rating in the June opinion polls.