Note from BW of Brazil: I knew it, I knew it, I KNEW IT!! Did I tell you that I knew it??? If you’re wondering what I’m talking about, it’s the latest political scandal that’s rocking Brazil right now. Where can I start to get my readers to speed on how huge this story is? Well, I guess an intro by the New York Times can sum it up in a few paragraphs, so here goes:
Leaked private messages among law enforcement officials in Brazil have called into question the integrity of a vast corruption investigation that roiled the country’s political establishment and rippled across much of Latin America. Excerpts from cellphone chats published Sunday night by the online news site The Intercept suggest that Sérgio Moro, the most prominent judge involved in hearing cases in the scandal known as Lava Jato, or Operation Car Wash, consulted with and advised federal prosecutors on strategy as they took on towering political figures in recent years.
The revelations provide powerful ammunition to critics of Mr. Moro, who convicted former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva of corruption and money laundering in 2017, which made him ineligible to run for a new term in last year’s presidential election. Mr. da Silva’s imprisonment paved the way for the election of Jair Bolsonaro, a far-right politician who appointed Mr. Moro as justice minister and offered to appoint him to the next vacancy on the Supreme Court.
In a nutshell, recent reports by The Intercept provide proof of something Brazil’s left has suspected for a long-time: the impeachment of former president Dilma Rousseff in 2016 and the imprisonment of Lula da Silva last year were parts of a huge effort to remove the left of center PT (Workers’ Party) party from power and make way for the ascension of the current President Jair Bolsonaro, a man who seems bent on undoing everything the PT did to benefit the poor and black populations that have been long shut out of any means of being able to attain class ascension in a country where the gap between rich and poor is so pronounced.
Last year, during the election season, it became very apparent that if the two-term former president Lula was able to run for the presidency again, he would have easily won again. Whether Lula was able to run or not was such an important issue that all of the opinion polls had to estimate possible election outcomes according to two distinct possibilities: 1) If Lula would be able to run or 2) If Lula wasn’t able to run. What the released messages seem to confirm is that, knowing there would be no way to defeat Da Silva at the polls, powerful forces knew they had to come up with another way to defeat him. Putting Lula behind bars at all costs was what seems to have been ultimately decided.
The actions of the man at the center of this latest scandal, the then Judge Sérgio Moro, suggest that he was not impartial to one side or the order during the trials, and was in fact colluding in the case against Da Silva, which is out of order in terms of the behavior of a judge. With hundreds of politicians and businessmen being jailed during the investigation, Lula being the biggest catch, Moro was hailed as a sort of superhero by many Brazilians who had grown weary over unchecked corruption in the country’s political system for decades. Finally, someone was standing up for justice was the general sentiments of many watching Moro’s performance during the proceedings.
But with the recent turn of events, even Brazil’s most conservative media outlets are changing their tunes on Moro. With the revelations revealed by The Intercept some are calling for Moro to step down from his post as the Minister of Justice and Public Security in the Bolsonaro Administration, while others believe Lula should be released from prison and still others believing the election that brought Bolsonaro to power should be cancelled. According to other sources, had this scandal happened to Moro in the United States, he would have already been sacked. A stunning turn of events, to say the least. And with the mastermind behind The Intercept reports being brought to the public, Glen Greenwald, telling us that what has been released in just the tip of the iceberg of a massive leak, it’s going to be very interesting to see what else we will learn about Moro’s actions. In fact, Greenwald has said that he wants to see how Moro will manage to hold on to his position after everything is eventually brought out.
Another pressing issue that also involves Moro is the so-called “anti-crime” package bill that he introduced several months back. For leaders of Brazil’s black rights movement, the language of the bill can be interpreted as a “license to kill” even more of the country’s black and poor populations that are the main victims of the country’s unbelievable murder rates. Back in March, leaders of the movement met with the head of Congress to request support for the rejection of this proposal and, just last week, met with the head of the Senate for the same reason. Seeing the potential danger in such a proposal being passed, the Movimento Negro (black movement) should be recognized for their activism on this issue in defense of the black population, and with the recent scandal involving Moro (labeled as Vaza Jato, or leaks from the Lava Jato case), leaders feel this is an opportunity to garner support to reject not only Moro’s bill, but Moro himself.
President of the senate signs commitment to the black movement against Sérgio Moro’s anti-crime package
Courtesy of Brasil 247, Yahoo, Revista Fórum and Alma Preta
David Alcolumbre, president of the Brazil’s Senate, assures that there will be participation of the black movement in the debates on the Sérgio Moro package that will be promoted in the Senate
About 50 organizations of the black movement participated in an agenda with Senate President David Alcolumbre to discuss the anti-crime package of Minister of Justice Sérgio Moro, in addition to the decree on flexibility in carrying arms. The meeting took place on the morning of June 12 in the nation’s capital city of Brasília.
The Senate president has assured black movement participation during the hearings that will be held to discuss the home security package. Alcolumbre said that the Senate will not put the bill to a vote at the speed planned by the executive branch and said that, in talks with jurists, perceived a number of aspects present in the proposal are not fair.
“I make a positive assessment of the meeting. The president of the Senate said he was committed to our agenda and stated that he would work to listen to society and to withdraw a series of important points from the project,” said Beatriz Lourenço, a member of Uneafro Brasil.
At the meeting, David Alcolumbre brought the example of other pacts he built with different social movements, in the case of the indigenous and trade union centers, to highlight that he will honor the commitment he made.
During the dialogue, black movement organizations have placed important demands on the anti-racist struggle. The Atlas of Violence data, which found a total of 65,602 murders in the country, with 75.5 per cent of the victims being black, was brought up during the meeting, as was mass incarceration, violence against black women, and the criminalization of funk music/culture and religions of African origin. In addition, a letter was submitted with the list of demands made by the organizations present.
The meeting was also attended by senators Randolfe Rodrigues (REDE-Leader), Paulo Rocha (PT-PA) and federal deputy Orlando Silva (PC do B-SP).
Orlando Silva believes that the agenda was “extraordinary” and considers it fundamental that other incidents such as these are important for the defense of the interests of povo negro (black people).
“Senators and deputies sometimes legislate far from ‘real life’. It is important to bring social movements here for this type of occurrence,” he argued.
Earlier, the black movement held a meeting with the leadership of the PT (Workers’ Party) of the Senate, with parliamentarians and advisers who also supported the demands of the organizations present.
“We have to use this moment to deepen the criticism of Sérgio Moro’s package,” says federal congresswoman
After the recent denunciations of the recent Vaza Jato scandal, Sérgio Moro and his public security package have been weakened in the National Congress. According to federal deputies and senators, this is the moment to present to society the dangers of the project of the Minister of Justice for the country’s poor and black population.
“I think one of the biggest victories, even if partial, is the emptying of the so-called anti-crime package, which is actually anti-poor and anti-black. What is the credibility that Sérgio Moro has to be at the forefront of such a project?” asked Talíria Petrone, federal congresswoman (PSOL-RJ), referring to talks between Moro and federal prosecutors published by The Intercept Brasil.
For her, “We have to use this moment to deepen the criticism of Sérgio Moro’s package.” One of the aspects that most concerns the federal congresswoman is the possible expansion of the numbers of violence against jovens negros (young blacks), mainly with the adoption of the exclusion of lawfulness for police officers. With the proposal approved, public security officers could kill and allege “fear, surprise or violent emotion.”
According to the Atlas of Violence, in 2017, 65,602 people were murdered in Brazil, a figure higher than the 62,517 recorded in 2016. On the racial level, the increase was even greater. The proportion of blacks among total homicides jumped from 71.5% to 75.5%.
Senator Zenaide Maia (PHS-RN) believes that “legalizing” the death of young people in a country permeated by racism is “inhumane.”
“We’re going to bar this from there. The State must assume once and for all that it is the Brazilian State that has the obligation to provide public security to its citizens.”
The rejection of Sérgio Moro’s proposals for public security are not limited to the progressive field. Leaders from other sectors, such as Evangelicals, have been against the principles of the package.
In the meeting with Acolumbre (DEM-AP) on June 12, the black movement received a positive return. The Senate president has assured black movement participation during the hearings that will be held to discuss the home security package.
For Orlando Silva the meeting, with more than 50 entities of the black movement, was important to slow the package and necessary, because it guaranteed a commitment that the time of the procedure will be that of the civil society, in which dialogue is allowed.
“This package cannot be voted on. We will do everything possible to prevent this vote and I believe that a network like this, that arrived here in Brasília, with the legitimacy that it has, with the capacity of articulation that it has, is fundamental to preventing this serious threat to our people.”
The negative climate of Moro was accompanied by a political influence of the black movement in Brasília, between the 11th and 12th, in order to weaken the proposals of the Minister of Justice.
The organizations present, in addition to the meeting with Alcolumbre and other party leaders, also attended a public hearing in the Senate, organized by Senator Paulo Paim (PT-RGS), in the human rights commission.
During the hearings, members of the black movement from different sectors of the anti-racist struggle, such as those representing African-origin religions, funk, quilombolas, popular schools, traditional entities, criticized Sérgio Moro’s project and the possibility of flexibility in the carrying and possession of weapons.
Senator Paulo Paim pointed out that the black movement is open for dialogue and that they did an excellent job in Brasília, being “applauded by everyone present.”
“The black movement has to do this, organize, articulate, be in this house, in the judiciary, executive. This action is important. The black movement understands that Sérgio Moro’s package which was presented to this house further criminalizes black people, a group that is already criminalized today.
Also Senator, Paulo Rocha (PT/PA), praised the presence of so many black organizations in Brasília and the possibility of bringing popular participation to the space.
“Importance is key to the democracy we have built. Popular participation is essential. We have to be constantly in Congress to be able not only to prevent setbacks but to make progress.”
Arms decree suffers defeat
On Wednesday, 12, the Federal Senate’s Justice Constitution Commission (CCJ) approved a report contrary to the Jair Bolsonaro government decree, published on May 7.
Despite the approval of the report in the CCJ, the presidential decree is still valid. The text will still be considered by the Federal Senate Plenary and will also pass through committees of the Câmara dos Deputados (House of Representatives).
Denouncement of Vaza Jato
In the nation’s capital, Movimento Negro leaders intend to build a front of entities for the defense of rights won by the comunidade negra (black community), as in the case of racial quotas. The group also denounces the impacts of the pension reform on black men and women.
Along with the rejection of Moro’s anti-crime bill, activists of the movement also request the ouster of Moro from the post of Minister of Justice.
The denunciation made by the reports of The Intercept Brasil site show compromising conversations between federal prosecutors and Moro, the then judge of the Lava Jato (Operation Car Wash) investigation.
Moro is at the center of a scandal of still unimaginable proportions for the Bolsonaro government. His conduct in relation to Operação Lava Jato and the partiality of his actions appear as a fundamental element to prevent his proposals from being approved by the National Congress.
One of them texts published in The Intercept Brasil shows that in 2016, during the impeachment process of former President Dilma Rousseff, prosecutor Deltan Dallagnol credited to Moro’s work the great demonstrations that led the country against Dilma and the Workers’ Party.
The dialogues obtained between federal prosecutors, especially Deltan Dallagnol, and the then Lava Jato judge, Sérgio Moro, show a legal plot created to arrest and prevent the candidacy of former President Lula during the 2018 elections.
“Congratulations on the huge public support today,” the prosecutor wrote, according to the report. “Their signals will lead to multitudes, including for reforms that Brazil needs, in the political and criminal justice systems.” Moro responded by saying that the conquest was for everyone. “I made an official demonstration. Congratulations to all of you.”
The denunciations call into question the credibility of one of the most important judicial processes in Brazilian history and directly affect Sérgio Moro’s image as Minister of justice. In this context, their projects are also weakened, given the current political clash within the National Congress. With Members of Congress focused on negotiations and impacts of a possible approval of the pension reform, the space for Moro’s proposals in Congress diminishes.
“Sérgio Moro is the head of a criminal organization that took Lula out of the presidential race, secured Bolsonaro’s victory and, with that, his position as minister. All orchestrated so that it could put into practice a project of servile power, of destruction of the state of law, anti-poor and racist. The anti-crime package and the weapons decree are part of this proposal. This week we will be in Brasilia to demand the immediate fall of Sérgio Moro and his genocidal proposals. And more than that: It is necessary to annul the elections that led this government to power. Now, beyond conviction, we have proof!,” said Douglas Belchior, a member of Uneafro Brasil and one of the organizations of the entourage. “Sooner or later the concrete evidence of the great coup that the country is suffering would come to light,” Belchior concluded.
Winnie Bueno, a member of the Rede Nacional de Religiões Afro-brasileiras e Saúde (National Network of Afro-Brazilian Religions and Health or RENAFRO), believes it is unacceptable that Moro, after the denunciations, continues to hold the position of Minister of Justice.
“It is unacceptable that this is the subject that will determine the direction of criminal law in our country. It cannot be possible for a man who acts for his own benefit, perverting the democratic principles of law, to propose laws that define how the judiciary should work,” said the activist.
Benedita da Silva, a federal congresswoman (PT-RJ), believes that there is an effort by the government’s allied base to minimize the situation involving prosecutors and Sérgio Moro, something that cannot be allowed.
“We want a CPI. With a CPI we will have time to discuss this process. Regardless of whether Moro leaves or stays, we are going to continue our process of struggle that we are already doing.”
Bianca Santana, a writer and member of the entourage who will participate in Brasília, believes that Moro’s proposals can increase the rates of violence against black youth. According to the Atlas of Violence released this year, in 2017, 65,602 people were murdered in Brazil, with 75.5% of them black.
“A package called anti-crime is a license to kill black men and black women and imprison our people in privatized prisons. Moro has never worked against corruption and now we have even more evidence. He and his cronies invented an apartment that was supposedly Lula’s.”
Black leaders foresee a dialogue with members of Congress Joyce Hasselmann, Aguinaldo Ribeiro and Margarete Coelho, respectively leader of the government, leader of the majority and coordinator of the Working Group on the Pacote Moro (Moro Package), in the Federal Chamber.
Also on Wednesday (12), an act was planned against the release of the advertising campaign in support of Moro’s proposals promised by the government for the same day. The visit to the Senate also coincides with the Commission for Constitution, Justice and Citizenship (CCJ) session that will analyze the decrees that make the possession, carrying and commercialization of arms more flexible.
“According to what has been disclosed, the government will spend 10 million reais on advertising to defend a policy that will only bring more violence and more deaths. Moro’s proposals legalize a license so that the police can arrest more and kill more. These changes in public security laws, coupled with decrees facilitating the possession and carrying of arms for civilians, fuel the climate of hatred and violence in society. Blacks are the main target. More violent police, mass incarceration, and the distribution of weapons have not solved the problem of public security anywhere in the world. Want to improve public safety? Invest in education, culture, job opportunities and income. The remedy for violence is social justice. This is what we stand for. We will be in Brasília to defend life,” emphasized Belchior.
In March, the group met with the president of the Câmara dos Deputados (Chamber of Deputies or House), Rodrigo Maia, with the same agenda of demands. And in May, it was in Jamaica, in an official hearing of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights of the Organization of American States, where it formalized the denouncement of human rights violation of the anti-crime package filed with the international body.