Bolsonaro Asks Brazilians ‘Not To Give Ammunition’ To Freed Lula

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro attends the changing of the guard ceremony at Planalto Palace in Brasilia, on July 31, 2019./AFP

 

Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro asked his supporters Saturday “not to give ammunition to the scoundrel,” the day after popular leftist leader Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva walked free from jail.

Breaking his silence on the release of his arch-nemesis, Bolsonaro told his Twitter followers: “Lovers of freedom and good, we are a majority. We cannot make mistakes.”

He added Lula was “momentarily free, but guilty.”

Lula’s dramatic exit from jail in the southern city of Curitiba on Friday came a day after a controversial Supreme Court ruling that could release thousands of convicts and undermine a sprawling corruption investigation called Car Wash.

A 6-5 decision overturned a rule requiring convicted criminals to go to jail after losing their first appeal.

Those convicts would remain free until they had exhausted their rights to appeal — a process critics say could take years in cases involving people able to afford expensive lawyers.

In an impassioned address to hundreds of supporters who greeted him as he walked out of the federal police headquarters, Lula, 74, vowed to keep fighting for poor people.

The former union leader who helped found the Workers Party (PT) also denounced the economic policies of Bolsonaro, who was swept to power in 2018 in an election Lula had been widely tipped to win.

Cheers and Fireworks

“People are hungrier, they have no jobs, people work for Uber or delivering pizzas on a bike,” Lula said in remarks sometimes drowned out by cheers from the crowd and fireworks overhead.

Lula’s release is likely to spur the divided and rudderless left and, paradoxically, could also help Bolsonaro, who capitalized in last year’s vote on widespread anti-PT sentiment after a massive corruption scandal.

Lula, who led Brazil through a historic boom from 2003 to 2010, earning him the gratitude of millions of Brazilians for redistributing wealth to haul them out of poverty, was serving eight years and 10 months for corruption.

He was sentenced to almost 13 years in jail in February in a separate corruption case and still faces another half dozen corruption trials.

Lula has denied all the charges, arguing they were politically motivated to keep him out of the 2018 presidential election that was won by Bolsonaro.

Justice Minister Sergio Moro, who convicted Lula when he was a judge in 2017, said the Supreme Court’s decision must be respected, but he noted “Congress can modify the Constitution or the law” to allow the jailing of convicted criminals after their first appeal.

Left-wing leaders from around the world, including Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro and US liberal presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders have cheered Lula’s release.

“I am delighted that he has been released from jail, something that never should have happened in the first place,” Sanders tweeted.

Even though he has been freed, Lula’s criminal record will prevent him from resuming his political career. He was the founder of the Workers Party (PT).

That could change, however, if the Supreme Court were to decide in a separate case that Moro had been biased.

Lula has so far indicated he is not going to use his freedom to sit on the political sidelines.

On Saturday, he will visit he metalworkers’ union he once led near Sao Paulo, Brazil’s biggest city.

“Afterward the doors of Brazil will be open so that I can travel around this country,” he said.

Brazilian President Bolsonaro To Undergo Hernia Surgery

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro. EVARISTO SA / AFP

 

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro will undergo surgery for an incisional hernia in Sao Paulo on Sunday, his surgeon said.

He arrived at Vila Nova Star Hospital Saturday night accompanied by his wife Michelle and his son Carlos.

It is his fourth operation since he was stabbed a year ago during the presidential campaign, with the latest surgery to correct a problem resulting from the previous procedures.

“The president has already gone through three large surgeries, including the last one, for abdominal reconstruction, and the region was quite weakened by invasive actions,” his surgeon Antonio Luiz Macedo told the G1 news portal.

READ ALSO: Hundreds Flee Flood-Ravaged Bahamas

“It is a simple to moderate level surgery,” he said. “No complications are expected.”

The surgery forced the right-wing president to miss a summit of leaders from seven Amazon nations in Colombia to agree measures to protect the world’s biggest rainforest.

He has been widely criticized over policies that favor deforestation and a delayed reaction to the wildfires that have devastated swathes of the Amazon.

Bolsonaro was stabbed in September, 2018 during a campaign rally in the state of Minas Gerais.

Attacker Adelio Bispo de Oliveira, 41, was arrested at the scene and said he acted alone.

De Oliveira, who medical authorities said suffers from mental problems, was ordered detained indefinitely in the psychiatric unit of a maximum security prison.

Son Of Brazilian President Bolsonaro Embroiled In Scandal

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro is pictured during the signing of an agreement with Argentina’s President Mauricio Macri (out of frame) at Planalto Palace in Brasilia. VARISTO SA / AFP

 

As Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro arrives in Switzerland on Monday on his first trip abroad, to attend Davos, he is leaving behind a suspicious payments scandal involving his politician son Flavio Bolsonaro.

Flavio, a senator in the incoming Congress, is under growing scrutiny by a government financial watchdog because of 48 deposits made to his bank account in 2017 for a total $30,000, as well as persistent questions over $300,000 in transactions detected in the account of a former close aide.

The suspicions are an embarrassment to Jair Bolsonaro, who won the election on promises to stamp out the corruption that has long plagued Brazilian politics.

Flavio Bolsonaro has come out swinging, denying any wrongdoing.

“I have nothing to hide,” he told Brazilian TV network Record late Sunday, claiming he was the victim of “persecution.”

Waving documents, he said the money came from the sale and purchase of an apartment, adding that the payment of a million reais ($300,000) to a federal loans account was related to the property deal.

Brazil’s COAF agency tasked with monitoring financial transactions discovered that 48 deposits of 2,000 reais were made into Flavio’s account over five days in June and July 2017, many just minutes apart, according to media citing a COAF report.

The total deposited was 96,000 reais (equivalent to $30,000 at the average exchange rate for this year). The 2,000-real threshold is below a requirement for the person making a deposit to show their identity.

Flavio, in the interview, said “this money is mine, deposited in my own account… There is no mystery. Everything is declared, proven. If it was illicit, do you think it would be deposited in my account?”

The matter was to be detailed further on Monday, with prosecutors in Rio de Janeiro holding a media conference on the transactions.

Up to being elected to the Senate, Flavio Bolsonaro was a deputy in Rio de Janeiro’s state legislature.

 Undeclared loan 

The revelations come on top of transactions involving his former driver and bodyguard, a police officer named Fabricio Queiroz, between 2016 and 2017. Some money was deposited in the account of Jair Bolsonaro’s wife.

Queiroz has declined to testify to COAF over the money, asserting ill health. But he has told media the money came from side businesses he ran, mainly buying and selling cars.

Brazil’s supreme court last week suspended an investigation into Queiroz’s transactions at Flavio’s request.

Jair Bolsonaro has said the money put in his wife’s account came from an undeclared loan he made to Queiroz.

Adding to the suspicions, a columnist in the O Globo newspaper, Lauro Jardim, on Sunday wrote that seven million reais (around $2 million) passed through Queiroz’s account between 2014 and 2017.

The result for Jair Bolsonaro is an uncomfortable scandal at home while he meets with the world’s political and financial elite at Davos.

According to Brazilian reports, citing presidential spokesman Rego Barros, Bolsonaro has cancelled a planned media conference in Davos to avoid being questioned about his son’s transactions.

AFP

Brazil Judge Suspends Probe Into Aide To President’s Son

Brazil’s President Bolsonaro/ AFP

 

A Brazilian supreme court judge has halted an investigation into suspicious transactions handled by an aide to a politician son of President Jair Bolsonaro, officials said Thursday.

The injunction, issued Wednesday, was confirmed by Rio de Janeiro state authorities overseeing the probe into the “atypical financial movements” in accounts in the name of Fabricio Queiroz, a police officer who serves as driver and bodyguard for Bolsonaro’s eldest son Flavio Bolsonaro.

The reason for the injunction, issued under conditions of secrecy by Justice Luiz Fux, was not made public.

Jair Bolsonaro took office on January 1 after easily winning October 2018 elections by promising a stern crackdown on corruption.

A government financial monitoring agency detected suspect transactions totaling 1.2 million reais ($300,000), the Folha de Sao Paulo newspaper reported in early December.

The movements occurred between January 2016 and January 2017 and flagged attention because they were not compatible with Quieroz’s police salary.

One of the transactions was a deposit of 24,000 reais made to an account in the name of Jair Bolsonaro’s wife.

Flavio Bolsonaro was a lawmaker in Rio de Janeiro’s state legislature at the time. In October he won a seat in the federal senate, which starts sitting in February.

Brazilian media said the judge issued his order following a request from Flavio Bolsonaro.

Quieroz has been summoned several times to testify as to the source of the transactions but has failed to do so, asserting health problems.

The Rio de Janeiro state prosecutors’ office said on Monday that it could move forward with a case against him regardless, if sufficient evidence existed.

In a television interview late December, Quieroz denied acting as a front for the Bolsonaros and said the money came from side businesses he ran, “buying cars, selling cars.”

The president has tried to downplay the affair, saying that if any “mistake” was made it would be “paid.” He said the payment from Quieroz’s account to his wife’s was partial repayment of an undeclared loan he had made to his son’s driver.

Jair Bolsonaro, an avid Twitter user, made no immediate comment on the injunction or the circumstances surrounding it.

AFP

Bolsonaro Considers Hosting US Military Base In Brazil

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo (C) meeting with Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro (L) at the Planalto Palace in Brasilia, on January 2, 2019.  Marcos CORREA / Brazilian Presidency / AFP

 

Brazil’s new far-right President Jair Bolsonaro said Thursday he was open to discussing his country hosting a US military base “in the future,” underlining his stated desire for closer ties with America.

“Depending on what might happen in the world, who knows if we might have to talk about that subject in the future,” the 63-year-old former paratrooper, who took office this week, told SBT television.

“The physical issue of it might be just symbolic. Currently, American, Chinese, Russian armed forces manage to project themselves all around the world without bases,” he added.

Bolsonaro has pledged a new direction for Brazil, away from its years of centrist and leftist politics that sought an independent path from the United States, which played a preponderant role in Latin America during the Cold War.

He told US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Wednesday that their two countries now “are friends,” and has aligned himself with Washington by expressing hostility to Chinese investment in Brazil, and against the “authoritarian regimes” of leftist-ruled Venezuela, Cuba and Nicaragua.

In the interview — his first since becoming the leader of Latin America’s biggest economy — Bolsonaro said he was “concerned” about Russian air force participation in military drills in Venezuela in early December.

“We know what the intentions of the government of (Venezuelan President Nicolas) Maduro are. Brazil must be concerned about that,” he said.

He added: “My move toward the United States is economic, but it could be military as well. We could sign an accord in that area. We don’t want to be a superpower in South America, but to my way of thinking we should have supremacy.”

Bolsonaro, who has expressed nostalgia for the 1964-1985 military dictatorship that ruled Brazil with the approval of the United States, said that the country’s armed forces had been “abandoned” over the past two decades because “they are the last obstacle to socialism.”

The new president has vowed to eradicate the centrist and leftist politics of previous governments, especially those of the Workers Party that governed between 2003 and 2016.

Venezuela’s president regularly accuses the United States of fomenting unrest against his socialist government. He recently alleged that the US was plotting armed incidents on Venezuela’s borders with Brazil and Colombia to provide a pretext for military intervention.

AFP

US To Host Bolsonaro In Early 2019

In this file photo taken on October 28, 2018, Jair Bolsonaro, far-right lawmaker and presidential candidate for the Social Liberal Party (PSL), waves to supporters, during the second round of the presidential elections, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.  MAURO PIMENTEL / AFP

 

Brazil’s incoming right-wing leader Jair Bolsonaro will visit Washington early next year as he finds common ground with President Donald Trump, a US official said on Friday.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is set to attend Bolsonaro’s New Year’s Day inauguration in Brasilia and will discuss Trump’s invitation to Washington, the official said.

“We look forward to what will hopefully be his first official visit early in the year ahead,” the official told reporters on condition of anonymity.

The Trump administration sees a strong ally in Bolsonaro, who is following the lead of the United States in moving Brazil’s embassy in Israel to Jerusalem and has been critical of international efforts to fight climate change.

The US official noted that both Bolsonaro and Pompeo have warned of risks to Latin America from rising investment by China, whose financing of projects has turned into debt traps.

“It’s not always the case that when China shows up it is with good intention for the people they are showing up to ostensibly support,” the official said.

Bolsonaro, like Trump, has provoked outrage over the years with brash, swaggering statements, including telling a female lawmaker she was “not worth raping” and voicing nostalgia for the former military dictatorship’s use of torture.

The US official acknowledged “there has been some concern about older statements” but said Bolsonaro since the election has taken a “very strident and very forceful” approach to human rights in the region.

“The president-elect has been very forward-leaning on Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua in his defence of the human rights and the freedoms and democracy for the people in those countries,” she said.

Pompeo heads after Brazil to Colombia, where he will speak with President Ivan Duque about taking a firm line against Venezuelan strongman Nicolas Maduro.

AFP

Brazilians Afraid Of Losing Land After Bolsonaro Emerges President

Brazil’s President-elect Jair Bolsonaro smiles during his visit to the Superior Court of Labour in Brasilia, on November 13, 2018. Bolsonaro, who takes office on January 1, 2019, announced on Tuesday the appointment of reservist general Fernando Azevedo e Silva to the post of defense minister. Sergio LIMA / AFP

 

Brazil’s indigenous peoples have long battled to protect their ancestral lands and native cultures — but the election of far-right president-elect Jair Bolsonaro has sparked concerns that hard-won rights could be eroded.

Both before and since his election just over two weeks ago, Bolsonaro has drawn ire by making inflammatory remarks about women, black people and the LGBT community.

But when it comes to Brazil’s indigenous population, he’s made actual threats.

“Today, many people are afraid,” Luiz Eloy Terena, a legal advisor to the Articulation of the Indigenous Peoples of Brazil (APIB), told AFP.

“We’re worried because he (Bolsonaro) has already stated that he will reduce indigenous lands.”

According to Brazil’s national indigenous foundation (FUNAI) there are over 800,000 indigenous people and more than 300 different tribes in the country.

They are fighting to preserve a way of life imperiled since European colonialists arrived in South America more than 500 years ago.

There are 426 demarcated territories in Brazil, established in the 1980s for the exclusive use of their indigenous inhabitants. Access by outsiders is strictly regulated.

Posing a particular threat are those looking to make money from farming, mining and logging — and Bolsonaro is their champion.

Speaking to the television program Brasil Urgente last week, Bolsonaro said that “if it were up to me, there would be no more indigenous land demarcation.”

‘There is intent’ 

While he was talking about potential new demarcations, Fiona Watson, a director at tribal rights group Survival International, says indigenous people should be worried about Bolsonaro’s plans.

“Judging by his history, he’s always opposed demarcation and recognition of indigenous territories,” London-based Watson told AFP by telephone.

Indigenous land rights are protected by Brazil’s constitution — but Bolsonaro has previously suggested he has no intention of respecting that.

In a January 2016 video taken in Congress, Bolsonaro warned the indigenous people of the Raposa Serra do Sol reserve, in northern Brazil’s Roraima state, that he would “rip up” their demarcated territory and “give guns to the ranchers.”

“Some people might say these are just threats but I’m sure there’s intent there,” said Watson.

“He’s very anti-indigenous people. He wants to integrate them.”

Integration is a controversial issue as it was a policy enforced by Brazil’s military dictatorship (1964-85), under which Bolsonaro served as an army captain.

“It’s kind of like beating the Indian out of the Indian,” said Watson.

“It’s like a land-grab… by integrating them you’re taking them off the land. You’re drawing them into the towns or cities.”

‘A zoo animal’ 

Bolsonaro has shown an acute lack of understanding of indigenous peoples, claiming “the Indian is a human being like us” who wants “the internet, to play football, a car, air travel” — all elements of modern life many tribes explicitly reject.

“The Indian cannot continue to be trapped within a demarcated area as if he were a zoo animal,” he once said.

The president-elect draws a lot of his support within Congress from lobbies known collectively as BBB — beef, bible, bullet — that have a vested interest in indigenous lands.

The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) this week blasted Brazil for its failure to properly fund FUNAI, leaving it powerless against wealthy business groups making claims on indigenous lands they hope to exploit.

“One of the methods they use is investing in the weakening of FUNAI. With a weak FUNAI, the indigenous community is left exposed,” Terena explained.

IACHR commissioner Francisco Eguiguren said the body is “not against projects using natural resources,” but added they “must take into account the people living there.”

“You cannot have policies that treat these people as if they don’t exist,” he said at the end of a week-long IACHR visit to Brazil.

However, while the odds may be stacked against them, Watson insists there is hope for the descendants of Brazil’s native inhabitants.

“The encouraging thing in the midst of all this really bleak news coming out of Brazil and Bolsonaro’s election, is the indigenous peoples are very organized now,” she said.

“They’re going to fight, there’s no question about that.”

AFP

Buhari Congratulates Brazil’s Bolsonaro On Election Victory

 

President Muhammadu Buhari has congratulated Jair Bolsonaro on his emergence as Brazil’s new President.

The President also felicitated with the people of Brazil for successfully going through the two rounds of the election and making their choice, thereby enhancing the democratic credentials of their country.

According to a statement by the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, Nigeria shares historical and cultural ties with Brazil.

President Buhari said his administration looks forward to deepening such relations as well as expanding current political, trade and military ties with the South American powerhouse.

As Bolsonaro prepares to be sworn into office in January 2019, the Nigerian leader wished him a successful tenure in confronting his country’s current socio-economic challenges.

World Reacts To Bolsonaro Election Win

Brazil’s right-wing presidential candidate for the Social Liberal Party (PSL) Jair Bolsonaro smiles after casting his vote during general elections, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on October 7, 2018.
Mauro Pimentel / AFP

 

World governments congratulated incoming Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro on his weekend election win but the far-right “tropical Trump” faced calls Monday to ensure he respected democratic principles.

The former army captain, who openly admires Brazil’s former military dictatorship and shocked many with his derogatory remarks on women, gays and black people, won 55 percent of the vote in a run-off election Sunday — more than 10 points ahead of leftist opponent Fernando Haddad.

 United States 

President Donald Trump called Bolsonaro on Sunday to congratulate him, White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said in a statement.

“Both expressed a strong commitment to work side-by-side to improve the lives of the people of the United States and Brazil, and as regional leaders, of the Americas,” she said.

China 

China “congratulates” Bolsonaro and will continue to “deepen mutually beneficial cooperation and promote common development of both countries to benefit the two peoples”, foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang said at a regular press briefing.

In February, Bolsonaro visited Taiwan, breaking convention with Beijing’s One-China policy, which regards the self-governing island as a renegade province.

Despite that, Lu said China — Brazil’s largest trading partner — is “willing to continue to work with Brazil” to boost their strategic partnership.

EU 

The European Union expects future Brazilian leaders to “work to consolidate democracy”, an EU spokeswoman said.

“We respect the democratic choices made by the Brazilian people. Brazil is a democratic country with solid, strong institutions,” Natasha Bertaud said when asked whether Bolsonaro’s election posed a threat to democratic values.

“And we expect all future presidents to continue to work to consolidate democracy for the greater good of the Brazilian people.”

She said EU leaders would be sending a letter of congratulations to Bolsonaro.

Russia 

President Vladimir Putin sent Bolsonaro a telegram with congratulatory wishes, the Kremlin said.

It said Putin “expressed confidence” in the expansion of Russo-Brazilian relations, as well as in cooperation between Moscow and Rio in the United Nations and in BRICS — the group of emerging economies both countries are part of.

 France 

President Emmanuel Macron congratulated Bolsonaro while encouraging him to respect “democratic principles”.

“France and Brazil have a strategic partnership founded on common values of respect and the promotion of democratic principles,” his office said in a statement.

“France hopes to continue its cooperation while respecting these values in order to tackle the big contemporary challenges facing our planet.”

Other figures in Macron’s centrist party, who view far-right nationalist figures like Bolsonaro as their adversaries, were less diplomatic in their assessment of his victory which represents a radical change to the country’s recent politics.

“No democracy is being spared,” a leading MP and spokeswoman for Macron’s Republic on the Move party, Aurore Berge, wrote on Twitter.

Meanwhile, French far-right leader Marine Le Pen wrote on Twitter: “Good luck to new President Bolsonaro who will need to address Brazil’s very compromised economic, security and democratic situation.”

Italy

Another far-right leader, Italy’s Deputy Prime Minister and Interior Minister Matteo Salvini, also hailed Bolsonaro’s victory over his leftist opponent.

“In Brazil too, the people have chased out the left! Good luck with the job president Bolsonaro, the friendship between our people and our governments will be even stronger,” Salvini wrote on Twitter.

He also called for Brazil to extradite fugitive Cesare Battisti, a far-left militant convicted of murder in Italy in the 1970s.

AFP