Tuesday, 24 May 2016

Brazil coup was to stop "Car Wash' corruption ivestigation of Petrobras

I can bet you this won't be highlighted in the world headlines. 

Except when it comes to their egregious russophobiaand geopolitics  the Guardian and RT are often on the same page

Rousseff impeachment efforts a bid to stop oil corruption probe – leaked tapes

23 May, 2016

Secret phone recordings between Brazil's planning minister and the former president of Transperto have revealed that the minister suggested a “change” in the government to “stop the bleeding” caused by an investigation into Petrobras.

The March conversation between Planning Minister Romero Juca and former Transperto President Sergio Machado took place just weeks before impeachment proceedings were launched against Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff, newspaper Folha de Sao Paulo reported.

The dialogue centered around Operation Lava Jato, a probe into allegations of corruption at the state-controlled oil company Petrobras, of which Transperto is a subsidiary. Both Machado and Juca are being investigated under the probe.

Machado mentioned a renewed drive in the investigation against Petrobras, saying that the operation was leaving “no stone unturned.”

In response, Juca said a change of government was needed to “stop the bleeding” caused by the probe.

I think we need to articulate a political action,” Juca said, adding that a possible government with Michel Temer as president should include a national pact.

Juca's lawyer, Antonio Carlos de Almeida Castro, said his client would "never think of doing any interference" in the investigation, and that the conversation between Juca and Machado contained no illegalities.

The minister himself denied that he had discussed Rousseff's impeachment with Machado.

"I want to repeal the interpretation made by Folha de Sao Paulo ... I was speaking of putting an end to the paralysis of Brazil, of ending the 'bleeding' of unemployment, separate [politicians] who are guilty and who are not," Juca said in response to allegations, as quoted by the BBC.

The conversation took place just weeks before Rousseff was suspended from her post amid impeachment proceedings.

The leader, who is accused of illegally manipulating finances to hide a growing public deficit ahead of her 2014 re-election, was removed from office after senators voted to suspend her by 55 votes to 22 earlier this month. Her trial may last up to 180 days.

Rousseff, who denies the allegations against her, made an appeal to the Supreme Court to stop proceedings, but the move was rejected.

She told RT that the impeachment situation is a coup attempt by the old Brazilian oligarchy.

"This coup is not like usual coups in Latin America, which normally involve weapons, tanks in the streets, arrests and torture. The current coup is happening within the democratic framework, with the use of existing institutions in support of indirect elections not stipulated in the Constitution. This coup is carried out by hands tearing apart the Brazilian Constitution,” Rousseff said.

"If there is no crime, an impeachment is illegal. And since it’s illegal, it’s a serious problem for the interim government. I’m living proof of this unlawfulness and injustice,” she added.

Meanwhile, Operation Lava Jato continues, with federal authorities investigating corruption allegations at Petrobras, where it is alleged that executives accepted bribes in return for awarding contracts to construction firms at inflated prices. The operation, launched in March 2014, has resulted in more than 100 warrants for search and seizure, temporary and preventive detention, and coercive measures.

Brazil minister ousted after secret tape reveals plot to topple President Rousseff

Planning minister Romero Jucá was recorded saying ‘We have to change the government’ as the only means to stop a sweeping corruption investigation

23 May, 2016

The credibility of Brazil’s interim government was rocked on Monday when a senior minister was forced to step aside amid further revelations about the machiavellian plot to impeach president Dilma Rousseff.

Just 10 days after taking office, the planning minister, Romero Jucá, announced that he would “go on leave” following the release of a secretly taped telephone conversation in which he said Rousseff needed to be removed to quash a vast corruption investigation that implicated him and other members of the country’s political elite.

It is unlikely to be the last blow for the interim president, Michel Temer, whose centre-right cabinet includes seven ministers implicated by the Lava Jato (Car Wash) investigation into kickbacks and money laundering at the state-run oil company Petrobras.

Temer took power earlier this month after the senate initiated an impeachment trial of Rousseff, who is suspended for up to six months pending the upper house’s verdict on allegations that she manipulated government accounts before the last election. 

Supporters of the Workers’ party leader say the charges are a pretext for a “coup”. Temer’s allies counter that the impeachment was constitutional and necessary to address political paralysis and the worst recession in decades.

But the dubious motives and machiavellian nature of the plot to remove Rousseff are apparent in the transcript of a phone conversation between Jucá – a powerful ally of Temer’s in the Brazilian Democratic Movement party (PMDB) – and Sérgio Machado, a former senator who until recently was the president of another state oil company, Transpetro.

After discussing how they are both targeted by Lava Jato prosecutors, Jucá says the way out is political: “We have to stop this shit,” he says of the investigation. 

“We have to change the government to be able to stop this bleeding.”
Machado concurs: “The easiest solution would be to put in Michel [Temer].”
The conversation took place just weeks before the lower house voted to impeach Rousseff, according to the Folha de São Paulo newspaper, which published the transcript.

At one point, Jucá appears to mock the Lava Jato investigators for their high-mindedness and determination to tackle all corrupt senators and congressmen. “[They want to] put an end to this political class so [a new one] can rise, to build a new breed [that will be] pure.”

He then says the “penny has dropped” on this threat not just for him, but for the leaders of the Social Democratic party, such as former presidential candidate Aécio Neves, Senator Aloysio Neves, José Serra and Tasso Jereissati – all of whom are now either in the cabinet of the interim government or key supporters of the coalition.

Later in the conversation, Juca says he talked about his plans to supreme court justices, who told him the “shit” (referring to the corruption investigation and its media coverage) would never stop as long as Rousseff remained in power. He also said he received “guarantees” from military commanders that they could prevent disturbances from radical leftwing groups such as the Landless Workers Movement.

Jucá – who took the influential post of planning minister in the interim government – admitted on Monday that the conversation had taken place, but he said his words were taken out of context. He argued that he was referring to economic losses when he talked about “the bleeding”. His lawyer, Almeida Castro, reiterated this: “At no time was Jucá speaking against Lava Jato or seeking to interfere with the operation.”

But Machado, who was the source of the recording, is already reportedly negotiating a plea bargain with prosecutors. According to reports in local media, Jucá has said he will stay on leave until prosecutors decide whether he has committed any crime.

During the Lava Jato investigation, Jucá was named in a plea bargain by former senator Delcídio Amaral as a beneficiary in a 30m reais (£5.7m) kickback scheme from inflated contracts for the Belo Monte hydroelectric dam in the Amazon. He has denied the charges, which are being considered by the supreme court.
The Workers’ party has also been deeply implicated in this and other wrongdoing, though Rousseff – who has not been charged with any crimes – allowed the Lava Jato investigation to continue while she was in charge.

Temer has insisted that he too would not interfere. But many fear his new justice minister, Alexandre de Moraes, will reduce the scope of federal police activities. Moraes has previously been a defence lawyer for Eduardo Cunha, the suspended lower house speaker who is a chief target of Lava Jato investigators.
In an interview with the Guardian last month, Jucá denied that he, Cunha, Temer and other members of the PMDB were planning to rein back the Lava Jato investigation for the sake of stability.

On the contrary, I think it’s necessary to accelerate Lava Jato,” he said. “You need to separate the wheat from the chaff, separate the guilty from the innocent. Political stability will be created by the innocent and by the credibility of politics for society. Today, credibility is low and the level of representability of politicians and parties is very low. We have to recover politics, which is an instrument to diminish conflicts and set a direction for the country.”

But the interim administration he helped to create has shown little sign of reducing tension or restoring credibility. The all-male, all-white cabinet has been heavily criticised as unrepresentative of the countryits austerity policies are unpopular and its leader has already backed down on removing the ministerial status of the culture ministry in the face of protests by leading artists, musicians and film-makers.

Noam Chomsky: Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff "Impeached by a Gang of Thieves"

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