Posts Tagged ‘Michel Temer’

Temer warns pension reform failure will hurt Brazil’s credibility

December 22, 2017

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Brazil’s President Michel Temer


BRASILIA (Reuters) – Brazil’s President Michel Temer warned on Friday the country would face economic volatility and loss of international credibility if a bill overhauling its costly social security system is not passed by Congress early next year.

Speaking to reporters, Temer acknowledged that corruption accusations had undermined his popularity and delayed passage of a pension reform bill that is now scheduled to be put to a vote on February 19.

He said his government would not support a candidate in the 2018 presidential elections that does not back pension reform.

Reporting by Anthony Boadle; Editing by Daniel Flynn


Brazil corruption probe could be in final phase: “It’s essential in 2018 that every voter acts carefully and supports the anti-corruption agenda.”

November 28, 2017


© AFP | A leading prosecutor in Brazil’s massive “Lava Jato” corruption probe says next year’s elections will determine the fate of the fight to hold officials accountable, as seen in this protest November 17


A top Brazilian prosecutor says general elections in 2018 will be the climax of the country’s biggest ever corruption probe, known as Operation Car Wash.

“2018 will be the final battle of Car Wash, because the 2018 elections will determine the future of the fight against corruption in our country,” said Deltan Dallagnol, a central prosecutor in the probe, during a conference Monday in Rio de Janeiro.

The presidency and Congress are up for election in October next year, the first major polls since the Car Wash probe plunged Brazil into political crisis.

Car Wash was launched in early 2014, uncovering a vast web of embezzlement and bribery through the Brazilian government, legislature and corporate world, especially the state oil company Petrobras.

Former president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva has been convicted of bribe-taking and current President Michel Temer is charged with racketeering and bribe-taking. Dozens of lawmakers also face charges or probes.

Although the anti-corruption campaign has been popular with Brazilian voters, lawmakers led by Temer have repeatedly pushed back against prosecutors, arguing that they are on a politicized crusade and have exceeded their authority.

In a joint statement, prosecutors from Rio, Sao Paulo and Curitiba states warned at the conference that “attempts to guarantee impunity for powerful politicians are intensifying.”

“It’s essential in 2018 that every voter acts carefully (voting for) deputies and senators with a clean sheet and committed to democratic and republican values, and who support the anticorruption agenda,” the statement said.

The next batch of congressional deputies and senators “will determine whether there is a retreat in the fight against corruption or if there will be reforms and advances that create a fairer country,” Dallagnol said.

The Car Wash team said that it has so far opened 416 criminal cases and secured sentences against 144 people, totalling 2,130 years prison.

Another prosecutor, Eduardo El Hage, warned that there would be new operations next year.

“We are planning concrete actions,” he said. “It will be a year of a lot of work.”

Brazil’s President Temer to face congressional vote on whether he should stand trial — “He knows how to use the machine and to find the necessary support.”

October 23, 2017


© AFP/File / by Louis GENOT | The first president in the country to face criminal charges while in office, Michel Temer is accused of obstruction of justice and racketeering

BRASÍLIA (AFP) – He may be Brazil’s most unpopular president in decades and charged with serious crimes, but Michel Temer, the ultimate teflon leader, is expected to breeze through a congressional vote on whether he should stand trial.In Portuguese, Temer means “to be afraid,” but the canny 77-year-old veteran of Brasilia’s notoriously corrupt political scene appears to be full of confidence ahead of Wednesday’s vote.

The first president in the country to face criminal charges while in office, Temer is accused of obstruction of justice and racketeering. He denies any wrongdoing and has argued that the country needs him at the helm to bring in market-friendly reforms after two years of deep recession.

A two-thirds majority is required in the lower house of Congress to have his case sent to the Supreme Court. Just as occurred in August when Congress threw out another charge, his allies are expected to reject the idea.

Constitutional law professor Daniel Vargas is not surprised.

“Temer is a professional in politics. He knows how to use the machine and to find the necessary support,” Vargas said.

Ironically, what makes it easier for Temer is that many of those judging him in the lower house — 185 of the 513 deputies — are themselves targets of anti-corruption probes.

The mentality among those scandal-plagued politicians is clear, Vargas said.

“Temer represents the survival of the old guard,” the analyst added.

“If he falls, who’ll be next?”

Critics say the president is also boosting his chances of survival through blatant vote buying, opening up the budgetary purse to give congress members the projects back in their home states that will help their own causes.

“Despite the damage already suffered by this government, deputies looking for favors can benefit from it,” said Antonio Queiroz, an analyst with DIAP, a congressional watchdog representing trades unions.

– Risky business –

There’s risk for deputies who decide to shore up Temer.

He has record low ratings, with only three percent considering his government “good” or “very good,” according to the latest opinion poll in September.

General elections are scheduled for October 2018 and the mood, analysts say, is already deeply anti-establishment.

However, for Temer, the situation is different, since he is not going to run in the election.

After taking over the presidency in controversial circumstances following impeachment of his leftist predecessor Dilma Rousseff last year, he has never had any illusions about his popularity.

The center-right leader from the PMDB party says that he’s there to take the difficult decisions needed to bring discipline and growth back to Latin America’s biggest, but floundering economy.

“Temer simply doesn’t care what the population thinks about him,” Vargas said.

At the same time, the opposition is fragmented and ordinary Brazilians seem too exhausted to bother repeating the huge demonstrations that were common against Rousseff.

“Without pressure from the streets (and) in the absence of a real opposition alternative, the Congress will not go against Temer,” Vargas said.

The reforms have also endeared Temer to the markets and politically powerful lobbies, like the agricultural industry bloc which counts some 200 deputies in the lower chamber.

“Without the support of the markets, Temer would fall in a week,” Queiroz said. “He’s become their tool.”

by Louis GENOT

Accused of corruption, Temer is still Brazil’s president with approval ratings near zero…

October 19, 2017

Michel Temer may escape impeachment, but the ongoing political crisis undermines democracy and opens the door to authoritarian hardliners

Brazilian President Michel Temer attends a celebration of small enterprise at Planalto Palace in Brasilia on 4 October, 2017. He faces charges of corruption, racketeering and obstruction of justice.
 President Michel Temer attends a celebration of small business at Planalto Palace in Brasília earlier this month. He faces charges of corruption, racketeering and obstruction of justice. Photograph: Evaristo Sa/AFP/Getty Images

If Brazil’s recent decline could be plotted in the falling popularity of its presidents, Michel Temer represents the bottom of the curve.

In 2010, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva ended his second term with an 80% approval rating. In March 2016 – four months before she was impeached – his protege and successor Dilma Rousseff’s administration had a 10% rating.

Last month, the government of Temer, Rousseff’s former vice-president, plunged to 3% in one poll. Among under 24-year-olds, Temer’s approval hit zero.

Temer has been charged with corruption, racketeering and obstruction of justice. Yet there have been none of the huge, anti-corruption street protests that helped drive Rousseff’s impeachment on charges of breaking budget rules.

And unlike Rousseff, Temer has retained the support of financial markets who like the austerity measures he has introduced, such as privatising government services, a 20-year cap on expenditure and a planned pensions overhaul.

There are signs of economic recovery. But spending has been so pared to the bone that some basic functions of the state are now at risk.

Critics say Temer’s austerity drive hurts the poor more than the rich. According to a survey by Oxfam Brasil, richer Brazilians pay proportionally less tax than the poor and middle classes and the richest 5% earn the same as the rest of the population put together. Yet the highest rate of income tax is just 27.5% .

Markets don’t care much about inequality, but the damaging graft allegations against the president and his allies also threaten to inflict further damage on the country’s institutions.

Temer seems likely to survive this latest crisis – he is expected to win a second vote in the lower house of congress this week on whether to suspend him for a trial – but trust in Brazil’s political leaders has been drastically undermined.


That lack of trust is feeding support for an authoritarian solution to the crisis – which could have serious consequences in next year’s presidential elections.

The lower house of congress first voted not to suspend the president for a trial after Temer was charged with corruption, shortly after his government agreed to spend $1.33bn on projects in the states of lawmakers who were due to vote, according to independent watchdog Open Accounts.

Many of those lawmakers are allied with powerful agribusiness and evangelical Christian lobbies, and face their own graft investigations. Environmentalists say Temer’s administration is reducing Amazon protection in return for their support.

“Our country has been kidnapped by a band of unscrupulous politicians,” former supreme court justice Joaquim Barbosa said afterwards.

Temer has since been charged with obstruction of justice; along with six leading figures from his party, the Brazilian Democratic Movement Party, or PMDB, he was charged with racketeering.

Janot has also filed charges against Lula, Rousseff and leading members of their Workers’ party – former allies of Temer’s PMDB – and said both parties were part of a criminal organisation that for 15 years had accepted bribes for decisions relating to ports, airports, droughts, oil rigs, tax breaks and hydroelectric plants in the Amazon.

Former prosecutor general Rodrigo Janot – who unveiled the charges against the three former presidents – said Temer’s party abandoned Rousseff’s governing coalition because it had failed to stop the graft investigation, which in turn led to the lower house of congress approving impeachment proceedings.

“All the members of his criminal organisation, independent of the nucleus they belonged to, had a common interest that united them,” Janot wrote. “The maximum, undue economic advantage for themselves and the others, independent of whether such business attended the public interest or not.”

All of the accused have denied the accusations. Temer has said he is the victim of a conspiracy.

As supreme court justice Luís Barroso told foreign journalists recently in Rio, formidable interests are protecting themselves.

“These people are powerful, they have allies, partners and accomplices everywhere, at the highest echelons, in the powers of the Republic, in the press and where one would least imagine,” he said.

But 78% of Brazilians support the graft investigation. And their disillusionment over the way it is playing out at the highest levels opens a dangerous gap for populists and extremists in next year’s presidential elections.

Lula is seeking a return to the presidency in 2018 – and currently leads polling, but he has been handed nearly a sentence of nearly 10 years in prison for corruption and money laundering, and may well be ruled ineligible to stand.

A likely rightwing candidate is João Doria, the flamboyant, multimillionaire mayor of São Paulo. Like Donald Trump, he is a former host of Brazil’s version of the TV show The Apprentice, only assumed power last January, and has no prior administrative experience.

Read the rest:

Brazil corruption scandal: President Temer slams judiciary

September 13, 2017

BBC News

    • 12 September 2017

Brazil"s President Michel Temer attends a ceremony at the Planalto Palace in Brasilia, Brazil September 12, 2017

Michel Temer has the lowest approval ratings of any Brazilian president in decades. Reuters photo

Brazil’s President Michel Temer has accused his country’s judiciary of using allegations of corruption to destroy reputations.

Mr Temer’s statement came just hours before a Supreme Court justice authorised a new corruption investigation into the president.

The president, like dozens of other Brazilian politicians, is already implicated in Operation Car Wash.

Mr Temer has denied all accusations of corruption.

In a statement released ahead of the anticipated announcement of the new charges, Mr Temer’s office slammed those investigating alleged corruption.

The biggest investigation of all is known as Operation Car Wash, said to involve bribes at the highest level. Among those implicated in the three-year investigation are two former presidents.

“We have reached the point where they try to convict people without even hearing them – without ending the investigation, without uncovering the truth, without verifying the existence of real proof,” Mr Temer’s office said.

“Individual rights are being violated every day without the slightest reaction.”

The statement went on to question prosecutors’ methods, which favoured the use of wire taps and statements from those who make plea deals.

The latest investigation is hinged on a recording of one of Mr Temer’s former aides, according to news agency Reuters.

“Reputations are shattered in conversations founded on clandestine actions,” the president’s statement said. “Bandits concoct versions based on hearsay in exchange for impunity or to obtain a pardon, even partial, for their innumerable crimes.”

Supreme Court justice Roberto Barroso decided on Tuesday investigators could probe Mr Temer’s link to corruption allegations surrounding a decree regulating ports that the president signed.


Brazil’s Top Court Approves New Graft Probe of President Temer

September 12, 2017

BRASILIA — Supreme Court Justice Roberto Barroso authorized federal prosecutors to investigate Brazilian President Michel Temer in an alleged corruption case involving a decree regulating ports, a source with knowledge of the matter said on Tuesday.

The investigation was based on a wiretapped conversation of a former Temer aide, Rodrigo Rocha Loures, who allegedly discussed using his influence to shape the decree in return for bribes from a company.

(Reporting by Ricardo Brito; Writing by Anthony Boadle; Editing by Brad Haynes and Daniel Flynn)

Brazil fascinated by mysterious North Korea

September 12, 2017

Brazilians often look for stories about North Korea on the internet. One reason is a mutual entrenched distrust of the US. Researchers have been trying to dig a little deeper to find out more about the phenomenon.

North Korean crowds with propaganda posters (picture-alliance/AP/dpa/Jon Chol Jin)

The headlines that usually catch Brazilians’ attention are various corruption scandals, acts of urban violence and football results. But at the moment there is one topic of unexpectedly high interest: North Korea.

Since the most communist regime in the world has been causing uproar with its continued nuclear weapons testing, the Brazilians are amongst the people who do the most Google searches for information about North Korea.

This huge level of interest has brought an unexpected turn to Thiago Mattos Moreira’s life. An expert in international relations, he is currently completing his final year in this field at the Hanyang University in the South Korean capital, Seoul. Now Mattos, who is a researcher at the University of Rio de Janeiro, is in demand as a public speaker.

“People want to know what life in North Korea is really like, whether the country really will be able to start World War III, or if they are just interested in Korean culture.”

Brazilian stability in danger

Of course, Brazilians also want to know how such a small country is able to challenge the US, which is the world’s biggest military power. And how they can engage in a “classic conflict” scenario, as described by Paulo Watanabe, Professor for International Security at the Sao Paulo State University. This is where one country directly threatens another, a form of conflict that has not been seen since the end of the Cold War, he believes.

BRICS meeting Vladimir Putin, Narendra Modi, Xi Jinping, Jacob Zuma, Michel Temer (Imago/Kyodo News)Brazil’s Michel Temer (far right) at a BRICS meeting, where North Korea was a hot topic

“In recent years, North Korea is the country that has most clearly challenged American power, ” says Watanabe. “By conducting these tests, they want to show that they are on the same level as the US.”

Read more: North Korea: Germany, China back peaceful dialogue

A war would mean the end of one of the countries, probably North Korea. And it would have a direct effect on the whole world, stresses Watanabe. “Above all, it would have an impact on the Chinese economy,” Watanabe explains, which he says is the “center of world trade and certainly the most important partner for Brazilian foreign trade.” It means the stability of the Brazilian economy is also at stake.

Binary logic

But is this the reason for the Brazilians’ excessive interest in this issue? Claudia Marconi, political scientist at the Pontifical Catholic University of Sao Paulo, believes there is another explanation. She thinks that many of her compatriots would recognize a kind of binary logic in such a conflict: Democracy pitted against a dictatorship, rationality versus irrationality, globalization versus isolation, capitalism versus communism.

“At the moment, this kind of polarization is strongly reflected in Brazilian society,” says Marconi. As an example, she recalls the huge protests in 2015 against the leftist ex-president, Dilma Rousseff, where the conservatives called on leftist supporters to “Go to Cuba!”

The conflict of fear

Psychologist José Paulo Fiks is a trauma researcher at the Federal University of Sao Paulo. He sees yet another aspect in the fascination with North Korea: It reminds him of the fear of a nuclear strike he experienced in Europe during the Cold War era in the 1980s.

According to Fiks’ assessment there are no traumatic memories of war in Brazil, as there are in North Korea. Apparently the trauma of the military dictatorship (1964 to 1985) has also very much faded away. It appears that Brazilians are indeed trying to understand what is happening inside the isolated universe of North Korea.

The Brazilians actual fear is more triggered by daily life. “Our brains’ receptors and alarm systems are more directed at Brazilian reality. They are directed at the daily violence that is more present in the streets of South America than anywhere else in the world. ”

The level of fear differs between Brazil’s social classes: The richer people are, the more secure they tend to feel, because they are better able to protect themselves, says the psychologist. But a nuclear disaster reduces those differences, and people suddenly realize they could all be victims to the same extent. “And this is a fear that many Brazilians cannot escape,” says Fiks.

JBS Batista Closer to Jail as Supreme Court Orders Arrest

September 10, 2017

Bloomberg News

By Tatiana Freita  and Felipe Marques

  • Supreme Court judge requests jail for meat-packing tycoon
  • Judge argues Batista could conceal evidence if left free
Joesley Batista arrives at the airport after speaking as a witness to Brazilian Attorney General Rodrigo Jano in Brasilia on Sept. 7.

Photographer: Sergio Lima/AFP via Getty Images

A Brazilian Supreme Court judge has ordered the arrest of Joesley Batista, the tycoon who turned JBS SA into a global meat powerhouse, the latest chapter of a scandal that has tipped Brazil back into political chaos and left his family’s business empire reeling.

Judge Edson Fachin ordered Batista’s arrest and the temporary suspension of the immunity granted in a plea-bargain agreement signed by the businessman with Brazilian authorities in May, according to official documents published on the Supreme Court website on Sunday. Ricardo Saud, a top executive at J&F Investimentos SA, the holding company that controls JBS, was also targeted by Fachin’s arrest warrant.

According to the judge, if the two executives were left at liberty “they would find the same incentives directed to concealing part of the probative elements” of their testimony. The J&F press office did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Pierpaolo Cruz Bottini, a lawyer who represents both men, said via text message that he had received information that the arrest warrants had been ordered. The federal police will decide when to carry out the arrests, which could come as early as Sunday.

Audio Recording

The court’s decision follows a request for their arrest by Rodrigo Janot, the country’s chief prosecutor, who said that Batista and Saud left out information from testimony submitted to Brazilian prosecutors earlier this year, when they confessed to graft and other crimes. The omissions came to light on Sept. 5, when a new audio recording emerged of a conversation between the pair. That discussion received blanket coverage in Brazilian media and followed the sensational broadcast in May of Batista’s recorded testimony, which earned him a plea bargain while creating a political crisis.

The latest tape raised questions over the terms of that agreement, which some have criticized for treating too leniently Batista and other executives connected to the case. Some of Batista’s remarks on the new recording, including a comment that he would never go to jail, have further enraged Brazilians.

In order to prevent the agreement from being fully scrapped, J&F and its executives are said to be discussing new terms with prosecutors, including raising the fines that Batista would have to pay, according to report published on Saturday by Brazilian newspaper Folha de S. Paulo.


Former JBS Chairman Ready to Surrender to Authorities, Lawyer Says

September 10, 2017

The country’s Supreme Court approved Joesley Batista’s arrest for allegedly reneging on the terms of a plea-bargain agreement

SÃO PAULO—Joesley Batista, the former chairman of meatpacking giant JBS SA, is ready to turn himself over to Brazil’s legal authorities after the country’s Supreme Court approved his arrest for allegedly reneging on the terms of a plea-bargain agreement, Mr. Batista’s lawyer said Sunday.

High court Justice Edson Fachin approved the arrest following a request from Attorney General Rodrigo Janot, according to documents made public on…


Brazilian police find suitcases of cash linked to ex-politician

September 6, 2017


© Brazil’s Federal Police/AFP | Bags and boxes with Brazilian currency real, seized in a flat used by former minister of President Michel Temer, Geddel Vieira Lima, seen in Salvador, Bahia state, on September 5, 2017

SAO PAULO (AFP) – Brazilian police on Tuesday found suitcases overflowing with millions of dollars worth of cash in an apartment believed to be linked to a former government minister accused of corruption.There was so much money in the apartment in the northeastern city of Salvador, which was believed to be used by former minister Geddel Vieira Lima, that police took hours even to make a first estimate.

Late in the evening, with seven cash counting machines in action, police said that “more than 33 million reais ($10.6 million) have been counted.”

But their work wasn’t over.

“Given the amount still to go, the prediction is that the counting will take all night,” federal police said in a statement.

The pile of cash stored in suitcases and cardboard packing boxes was discovered during an investigation into fraud at state-owned bank Caixa Economica Federal, where Lima worked under president Dilma Rousseff.

Until recently he served as a powerful ministerial-level aide to current President Michel Temer, before being toppled in one of the many corruption scandals shaking the center-right government. In July, he was arrested and is under house arrest.