Posts Tagged ‘Temer’

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

© 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
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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.

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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:

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/oct/17/accused-of-graft-popularity-near-zero-so-why-is-brazils-president-still-in-office

Corruption-plagued Brazil gets new chief prosecutor

September 18, 2017

AFP

© AFP/File | Raquel Dodge, seen here at commission hearings in July, vowed to defend democracy as Brazil’s new chief prosecutor

BRASÍLIA (AFP) – A new chief prosecutor took over Monday in Brazil to oversee an avalanche of corruption investigations, including against President Michel Temer, and promised that no one would be “above the law.”Raquel Dodge replaced the hard hitting Rodrigo Janot who last week rounded off his dramatic term in office by charging Temer with racketeering and obstruction of justice.

Dodge, 56, was nominated by Temer and some analysts see the changeover as heralding a slowdown of Brazil’s huge “Car Wash” anti-graft operation. Temer has railed repeatedly against what he calls an out of control judiciary, a theme echoed by many in Congress who also have been accused of corruption.

At her swearing in ceremony in Brasilia, attended by Temer, Dodge vowed to “defend democracy” and said that her office would make sure that “no one is above the law and that no one is below the law.”

But indicating at the very least a less abrasive approach than Janot, she stressed the need for “harmony” between the different branches of government “as a requirement for the stability of the nation.”

She barely mentioned her predecessor and never referred specifically to “Car Wash.”

One of Dodge’s first big tasks as prosecutor general will be to oversee the latest charges brought against Temer by Janot last Thursday. The charges will soon be sent to the lower house of Congress for debate and, if approved, sent back to the Supreme Court which would open a trial, resulting in Temer’s suspension for 180 days.

A first criminal charge of bribe-taking filed by Janot in June was handily rejected by Temer’s allies in Congress. And analysts agree overwhelmingly that legislators will likewise toss out the latest charges.

Beyond the Temer charges, Dodge inherits the enormous case load of Janot’s probes and prosecutions targeting scores of other politicians and executives.

About a third of Temer’s cabinet is under investigation. Another high profile target is former president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, who has been convicted of taking bribes and faces five more graft trials.

The switch in head prosecutor also comes at a crucial time in domestic politics.

Temer is attempting to steer through far-reaching pension reform to strip back what his government says is an unsustainably generous system. While he has strong market support for this and other austerity reforms aimed at ending Brazil’s economic slump, the measures are unpopular and the president has been forced to spend much of his political capital to shore up support against the corruption charges.

However, Temer is now seen as stronger than he has been for months and Janot’s departure will boost his position further.

Although the scandals have been severely embarrassing, leading politicians are seen as unwilling to rock the boat by sending Temer to trial ahead of presidential elections in October of next year. Temer, who is deeply unpopular, is not expected to seek a new term.

Brazil Police Raid Agricultural Minister’s Home

September 14, 2017

SAO PAULO — Brazil’s federal police conducted a raid and search operation at the house of Agriculture Minister Blairo Maggi in Brasilia, related to an ongoing bribery and graft scandal, TV Globo reported on Thursday.

Image result for Agriculture Minister Blairo Maggi i, photos

It said the raid is linked to a plea deal by former Mato Grosso state governor Silval Barbosa, who accuses Maggi of participating in a corruption scheme that lasted between 2007 and 2010. Maggi is also a former governor of Mato Grosso – a major producer of soybeans, grains and cattle.

Efforts to contact Maggi’s press representatives in Brasilia were unsuccessful.

(Reporting by Guillermo Parra-Bernal; Editing by W Simon)

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Brazil’s top court to consider Temer prosecutor’s recusal

September 13, 2017

AFP

© POOL/AFP/File | Lawyers for Brazil’s President Michel Temer, who could face new criminal charges, say the country’s chief prosecutor is mounting an “obsessive persecution”

BRASÍLIA (AFP) – Brazil’s Supreme Court was scheduled Wednesday to start considering a demand by President Michel Temer for the recusal of the chief prosecutor leading a corruption case against him.

Temer’s lawyers argue that the prosecutor general, Rodrigo Janot, is mounting an “obsessive persecution” and that he is “greatly exceeding the constitutional and legal limits.”

This comes as Janot is expected to file criminal charges against Temer before he leaves his post and hands over to a new chief prosecutor on Monday. Janot is expected to charge Temer with obstruction of justice.

Congress has to approve any trial of the president and in August voted overwhelmingly to toss out a first charge, which accused Temer of taking bribes. Temer is believed to retain sufficient support to ride out a second charge.

The obstruction of justice charge would depend in part on a secret recording made by meatpacking billionaire Joesley Batista in which Temer allegedly is heard calling for payments to a jailed politician to prevent him testifying.

Batista and his brother Wesley signed plea deals with prosecutors after admitting they had run a huge bribery network to benefit their company JBS.

However the leniency accord has been torn up after Joesley Batista was accused of withholding information from prosecutors.

In another motion, Temer’s lawyers are asking the Supreme Court to block any new criminal charges by Janot until clarification of what they say are irregularities in the way the Batista plea bargain evidence was collected.

The court was due to meet at about 1700 GMT but it was not clear whether the Janot-related items would be considered quickly, with delays potentially pushing the matter to another day.

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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.

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-latin-america-41248075

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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 police raid billionaire Joesley Batista’s home, sources say

September 11, 2017

Image may contain: one or more people, indoor and closeup

Brazil’s billionaire businessman Joesley Batista leaves the Federal Police headquarters after losing immunity from prosecution amid a corruption scandal, in Sao Paulo, Brazil, September 11, 2017. REUTERS/Leonardo Benassatto Reuters

SAO PAULO/BRASILIA (Reuters) – Brazilian federal police raided the home of billionaire Joesley Batista, who surrendered to authorities the previous day after losing immunity from prosecution amid a corruption scandal, two people familiar with the situation said on Monday.

Federal Supreme Court Justice Edson Fachin gave the nod to the raids, which included the São Paulo headquarters of J&F Investimentos SA, the police said in a statement. J&F is the company through which Batista and his older brother Wesley control JBS SA, the world’s No. 1 meatpacker.

Another raid was conducted at the Rio de Janeiro home of Marcelo Miller, a former federal prosecutor who allegedly helped Batista craft a May plea bargain deal, said the sources who requested anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue.

The scandal has shocked Brazil’s business and political establishment on top of an ongoing three-year corruption probe. The brothers confessed to bribing scores of politicians in their May plea bargain testimony, allowing them to avoid prosecution.

Among the evidence they provided to prosecutors was a recording of Brazilian President Michel Temer allegedly endorsing hush payments to a possible witness in a graft probe. Temer has repeatedly denied the accusations.

Representatives for J&F and Miller declined to confirm the raids. A lawyer for Batista did not take calls seeking comment.

(Reporting by Guillermo Parra-Bernal and Lisandra Paraguassu; Additional reporting by pedro Fonseca in Rio de Janeiro; Editing by W Simon and JS Benkoe)

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.

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-09-10/jbs-batista-closer-to-jail-as-supreme-court-orders-arrest

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Brazil opens huge swathe of Amazon rainforest to mining

August 24, 2017

President Michel Temer has signed a decree abolishing a rainforest reserve that straddles Brazil’s northern states of Pará and Amapá, and opening the area to mineral exploration and commercial mining.

Brasilien Entwaldung des Urwaldes (picture-alliance/Demotix/K. Hoffmann)

A decree from President Michel Temer published Wednesday abolished the protected status of the National Reserve of Copper and Associates (Renca) – an area that is bigger than the size of Norway.

The reserve, which was established in 1984, covers about 18,000 square miles (46,610 square kilometers) and is thought to be rich in minerals such as copper and gold.

The government framed the decision as an effort to bring new investment and jobs to a country that recently emerged from the longest recession in its history. It also said that just under a third of the reserve would be opened up to mining, and that permissions would only be granted in specific areas.

“Permission to develop research and mining applies only to areas where there are no other restrictions, such as protection of native vegetation, conservation units, indigenous lands and areas in border strips,” a statement by the government said.

Wednesday’s decree comes as the country reported a 21-percent fall in deforestation rates within the country’s Legal Amazon region, which includes Amapá and Pará, in the two years from August 2015.

Diverse tropical rainforest

In July, Brazil announced a plan to revitalize its mining sector, and increase its share of the economy from four percent to six percent. The industry employs 200,000 people in a country where a record 14 million are out of work.

However, activists argue that the move could damage the world’s largest and most diverse tropical rainforest. Opposition politician Randolfe Rodrigues called it “the biggest crime against the Amazon forest since the 1970s.”

Brazilian public policy coordinator of the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), Michel de Souza, described the announcement as a “catastrophe,” which failed to consult the public and could leave the region vulnerable to corruption and conflict.

A report released by the WWF last week also warned that mining in the area would cause “demographic explosion, deforestation, the destruction of water resources, the loss of biodiversity and the creation of land conflict.”

The Amazon rainforest covers an area of 1.2 billion acres and produces 20 percent of the world’s oxygen. But deforestation and mining have destroyed it at an alarming rate. Non-profit organization The Rainforest Foundation estimates that about one acre (4,046 square meters) is wiped out every second, and an estimated 20 percent of the rainforest has been destroyed over the past 40 years.

http://www.dw.com/en/brazil-opens-huge-swathe-of-amazon-rainforest-to-mining/a-40225550