Former Brazilian President Lula Interrogated in Corruption Case

The end of a legend and a bombshell for Rousseff

Ana Maria Pomi

Lula and Dilma during happier times. Photo:

HAVANA TIMES — The police interrogation that former Brazilian President Luiz Inacio da Silva was subjected to over the weekend has dropped a bomb on the fragile and worn government of his successor Dilma Rousseff and undermined the legend that once enveloped this figure and his Partido de los Trabajadores (PT), DPA reported.

“When the Lava Jato investigations reach ex-President Lula, they also seriously and irreversibly reach President Dilma Rousseff, whose government is dead. She has no credibility and is in no position to recover,” O Estado de Sao Paulo newspaper analyst Dora Kramer stated.

Lula and Rousseff, mentor and political successor, respectively, have grown distant due to differences over economic policy and the Lava Jato Operation, launched by the Federal Police and ultimately linked to the government.

This operation dismantled a colossal corruption network that operated out of the Petrobras company and, prompting criticisms from the PT and Lula, gradually made its way to government officials, reaching the doors of the nation’s highest authority and the government’s left wing party.

Growing distances between the former and current leader, however, won’t spare Rousseff the dreadful effects that the historical episode in Sao Bernando do Campo, Sao Paulo, will have on the government.

Four police vehicles arrived at the building where Lula resides and took him away for questioning, on suspicion that he secured political benefits from Petrobras’ illegal operations and embezzled resources.

Rousseff’s inability to distance herself from the case that benefitted her own party was clearly illustrated by prosecutor Carlos Fernando Lima:

“The investigations have been accumulating evidence that the main beneficiary (of the crimes) was the PT, and it’s clear that Lula and the current president, Dilma Rousseff, obtained political benefits,” Lima stated.

The prosecution also maintains that the president directly benefitted from illegal actions organized by her predecessor, aimed at keeping the PT in power.

“The investigation came across references to former president Lula, identified as a person whose involvement was key in the success of the criminal activities,” the Attorney General’s Office underscored in a communiqué

The “consistent and significant indications and evidence” referred to by the prosecution contrast dramatically with the banner with which the PT arrived in office in 2003 under Lula’s leadership: “ethics.”

In addition to the imprisonment of two former treasurers and Lula’s right-hand man José Dirceu (among other important leaders), the PT now faces suspicions that its founder was involved in acts of corruption and money laundering.

“It’s the end of the PT as a project,” renowned political analyst Eliana Cantanhede charged.

In a column published last week, the Cantanhede referred to the serious accusations leveled at Lula and Rousseff by PT Senator Delicidio Amaral as part of a collaboration agreement entered into with investigators of the Lava Jato Operation.

According to an article published by Epoca magazine on Thursday, Amaral, who spent four months in prison for attempting to bribe the former president of Petrobras so that the latter would not share what he knew about the illegal network, said that Lula and Rousseff were always aware of the fraud and also took direct action to halt the investigations on several occasions.

“With Lula brought in for statements by the Federal Police, and he and the president facing charges following Amaral’s damning declarations, there is no other evident conclusion we can reach: it’s the end of the PT, the end of an era,” Cantanhede said.

With an economy in tatters, a party base that has boycotted all of the measures advanced by Rousseff in an effort to recover the country’s credibility and a record-breaking disapproval rating of over 70 %, Rousseff is today, more than ever, at the mercy of the population.

As the opposition took to the streets to demand her resignation, groups calling for her impeachment are preparing demonstrations for next Sunday, March 13, where they plan to ask for her head.

In Congress, the process calling for the president’s impeachment, begun at the close of 2015 by the Chair Eduardo Cunha, could gain momentum.

Summarizing the dramatic situation Rousseff is left in, UOL analyst Josias de Sousa stated the president has no popular support, no allies to guarantee governability and no capacity to respond to these problems. Now, she’s been deprived of her political mentor as well.

“The president has never been so alone,” he concluded.

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  • This is what happens “when [socialists] run out of other people’s money. -Margaret Thatcher

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