15 of 20 Brazil’s Presidential Hopefuls Have Problem with Justice

    Lula in Barbalha - Photo: Ricardo Stuckert

    At least 15 of the 20 candidates who might run for president of Brazil in the October elections are targeted in more than 160 cases in courts throughout the country.

    Cases range from investigations in the Lava Jato operation to traffic offenses, and while in some cases would-be candidates are still only under investigation, in others they are either accused, or defendants, or have been sentenced – one of them was even arrested: former president Lula da Silva (PT), who is currently leading the polLs.

    A survey by Folha de S. Paulo in the country’s state, federal and supreme courts shows that the Lava Jato operation and its ramifications, as well as other embezzlement investigations, are a thorn in the side of at least eight potential candidates.

    This group is led by Lula who was sentenced to 12 years and a month in jail, followed by the country’s current president, Michel Temer (MDB), accused in two cases and targeted by two ongoing investigations.

    Another presidential hopeful in this situation is senator and former president Fernando Collor (PTC), who is a defendant in the Lava Jato operation and the target of four other investigations.

    Also, the president of the Lower House, Rodrigo Maia (DEM), is being investigated in two cases in the biggest operation against corruption in the history of Brazil.

    The former mayor of São Paulo, Fernando Haddad, and the former governor of Bahia, Jaques Wagner, who could run as a plan B in case Lula is not eligible, are also the targets of investigations.

    The former governor of São Paulo, Geraldo Alckmin (PSDB), had his case recently sent to the electoral courts, which made him avoid the immediate sight of the Lava Jato operation.

    Another would-be presidential candidate under investigation is Paulo Rabello de Castro (PSC), the president of BNDES, the country’s state-run development bank.

    There is a second group facing charges for statements that could be considered racial crimes. The head of this group is Jair Bolsonaro (PSL), one of the leaders in the poles in the scenarios without Lula, reaching 17%.

    Alternative to Lula

    Former mayor of São Paulo, Fernando Haddad, from the Workers Party (PT)told Reuters that he was talking with other left-wing parties about forging a united leftist front for the elections if former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva is barred from running by corruption accusations.

    “We are seeing that both the left and the right are divided, with many candidates. With the exception of Lula, no one has more than 20 percent of voter support,” Haddad said in his first interview since Lula was imprisoned on April 7.

    Haddad, 55, could potentially be the Workers Party’s “Plan B” in the likely case that Lula cannot run, according to Reuters, quoting sources in the party saying that Lula has privately discussed the need for Haddad to start preparing to run, even while the party plans to stick to their founder’s candidacy.

    Haddad thinks the party can still win 20 percent of the votes on Election Day. “There is no guarantee that the left will have a single candidate. But in the run-off, I’m sure we will unite behind one leftist candidate,” he said.

    Haddad called for a center-left alliance to confront the equally fragmented center-right parties that have their own difficulties in a wide open field. “Our challenge is simpler,” Haddad said. “We all oppose that agenda.”

    Lula has allegedly given his blessing to Haddad to be his emissary in talks with other leftist leaders. He said he had met with former Ceará state Governor Ciro Gomes and the head of the Brazilian Socialist Party, which may nominate Joaquim Barbosa, a former Supreme Court justice. Both Gomes and Barbosa garnered 9 percent voter support in a Datafolha poll published on Sunday. Haddad polled 2 percent.

    Last Wednesday, Lula lost his latest appeal against his conviction for corruption and money laundering charges and a judge vetoed a scheduled visit to Lula by Nobel Peace Prize recipient Adolfo Perez Esquivel.

    The most recent polls conducted by Vox Populi for the Unified Workers’ Union reveals that 59 percent of the Brazilian population consider Lula to be a political prisoner after he complied with an arrest warrant against him earlier this month.

    Despite his conviction and imprisonment, the former head of state has topped every 2018 electoral poll conducted, including those of Vox Populi, Ibope, Datafolha, Data Poder 360, Instituto Paraná, the National Confederation of Transportation/MDA and Ipsos.

    MP/tS

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