Brazil Gets New Congress. 15% of Deputies Are Charged with Crimes

    A report published by Globo online reveals that at least 74, 1 in 7, or close to 15% of the 513 people elected last October to be Brazil's House representatives are involved in one or more lawsuit or criminal investigation under way in the Federal Justice tribunals around the country. 

    The investigative work took two months and counted on the effort of several reporters who searched for information in the seven Federal Justice tribunals in Brazil. The reporters unearthed all kinds of accusations from corruption to murder attempt. The 74 representatives are involved in  133 lawsuits. The new Congress will be inaugurated tomorrow, February 1st.

    Commenting on the report, Claudio Abramo, executive director of  Transparência Brasil, an NGO dedicated to fight corruption, said that the number of House representative with court cases is very high. He suggests that the electoral legislation should be changed so that people who have been convicted in court wouldn't be allowed to be a candidate to any elective post.

    The law now only bars those whose cases have gone all the way up the judicial system and cannot be appealed anymore. Even in these cases, the politicians get all their rights back just two years after having served their sentences.

    For Everson Tobaruela, an expert in political and electoral law and an adviser to the Brazilian Bar Association (OAB), there's nothing wrong with the legislation. "As a lawyer," he says, "I have to say that, while there are chances for appeals, there is a presumption of innocence. The Constitution says that the person is innocent. This is a technical parameter. It is the society that has to make this judgment and not vote for those who are suspect."

    According to Globo, 51% of all these lawsuits deal with crimes against the public administration. Most of the cases involve embezzlement, a crime in which civil servants use public money or goods for their own benefit. Frauds during bid processes and  misappropriation of public funds cases were some of the other crimes found during the investigative reporting.

    In second place, with 20% of the cases, come the tax crimes being tax cheating the most common of them.

    In Brazil most politicians don't seem interested in serving the public, but seek a political career in order to get power and privileges. One of these privileges is to be free from the common justice. All representatives who were elected and had pending court cases will have all these lawsuits automatically transferred to the Supreme Court.

    Among those in Brazil who cannot be judged by the lower courts are the president and the vice-president, senators and House members, ministers, the attorney general, the commanders of the armed forces, as well as members of higher courts.

    There are those, however, who disagree that having a higher court for high authorities is a benefit for those who get involved in crime. They will have no right appeal in case they are convicted.

    Some Charges

    Ronaldo Cunha Lima, from the PSDB party of Paraí­ba state, has been charged with trying to murder – while he was Paraí­ba's governor – the state's former governor Tarcí­sio Miranda Buriti.

    Cunha Lima shot Buriti twice in a restaurant, in 1993. The ex-governor went into coma for a few days, but ended up surviving. The lawsuit against Lima continues dragging in the courts 14 years after the murder attempt. Meanwhile Buriti has died in 2003.

    In his defense, Lima says that Buriti was threatening him and that the crime was not premeditated.

    Paulo Magalhães, from Bahia's PFL, who was re-elected House representative, is accused of assaulting a man who used to drive for his family. Magalhães says that the chauffeur had committed petty theft at his parents house and that he decided to take the man to the police station, but never used any violence. Witnesses tell a different story, however.

    The re-elected representative Armando Abí­lio, from Paraí­ba's PTB, is charged by the Federal Public Prosecutor's Office with trying to defraud the entry examination for the Federal University of Paraí­ba's medicine school. According to the justice, he paid two professors, one of chemistry and another one of physics, to give his daughter via radio the answers to the test.

    The accusation against Asdrúbal Bentes, from the PMDB of Pará, is that he tried to buy votes by offering to pay for tubal ligations in a private hospital. He is also charged with putting the mothers' lives at risk since the hospital had no authorization to do the surgical procedure and the patients didn't undergo the necessary preoperative exams.

    Re-elected representative Dilceu Sperafico, from Paraná's PP, is charged with using 27,000 tons of wheat from a state-owned company (Conab) as collateral for a family bank loan.  At the time of the accusation, in 1995, he was the president of the institution.

    Fernando Giacobo, from Paraná's PL, who has been reelected, is charged by Paraná state's Public Prosecutor with kidnapping and false imprisonment.  According to the accusation, he demanded that a real estate agent return the commission from the commercialization of a building the House representative owned. In face of the refusal, the agent was locked in a bedroom and left there until late the next day.

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    • Ric

      Right, but maybe Chavez doesnÀ‚´t yet know what the USA learned a long time ago:That you canÀ‚´t buy friends. Use it for national advantage, but donÀ‚´t naively expect that youÀ‚´ve gained a real ally. A dog wonÀ‚´t normally bite the hand that feeds it, but people will……

    • ch.c.

      correct but…..
      …doesnt Chavez uses his oil wealth and give part of it to spread “his” socialism ?

      What is wrong with the USA if they help the development of democracy ?
      In my view both Chavez and the USA are right to help spread their ideology.

      Nothing new, nothing wrong. This is done by everyone, including Russia, China, Brazil, France, UK or just name it ! And this regardless of their rightist or lefttist ideology.

    • I am a I.R.I. member in Brazil and other 37 countries

      By DIANA BARAHONA and JEB SPRAGUE

      British press baron Lord Northcliff said, “News is something that someone, somewhere wants to keep secret, everything else is advertising.” If this is true, then U.S. government funding of Reporters Without Borders must be news, because the organization and its friends in Washington have gone to extraordinary lengths to cover it up. In spite of 14 months of stonewalling by the National Endowment for Democracy over a Freedom of Information Act request and a flat denial from RSF executive director Lucie Morillon, the NED has revealed that Reporters Without Borders received grants over at least three years from the International Republican Institute.

      The NED still refuses to provide the requested documents or even reveal the grant amounts, but they are identified by these numbers: IRI 2002-022/7270, IRI 2003-027/7470 and IRI 2004-035/7473. Investigative reporter Jeremy Bigwood asked Morillon on April 25 if her group was getting any money from the I.R.I., and she denied it, but the existence of the grants was confirmed by NED assistant to the president, Patrick Thomas.

      The discovery of the grants reveals a major deception by the group, which for years denied it was getting any Washington dollars until some relatively small grants from the NED and the Center for a Free Cuba were revealed (see Counterpunch: “Reporters Without Borders Unmasked”). When asked to account for its large income RSF has claimed the money came from the sale of books of photographs. But researcher Salim Lamrani has pointed out the improbability of this claim. Even taking into account that the books are published for free, it would have had to sell 170 200 books in 2004 and 188 400 books in 2005 to earn the more than $2 million the organization claims to make each year À‚­ 516 books per day in 2005. The money clearly had to come from other sources, as it turns out it did.

      The I.R.I., an arm of the Republican Party, specializes in meddling in elections in foreign countries, as a look at NED annual reports and the I.R.I. website shows. It is one of the four core grantees of the NED, the organization founded by Congress under the Reagan administration in 1983 to replace the CIA’s civil society covert action programs, which had been devastated by exposure by the Church committee in the mid-1970s (Ignatius, 1991). The other three pillars of the NED are the National Democratic Institute (the Democratic Party), the Solidarity Center (AFL-CIO) and the Center for International Private Enterprise (U.S. Chamber of Commerce). But of all the groups the I.R.I. is closest to the Bush administration, according to a recent piece in The New York Times exposing its role in the overthrow of Haitian president Jean-Bertrand Aristide:

      “President Bush picked its president, Lorne W. Craner, to run his administration’s democracy-building efforts. The institute, which works in more than 60 countries, has seen its federal financing nearly triple in three years, from $26 million in 2003 to $75 million in 2005. Last spring, at an I.R.I. fund-raiser, Mr. Bush called democracy-building ‘a growth industry.'” (Bogdanich and Nordberg, 2006)

      Funding from the I.R.I. presents a major problem for RSF’s credibility as a “press freedom” organization because the group manufactured propaganda against the popular democratic governments of Venezuela and Haiti at the same time that its patron, the I.R.I., was deeply involved in efforts to overthrow them. The I.R.I. funded the Venezuelan opposition to President Hugo Chavez (Barry, 2005) and actively organized Haitian opposition to Aristide in conjunction with the CIA (Bogdanich and Nordberg, 2006).

      The man who links RSF to these activities is Otto Reich, who worked on the coups first as assistant secretary of state for Latin American affairs, and, after Nov. 2002, as a special envoy to Latin America on the National Security Council. Besides being a trustee of the government-funded Center for a Free Cuba, which gives RSF $50,000 a year, Reich has worked since the early 1980’s with the I.R.I.’s senior vice president, Georges Fauriol, another member of the Center for a Free Cuba. But it is Reich’s experience in propaganda that is especially relevant. In the 1980’s he was caught up in investigations into the Reagan administration’s illegal war on the Sandinistas. The comptroller general determined in 1987 that Reich’s Office of Public Diplomacy had “engaged in prohibited covert propaganda activities.” (Bogdanich and Nordberg, 2006). In early 2002, once George Bush had given him a recess appointment to the State Department, “Reich was soon tasked to orchestrate a massive international media defamation campaign against ChÀƒ¡vez that has continued until this day” (Conkling and Goble, 2004).

      http://www.counterpunch.org/barahona08012006.html

    • I am a I.R.I. member in Brazil and other 37 countries

      Reporters with borders and Washington’s coups
      Lobby: Suspected sources raise questions on humanitarian organizationˢ۪s actions.

      In order to spread what he understands by À¢€œdemocracyÀ¢€Â, the American president George W. Bush not only invaded Iraq in 2003 and supported Israel in the recent slaughtering in Lebanon, but also would be using non-profit organizations (NOGs), frequently infiltrated by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), to influence the political scenario worldwide. NOGs such as the American Freedom House accept gratefully economic aid by the US government to accomplish secret activities.

      And foreign NGOs, such as Reporters San FrontiÀƒ©rs (RSF), with headquarters in Paris, also fed, mostly, with Washington dollars, would be behind the campaigns to overthrow Hugo Chavez, the president of Venezuela, and Fidel Castro À¢€“ or at least the structure he built À¢€“ in Cuba. That is what the American journalists Diana Barahona and Jeb Sprage alleges in an article published on August, 6 by RÀƒ©seau Voltaire, NGO based in Paris.

      But the NGOsÀ¢€™ caixa 2 is not only fed with Washington dollars. Another part is from Soros Foundation, from investor George Soros. In 2004, this foundation directed 1,2 million to NGOs produce À¢€œelection related projectsÀ¢€Â in Ukraine, in favor of the so called Orange Revolution from Viktor Yuschenko, says the British historian Timothy Garton Ash. This makes sense, at least from SorosÀ¢€™ viewpoint, with East European origins himself: Yushenko is pro- market and pro-Occident.

      We donˢ۪t know, however, how this generous amount expended by Soros was distributed. Like the investor, between 2002 and 2004, the Bush administration invested 65 million dollars in NGOs linked to Yushenko movement. On the other hand the Russian government donated 200 million dollars to the pro-Russia candidate in Ukraine.

      There are other American lobbies financing NGOs. It is not needed, for example, to detail who finances the Iran-Syria Operations Group besides the Department of State of United States.

      It is no secret that the À¢€œspy community is being encouraged in getting more involved in the US projects to promote democratic governmentsÀ¢€Â wrote Guy Dinmore, from the British daily Financial Times. And the promotion of this supposed democratization should occur in a global level. In a conference held in Washington about the subject in June, 2006, John Negroponte, director of intelligence of the USA, intended to assess how better construct a global democracy. To the encounter attended academics, experts of highly regarded think thanks and spies (from academies of shrewd thinkers and intelligent services) from USA and Europe.

      On this context one fact draws the attention: How Reporters without Borders , NGO founded 2 decades ago in Paris to advocate for threaten journalists, accepts grants from American NGOs? Lucille Morillon, executive director of National Endowment for Democracy (NED) admits that the International Republican Institute (IRI), a satellite Non Government Organization of NED, subsidized RSF (french acronym the Reporters without Boarders) for 3 years.

      According to the New York Times, the IRI had an essential role in the coupe dÀ¢€™Àƒ©tat against Aristede overthrown, ex-president of Haiti, and in the attempts to overthrow Hugo Chaves. The New York Times explains: À¢€œThe president Bush picked as its president (of IRI) Lorne W. Craner, to run his administrationÀ¢€™s democracy-building efforts. The institute, which works in more than 60 countries, has seen its federal financing nearly triple in 3 years, from $26 million in 2003 to $75 million in 2005. Last spring, at an I.R.I. fund-raiser, Mr. Bush called democracy-building ‘a growth industry.” (Bogdanich and Nordberg, 2006)

      Obs: President of Ukraine Victor Yushchenko had half face paralyzed by food poisoning during 2004 election campaign and Assassinated Lebanese Industry Minister Pierre Gemayel, a scion of one of Lebanon’s most prominent Christian political dynasties, was assassinated in November, 2006.

    • ch.c.

      dead right…Bob and Luca Roma !
      And as you can realize :
      – Brazil is the worst country in LATAM……..just as… Italy is the worst country in
      the EU !!!!!!!

      But what is funny is how Lula is proud of his…….FAILURES….which is not the case
      of Italy.

    • Luca Roma

      correct : >

    • Luca Roma

      Same as in Italy
      Unfortunately it’s the same in Italy…we have a three-step conviction system so, as long as you’re not finally convicted by the third level (Corte di Cassazione after you have been convicted by the court(1), and the Court of appeal(2) you can say you are still innocent and refuse to give up your parliament seat. Of course if you are finally convicted you should leave but some politicians never even do that waiting either for journalists to forget or just saying the judicial system is politically biased or that they are “communists” (like Berlusconi says) .

    • Bob

      A free elected people
      Lets not forget that these people are elected by the people of Brazil. If they want these people in their government then so be it.
      Lets also not forget on who the people elected for their president.
      You get what you reap.

    • bo

      Brazil is ran by a banda de ladrÀƒ£os!!!!

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