Navigation
Suscribe
Menu Search Facebook Twitter
Search Close
Menu ALL SECTIONS
  • Capital Coahuila
  • Capital Hidalgo
  • Capital Jalisco
  • Capital Morelos
  • Capital Oaxaca
  • Capital Puebla
  • Capital Quintana Roo
  • Capital Querétaro
  • Capital Veracruz
  • Capital México
  • Capital Michoacán
  • Capital Mujer
  • Reporte Índigo
  • Estadio Deportes
  • The News
  • Efekto
  • Diario DF
  • Capital Edo. de Méx.
  • Green TV
  • Revista Cambio
Radio Capital
Pirata FM
Capital Máxima
Capital FM
Digital
Prensa
Radio
TV
X
Newsletter
Facebook Twitter
X Welcome! Subscribe to our newsletter and receive news, data, statistical and exclusive promotions for subscribers
World

Brazil Judge Releases Phone Taps Between Pres., Ex-Pres.

An attorney for Silva condemns the recordings, saying their release was sparking a 'social convulsion'

Brazil Corruption
2 years ago

RIO DE JANEIRO – The judge who is heading the sprawling investigation into corruption at Brazil’s state oil company on Wednesday released recordings of phone taps of former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, including a conversation with his successor, President Dilma Rousseff.

Demonstrators hold up a sign that reads in Portuguese "Brazil is not from PT", referring to the ruling Workers' Party, as they demand the impeachment of Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff and protest the naming of former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva as the president's new chief of staff, outside Planalto presidential palace in Brasilia, Brazil, Wednesday, March 16, 2016. Supporters say the move will help the president fight impeachment proceedings and critics blast it as a scheme to shield Lula from possible detention in corruption probes. (AP Photo/Eraldo Peres)

Demonstrators hold up a sign that reads in Portuguese “Brazil is not from PT”, referring to the ruling Workers’ Party, as they demand the impeachment of Brazil’s President Dilma Rousseff and protest the naming of former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva. Photo: AP/Eraldo Peres.

The release, by Judge Sergio Moro, came hours after Rousseff named Silva as her chief of staff — a move critics called a way to shield the former leader from possible detention in corruption probes.

Earlier this month, Silva was taken to a police station to answer questions in the investigation of a bribery scandal at Petrobras, the state oil company. Rumors that he would accept a Cabinet post surfaced shortly afterward.

Under Brazilian law, Silva’s appointment makes it harder for prosecutors to go after the former leader because only Brazil’s Supreme Court can authorize the investigation, imprisonment and trial of Cabinet members and legislators. That special judicial status already applies to Silva because his appointment has appeared in a special edition of the government’s official gazette, although the head of the governing Workers’ Party said the swearing-in ceremony was slated to take place next week.

Globo television network’s G1 Internet portal quoted Moro as saying that “from the tenor of the taped conversations, it is clear that the ex-president already knew or at least suspected he was being taped.”

An attorney for Silva, Cristiano Zanin Martins, condemned the recordings, saying their release was sparking a “social convulsion … which is not the role of the judiciary.”

A demonstrator holds a poster that reads in Portuguese "Lula Thief Minister, No" during protest demanding the impeachment of Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff and against the naming of former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva as Rousseff's chief of staff, outside Planalto presidential palace in Brasilia, Brazil, Wednesday, March 16, 2016. Supporters say the move will help the president fight impeachment proceedings and critics blast it as a scheme to shield Lula from possible detention in corruption probes. (AP Photo/Eraldo Peres)

A demonstrator holds a poster that reads in Portuguese “Lula Thief Minister, No” during protest demanding the impeachment of Brazil’s President Dilma Rousseff and against the naming of former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva as Rousseff’s chief of staff. Photo: AP/Eraldo Peres.

Police said about 2,000 people were gathering Wednesday evening outside the Planalto presidential palace in the capital, Brasilia, to protest against Silva’s nomination. The newspaper O Estado de S. Paulo said clashes were reported at the gathering.

The release of the recordings was the latest twist in a dramatic saga that has drawn comparisons to the prime time soap operas, or “telenovelas,” for which Brazil is famous.

Silva’s appointment Wednesday capped days of intense speculation and hours-long meetings between the two leaders. Speaking at a news conference after the announcement, Rousseff said she was “very happy.” Rousseff, who herself was chief of staff for Silva in 2005-2010, is facing impeachment proceedings over accusations of fiscal mismanagement unrelated to the Petrobras probe.

“His joining my government strengthens my government,” she said at a news conference before the recordings were released, adding, “Many people don’t want it to be strengthened. But he is coming and he’s coming to help.”

A dexterous political operator, Silva had been seen as Rousseff’s best hope for shoring up support for the government and its agenda by sealing alliances with key centrist and right-leaning parties in Congress and securing the support of social movements. He was also regarded as crucial to blocking the impeachment proceedings against Rousseff.

At the news conference, Rousseff vehemently denied that Silva accepted the post to delay investigations against him, stressing that Cabinet ministers’ special judicial standing does not grant them immunity.

“It doesn’t mean that he will not be investigated,” Rousseff said. “It’s a question of whom he will be investigated by.”

The opposition excoriated Wednesday’s announcement, and analysts predicted it could dramatically weaken Rousseff.

“Dilma will be surrendering the presidency to Lula,” said Thiago de Aragao of the Brasilia-based Arko Advice political consulting firm. “He will become the new president.”

Aragao predicted Silva would take over key decisions on political and economic matters and said the appointment underscores “the high level of concern with his (Silva’s) possible imprisonment and with the end of the government with Dilma’s impeachment.”

It doesn’t mean that he (Silva)  will not be investigated. It’s a question of whom he will be investigated by.”

-Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff.

Silva, a former metalworker who entered politics as a labor union leader, presided over years of galloping economic growth that saw tens of millions of people lifted out of grinding poverty. Although a bribes-for-votes scandal took down one of his chiefs of staff, he was wildly popular when he left office in 2010.

His support has since slipped along with Brazil’s economy and the mushrooming Petrobras corruption probe that has implicated numerous members of his Workers Party and now embroiled Silva himself.

Rousseff had been untouched by the turmoil, but the Supreme Court on Tuesday accepted a plea bargain by the party’s former leader in the Senate, Delcidio do Amaral, who alleged Rousseff at least knew about wrongdoing at Petrobras, which she formerly oversaw.

The scandal also has ensnared many opposition figures, including lower house Speaker Eduardo Cunha, who has spearheaded the so-far unsuccessful efforts to impeach Rousseff.

Demonstrators call for the impeachment of Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff and protest the naming of former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva as her new chief of staff, at Planalto presidential palace in Brasilia, Brazil, Wednesday, March 16, 2016. Supporters say the move will help the president fight impeachment proceedings and critics blast as a scheme to shield Lula from possible detention in corruption probes. (AP Photo/Eraldo Peres)

Demonstrators protest at Planalto presidential palace in Brasilia, Brazil, Wednesday, March 16. Photo: AP Photo/Eraldo Peres.

Amaral was detained late last year on allegations of obstructing the Petrobras probe, and Tuesday’s release of hundreds of pages of his testimony to investigators sent shockwaves throughout Brazil’s political class.

In the document, Amaral said Rousseff knew about a scheme to buy a refinery in the United States at an inflated price. He also alleged Silva ordered him to make payouts to another key operator of the Petrobras scheme to protect a close friend.

Both Rousseff and Silva have repeatedly denied any wrongdoing, and most of those mentioned in the plea deal disputed the allegations.

This week’s political turmoil came on the heels of nationwide protests against Rousseff and her Workers’ Party that brought an estimated 3 million people onto the streets Sunday. Newspapers called them the biggest political demonstrations in Brazilian history.

MAURICIO SAVARESE AND JENNY BARCHFIELD

Comments Whatsapp Twitter Facebook Share
More From The News
Latest News

Democrat Jones wins stunning red-state A ...

5 days ago
Business

Asian stocks mixed ahead of Fed rate ann ...

5 days ago
Entertainment

NFL Network suspends analysts over sexua ...

5 days ago
Business

Minnesota announces restrictions on usin ...

5 days ago
Most Popular

IMF Seeks Contingency Plans for Vulnerab ...

By The News
Business

In the Market for a Diamond? Lucky You.

By The News
Business

Taste for Bacon Spurs Investor Feast as ...

By The News
Business

Moody's Lowers Mexico's Credit Foresight ...

By The News
Business

Venezuela Says Better Oil Loans Deal Was ...

By Reuters
Business