Lula set for release after Supreme Court ruling

. Nov 08, 2019
supreme court lula

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Good morning! Today we’re looking at the Supreme Court ruling now set to release Lula from jail. Also, U.S. journalist is assaulted live on Brazilian radio. And the government’s plan to legalize mining in indigenous lands. (This newsletter is for platinum subscribers only. Become one now!)

Lula set for release after Supreme Court ruling

Yesterday evening, the Supreme Court

finalized its &#8220;Trial of the Year&#8221; on whether defendants should begin serving prison sentences before exhausting all of their appeals. With the justices tied at 5 v. 5, Chief Justice Dias Toffoli cast the decisive vote and changed the court&#8217;s precedents, ruling that prison sentences may only be carried out after defendants have used every appellate recourse available to them.</p> <p><strong>Why it matters. </strong>While the matter in question was an &#8220;abstract case&#8221; and did not concern any individual in particular, the biggest direct beneficiary of the ruling is Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. The ex-president is currently serving a jail sentence for a corruption and money laundering conviction which has only been upheld by one appellate court, meaning that he will now qualify for release to fight his remaining appeals at liberty.</p> <p>Minutes after Chief Justice Toffoli issued his casting vote, Lula&#8217;s defense counsel issued a statement saying they will issue a request for the ex-president&#8217;s release this morning after a meeting with Lula in his jail cell in Curitiba. The process of release is not immediate, however, as the request will go to Judge Carolina Lebbos, of the criminal executions court in the state of Paraná. In light of the Supreme Court ruling, she will have no choice but to accept the release request, though she is under no prerogative to do so immediately.</p> <p><strong>Backlash. </strong>The release of Lula and his return to the public spotlight is set to reignite much of the left-right polarization of the 2018 election campaign. A significant part of Jair Bolsonaro&#8217;s popularity is based on his image as the &#8220;anti-Lula,&#8221; and he may see this as an opportunity to rally his withering support.</p> <p><strong>One eye on 2022? </strong>One of Lula&#8217;s main benefits in being at liberty is that he will be able to resume a more active role as the figurehead of the Workers&#8217; Party. However, thanks to his conviction, he remains ineligible for public office and would be unable to stand as a presidential candidate against Jair Bolsonaro in 2022. There is a habeas corpus request pending before the Supreme Court to annul his conviction entirely and take his case back to square one; in this case, Lula would be eligible once more, but he is likely to face other convictions before 2022.</p> <p><strong>Other beneficiaries. </strong>The Supreme Court ruling broadly permits any defendant who has not exhausted all of his/her appeals to be released from jail. However, this excludes those with preventive detention orders, such as inmates who have been convicted for violent crimes. However, José Dirceu, Lula&#8217;s former Chief of Staff who was given seven years for his part in the Mensalão scandal, is another who is eligible for release.</p> <hr class="wp-block-separator"/> <h2>Glenn Greenwald attacked live on air by far-right colleague</h2> <p>During an interview on shock jock radio program Pânico yesterday, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Glenn Greenwald was assaulted by veteran right-wing columnist Augusto Nunes after a heated discussion live on air. When Mr. Greenwald repeatedly called the 70-year-old a coward, Mr. Nunes slapped him in the face and landed another blow, before the two were separated by show producers.</p> <figure class="wp-block-embed-twitter wp-block-embed is-type-rich is-provider-twitter"><div class="wp-block-embed__wrapper"> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-width="550" data-dnt="true"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">BREAKING NEWS: <a href="">@theintercept</a> journalist <a href="">@ggreenwald</a> was punched by VEJA columnist Augusto Nunes after calling him &quot;coward&quot;. The scuffle happened during a program on radio station Jovem Pan <a href=";ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#BrazilianReport</a> <a href=";ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#AugustoNunes</a> <a href=";ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#GlennGreenwald</a> <a href=""></a></p>&mdash; The Brazilian Report (@BrazilianReport) <a href="">November 7, 2019</a></blockquote><script async src="" charset="utf-8"></script> </div></figure> <p><strong>Context. </strong>The argument was in relation to previous comments made by Mr. Nunes on the same radio station, when he suggested that no-one was looking after Mr. Greenwald&#8217;s two children—whom he fathers with his husband, left-wing congressman David Miranda—and called on child services to look into the matter.</p> <p><strong>Why it matters. </strong>Glenn Greenwald has become something of a bête noire for the Brazilian right, ever since <em>The Intercept</em>—of which he is a founder—began publishing a series of leaked instant messaging logs of conversations between Operation Car Wash prosecutors and then-federal judge (now Justice Minister) Sergio Moro. The leaks show a number of irregularities in the investigation and could even lead to convictions issued by Mr. Moro being annulled due to bias (see top story).</p> <script src="" type="text/javascript" charset="utf-8"></script> <p><strong>Reaction. </strong>Radio station Jovem Pan issued an apology to its &#8220;listeners (&#8230;) guests, and Glenn Greenwald,&#8221; saying that the freedom of expression granted to the station &#8220;does not extend to any form of offense and aggression.&#8221; The broadcaster did not mention whether it would take disciplinary action against Augusto Nunes, who, in turn, has not apologized. Speaking to newspaper <em>Folha de S.Paulo</em>, he said he did not regret assaulting Mr. Greenwald, claiming he &#8220;reacted as any man would react.&#8221;</p> <p>In the aftermath of the incident, several prominent far-right figures came out in support of Mr. Nunes&#8217; act of violence. President Jair Bolsonaro&#8217;s son Carlos, a councilor for the city of Rio de Janeiro, defined Mr. Nunes&#8217; behavior as &#8220;a matter of honor,&#8221; calling Mr. Greenwald a &#8220;cynical criminal.&#8221; Olavo de Carvalho, the self-proclaimed philosopher and far-right ideologue, classed the incident as &#8220;the most beautiful thing on Brazilian TV ever.&#8221;</p> <hr class="wp-block-separator"/> <h2>Indigenous mining bill puts government and Congress on collision course</h2> <p>Jair Bolsonaro&#8217;s Mines and Energy Minister Bento Albuquerque has confirmed the government intends to regulate mining activities on protected indigenous lands. In fact, the department is expected to issue a bill to this extent in the coming weeks.</p> <p><strong>Why it matters. </strong>A measure such as this would be the natural progression of Jair Bolsonaro&#8217;s discourse on indigenous communities. From the beginning of his election campaign until today he has spoke of his desire to make use of the &#8220;wealth and riches&#8221; underneath Brazil&#8217;s soil, even in indigenous areas, which make up 13.8 percent of the country&#8217;s area and 23 percent of the Amazon region.</p> <p>The plan seeks to allow mining activities on indigenous lands and provide financial compensation for the traditional communities living there by paying royalties. As things stand, indigenous communities are allowed to mine on their own land but cannot sell anything they dig up, as anything underneath the soil legally belongs to the state.&nbsp;</p> <p>The move has been heavily criticized by indigenous activists, who claim it simply seeks to legalize the illegal mining operations already taking place in several of these lands. Furthermore, by giving indigenous communities the option to make money by disfiguring their ancestral lands, there is concern that some more needy groups will simply sign off their heritage in exchange for a quick buck.</p> <p><strong>Congress says no. </strong>The government shouldn&#8217;t expect to get this bill passed any time soon, however, with House Speaker Rodrigo Maia telling news channel <em>Globonews</em> that he would reject any such proposal that arrived to Congress. &#8220;I&#8217;ll receive it, and I&#8217;ll dismiss it. Receive it and dismiss it,&#8221; he stressed. &#8220;We can&#8217;t use the argument of illegal mining to legalize [the practice]. First the government has to do its job as a figure of oversight, to curb illegalities, deforestation, mining. Then we&#8217;ll talk.&#8221;</p> <hr class="wp-block-separator"/> <h2>What else you should know today</h2> <p><strong>Oil woes 1. </strong>After Wednesday&#8217;s flop &#8220;mega&#8221; oil auction, the Brazilian government held another tender for pre-salt oil fields yesterday. Once again, the results were poor. Only one of the five fields on offer received any bids, and it went to Petrobras. The state-owned company paid BRL 5 billion for the Aram pre-salt field, in a consortium with China&#8217;s CNODC.</p> <p><strong>Oil woes 2. </strong>Newspaper <em>Folha de S.Paulo</em> reports that Jair Bolsonaro asked for Chinese president Xi Jinping for help in Wednesday&#8217;s mega auction, correctly fearing that it would be a complete flop. Chinese companies CNODC and CNOOC were the only foreign firms to purchase any share in the pre-salt oil fields, taking minimum 5 percent stakes each in the Búzios area.</p> <p><strong>Growth figures. </strong>The government has increased its projections for GDP growth in 2019, bumping it up from 0.85 to 0.9 percent. In a bulletin announcing the change, the Economy Ministry cited the authorized withdrawals from the Guarantee Fund for Length of Service (FGTS) as a driver for added growth. Meanwhile, &#8220;reductions in interest rates and increased confidence&#8221; also saw the department increase its GDP growth projections for 2020, from 2.17 to 2.32 percent.</p> <p><strong>Cultural shift. </strong>Yesterday, President Jair Bolsonaro made a number of changes to the administration of culture in Brazil. First, he ordered the transfer of the Special Culture Department (the descendant of the extinct Ministry of Culture) from the Citizenship Ministry to Tourism. Then, he appointed controversial right-wing playwright Roberto Alvim to head the office, sarcastically declaring that &#8220;the artistic class will be happy.&#8221; Taking Culture away from the Citizenship Ministry is part of a longer-term government effort to dissolve the ministry and merge it with the Ministry of Human Rights.</p> <p><strong>Cuba. </strong>For the first time in 27 years, Brazil voted against the UN&#8217;s annual resolution to condemn the United States&#8217; economic blockade on Cuba. Only Israel (and the U.S. itself), with several of the Americans&#8217; allies abstaining or voting in favor. The move came after pressure from the U.S. State Department on Brazil&#8217;s Foreign Affairs Ministry, and it is unlikely that the country will receive any favor in return from the U.S.</p> <p><strong>Blocks for all. </strong>Whereas a U.S. appeals court ruled that President Donald Trump was breaking the First Amendment by blocking followers on his official Twitter account, in Brazil, Jair Bolsonaro has been given the legal backing to shun detractors at will on his favored social media. In a case questioning whether the president has the right to deny any member of the public the right to see his tweets, Prosecutor General Augusto Aras declared that Mr. Bolsonaro should be able to block whoever he wants, believing that the <a href="">@jairbolsonaro</a> account is personal, and thus not technically official.

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