All posts by MBusiness

Back to Jail, or Run for President: the Legal Maze Facing Brazil’s Lula

In allowing Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva to walk out of jail last week, Brazil’s Supreme Court has blown open a legal labyrinth that could see the leftist former president return to prison just as easily as run for election again.The second chamber of the Supreme Court will soon hear an appeal from Lula’s defense team that Sergio Moro, the judge in the wide-ranging “Car Wash” corruption probe who secured Lula’s conviction and who is now justice minister in far-right President Jair Bolsonaro’s cabinet, did not act impartially.The Supreme Court on Friday ruled that a person can only be imprisoned once all appropriate avenues of appeal are exhausted, so-called “res judicata”, which overturned the court’s opinion three years ago that convicted criminals face mandatory imprisonment if they lose their first appeal.Seventy-four year old Lula had been imprisoned for 19 months on corruption convictions carrying a nearly nine-year sentence.He is also facing several other corruption charges.If the Supreme Court’s second chamber annuls Lula’s conviction, he will once again be eligible to run for office, potentially opening the way for him to stand as the Workers’ Party (PT) candidate in the 2022 presidential election.On the other hand, if he loses an appeal relating to one of his other charges known as the “Atibaia” case, Lula could return to prison. Following last week’s Supreme Court ruling, lawmakers have advocated speeding up a constitutional amendment reinstating automatic jail time for convicts who lose their first appeal.Both the Lower house and Senate are currently analyzing constitutional amendments on this subject. Because they take longer to go through the legislative process than ordinary bills, nothing is likely to happen until next year.FILE – Demonstrators hold a Brazilian flag during an act in support of operation Car Wash and former judge Sergio Moro, in front of Supreme Court headquarters in Brasilia, Brazil, Sept. 25, 2019.The case against Moro and his alleged political bias in Lula’s conviction had been stalled since December last year, when justices Edson Fachin and Carmen Lucia took a stand against it and justice Gilmar Mendes requested a review of the case.”Annuling (Lula’s) conviction, if that’s what eventually transpires as a result of (Moro’s role), will lead to a new trial. That could happen,” justice Mendes said in an exclusive interview with Reuters in August.”It is important to do this analysis in a detached way. The media became very oppressive. The right verdict is not just a guilty verdict. This is not correct. We have to recognize that we owe Lula a fair trial,” Mendes said at the time. 

Evo Morales Heads to Asylum in Mexico, as US Applauds His Resignation as Bolivian President

Former Bolivian President Evo Morales is on a flight to Mexico, where he has been granted asylum.  Foreign Minister Marcelo Erbrad posted a picture of Morales onboard a Mexican air force plane, displaying a Mexican flag across his lap, as it departed La Paz Monday night.  “Your life and integrity are safe,” Erbrad tweeted. Ya despegó el avión de la Fuerza Aérea Mexicana con Evo Morales a bordo. De acuerdo a las convenciones internacionales vigentes está bajo la protección del de México. Su vida e integridad están a salvo.— Marcelo Ebrard C. (@m_ebrard) November 12, 2019Morales requested asylum in Mexico hours after he abruptly resigned from office Sunday in the wake of mass protests over last month’s disputed presidential election, which ended with him being declared the winner after partial results had predicted he would face a December runoff against former President Carlos Mesa, his main rival.  Late Monday, Morales tweeted he was on his way to Mexico and was “grateful for the openness of these brothers who offered us asylum to protect our life. It hurts me to leave the country, for political reasons, but I will always be concerned. I will return soon, with more strength and energy.”The United States government is applauding the Morales’s resignation, rejecting assertions by several countries, including Mexico, that he was forced out by a coup.U.S. President Donald Trump, in a statement, called Morales’ departure “a significant moment for democracy in the Western Hemisphere. After nearly 14 years and his recent attempt to override the Bolivian constitution and the will of the people, Morales’s departure preserves democracy and paves the way for the Bolivian people to have their voices heard.”The White House statement adds that the events in Bolivia “send a strong signal to the illegitimate regimes in Venezuela and Nicaragua that democracy and the will of the people will always prevail. We are now one step closer to a completely democratic, prosperous, and free Western Hemisphere.”A senior State Department official told reporters on a conference call on Monday afternoon that Washington does not consider the resignation of Morales the result of a coup, but rather it is an expression of the Bolivian peopled fed up with government ignoring its will.“There were protesters from all walks on life,” said a senior administration official, denying that it was mainly the Bolivian middle class on the streets demanding Morales’ ouster. “It’s probably a little bit simplistic to boil this down to class or perhaps ethnicity in a complex set of circumstances.”A senior U.S. official added, that “there’s been too much violence on both sides.”Some of Morales’ ministers and senior officials who stepped down are also seeking refuge in the Mexican ambassador’s residence.At the request of a number of nations, including the United States, Brazil, Canada, Colombia and Peru, the Organization of American States on Tuesday afternoon is to hold a special meeting on the Bolivian situation.Morales stepped down Sunday, hours after he had accepted calls for a new election by an OAS team that found a “heap of observed irregularities” in the October 20 election.The delayed results of the balloting, which fueled suspicion of vote rigging, indicated Morales received just enough votes to avoid a runoff against a united opposition trying to prevent him from winning a fourth term.Morales, on Monday, called on the opposition to keep the peace.Mesa y Camacho, discriminadores y conspiradores, pasarán a la historia como racistas y golpistas. Que asuman su responsabilidad de pacificar al país y garanticen la estabilidad política y convivencia pacífica de nuestro pueblo. El mundo y bolivianos patriotas repudian el golpe— Evo Morales Ayma (@evoespueblo) November 11, 2019According to the Bolivian constitution, the vice president is next in line to take power when the president steps down. The head of the country’s Senate is third in line, but both of them, as well as a number of other top ministers, resigned shortly after Morales, leaving a power vacuum.Opposition leader Jeanine Anez said Sunday she would assume the interim presidency of Bolivia, but Congress must first be convened to vote her into power.The U.S. government is calling for Bolivia’s legislative assembly to quickly convene to accept Morales’ resignation and follow the constitution to fill the political vacuum.“What’s important is to reconstitute the civilian government,” said a senior State Department official.Morales, the first member of Bolivia’s indigenous population to become president, announced his resignation on television shortly after the country’s military chief, General Williams Kaliman, called on him to quit to allow the restoration of peace and stability.Carlos Mesa credits a popular uprising, not the military for forcing Morales to step aside.The military made a decision not to deploy in the streets because “they didn’t want to take lives,” according to Mesa.Some of Morales’s ministers and senior officials who stepped down are currently seeking refuge in the Mexican ambassador’s residence.A high profile freshman opposition member of the U.S. House is also rejecting the Trump administration’s characterization of events in Bolivia.“What’s happening right now in Bolivia isn’t democracy, it’s a coup,” tweeted Democrat Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on Monday. “The people of Bolivia deserve free, fair, and peaceful elections – not violent seizures of power.”What’s happening right now in Bolivia isn’t democracy, it’s a coup.The people of Bolivia deserve free, fair, and peaceful elections – not violent seizures of power.— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) November 11, 2019

First Spanish Royal Visit Crowns Havana’s 500th Party

Cuba is in party mode this week, despite tough economic times worsened by tighter U.S. sanctions, as it prepares for its first state visit by a Spanish king, to celebrate the 500th anniversary of the founding of Havana, the capital.Spain’s King Felipe and Queen Letizia arrived late on Monday for a three-day stay to commemorate the Cuban capital, founded by a Spanish conquistador on Nov. 16, 1519 and considered one of the architectural jewels of Latin America.The royal trip also underscores Europe’s rapprochement with Cuba’s Communist government, even as the United States doubles down on a decades-old policy of sanctions.Events to mark Havana’s anniversary include the inauguration of renovated landmarks, concerts, the illumination of city fortifications and a rare fireworks display over the Malecon seafront boulevard.”We Cubans like to party,” said trade union worker Miryelis Hernandez, 32. “Even if we are feeling low, we know we have to pick ourselves up, so it’s good Havana is celebrating its 500 years and there is a party.”The royal couple will tour Havana’s old historic center, a UNESCO World Heritage site boasting an eclectic mix of colonial, Art Deco and other styles that has been undergoing a slow facelift since the 1990s.A woman pulls towels off the line after they dried on the balcony of an old home, missing part of its roof, in Havana, Cuba, Nov. 10, 2019.Cuba focused more on building infrastructure in the impoverished countryside than on maintaining its cities in the early decades of Fidel Castro’s leftist 1959 revolution, allowing its punishing tropical climate to wreak havoc.”Havana luckily conserved its valuable architectural patrimony, unlike other Latin American cities that lost a good part of their historic centers’ patrimony due to real estate development,” said Cuban urban planning specialist Gina Rey.”But paradoxically this patrimony is very deteriorated, and (renovation) efforts have not been enough so far.”The only big recent changes to Havana’s urban landscape are the construction of a handful of hulking luxury hotels.Tourists sit on the terrace of newly opened Hotel Paseo del Prado in Havana, Cuba, Nov. 10, 2019.One of the main buildings on show for the celebrations will be the Capitol, a neoclassical gem built in 1929 and inspired by Washington’s Capitol.Reflecting a new geopolitical order, the gilded roof of its cupola was restored with the help of Russia.Just blocks away, though, are buildings that have collapsed or crumbling, such as the former Hotel Surf on the Malecon, clad in blue and salmon pink ceramic tiles and divided into apartments after the revolution.”It’s good they are doing restoration work,” said resident Mario Macias, pointing to rotten beams and holes in the ceiling where rain dripped through. “But maybe they should have started a long time ago.” 

Brazil Mulls Nuclear Agency as Stepping Stone to OECD Membership

Brazil is considering joining the Nuclear Energy Agency (NEA), a specialized agency within the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), which could serve as a stepping stone to joining the rich-nations club, its head said.NEA director general William Magwood said the membership of the agency, which groups 33 countries with 85% of the world’s nuclear power capacity, is straightforward and based on mutual interest in sharing state-of-the-art nuclear technology.”Membership can happen very quickly and that means it is a very practical stepping stone towards OECD membership,” Magwood said in an interview on Friday.He said South Korea used that path in the 1970s and, more recently, Argentina joined the agency in 2017 with the intention that it would help its pending bid for OECD membership.”They are certainly talking about it, it is something the Brazilian government is looking at,” Magwood said at the end of a visit to Brazil during which he visited the country’s unfinished Angra 3 reactor.Brazil had expected to join the OECD quickly with the backing that U.S. President Donald Trump offered President Jair Bolsonaro in March, but in October Trump said Argentina had U.S. endorsement to join first, dashing Brazil’s hopes.Membership of the NEA largely overlaps with the OECD, except for three exceptions: Russia, Romania and Argentina.Small is GoodMagwood said Brazil was doing the right thing in completing its mothballed third nuclear reactor, Angra 3, on the coast south of Rio de Janeiro, despite the price tag to finish the job, estimated at some 15 billion reais ($3.7 billion).General view of Angra Nuclear Power Plant complex during a media tour in Angra dos Reis, Brazil, Aug. 1, 2019.Brazil’s state nuclear power company Eletronuclear is looking for a partner for Angra 3 and has narrowed the field to China’s National Nuclear Corp (CNNC), France’s EDF or Russia’s Rosatom.”It is such a huge investment that it makes sense to go ahead and finish that plant, but beyond that Brazil should start looking at new technologies,” Magwood said.Magwood said Brazil is right to plan new reactors because climate change concerns will demand cleaner energy for the future, while Brazilian authorities he spoke with said the country is reaching the limits of its hydroelectric potential.As the government studies plans to build more nuclear plants in Brazil’s northeast, it would do well to study small reactors that are cheaper and safer and can be built in larger numbers, he said.The first of these, made by NuScale Power LLC, majority-owned by Fluor, will be on the market next year. 

Mexico Makes Arrests in Massacre of American Women, Children, Official Says

Mexico has made an unspecified number of arrests over last week’s massacre of three women and six children of dual U.S-Mexican nationality in the north of the country, Security Minister Alfonso Durazo said on Monday.”There have been arrests, but it’s not up to us to give information,” Durazo told reporters in Mexico City.The women and children from families of U.S. Mormon origin who settled in Mexico decades ago were killed last Monday on a remote dirt road in the state of Sonora by suspected drug cartel gunmen, sparking outrage and condemnation in the United States.Durazo said that prosecutors in Sonora, as well as at the federal level, were in charge of the investigation.However, a spokeswoman for the state government of Sonora said: “We don’t have that information.”Mexico’s government has said it believes the victims were caught in the midst of a territorial dispute between an arm of the powerful Sinaloa Cartel and the rival Juarez Cartel.On Sunday, Mexico’s government said it had asked the FBI to participate in the investigation into the killings.

Treasury Secretary: Brazil Reform Process Can Withstand Lula Release, Regional Tensions

The recent release from prison of former Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva and upsurge in political instability across Latin America will not hinder Brazil’s economic reform process, a senior Economy Ministry official said Monday.”I think, in fact, eventually you’ll have more debate about reform, which is good,” Treasury Secretary Mansueto Almeida told Reuters in Brasilia. “When you make changes to society based on proper debate, it’s good, because those changes are done with conviction.” FILE – Brazil’s Secretary of the Treasury Mansueto Almeida is seen during an event in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Aug. 8, 2019.Regarding Lula’s release last Friday after the Supreme Court overturned a previous ruling keeping people convicted of crimes in jail if they lose their first appeal, Almeida said Brazil should not be concerned about who the “political actors” are.”At the end of the day, I don’t think we need to be afraidof having a ‘politician A,’ ‘politician B,’ ‘politician C’ (released from jail),” Almeida said. “You have to put the debate to Congress and see how it evolves. If you convince the people and lawmakers, you make the changes. If not, you don’t. That’s democracy.”On Saturday, Lula gave a speech in which he strongly criticized Economy Minister Paulo Guedes and his economic views, while President Jair Bolsonaro and members of his cabinet took swipes back at the leftist former president.After approving a landmark pension reform bill that will save the public purse some 800 billion reais ($193 billion) over the next decade, Brazil’s Congress is set to debate other government proposals like tax reform and “administrative” reform.

Bolivia’s Morales Urges Opposition to ‘Pacify the Country’

Updated 2:40 p.m., Nov. 11, 2019Bolivia’s Evo Morales called on the opposition to keep the peace Monday as a deepening political crisis over his disputed reelection last month has led to his resignation.Morales resigned over the weekend after protests followed October elections, which granted him a fourth term; however, there were accusations of “irregularities.”According to the Bolivian constitution, the vice president is next in line to take power when the president steps down. The head of the country’s Senate is third in line, but both of them, as well as a number of other top ministers, resigned shortly after Morales, leaving a power vacuum in the South American country awaiting rescheduled elections.Opposition leader Jeanine Anez said Sunday she would assume the interim presidency of Bolivia, but Congress must first be convened to vote her into power.Morales sent a string of tweets lashing out at his opponents Monday, saying they had a “responsibility to pacify the country and guarantee the political stability and peaceful coexistence of our people.”Mesa y Camacho, discriminadores y conspiradores, pasarán a la historia como racistas y golpistas. Que asuman su responsabilidad de pacificar al país y garanticen la estabilidad política y convivencia pacífica de nuestro pueblo. El mundo y bolivianos patriotas repudian el golpe— Evo Morales Ayma (@evoespueblo) November 11, 2019Morales called his key opponents, Carlos Mesa and Luis Fernando Camacho, “discriminators and conspirators,” and also wrote that “violent groups” had attacked his home.A State Department official said the United States is monitoring the “unfolding events” in Bolivia, adding, “It is crucial that the constitutionally delineated civilian leadership maintain control during the transition.”Mexico has described the ouster of Morales as a military coup, and said Monday that it would offer Morales political asylum. Some of his ministers and senior officials who stepped down over the weekend are currently seeking refuge in the Mexican ambassador’s residence.Latin America’s longest-serving leader went into the election needing a 10 percentage-point lead to avoid a runoff and secure his fourth term in office in the October elections.Partial results released after the election had predicted Morales would face a December runoff election against his main rival, former President Carlos Mesa.Less than 24 hours later, the electoral commission released new numbers that showed with 95% of votes counted, Morales was just a 0.7 percentage point short of the 10 percentage-point mark.The announcement prompted opposition complaints of fraud, and triggered violent protests in several cities.

Haiti Anti-Government Protests Lose Momentum

Only a few hundred people responded to the opposition’s call Sunday to protest in the streets of Haiti’s capital to continue pressuring President Jovenel Moise to step down.On previous Sundays, tens of thousands have filled Port-au-Prince streets from morning to sundown.  Much lower turnout for today’s anti-government protest in Port au Prince, #Haiti. The opposition blamed armed attacks against protesters, bribes of money and food and fear. But they vow to keep pressing the president to resign.— Sandra Lemaire (@SandraDVOA) November 11, 2019Have the protests lost momentum? VOA Creole put the question to opposition leaders marching on Sunday.Sen. Ricard Pierre said he thinks bribes and fear were partly to blame for the small crowd. “A significant number of Bel Air residents have died — an area that heavily supports the efforts of the Alternative (opposition group). We have people hiding out in the poor neighborhoods because the government has threatened to kill them,” the senator told VOA Creole. “There have been efforts to distribute weapons to residents of the slums. They’ve been offered money, offered food. But despite the massacres endured by the poor people, there are some of them in the streets today fighting (for a better life).”VOA could not confirm the senator’s allegations.Downtown, evangelical pastor Prophete Mackenson Dorilas, who, perched atop a carnival-style truck had been surrounded by thousands of followers during October protests, was seen marching in the street with only a handful of protesters. He blamed fear and the absence of his truck for the low turnout.”The first truck we were offered, I turned down because it wasn’t what I requested. So, they said they would bring me another truck, and I’m still waiting. Some members of my church had intended to join the protest, but they heard the police was targeting protesters, so they ran away,” Dorilas told VOA Creole, adding that the people also need motivation.”The churchgoers don’t like to see me walking on the street. They like to see me up high,” he said.Also marching with about a dozen protesters was former Haitian Army Col. Himmler Rebu, who described his participation as the right thing to do.
“There are two efforts happening simultaneously. There are those (members of the opposition) who are in offices working on plans and strategy, and there are those who are accompanying the people marching in the streets. So today, that’s my job, ” he said.Up northEarly Sunday, tires were seen burning in the middle of a main road in the northern city of Cape Haitian. There were also roadblocks made of tree branches, rocks, metal and debris.Cape Haitian, #Haiti tires are burning as residents get ready for another day of anti-government protests. 📹Yvan Martin Jasmin— Sandra Lemaire (@SandraDVOA) November 10, 2019″These roadblocks are here because President Jovenel still refuses to resign. We will keep blocking the streets, and we will keep protesting until the president leaves,” a protester told VOA Creole.Opposition summitBack in the capital, members of the opposition spent the weekend meeting at the Marriott Hotel to discuss the transition process that would be activated if Moise were to resign.”We are in agreement on four aspects of the transition: governance, control, steps forward and duration,” announced opposition Sen. Youri Latortue, who heads the Haitian Senate’s Ethics and Anti-Corruption Committee. No further details were given.Senator Youri Latortue signs an agreement with leaders from the opposition, to choose an interim president in place of President Jovenel Moise.On the subject of who would replace Moise, the group decided that the choice would be made by a five-member committee comprised of a representative of each opposition group. The transitional president would be chosen among the Supreme Court judges. The committee would also choose a prime minister.”This is a historic event,” prominent businessman Gregory Brandt, who represented the private sector at the meeting, told VOA Creole. “The country has been suffering through a complicated situation for two months now. We aren’t selling merchandise, we aren’t receiving merchandise. Port-au-Prince is beginning to face a scarcity of basic goods. We’re facing an unprecedented humanitarian crisis, so we must sit down in all seriousness to discuss how we can resolve this crisis.”US aidLast week, Rob Thayer, director of USAID’s “Food for Peace” program, told VOA Creole the agency has earmarked 3,500 metric tons of emergency food aid for Haiti, which will be distributed to those in need.In addition to the food aid, the U.S. Navy hospital ship USNS Comfort has been docked off Haiti’s shores since Nov. 6 for a seven-day medical and humanitarian mission. According to the U.S. Embassy in Haiti, the ship’s staff has seen more patients per day in Haiti than on any other stop of their five-nation tour.What a week-end! We’re proud of the Comfort crew & their HAITIAN partners’ effort as they are seeing more patients at the clinic per day than they have on any other stop of the 5 months #EnduringPromise mission. –— U.S. Embassy Haiti (@USEmbassyHaiti) November 9, 2019U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo expressed concern about the situation in Haiti last week on Twitter.The #USNSComfort has arrived to provide much-needed medical services in Haiti. We call on all of Haiti’s leaders to come together to solve the ongoing political & economic gridlock through dialogue & institutions. We stand with all Haitians who peacefully call for accountability.— Secretary Pompeo (@SecPompeo) November 7, 2019″The #USNSComfort has arrived to provide much needed medical services in Haiti. We call on all of Haiti’s leaders to come together to solve the ongoing political & economic gridlock through dialogue & institutions. We stand with all Haitians who peacefully call for accountability,” Pompeo tweeted.President MoiseMeanwhile, Moise has been busy naming new cabinet ministers, meeting with members of the diplomatic corps, and giving interviews to the foreign press. He has also increased his visibility on the streets, in the national press and on social media.”Since my first day in office, I have always preached the same thing — togetherness, unity — because the country is tired,” Moise said during a Nov. 7 speech. “Our (nation’s) motto is Unity is Power. But unfortunately, this system (of government), the system that uses people, gives us a different motto which is, Divide and Conquer. Whenever a person wants to enrich himself, he pits us against each other. And when we’ve taken the bait and died in battle, who benefits? Not us.”FILE – Haitian President Jovenel Moise sits at the Presidential Palace during an interview, in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Oct. 22, 2019.Early Sunday morning, before the anti-government protest began, Moise visited police stations in Carrefour and Petionville, his press secretary announced. According to a press statement received by VOA Creole early Monday morning, Moise sought to see the working conditions for the policemen and asked for a detailed report on the current status of affairs that will be used to “better address the needs of the agents of the PNH (National Police of Haiti).”Yvan Jasmin Martin in Cape Haitian, Renan Toussaint and Yves Manuel in Port-au-Prince and Ronald Cesar in Washington contributed to this report  

Mexico: Bolivia Suffered ‘Coup’ Due to Military’s Role in Events

Mexican Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard said on Monday that his government viewed
Sunday’s events in Bolivia as a “coup” because the Bolivian military had broken with the constitutional order by pressing the South American country’s president to step down.
 A broken portrait of former Bolivia’s President Evo Morales is on the floor of his private home in Cochabamba, Bolivia, after hooded opponents broke into the residence on Nov. 10, 2019.”It’s a coup because the army requested the resignation of the president, and that violates the constitutional order of that country,” Ebrard told reporters.
The minister was speaking at a regular government news conference after Evo Morales, Bolivia’s president since 2006, resigned under pressure from anger over his disputed re-election last month.

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