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Brazzil - Politics - July 2004

Brazil: Ex-Chief Justice Assails Lula

Recently retired from the presidency of Brazil's Supreme Court,
Maurício Corrêa is pulling no punches against Brazilian President
Lula. In a recent TV interview, he called the President a fraud
and said that Lula loves to talk, but hates to govern. The real
Brazilian President, he says, is Chief of Staff, José Dirceu.

Carlos Chagas

Maurício Corrêa

Picture The ex-president of the Brazilian Supreme Court, Maurício Corrêa harshly criticized Brazil's government and President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva at CNT's (Central Nacional de Televisão—Television National Center) Jogo do Poder (Power Game) program.

Recently retired from the Supreme, free from his judicial robe, Corrêa went back to his senator and ex-Justice Minister days. This might be a sign that he is coming back to politics.

The former minister said for example that "the current government is the biggest fraud the Republic ever experienced. President Lula hates to manage, he doesn't manage a thing. He is a good talker, all he knows is how to chatter and he abhors managing. Chief of Staff, Minister José Dirceu, is the man in charge."

And he went on saying that the President's Party, the PT (Partido dos Trabalhadores—Workers' Party), never had a governing plan limiting itself to copy former President Fernando Henrique Cardoso's neoliberal model.

The Workers' Party, according to Corrêa, is only interested in power, using the public machine to get rich after turning their party into an economic conglomerate.

The best jobs from the DAS (Direção e Assessoramento Superiores—Higher Counsel and Direction) group, in the federal administration, go to the companheiros (comrades), who give 30 percent of their paycheck to the PT. A huge war chest for the elections.

Maurício Corrêa denied any merit to the Lula administration, maintaining that the agrobusiness presented as the government's foremost accomplishment didn't depend on the President because it's something that's been going on for a long time.

According to him, not even one campaign promise from the PT candidate was kept. Zero Hunger, the chief program, announced in the media, is a joke. The way things are going it will take 100 years before the poor will have any food in their pans. By then they will all be dead. Starved.

Talking about his relationship with the Executive Power at the time he was still the Judiciary Power chief, Corrêa didn't spare harsh criticism, revealing that he has never accepted President Lula's statement that the Judiciary had created their own "black box for money."

He stressed that if there's corruption in some courts the corruption in the government is much worse. For him, that's where you can find the public health vampires like Valdomiro Diniz and also the favors granted to groups connected to the PT.

Corrêa says that Lula wanted to extend is power to the Judiciary, converting it into an annex to the Planalto Palace, but he was not able to do this. The former Chief Justice explained that he reacted and would have reacted even more if needed, although he made an effort to maintain cordial relations with the government.

He recalled that once, in the state of Bahia, he suggested that Lula and the presidents of the House and the Senate schedule a meeting to discuss the reform of the Judiciary. This meeting never happened, due to Lula's lack of interest. Lula chose to continue trying to impose his will to the tribunals. Corrêa insisted that it was his duty, as president of the Supreme, to defend the power he presided over.

Corrêa says also that he tried but he was not able to spare his successor, Justice Minister Nelson Jobim. First, he criticized Jobim for having proposed a liposuction for the Constitution, something Correa believes to be a juridical absurdity. Then, he is under the impression that the new minister wishes to subordinate the Judiciary to the Executive's will.

Another observation had to do with the Social Security reform and the 11 percent discount on the inactive public workers' paychecks. He calls this government proposal, which was approved by Congress, an absurdity.

After analyzing the votes already registered by some of his former colleagues in the Supreme, Corrêa admitted the possibility that the discount will be considered unconstitutional, as it used to be in the past. For him, this is a case of double taxation.

He also criticized the fact that speculative activities bring in four times more than productive ones. That's why he calls the Lula administration a decoy and is opposed to the idea of a possible reelection for the current president.

He stated that he was always against reelection, and recognizes that is very unlikely that Congress would repeal it today. His suggestion: a candidate to reelection should relinquish his post from four to six months before the elections to avoid conflicts of interest. Otherwise, you cannot prevent candidates from using the state machine for personal gains.

For Corrêa it was more than a pouring of his heart. The ex-chief of the Supreme hinted that he is going to rock the boat. He intends to return to his law practice, but he is leaving the door open for running in 2006 for the Senate or governor of the Federal District.

In brief, a pronouncement with rare forcefulness, made in a much higher tone than that used by other oppositions. We'd better pay attention.

Carlos Chagas writes for the Rio's daily Tribuna da Imprensa and is a representative of the Brazilian Press Association, in Brasília. He welcomes your comments at carloschagas@hotmail.com.
Translated from the Portuguese by Arlindo Silva.

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