New York Times reporter
Larry Rohter, who incurred the ire of Brazilian President Luiz
Inácio Lula da Silva after having written about the President's
habit of drinking doesn't have to pack his bag and leave Brazil
anymore. Brazil's Supreme Justice, the Superior Tribunal de
Justiça (STJ), the second highest court in the land,
revoked Lula's order to expel the Times reporter.
Martins of the Supreme Court took the decision in response to a habeas corpus
petition that had been filed by Senator Sérgio Cabral.from the PMDB
party on behalf of Larry Rohter.
Cabral in his petition
argued that the action by the Justice Ministry against Rohter violates the
principles of freedom of expression and freedom of press. "The act is
entirely illegal, violating several fundamental rights and privileges of the
individual, which are guaranteed by the Constitution."
Other habeas corpus petitions
were also filed on behalf of the journalist. One of them by attorney André
Luiz Eiró do Nascimento, who according to the STJ, was not hired by
Nascimento contends that
only the President himself and not the Justice Ministry has the right to suspend
a temporary visa granted to a foreigner. To cancel the visa the President
would have to sign an expulsion decree, which could only occur after due legal
process. Besides, Nascimento says. the journalist cannot be expelled since
he has Brazilian wife and children.
Workers' Party Senator,
Cristovam Buarque, Lula's old friend and his Education Minister
until recently, applauded the measure taken by the Supreme:
"This decision corrects
a government mistake," he said. "We erred from the beginning. The
visa suspension wasn't more than an authoritarian gesture. The Supreme's decision
might be bad for the government, but it is good for democracy."
In the morning, in Brasília,
President Lula had met a group of Congressmen led by former President and
senator José Sarney, who wanted to convince him to revoke the expulsion
order against Mr. Rohter. Lula seemed unbending and reiterated that he would
not back down from the decision to revoke the temporary visa of New York
The decision to revoke
Rohter's temporary visa was taken by Brazil's Justice Ministry on May 10.
The ruling by Supreme Justice Peçanha Martin will be the law until
the other ministers of the Supreme give their opinion on the habeas corpus
The American journalist
would have eight days to leave Brazil after having received the notification
of this expulsion. Rohter, however, is out of the country at the moment.