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Brazzil - Politics - May 2004

Brazil's Lula Mocks NY Times Injunction

It's the understanding of the Lula administration that the sentence
by an Appellate Court allowing NY Times reporter, Larry Rohter,
to stay in Brazil, is just a legal delaying tactic. It does not
overturn Brazil President's expulsion order. That's why Lula
wouldn't even appeal the sentence, calling it a "non-decision."

Ana Paula Marra


Picture A sentence by Appellate Court (STJ-Supremo Tribunal da Justiça) justice, Peçanha Martins, giving New York Times reporter, Larry Rohter, an injunction or "safe conduct," that is, in effect, allowing him to remain in Brazil, may turn out to be little more than legal footwork.

The problem is that although the STF judge ruled Mr. Rohter can stay in Brazil, that decision does not seem to overturn the executive branch's revocation of his visa.

The executive branch is so sure of its position that government lawyers (Advocacia-Geral da União) (AGU) say they will not even bother to appeal the STJ sentence, calling it a non-binding, "non-decision.".

In practical terms this is mostly legal sparring. What has to happen is for Mr. Rohter to return to Brazil (he is in Argentina on a reporting job) so he can be formally notified that his visa has been revoked. As of that moment, Mr. Rohter has eight days to appeal and the legal sparring will become legal process.

Thurdays, in Congress, the STF justice decision was applauded. The understanding in Congress, which is different from that of the AGU, was that the injunction would eventually be decided on by the whole court and that that decision would be final.

"We live under the rule of law. It is just an injunction, so we have to wait," said the government's leader in the Senate, Aloisio Mercadante.

Lula's Ratings Stable

After falling in four consecutive surveys, the approval rating of the government of president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva remained stable in April at 34.6 percent, the same as March. The president's personal approval rating actually rose slightly, from 59.6 percent to 60.2 percent.

On the other hand, the percentage of those interviewed rating government performance as poor rose slightly from 19.4 percent to 20 percent.

The survey, which is conducted by the National Confederation of Transportation (CNT) and the Sensus opinion polling organization, found that the principal concerns of the country continue to be unemployment (41.3 percent) and crime (36 percent).

The latest survey also registered an improvement in the Citizen Satisfaction Index (ISC), which closed out the month of April at 50.6, after reaching its lowest point in March (49.9) since Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva took office. The index measures satisfaction with people's personal, social and economic situation.

According to Clésion Andrade, the CNT president, the survey shows that the president is in the middle ground between a positive rating of 34 percent and a negative rating of 20 percent which is a delicate situation. "On one hand there has been a small increase in growth and social assistance, but on the other, unemployment and crime have risen," says Andrade.

The survey showed that most people approve the president's job performance, with 30.6 percent saying they trust the president, and 20.8 percent saying they comprehend him. But, 22.5 percent say they are disappointed, and 12.4 percent say they do not trust the president.

The CNT/Sensus survey interviewed 2,000 people in 195 locations in 24 states between the 7th and 9th of May. The survey's margin of error is give or take 3 percentage points.

Ana Paula Marra works for Agência Brasil (AB), the official press agency of the Brazilian government. Comments are welcome at lia@radiobras.gov.br.
Translated from the Portuguese by Allen Bennett.

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