Scotland Spells Relief for Brazil’s Scandal-Plagued Lula

Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva left Wednesday for Scotland where together with the leaders of China, India, South Africa and Mexico, he will be a special guest of the G-8 summit.

Scottish airs and a return to the world stage should give President Lula a break from the scandal seism that has paralyzed his administration, forced a cabinet reshuffle leaving out key advisors, destroyed his Workers Party honest broker reputation plus seriously questioning his October 2006 re-election bid.


In the center of the scandal are his closest aides, former cabinet chief José Dirceu and several members of the Workers Party executive board, who allegedly had organized an efficient money-for-votes scheme in Congress to ensure support for the administration’s legislative agenda and financed with money skimmed from government companies and bank loans.


The man who actually collected the money which was handed to the party’s treasurer is a publicist with contracts in several government corporations, Marco Valério Fernandes, and who according to Brazilian Federal Police financial experts between 2003/04 has bank withdrawals registered to the tune of the equivalent to 30/40 million US dollars. Withdrawals tended to coincide with crucial votes in Congress.


The “man of the suitcases” as he’s referred in the Brazilian press not only increased his personal fortune by sixty in two years, but according to his former secretary who testified before Congress he “stuffed suit cases with cash,” which were sent to Brasí­lia, Brazil’s capital.


Furthermore, Mr. Fernandes regularly met and almost daily spoke with Silvio Pereira, Workers Party (PT) chairman; PT treasurer Delúbio Soares; PT president José Genoí­no and Cabinet Chief José Dirceu. All of them with the exception of Mr. Genoí­no have since resigned.


President Lula has since handed two ministries and posts in the administration to the conservative PMDB party, (with the largest representation in the Senate and second in the Lower House) hoping to ensure a working alliance in Congress, although the mathematics don’t necessarily confirm it, or the public opinion mood.


However the marriage didn’t begin on the right foot: PMDB’s leader in the Lower House José Borba also had to resign to the whip following disclosure of his very close relation with publicist Fernandes.


Mr. Borba denies taking money but admits sitting to negotiate with the ruling party and Mr. Fernandes posts in the administration.


So far. Mr. Lula da Silva has not been directly linked to the bribes scheme and the political system, even the accusers and the press have respected the presidential office, although one of his sons, a computer expert, who identified himself in the web as “spider man” liked to boast he was on the payroll of the Workers Party but had never punched his card. He gave up the “job” two weeks ago.


No wonder President Lula da Silva is longing to visit Gleneagles Castle and meet with world leaders in support of the a joint declaration from the emerging countries demanding the lessening of debt burden, improved trade relations and compliance with the Kyoto protocol on climatic change.


Most of them controversial issues even among the eight leading countries and which have been in the world agenda for several years, but, what a relief to enjoy a couple of days away from the scandal!


This article appeared originally in Mercopress – www.mercopress.com.

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