Cuba categorically denied Sunday, October 30, having contributed US$ 3 million to Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva’s electoral campaign in 2002 as was attributed by the latest edition of Brazil’s Veja magazine.
"The Government of Cuba categorically rejects the slander, confirms it has never interfered in the internal affairs of a sister nation and attributes full responsibility for this propaganda scheme on the aggressive plans of imperialism against Cuba and Lula," said an official statement from the Cuban embassy in Brasília.
According to Veja, the leading Brazilian weekly, Cuba contributed with US$ 3 million to the Workers Party 2002 campaign. Brazilian law specifically bans and severely punishes outside financial contributions and oppositions sectors are now demanding the impeachment of President Lula da Silva.
The embassy insisted the Veja report was insulting and blamed it on efforts to scuttle plans for broader cooperation between Brazil and Cuba. On Saturday, October 29, the president of Brazil’s ruling Workers Party (PT), Ricardo Berzoini, denied that Cuba contributed funds to Lula’s 2002 campaign adding that Veja "lacked credibility" and had become a vehicle for opposition to the socialist government.
Mr. Berzoini said Veja had no evidence of the allegations, but the magazine published that money from Cuba was received between August and September 2002, based on statements from attorney Rogério Buratti, indicted on corruption charges, and economist Vladimir Poleto. Both were close advisors to current Finance Minister Antonio Palocci.
"The dollars, packed inside cases of liquor, went through Brasília and Campinas before reaching Lula’s election committee in São Paulo" reported Veja.
Apparently the middle man in the operation was Cuban diplomat Sergio Cervantes, a close friend of Fidel Castro and of President Lula. The magazine published a picture showing Lula da Silva and Mr. Cervantes embracing.
However Mr. Cervantes flatly denied any financial dealing, "Cuba is short of hard currency. How can it afford to send it elsewhere? That is not true," Cervantes told Veja.
The Cuban government described the whole operation as a plot to deviate attention from the ever more complex situation United States President George Bush is facing. Mr. Bush is scheduled to visit Brazil next November 5 following the Americas summit in Mar del Plata, Argentina.
"These fabrications must be seen in the context of the coming visit of the United States president to Brazil", said the Cuban government adding that it’s a deliberate attempt to deviate attention from the complex situation Mr. Bush is facing with "corruption investigations involving important leaders of his own party and his inner circle of advisors."
Furthermore the claims pretend to overshadow the growing rejection of the peoples of the hemisphere to the "aggressive, hegemonic and interfering policies of the current US administration and the complete failure of the Americas Free Trade Association project of regional domination".
Veja is not only a leading political affairs magazine. but recently uncovered a whole operation of money for votes in Brazilian Congress with illegal funds orchestrated by the Workers Party and which so far has forced the resignation of President Lula da Silva’ main advisor and the executive council of the party, plus impeachment procedures against at least 18 federal legislators.
This article appeared originally in Mercopress – www.mercopress.com.