What a series of scandals and a final presidential debate without the presence of Lula didn’t do against the president’s reelection effort, that is to force him into a runoff, some pictures might do.
Shots of the money used to buy a dossier that would allegedly implicate Lula’s opponents and that was being kept far away from the public eye by the Brazilian federal police was leaked to the press, just 48 hours before election day.
The photos show a pile of cash in real and dollars that the Federal Police seized from people connected to Lula and the PT party. The almost US$ 800,000 were found in a São Paulo hotel and were neatly packed, ready for delivery.
Authorities have already announced that they will open an investigation to find out the author of the leak. By now, the damage has already been done, however. The Federal Police has confirmed that the shots are the real thing.
Daily O Estado de S. Paulo, the first to publish the pictures on its Internet site, would only say that the images were received from a source in the Federal Police.
It was on September 15 that Gedimar Passos and Valdebran Padilha, two PT members, were arrested in São Paulo together with 1.7 million reais (US$ 783,000).
Passos, Padilha and several other involved in the scandal had their preventive arrest authorized the Justice, but they continue free since according to the electoral law nobody can be arrested until 48 hours after the election unless he is caught in flagrante delicto.
The police haven’t yet discovered the origin of the money even though they have traced it to a few banks and have revealed that the dollars came from a Miami bank.
The juridical office of the coalition PT-PCdoB-PRB, the parties behind Lula’s candidacy have already announced they will file a motion this Saturday before the TSE (National Election Board) challenging Geraldo Alckmin candidacy.
Alckmin is Lula’s main opponent and the PT camp is accusing him and the parties behind him (PSDB and PFL) of improperly using the media to jeopardize president Lula’s candidacy.
"The trigger for Alckmin candidacy’s challenge suit was the leak with the pictures showing the money seized by Federal Police, a case that is under Justice secrecy", said a spokesman for the Lula campaign.
The PSDB president, senator Tasso Jereissati, was celebrating the publication of the pictures by the media. He said that he was confident that the photos coupled with Lula’s absence at the last presidential debate will force a second round in the presidential contest.
"I will be very surprised if there is no runoff now," said Jereissati. He believes Lula will lose at least two or three percentage points among the voters. The PSDB chief chastised Justice Minister, Márcio Thomaz Bastos, for delaying the release of the pictures.
For Jereissati Lula didn’t go the TV debate precisely because "he didn’t have honest responses to give about the origin of that money."
On the other hand, the TSE minister José Delgado denied the request by PT’s president Ricardo Berzoini, to prevent the media including Internet sites from showing the money pictures.