Let’s Hope Brazil’s Corruption Has Hindered Plans for a ‘Democratic Dictatorship’

Praça dos Três Poderes (Three Powers Place) in Brasília, capital of BrazilThe fact that the Lula da Silva administration has been reportedly involved in numerous corruption scandals might at least produce the positive effect of preserving Brazil’s democratic institutions. For since President Lula took office, in January 2003, his government has been pushing for the creation of undemocratic bodies of external (political) control over the press, television, and movies.

Thus the good news about all these scandals is that they might have demoralised a government that seemed to be much willing to establish a long-lasting populist regime based on a disguised form of elected dictatorship.

Lula da Silva, the charismatic leader of the Workers’ Party (PT), was elected in November 2002 and took office in January 2003. He has since then employed thousands of members of his party at the state machinery, including Marco Aurélio Garcia, one of the founders of the PT along with Lula and others.

Garcia, who is now Lula’s foreign affairs advisor, is a hardline communist who describes the PT as “radical of the left”.(1)

Whether or not the ruling PT is as radical as Garcia himself, the fact is that this advisor to President Lula has openly expressed his personal desire to re-establish Soviet-style communism.

In an academic paper written to celebrate the anniversary of Karl Marx’s The Communist Manifesto, Marco A. Garcia, a history professor at the University of Campinas (Unicamp), finishes it with these words:

“The agenda is clear. If the horizon that we search for is still called communism, it is time to re-constitute it”.(2)

An influential member of the PT’s National Directorate, Marco A. Garcia commented in an interview to Argentina’s leading newspaper La Nación, on October 5, 2002, that, once in power, the PT would have no interest in protecting democratic institutions.

As Garcia declared to this newspaper: “We have to first give the impression that we are democrats, initially, we have to accept certain things. But that won’t last”.(3)

A few days earlier, the prestigious French newspaper Le Monde had published a story saying that President Lula seems to agree with Marco A. Garcia on this matter. The article says that Lula “strongly believes that every election is a farce and a mere step to take power”.(4)

In his speech to the 2003 Congress of the International Socialist, Lula also seems to have repeated the words of Garcia when he declared that the primary objective of his government is to “re-establish the socialist dream”.

As a way of re-constituting communism in the world, Lula and other PT members created in 1990 an umbrella organization called Forum de São Paulo (FSP).

In 2004, its organizers declared that the major objective of the FSP is “to compensate our losses in Eastern Europe with our victories in Latin America”.

The first meeting of the FSP was attended by delegates of Colombia’s FARC guerrillas, Peru’s TUPAC-AMARU guerrillas, Chile’s MIR guerrillas, ETA, and IRA. The U.S. Department of State considers all of them terrorist organizations.

Sponsor of Terror

As the leader of the political party which created the FSP, Lula was appointed as its first chairman. As such, said Dr. Constantine Menges, a former intelligence officer from the CIA:

“Lula da Silva has been a sponsor of international terrorism because these annual meetings [of the FSP] are used by the anti-US terrorist and radical organizations to coordinate their plans for taking power in their respective countries and for planning actions against the United States”.(5)

The current chairman of the FSP is Lula’s foreign affairs advisor Marco Aurélio Garcia. Under his auspices, the FSP has helped to coordinate the radical actions of political leaders whose names are included at the FBI’s list of the most wanted terrorists. According to Dr. Phil Brennan, from the U.S. Association of Former Intelligence Officers,

“In a policy dictated by Havana, Garcia has shown special interest in the terrorist Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). Every year since 1990, Garcia has made it his priority to meet with murderous FARC. The meetings have not just taken place in Havana (with Castro himself always present), but also in Mexico where Garcia travelled to meet with FARC member Marco Leo Calara on Dec. 5, 2000”.(6)

The FSP publishes a quarterly magazine titled America Libre. Launched at a seminar organized to celebrate the birthday of Che Guevara, in 1992, its first edition includes an article written by Fernando Martinez Heredia, the head of the Central Committee of the Cuban Communist Party.

In this article Heredia declares that revolution ought to be “the word of order for all members of the Forum de São Paulo”.(7)

The editorial board of America Libre is consisted of many prominent Brazilians: Luis Eduardo Greenhalgh (politician), Fernando Morais (writer), Emir Sader (professor), Leonardo Boff (theologian), João Pedro Stédile (MST leader), Chico Buarque de Hollanda (singer and composer), among others.

The editor-in-chief is Carlos Alberto Libânio Christo, or Frei Betto, a Catholic priest and former guerrilla member in the 1970s. He was until a recent time working as special aide to the government at programs of agrarian reform.

In an article published by America Libre, in 2002, Frei Betto declares this: “It is necessary not to yield up to the naïve concept of making the revolution through vote”.(8)

To better understand the radical nature of a party like the Workers’ Party – PT, a brief description of their several factions is quite helpful.

As the country’s most powerful political party, the PT brings under the same banner  Trotskyists, Maoists, former guerrillas, Catholic ‘progressives’, and militant trade unionists.

At one extreme, its members are just supporters of social democracy; on the other, however, they are clearly fighting for a dictatorship of the proletariat. Below is what an article published by the official magazine of the PT says:

“We… want far more than a mere equality before the law. We revindicate our right as the majority to defy the laws of the minority. We believe that the working classes and all the oppressed majorities have their own historical rights, as rights that are above the limits of any legality. For, as history teaches us, laws are transitory, relative, and nothing more than a juridical expression of the correlation of forces between the social classes…

“This is the problem that we have to answer: Do we want a party that obeys and adapts itself to the limits of bourgeois institutions, or, rather, a party with a clear option for the direct action of the masses, as a party which knows how to act in legal terms but never subjecting itself to the limits of legality, aiming therefore to go beyond the boundaries of the law as a clear strategy of rendering every power to the working classes?”(9)

In 1990, the PT organized its 7th National Congress. The event was held in order to discuss long-term strategies for the party. One of the discussions was on whether or not ‘revolutionary rupture’ is a necessary step to bring about ‘social transformation’.

Need for Revolution

To inform its members about the conclusion reached during such a debate, the PT’s official magazine published in July 1990 an article titled ‘Goodbye to the Arms?” This is what the article says:

“Over these last ten years, the PT has… confirmed on many occasions its option for a coherent tactic of combativeness… which characterizes every revolutionary party.

“A rapid look at the eight points made at our seventh national meeting confirms [our option for] Gramsci’s notions of hegemonic dispute,… the necessity of a powerful state and of engaging ourselves in the ongoing ‘war of positions’… towards a revolutionary rupture.

“The problem is basically to know if violence is still a valid weapon, and, if so, whether or not this is the best strategy for advancing the evolution of mankind towards its superior levels of coexistence and material production.

“Above all, it is necessary to see if the passage from armed struggle to non-armed struggle might clearly express the desire of the masses in their struggle against the bourgeois domination…

“The conquest of the state, or, better speaking, its radical and revolutionary transformation, is still a primary objective of our long-term struggle.

“However, any action leading to political rupture can only obtain revolutionary efficacy if: a) it goes as a clear result of our social hegemony; b) it associates itself with a broader revolutionary process that involves the radical change of social values; c) it is able to produce at the sphere of social relations (subjectivity, sexuality, social customs, culture, ethics, and spirituality) deep-rooted changes that are as much revolutionary as the ones that our party has advocated for the economic and political spheres.”(10)

It is clear that the author considers the use of violence a viable strategy for his party. In fact, he clearly states that violence is just one of the many other ways of achieving legal, political, cultural, moral, even sexual, transformation.

Thus the article seems to reduce the whole question of legality only to matters of ‘political strategy’, by suggesting that legal rules are to be obeyed insofar as they contribute, or at least not obstruct, the revealing desire of radical change.

This sort of mentality is obviously opposed to the rule of law but helps to explain why, on March 16, 2005, Veja, the country’s leading newsmagazine, published a cover story about the offering of five million dollars by the Revolutionary Army Forces of Colombia (FARC) to the campaign of PT candidates, in 2003.

The story tell us that official documents from the ABIN – Agência Brasileira de Inteligência (Brazilian Intelligence Agency) attested the existence of ‘close liaisons’ between PT members and the FARC drug guerrillas.

For example, ABIN’s document number 0095/3100 of April 25, 2003, informs that Father Olivério Medina, a Catholic priest who acts in Brazil as ‘ambassador’ of the FARC, announced at a meeting that took place on April 13, 2002, at a farm nearby Brasília, that the guerrillas were donating 5 million dollars to the electoral campaign of PT candidates.

An ABIN’s agent who was infiltrated at the meeting reported that the money would arrive via Trinidad and Tobago, a small nation in the Caribbean Sea. It would be sent firstly to businessmen who support the party, and, afterwards, distributed as their personal contribution to PT’s regional committees.

The Colombian government confirms that Father Medina is indeed the main responsible for the intermediation between members of political parties in Brazil and the FARC guerrillas.

An official note released on February 16, 2002, by the Workers’ Party (PT), and titled “The Truth about Colombia, the FARC, and PT”, says that the FARC and the PT are both members of the FSP.

It also says that the PT refuses itself to consider the FARC a terrorist organization because, as the note puts it, the PT thinks the FARC can win the war against Colombia’s popularly elected government.

Then it criticises the previous administration for not recognizing the FARC diplomatically. Finally, the document falsely sustains that there is no evidence of the FARC’s involvement with drug trafficking.

If so, it is worthy here to explain how the FARC guerrillas obtain most of their financial resources. As the biggest and most active guerrillas acting in Colombia, the FARC obtain money through criminal activities such as kidnapping and drug trafficking. The FARC control 30% of all Colombia’s drug market, including its cocaine exports.

From 1997 to 2004, the FARC kidnapped more than four thousand people, most of them defenceless civilians. In 2004, at least 700 people were taken hostage and sent as ‘war prisoners’ to the FARC’s military encampments.

But even if this ‘dirty money’ was not sent to PT candidates, as ABIN’s official documents say so, everybody knows in Brazil that some PT members are indeed very closely associated with the guerrillas group.

For example, FARC commander Raul Reyes has declared in an interview to leading newspaper Folha de S. Paulo that the relationship between his guerrillas group and members of the PT is very good. He even says that he himself has already met with President Lula at a meeting of the FSP.

Also in this interview, Reyes explains that although the main contacts of the FARC are with members of the Workers’ Party (PT) and the Landless Movement (MST), his drug guerrillas also possess good ties of relationship with intellectuals and members of the Catholic clergy.

Frei Betto and Emir Sader, a political science professor who participated in the foundation of the PT, are explicitly mentioned as ‘good friends’ of the FARC in Brazil.

PT members established on March 20, 2002, in Brasília, a committee in solidarity with the FARC guerrillas. Likewise, another Pro-FARC committee was created by a former local secretary to then Mayor and today’s Finance Minister Antonio Palocci, at Ribeirão Preto.

‘We Are All Guerrillas’

At the launch of this committee, a video has recorded its main organizer, Leopoldo Paulino, a member of the Brazilian Socialist Party (PSB), declaring this: “We have neither a president nor a director. We are all guerrillas, or we are nothing. And since we are all guerrillas, we are equal parts in the same struggle”.(11)

Before the U.S.-led military coalition invaded Iraq in February 2003, a delegation of PT congressmen went to this country in order to express their unconditional solidarity towards Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein and his tyrannical regime.

A few months after their visit to Iraq, a city council, a member of the Communist Party of Brazil (PC do B), successfully introduced at Rio de Janeiro a legislation which declares George W. Bush a persona non grata in the city. This means that the President of the United States is legally forbidden to visit the city of Rio de Janeiro.

Also as a disturbing sign of political radicalism, the country’s Minister of Culture, Gilberto Gil, a pop-singer, organized on August 13, 2004, a music concert at São Paulo where an image of the U.S. President appeared with a noose around his neck and this slogan: “Morra Bush, Morra!” (‘Die Bush, Die!’). Another image featured the portrait of Che Guevara, a Cuban-Argentinean revolutionary.

À propos, Tilden Santiago, who is Brazil’s ambassador to Cuba, has commented that his country’s political system “should be based on the Cuban regime”.(12)

In speaking on behalf of the Brazilian government, the ambassador openly approved the execution of political dissidents in Cuba, by calling them criminals who are nothing but traitors at the service of the U.S. imperialism, and, therefore, attempting to ‘destabilise’ that undemocratic communist regime.

In July 2003, and only two days after six political ‘criminals’ had been killed by the Cuban government, ambassador Santiago went on to justify their killings by suggesting that Cuba’s dictator Fidel Castro had murdered them so as to “protect himself from any destabilization provoked by the United States”.

Although the Brazilian Constitution does not authorize death penalty for cases of opposition to a government, ambassador Santiago had made this quite sinister statement: “Likewise, if they try to destabilize Lula, we will also have to take the same measures here”.(13)

In December 2003, President Lula decided to visit several countries of the Islamic world, in Northern Africa and the Middle East. The press curiously called it a ‘Tour of Dictatorships’ because he visited only oppressive regimes with an appalling record of human rights’ violations (Algeria, Sudan, Libya, and Egypt).

In trying to explain why to visit a country like Lybia, Lula commented that its notorious dictator Colonel Gadhafi was a close friend from whom he much appreciated to receive ‘good advice’.

On that occasion, Denis Lerrer Rosenfield, a philosophy professor at the Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul (UFRS), suggested that the basic fact that Lula likes so much to be associated with notorious violators of human rights is by itself a good sign that he is neither an authentic democrat nor a moderate leader committed to the rule of law.

As Professor Rosenfield explains, “Nothing happens by chance in a much organized diplomatic trip. Symbols speak for themselves. Gathered around the same table was President Lula alongside with his self-declared ‘good friends’: dictator Gadhafi, Sandinista leader Daniel Ortega, and Algeria’s tyrannical dictator Ben Balla.

“Prompted to clarify the reasons for his presence, Lula said that he would never forget his ‘close friends’. Castro and Chavez are also Lula’s close friends. If so, the basic question is: Why are so many dictators and revolutionaries his close friends? Isn’t something strange going on here?”(14)

The Brazilian Constitution explicitly declares in its article four, about ‘fundamental principles’ to guide the country’s participation in the international order, that every diplomatic relation established by the Brazilian government ought to be carried out on the basis of “respect to human rights”, “repudiation of terrorism”, and “international cooperation for a peaceful development of humanity”.

The Nuke Option

Unfortunately, none of these principles that are explicitly mentioned by the Brazilian Constitution might explain why the Lula administration has refused to comply with the U.N. Nuclear Proliferation Treaty.

In fact, President Lula commented that respect to this international law “would make sense only if all the countries that already have nuclear weapons also gave them up”.(15)

In a speech delivered as candidate to high-ranking military officers, Lula promised them that his administration would turn the country into a nuclear power. This is what Lula said to them:

“Why is it that someone asks me to put down my weapons and only keep a slingshot while he keeps a cannon pointed at me?… Brazil will only be respected in the world when it turns into an economic, technological, and military power”.(16)

Consequently, Brazilians weren’t so much surprised when the Minister of Science and Technology, Roberto Amaral, declared in an interview to the BBC’s local branch that the PT government was intending to master the technology to build a nuclear weapon.

For Dr. José Goldemberg, a scientist and former Minister of Science and Technology, the PT government is “unmistakably intending to produce nuclear weapons”, because, as he explains, the mastering of nuclear technology wouldn’t help the country to solve its energy needs.

Similar, those constitutional principles are of little value if the PT government tried to explain about its refusal to the request of the Colombian government to consider the FARC guerrillas a terrorist organization.

They are also of no help if Lula tried to explain why his government decided to establish ‘strategic partnership’ with communist China and Arab governments which are notorious violators of human rights, in particular against women and minority groups.

Above all, neither the list of human rights that are explicitly mentioned by the Brazilian Constitution, nor the human rights treaties to which the country is a state party, can possibly justify why the PT government has abstained itself from condemning the brutal assassination of dissidents by the Cuban government at the U.N. Human Rights Committee.

A better explanation, of course, is the basic fact that President Lula and Fidel Castro are close friends and share ideological positions in common.


(1) Garcia, Marco Aurélio; A Social-Demmocracia e o PT. São Paulo, Revista Teoria e Debate, No.12, October, 1990.

(2) Garcia, Marco Aurélio; Manifesto e a Refundação do Comunismo. São Paulo, Revista Teoria e Debate, No.36, October 1997.

(3) El País se Movió Hacia La Izquierda – Lo Dijo el Probable Canciller del PT, La Nación, Buenos Aires (Argentina), 5 October, p. 2.

(4) Sevilla, Jean-Jacques; Avec Lula, La Gauche Bresilienne Parvient aux Marches du Pouvoir. Le Monde, Paris, 02 October 2002.

(5) Menges, Constantine; A Strategic Warning: Brazil. Brazzil, September 2002.

(6) Brennan, Phil; All Systems Go for Brazil’s A-Bomb. Brazzil, March 2004.

(7) Heredia, Fernando Martinez; Dominación Capitalista y Proyectos Populares en América Latina. Revista America Libre, No.1, 2002.

(8) Betto, Frei; Alternativa Socialista en América Latina y el Caribe. Revista America Libre, No.1, 2002.

(9) Caminhos Estratégicos. São Paulo, Revista Teoria e Debate, No.11, July 1990.

(10) Vannuchi, Paulo; Adeus às Armas? São Paulo, Revista Teoria e Debate, No.11, July 1990.

(11) Junior, Policarpo; Laços Explosivos. São Paulo: Veja, Edition 1896, 16 March 2005, p.48.

(12) Nunes, Augusto; Samba ou Salsa? Jornal do Brasil, 23 April 2005.

(13) Da Silva, Roberto Romano; PT Über Alles e Homem Cueca, Correio Popular, 12 July 2005.

(14) Rosenfield, Denis Lerrer; Princípios e Produtos. O Estado de S. Paulo, 15 December 2003.

(15) US Congressional Concern Over Brazil Nuclear Policy. The Acronym Institute. 15 November 2002.

(16) Vincent, Isabel; Brazil’s Leader Pledges to Build Nuclear Arsenal. National Post, Canada, 31 October 2002.

Augusto Zimmermann is a Brazilian Law Professor and Ph.D. candidate for Monash University – Faculty of Law, in Australia. His e-mail is augustozimmermann@hotmail.com.


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