Desperate ‘Lula’ Launches Attacks against President Rousseff
Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva has left behind his slogan of peace and love that he adopted during the 2002 elections, when he was elected president of Brazil.
Cornered by the ongoing investigations known as Operation Lava Jato, which looks into corruption at the state oil giant Petrobras, he has resorted to attacking as his defense strategy. Ironically, the subject of his latest attacks is no one else than his substitute in the presidency, and former Worker’s Party Comrade, Dilma Rousseff.
In less than six months, and at great political cost for the president, her cabinet has lost what here in Brazil they call three key pieces of her chessboard, three ministers that she considered essential have been replaced with Lula’s allies.
The first victim was Aloizio Mercadante, who left the position of Chief of Staff for Education.
The second to fall was Joaquim Levy, who resigned as finance minister after being attacked by the Workers Party (PT) itself.
The third, and so far the last, is Jose Eduardo Cardozo, who left his position at the Justice department on Monday to take a job in the General Advocacy of the Union.
Levy was replaced by Nelson Barbosa, the most popular at the base of PT. The other two were substituted by Lula’s trusted people.
In the Civil House, Jaques Wagner, former governor of Bahia, has taken over. He is very close to president Lula. It was Lula himself who precisely pressed him to accept the position.
In place of Jose Eduardo Cardozo, another confidant takes his position. This time is a trusted man of Wagner, Wellington César de Lima.
The opposition sees the change of the Minister of Justice as a clear attempt to interfere with the investigation in Operation Lava Jato.
There were sectors of the PT that pressed insistently for Cardozo to stop the anxiety of the Federal Police to arrest Lula. “He has left office for his qualities, not to accept Lula’s criminal desires in politics, said an aid. It is an honor to leave like that, “said opposition deputy, José Carlos Aleluia from the Democratic Party.
It was the third time that Cardozo, a faithful ally of Rousseff, tried to get away from the executive, but this time the president accepted his request. As he left, he made clear something that every Brazilian always knew or suspected: the boss in this government is Lula.
Meanwhile, pressure is growing on the former president. Last Saturday, during the party of the 36th anniversary of the PT in Rio de Janeiro, Lula signaled that he expected the Federal Police to call him to testify on suspicion of corruption related to the Lava Jato scandal.
Lula expressed his fear that the Justice lifts his banking secrecy and makes him disclose tax information and phone records. “If that’s the price I have to pay to prove my innocence, I will do it,” he said.
The former president also hinted that the investigations against him are more about what the media wants to talk about and explained that some prosecutors are very aware of the media attention to the case.
Lula, whose impassioned speech Saturday recalled his early days in politics, when he was much more aggressive, spoke for the first time on a beach front property he frequently visits and a country house in São Paulo that have put him in the crosshairs of the latest anti-corruption investigations.
“I say we do not own the apartment (…) the company says it is not mine, but people, obeying the newspaper O Globo and Rede Globo, continue to say that they are mine.”
While the president tries to get rid of the charges and maintain any opportunity to be a candidate in the elections of 2018, the chaos in the government continues to grow.
The PT recently launched severe criticism of the government and some sectors of the party speak even of the need to separate themselves from the Rousseff administration.