martes, 22 de marzo de 2016

Diciendo las cosas como son


Si, chicos, lo de Brasil es golpe nomás. Ya están los dólares y la muchachada de George Soros en ese país para apuntalar las fuerzas del freedom & democracy contra los Agentes del Mal (el PT, obvio!). No es que los locales sean lerdos, ¿eh?  La corpo judicial, la impoluta oposición política y el empresariado hacen lo suyo, no se vayan a creer. Posteamos a continuación dos notas; la primera es de Pepe Escobar para Russia Today:


Título: The coup in Brazil is starting to reveal itself

Texto: As we approach High Noon in the savage Brazilian politico-economic western, here's what is at stake following my previous piece on RT.

For the past five days, all hell has broken loose. It started with judge Sergio Moro, the tropical Elliott Ness at the head of the two-year-old, 24-phase Car Wash corruption investigation, crudely manipulating an - illegal - phone tapping of a Lula-Dilma Rousseff conversation, which he duly leaked to corporate media and was instantly used as "proof" that Lula may be back in power as Chief of Staff because he's "afraid" of Elliott Ness.

As a crucial instance of the total information war currently at play in Brazil - with the hegemonic Globo media empire and the major newspapers salivating for a white coup/regime change more than ever - the shaky "proof" turbocharged the Rousseff impeachment drive to a whole new level.


The conversation

The appalling politicization of the Brazilian Judiciary is now a fait accompli, with many a judge moved by opportunism and/or corporate interest/shady political agendas. That implies a "normalization" of illegal procedures such as phone tapping of defense lawyers and even the President (Edward Snowden, in a lightweight aside, commented that Rousseff is still not using cryptography in her communications).

Supreme Court ministers - at least so far - have not punished Elliott Ness for his illegal tapping of the President's phone and for his illegal leaking of the Lula-Rousseff conversation (there's nothing in it to implicate them in any wrongdoing, as Elliott Ness himself admitted).

The next cliffhanger was Supreme Court minister Gilmar Mendes - a notorious opposition puppet - using the illegal phone tapping to suspend Lula's new role; that was "required" from him by two opposition parties. Lula back in government means two anathemas for the white coup/regime change crowd; political articulation - which may end up by defeating the impeachment drive against Rousseff; and fundamental help for the Rousseff administration to start at least taming the economic crisis.

It's crucial to note that Mendes's unilateral decision was taken only a day and a half after he had a long lunch with two opposition heavyweights, one of them Wall Street darling banker and former Soros protégé Arminio Fraga.

Mendes not only pushed the administration into a corner; he went further, handing back to Elliott Ness the competence to investigate Lula under Car Wash, and this after Moro himself had already been forced, by law, to transfer the jurisdiction to the Supreme Court, as Lula was to become a minister.

Mendes was not competent to do it - as even other Supreme Court judges stressed; he took it away from the minister-speaker of Car Wash in the Supreme Court, Teori Zavascki. So now it's up to Zavascki to "affirm his competence" in the matter.

Essentially the phone tapping leak is crammed with serious illegalities, as a smatter of jurists has pointed out; from the tapping taking place after Moro himself determined they should be discontinued, to the leak of a Presidential communication, which could only be authorized by the Supreme Court. Which leads us to the hidden political agenda behind the leak: to expose Lula to public execration and pit him against politicians and the Judiciary.

Lula has presented a habeas corpus request to the Supreme Court, signed by some of Brazil's top jurists, while the government is about to present its own appeal against the blocking of Lula's nomination. The ball is with the Supreme Court - and all bets are off.


What "rule of law"?

The Brazilian Supreme Court in fact has ceased to act as a Supreme Arbiter as some of its members refuse to admit all the current trappings of a police state. This is happening while a rash of prosecutors and a gaggle of investigators at the Brazilian Federal Police - the equivalent of the FBI - now can be identified as mere pawns of the ultra-politicized Car Wash investigation.

In a nutshell: "Justice" in Brazil is now totally politicized. And Car Wash's mandate is now revealed to clearly consist in the outright criminalization of absolutely anything related to the coalition governments led by the Workers' Party since the beginning of the first Lula term in 2003.

Car Wash is not about the cleansing of corruption in Brazilian politics; if that really was the target, top opposition politicians would be under investigation, and many behind bars already. Moreover, the appalling corruption scheme in the development of Sao Paulo's metro lines would not have been treated only as the working of a cartel of companies, with no politicians involved; the Sao Paulo metro racket follows the same logic of the corruption scheme discovered - by the NSA - inside Petrobras.

"Rule of law" in Brazil has now been debased to Turkey's Sultan Erdogan levels - featuring business leaders with the "wrong" political connections arrested for months without trial, which translates as blatant manipulation of public opinion, the preferred tactic of Mani Pulite fan Moro and his team.

The road map ahead is grim. The Brazilian Constitution is being torn to shreds, submitted to a white coup logic to be enforced by all means necessary. The politicization of the Judiciary runs in parallel to the mainstream media spectacularization of everything that the process touches, criminalizing politics but only selected politicians.

Brazil's hugely concentrated economic interests are willing to support any deal that would mean an endgame to the political/judicial war, as politico-economically the country remains totally paralyzed - and polarized. Inside the - immensely corrupt - Brazilian Congress, a special commission to deliberate over Rousseff's impeachment has been appointed, including 36 dodgy members of Parliament who are facing myriad judicial problems; Kafka or the Dadaists would not come up with anything as absurd.

So the road map ahead now depends on how this dodgy impeachment commission will progress - or not. One of the possible scenarios is Rousseff's ouster as early as late April, even if she has not been formally accused of any wrongdoing; the usual Empire of Chaos suspects and the local comprador elites barely contain their glee as they "inform" Bloomberg or the Wall Street Journal. But then there's the Lula factor.


How sweet was my coup

Assuming Lula may be back in action in the next few days, extensive political articulation - which the opposition wants to kill by all means - will need 171 votes to smash the impeachment drive in the lower house; only then may the administration defuse the political crisis to seriously tackle the economic crisis.

In a cliffhanger-heavy, extremely fluid scenario, there would be only two possible negotiated solutions: a sort of legal ersatz Parliamentarism, with Rousseff still as President, and Lula as a de facto Prime Minister; and an all-out ersatz Parliamentarism, with Lula in charge of all the government's political articulations.

A pact - forged during "secret" dinners in Brasilia - between the PSDB (the former social democrats turned neoliberal enforcers) and the PMDB party (the other major cog in the Workers' Party ruling coalition) has been sealed to kill both options. The PMDB, incidentally, is notorious for - what else - corrupt politicians, not as a governing entity.

All eyes are now on the Supreme Court and the - wallowing in corruption - Brazilian Congress. Lula, in the eye of the hurricane itself, is in the most unenviable position. He will need to use all his political capital and all his decades as a master negotiator to find a (political compromise) way out.

The Brazilian street remains totally radicalized; the logic (?) of blind hate prevails while virtually all instances of juridical or political mediation, not to mention plain, civilized common sense, have been frozen. Brazilian democracy - one of the healthiest in the world - is now being strangled by the warped python logic of a police state.

Which brings us to the tawdry scenario that might as well play out before summer. A cowardly, very conservative Congress expels Roussef from power; the Vice-President, PMDB's Temer, steps in, the country is "pacified" and the proverbial foreign investors, Wall Street, the Koch brothers in the US, hail the white coup; the Car Wash hysteria slowly - and magically - fades out because no way former opposition mandarins should be indicted or go to jail (that's only for the Workers' Party).

Kafka and the Dadaists to the rescue, again; this is exactly the "soft" regime change deal that has been clinched in Brasilia by a nasty combo; selected (corrupt) politicians bought and paid for by the Brazilian comprador elites; selected businessmen; a large part of a co-opted Judiciary; and corporate media (ruled by four families).

Call it white coup. Call it regime change. Call it the Brazilian color revolution. Without NATO. Without "humanitarian"imperialism. Without blood and zillions of US dollars lost, like in Iraq, Libya or Syria. So "clean". So "lawful". How come Empire of Chaos's theoreticians never thought about this before?

"Humanitarian" imperialism is so old Hillary; at least the Masters of the Universe will have a new template to apply all over the developing world. Happy - regime change - days are here again.

And forget about reading any of this on Western corporate media.


***

La nota que sigue fue escrita por Glenn Greenwald, Andrew Fishman y David Miranda para el sitio web Information Clearing House:

Título: Brazil Is Engulfed by Ruling Class Corruption — and a Dangerous Subversion of Democracy

Texto: The multiple, remarkable crises consuming Brazil are now garnering substantial Western media attention. That’s understandable given that Brazil is the world’s fifth most populous country and eighth-largest economy; its second-largest city, Rio de Janeiro, is the host of this year’s Summer Olympics. But much of this Western media coverage mimics the propaganda coming from Brazil’s homogenized, oligarch-owned, anti-democracy media outlets and, as such, is misleading, inaccurate, and incomplete, particularly when coming from those with little familiarity with the country (there are numerous Brazil-based Western reporters doing outstanding work).

It is difficult to overstate the severity of Brazil’s multi-level distress. This short paragraph yesterday from the New York Times’s Brazil bureau chief, Simon Romero, conveys how dire it is:

Brazil is suffering its worst economic crisis in decades. An enormous graft scheme has hobbled the national oil company. The Zika epidemic is causing despair across the northeast. And just before the world heads to Brazil for the Summer Olympics, the government is fighting for survival, with almost every corner of the political system under the cloud of scandal.”

Brazil’s extraordinary political upheaval shares some similarities with the Trump-led political chaos in the U.S.: a sui generis, out-of-control circus unleashing instability and some rather dark forces, with a positive ending almost impossible to imagine. The once-remote prospect of President Dilma Rousseff’s impeachment now seems likely.

But one significant difference with the U.S. is that Brazil’s turmoil is not confined to one politician. The opposite is true, as Romero notes: “almost every corner of the political system [is] under the cloud of scandal.” That includes not only Rousseff’s moderately left-wing Workers Party, or PT — which is rife with serious corruption — but also the vast majority of the centrist and right-wing political and economic factions working to destroy PT, which are drowning in at least an equal amount of criminality. In other words, PT is indeed deeply corrupt and awash in criminal scandal, but so is virtually every political faction working to undermine it and vying to seize that party’s democratically obtained power.

In reporting on Brazil, Western media outlets have most prominently focused on the increasingly large street protests demanding the impeachment of Rousseff. They have typically depicted those protests in idealized, cartoon terms of adoration: as an inspiring, mass populist uprising against a corrupt regime. Last night, NBC News’s Chuck Todd re-tweeted the Eurasia Group’s Ian Bremmer describing anti-Dilma protests as “The People vs. the President” — a manufactured theme consistent with what is being peddled by Brazil’s anti-government media outlets such as Globo:

That narrative is, at best, a radical oversimplification of what is happening and, more often, crass propaganda designed to undermine a left-wing party long disliked by U.S. foreign policy elites. That depiction completely ignores the historical context of Brazil’s politics and, more importantly, several critical questions: Who is behind these protests, how representative are the protesters of the Brazilian population, and what is their actual agenda?


THE CURRENT VERSION of Brazilian democracy is very young. In 1964, the country’s democratically elected left-wing government was overthrown by a military coup. Both publicly and before Congress, U.S. officials vehemently denied any role, but — needless to say — documents and recordings subsequently emerged proving the U.S. directly supported and helped plot critical aspects of that coup.

The 21-year, right-wing, pro-U.S. military dictatorship that ensued was brutal and tyrannical, specializing in torture techniques used against dissidents that were taught to the dictatorship by the U.S. and U.K. A comprehensive 2014 Truth Commission report documented that both countries “trained Brazilian interrogators in torture techniques.” Among their victims was Rousseff, who was an anti-regime, left-wing guerilla imprisoned and tortured by the military dictators in the 1970s.

The coup itself and the dictatorship that followed were supported by Brazil’s oligarchs and their large media outlets, led by Globo, which — notably — depicted the 1964 coup as a noble defeat of a corrupt left-wing government (sound familiar?). The 1964 coup and dictatorship were also supported by the nation’s extravagantly rich (and overwhelmingly white) upper class and its small middle class. As democracy opponents often do, Brazil’s wealthy factions regarded dictatorship as protection against the impoverished masses comprised largely of non-whites. As The Guardian put it upon release of the Truth Commission report: “As was the case elsewhere in Latin America in the 1960s and 1970s, the elite and middle class aligned themselves with the military to stave off what they saw as a communist threat.”

These severe class and race divisions in Brazil remain the dominant dynamic. As the BBC put it in 2014 based on multiple studies: “Brazil has one of the highest levels of income inequality in the world.” The Americas Quarterly editor-in-chief, Brian Winter, reporting on the protests, wrote this week: “The gap between rich and poor remains the central fact of Brazilian life — and these protests are no different.” If you want to understand anything about the current political crisis in Brazil, it’s crucial to understand what Winter means by that.


DILMA’S PARTY, PT, was formed in 1980 as a classic Latin American left-wing socialist party. To improve its national appeal, it moderated its socialist dogma and gradually became a party more akin to Europe’s social democrats. There are now popular parties to its left; indeed, Dilma, voluntarily or otherwise, has advocated austerity measures to cure economic ills and assuage foreign markets, and just this week enacted a draconian “anti-terrorism” law. Still, PT resides on the center-left wing of Brazil’s spectrum and its supporters are overwhelmingly Brazil’s poor and racial minorities. In power, PT has ushered in a series of economic and social reforms that have provided substantial government benefits and opportunities, which have lifted millions of Brazilians out of poverty.

PT has held the presidency for 14 years: since 2002. Its popularity has been the byproduct of Dilma’s wildly charismatic predecessor, Luíz Inácio Lula da Silva (universally referred to as Lula). Lula’s ascendency was a potent symbol of the empowerment of Brazil’s poor under democracy: a laborer and union leader from a very poor family who dropped out of school in the second grade, did not read until the age of 10, and was imprisoned by the dictatorship for union activities. He has long been mocked by Brazilian elites in starkly classist tones for his working-class accent and manner of speaking.

After three unsuccessful runs for the presidency, Lula proved to be an unstoppable political force. Elected in 2002 and re-elected in 2006, he left office with such high approval ratings that he was able to ensure the election of his previously unknown hand-picked successor, Dilma, who was then re-elected in 2014. It has long been assumed that Lula — who vocally opposes austerity measures — intends to run again for president in 2018 after completion of Dilma’s second term, and anti-PT forces are petrified that he’d again beat them at the ballot box.
Though the nation’s oligarchical class has successfully used the center-right PSDB as a counterweight, it has been largely impotent in defeating PT in four consecutive presidential elections. Voting is compulsory, and the nation’s poor citizens have ensured PT’s victories.

Corruption among Brazil’s political class — including the top levels of the PT — is real and substantial. But Brazil’s plutocrats, their media, and the upper and middle classes are glaringly exploiting this corruption scandal to achieve what they have failed for years to accomplish democratically: the removal of PT from power.

Contrary to Chuck Todd’s and Ian Bremmer’s romanticized, misinformed (at best) depiction of these protests as being carried out by “The People,” they are, in fact, incited by the country’s intensely concentrated, homogenized, and powerful corporate media outlets, and are composed (not exclusively but overwhelmingly) of the nation’s wealthier, white citizens who have long harbored animosity toward PT and anything that smacks of anti-poverty programs.

Brazil’s corporate media outlets are acting as de facto protest organizers and PR arms of opposition parties. The Twitter feeds of some of Globo’s most influential (and very rich) on-air reporters contain non-stop anti-PT agitation. When a recording of a telephone conversation between Dilma and Lula was leaked this week, Globo’s highly influential nightly news program, Jornal Nacional, had its anchors flamboyantly re-enact the dialogue in such a melodramatic and provocatively gossipy fashion that it literally resembled a soap opera far more than a news report, prompting widespread ridicule. For months, Brazil’s top four newsmagazines have devoted cover after cover to inflammatory attacks on Dilma and Lula, usually featuring ominous photos of one or the other and always with a strikingly unified narrative.

To provide some perspective for how central the large corporate media has been in inciting these protests: Recall the key role Fox News played in promoting and encouraging attendance at the early Tea Party protests. Now imagine what those protests would have been if it had not been just Fox, but also ABC, NBC, CBS, Time magazine, the New York Times, and the Huffington Post also supporting and inciting the Tea Party rallies. That is what has been happening in Brazil: The largest outlets are owned and controlled by a tiny number of plutocratic families, virtually all of whom are vehement, class-based opponents of PT and whose media outlets have unified to fuel these protests.

In sum, the business interests owned and represented by those media outlets are almost uniformly pro-impeachment and were linked to the military dictatorship. As Stephanie Nolen, the Rio-based reporter for Canada’s Globe and Mail, noted: “It is clear that most of the country’s institutions are lined up against the president.”

Put simply, this is a campaign to subvert Brazil’s democratic outcomes by monied factions that have long hated the results of democratic elections, deceitfully marching under an anti-corruption banner: quite similar to the 1964 coup. Indeed, much of the Brazilian right longs for restoration of the military dictatorship, and factions at these “anti-corruption” protests have been openly calling for the end of democracy.

None of this is a defense of PT. Both because of genuine widespread corruption in that party and national economic woes, Dilma and PT are intensely unpopular among all classes and groups, even including the party’s working-class base. But the street protests — as undeniably large and energized as they have been — are driven by those who are traditionally hostile to PT. The number of people participating in these protests — while in the millions — is dwarfed by the number (54 million) who voted to re-elect Dilma less than two years ago. In a democracy, governments are chosen by voting, not by displays of street opposition — particularly where, as in Brazil, the protests are drawn from a relatively narrow societal segment.

As Winter reported: “Last Sunday, when more than 1 million people took to the streets, polls indicated that once again the crowd was significantly richer, whiter, and more educated than Brazilians at large.” Nolen similarly reported: “The half-dozen large anti-corruption demonstrations in the past year have been dominated by white and upper-middle-class protesters, who tend to be supporters of the opposition Brazilian Social Democratic Party (PSDB), and to have little love for Ms. Rousseff’s left-leaning Workers’ Party.”

Last weekend, when massive anti-Dilma protests emerged in most Brazilian cities, a photograph of one of the families participating went viral, a symbol of what these protests actually are. It showed a rich, white couple decked out in anti-Dilma symbols and walking with their pure-breed dog, trailed by their black “weekend nanny” — wearing the all-white uniform many rich Brazilians require their domestic servants to wear — pushing a stroller with their two children.

As Nolen noted, the photo became the emblem for the true, highly ideological essence of these protests: “Brazilians, who are deft and fast with memes, reposted the picture with a thousand snarky captions, such as ‘Speed it up, there, Maria [the generic ‘maid name’], we have to get out to protest against this government that made us pay you minimum wage.’”


TO BELIEVE THAT the influential figures agitating for Dilma’s impeachment are motivated by an authentic anti-corruption crusade requires extreme naïveté or willful ignorance. To begin with, the factions that would be empowered by Dilma’s impeachment are at least as implicated by corruption scandals as she is: in most cases, more so.

Five of the members of the impeachment commission are themselves being criminally investigated as part of the corruption scandal. That includes Paulo Maluf, who faces an Interpol warrant for his arrest and has not been able to leave the country for years; he has been sentenced in France to three years in prison for money laundering. Of the 65 members of the House impeachment committee, 36 currently face pending legal proceedings.

In the lower house of Congress, the leader of the impeachment movement, the evangelical extremist Eduardo Cunha, was found to have maintained multiple secret Swiss bank accounts, where he stored millions of dollars that prosecutors believe were received as bribes. He is the target of multiple active criminal investigations.

Meanwhile, Senator Aécio Neves, the leader of the Brazilian opposition who Dilma narrowly defeated in the 2014 election, has himself been implicated at least five separate times in the corruption scandal. One of the prosecutors’ newest star witnesses just accused him of accepting bribes. That witness also implicated the country’s vice president, Michel Temer, of the opposition party PMDB, who would replace Dilma if she were impeached.


Then there’s the recent behavior of the chief judge who has been overseeing the corruption investigation and has become a folk hero for his commendably aggressive investigations of some of the country’s richest and most powerful figures. That judge, Sergio Moro, this week effectively leaked to the media a tape-recorded, extremely vague conversation between Dilma and Lula, which Globo and other anti-PT forces immediately depicted as incriminating. Moro disclosed the recording of the conversation within hours of its taking place.

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