Brazil: Lula Blocked From Cabinet, Calls For Rousseff’s Impeachment Grow

A Supreme Court justice has blocked the appointment of Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, Brazil’s former president, to a cabinet position, leaving him open to face corruption charges in a lower court, the Guardian said. 

Screen_Shot_2016-03-21_at_3.38.35_PM_copy.png(Photo Credit: Wikipedia) Judge Gilmar Mendes wrote that Wednesday’s appointment of the former president (known as Lula) as chief minister of the Civil House was intended to help him avoid criminal proceedings in a lower court and the possibility of imprisonment.

Da Silva won and lost the cabinet post several times in a 36-hour period, as judges across Brazil filed more than 50 injunctions against the appointment, the Guardian said.

Brazil’s solicitor general said the government will appeal the decision to the full Supreme Court, which meets again March 30.  

Tens of thousands took to the streets in protest over the past several days, as government politicians continue to be embroiled in the corruption investigation involving the state oil company Petrobras, Deutsche Welle (DW) writes.

A secretly recorded phone call allegedly between Rousseff and da Silva was released to media late last Wednesday. It suggested Lula was appointed so he could avoid prosecution, the Guardian said. The tape was released along with nearly 50 others by Judge Sergio Moro, the lead prosecutor in the Petrobras scandals.

Da Silva’s proposed appointment may have hurt Rousseff’s ratings. Sixty-eight percent of Brazilians support Rousseff’s impeachment, according to a survey by Datafolha released Saturday, up from 60 percent in late February, the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) said.

Brazil’s lower house formed a committee last week to consider Rousseff’s impeachment. It alleges that Rousseff used illegal accounting tricks to hide details of Brazil’s financial deterioration, the WSJ said. Brazil is facing its deepest recession since the Great Depression, according to DW.

A March 15-17 poll, cited by the WSJ, suggests that 62 percent of lower house legislators believe the chamber will approve the impeachment, up from 24.5 percent in February.  Impeachment requires a two-thirds vote.

Rousseff recently said she will sue a senator who accused her of involvement in the Petrobras scandal.  Senator Delcidio Amaral, former leader of Rousseff’s Workers Party in the upper house, agreed to a plea bargain with prosecutors after being arrested in the scandal, the BBC said. 

Amaral has said Rousseff knew of wrongdoings and tried to block investigations.  A statement from the presidency said all appropriate legal action would be taken against Amaral to hold him liable for his “defamatory statements.”