Brazilian Expats for Democracy Confront Coup-Supporting Brazilian Senator in DC Print

(In English Below)

Recepção ao senador Aloysio Nunes (PSDB-SP), que veio pedir o apoio dos EUA ao golpe em curso no Brasil em reuniões com parlamentares e representantes do Departamento de Estado. Ciente dos esforços do senador oposicionista para conseguir o apoio internacional ao golpe em curso, os brasileiros residentes em Washington DC organizaram uma manifestação de repúdio à sua visita.

Em anexo, fotos da manifestação e carta encaminhada ao congressita que o receberá hoje.

April 19, 2016 - The group Brazilian Expats for Democracy is a recently established collective and ally of SOA Watch that has led several actions in Washington DC in the last few weeks. Today they confronted the Brazilian Senator Aloysio Nunes (PSDB-SP) in Washington DC. Nunes is in the U.S. capital to seek U.S. government support for the ongoing coup in Brazil. He is meeting with members of the U.S. Congress and State Department officials. Aware of the senator's efforts to secure international support for the coup in progress, these Brazilians living in the DC area organized a demonstration of repudiation of his visit.

Below a video of that confrontation in which the Senator at first thought he was being welcomed before realizing that these brave Brazilians were having none of his golpista agenda. A funny moment in an otherwise serious and dangerous situation. It is unsurprising that the right-wing would travel to DC to seek support for it's cynical attacks on Brazil's democracy. Below the video, an open letter written by Brazilian Expats for Democracy to Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD), who is the Ranking Member of the Senate's Foreign Relations Committee, and one of the politicians that Aloysio Nunes is meeting with in DC.

OPEN LETTER TO SENATOR BEN CARDIN (D-MD)

Senator Ben Cardin
509 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, DC, 20510

On behalf of Brazilian Expats for Democracy in Washington D.C., Maryland and Virginia
Washington, D.C., 19th of April 2016


Dear Senator Cardin,


On March 31st 2016 and again on April 15th, 2016, Friends of MST, Brazilian Expats for Democracy, the Latin American & Caribbean Action Network, SOA Watch, and action groups and individuals in solidarity held demonstrations in front of the Brazilian Embassy in opposition to the impeachment of Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff. Now, informed of your forthcoming meeting with Brazilian Senator Aloysio Nunes, we ask for a few minutes of your time so that we can outline the seriousness of the political situation in Brazil and ask that you do not encourage or support the institutional coup that is currently taking place in Brazil and to which Senator Nunes has been contributing.

We reaffirm our belief that the recognition of a foreign State or Government in International Law is a subject in which law and politics are closely interwoven. In this sense, we believe that expressing an opinion on the legal status of an entity or authority is both a political and legal act within the discretion of the recognizing State. Nevertheless, in the case of the imminent change of government in Brazil, we ask that you do not respond to Senator Nunes’ requests to recognize, endorse or legitimize, through any means available to you, a government that may come to power as a result of the impeachment process.

As was the case with Manuel Zelaya in Honduras in 2009 and Fernando Lugo, in Paraguay in 2012, Brazil now undergoes an institutional coup whereby institutions are being misused through distorted efforts to legally justify an unconstitutional move. Dilma Rousseff's situation in Brazil is similar to the previous two cases: since Rousseff's election in 2014, there has been a constant effort by the opposition forces to erode the government coalition and to block her attempts to govern successfully. This systematic boycott has been orchestrated by the defeated opposition along with conservative sectors of the society, specific members of the judiciary and the mainstream media. As such, the opposition has managed to undermine the governing ability of a democratically elected government and has capitalized on this erosion to justify an impeachment process as an institutional solution to the deadlock.

Senator Aloysio Nunes is part of this illegitimate, unconstitutional and anti-democratic effort to delegitimize Rousseff’s government. It is also important to highlight that politicians promoting the impeachment process are deeply involved in corruption investigations. On Sunday April 17th, 2016, most of the congressmen involved in the Lava Jato corruption scheme voted for the impeachment. Out of 22 representatives being investigated by the Federal Justice, 16 voted to impeach president Dilma Rousseff. Besides that, among the 143 deputies who are currently either criminal defendants or have been convicted, more than 100 (70%) voted to impeach the president. A similar outlook is expected in the Senate vote. Your very guest, Senator Aloysio Nunes, is currently under investigation at the Brazilian Supreme Court (STF) for allegedly receiving illegally over R$500.000,00 (approximately $138,312.00 USD) from UTC Engineering under the Petrobras Lava Jato Scheme.
We ask that you consider the deep ties between the forces behind the impeachment process, systemic corruption and oligarchical political elites that have long suffocated democracy in Brazil. We ask that you in no way condone this process.

The current economic recession in Brazil and the ignition of latent frustration with endemic political corruption has led the opposition to put Rousseff on the hot seat of blame, although no evidence has been found implicating Rousseff in the Lava Jato corruption investigations engulfing the nation. The alleged basis for the impeachment is fiscal mismanagement, however, the legal foundations of this claim have been widely criticized by national and international jurists. (See copied news clippings below). Key due process rights have been overlooked throughout the impeachment proceedings and political complaints unrelated to the legal claim permeate all aspects of the impeachment request.

The call for impeachment is overtly political in nature, driven by opposition efforts to undermine and overthrow a democratically elected government. We express our concerns for the manifest disregard for due process, for an expressly politicized judiciary, and for the partiality of and manipulation by major media outlets, notoriously unfavorable to the governing party. In this context, we ask that you do not recognize or support in anyway Senator Aloysio Nunes and the current impeachment process in Brazil. In addition, we ask that Senator Aloysio Nunes be informed that the Brazilian Expats for Democracy in Washington D.C, Maryland and Virginia, together and in solidarity, demand:

1. The declaration of invalidity of the impeachment request due manifest illegal acts and misuse of power by Lower House Speaker, Eduardo Cunha. From the initial acceptance act on December 2nd 2015, Eduardo Cunha’s flagrant misuse of power has tainted the impeachment process in accordance with Article 19 of Law nº 1.079 of 1950 and Article 218, § 2º of the Lower House’s Internal Regulation.

2. The extinguishment of the impeachment process on the basis that there exists no constituted crime of responsibility as per Article 85 of the Brazilian Constitution and the Impeachment Law of 1.079/1950. We gravely reject the vague and imprecise terms of the impeachment request and see no factual basis valid to motivate the impeachment claim. As such, we call for the recognition of the unconstitutional character of the impeachment process due to infringement of the principle of legality as per Article 5º II of the Brazilian Constitution.

3. The extinction of the claim by the Brazilian Supreme Court (STF) based on the infringement of due process rights, such as President Dilma Rousseff’s right to defense under Article 5º, LV of the Brazilian Constitution as well as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (Article 10) and the Inter-American Convention for Human Rights (Pact of San Jose, Costa Rica, Articles 1.1, 2 and 8).

4. The respect for criminal law safeguards, namely, that as defined in law, crimes of responsibility can only be attributed to someone if their conduct fits within a legally constituted crime and with proven intent. We ask for the recognition that there is no direct personal act of the President of the Republic capable of generating a crime of responsibility under Article 4 of Law nº 1.079 of 1950.

5. The recognition that, on behalf of the people, Brazilian constitutionalists of 1988 decided for a presidential system of government and that any attempts to distort this system by means of expansive interpretation of legal instruments is unconstitutional.

6. The recognition that the intention to transform the motion for impeachment within a presidential system into a motion of no confidence in a parliamentary regime is a legal anomaly and should not be tolerated.

7. International attention and mobilization to impede the process of a "legislative coup", "white coup" or "covert coup" currently taking place in Brazil under the pretenses of an anti-corruption effort and low presidential approval ratings.

8. The reaffirmation of the Democratic Constitutional rule of law, which should be subject to the laws and take place through the law, not allowing for any violation of established fundamental guarantees that Constitution provides; or permitting allowances of exceptions for an impeachment process without clear legal basis.

9. The impartiality of the justice system, which must operate according to the dictates of the Constitution and our legal system, which does not allow for partisanship, selective operation of political persecution of any kind.

10. The repression of corruption, which must be done ethically, transparently and in detriment of no specific political group or organization. Crucially, we demand that the repression of corruption be undertaken within the legal limits of the law and to no prejudice of basic legal rights.

11. An honest and reliable communication system through the development of a strategic project of redemocratization of mass media and support of independent media with regards to the production of information, knowledge, and communication.

12. We condemn the gender offenses, through sexist and misogynistic remarks and insults that have become naturalized in Brazilian political discussions against both, President Dilma Rousseff as well as any and all women.

13. The respect for political institutions, which, especially in a time of crisis, have to act with prudency in order to enforce the will of the people, expressed through the means defined by the Constitution through direct regular and periodic elections.

14. The public and official condemnation of the political violence and abuse of power by the military police that has killed two activists from the Landless Rural Workers Movement on April 8th 2016.

15. The public recognition that Speaker of the House of Representatives Eduardo Cunha (PMDB) has no competence to introduce himself as the protagonist of impeachment proceedings. We demand the conclusion of proceedings in the Supreme Court and in the House Ethics Committee against Mr. Cunha as well as his condemnation and dismissal of Eduardo Cunha from the National Congress.

The media has reported that the United States spent years vehemently denying any role in the 1964 military coup that removed Brazil’s elected left-wing government, a coup that resulted in 21 years of a brutal, right-wing military dictatorship. But secret documents and recordings have emerged proving that the US actively helped plot that coup, and the country’s 2014 Truth Commission report found that “the US and UK aggressively supported the dictatorship and even trained Brazilian interrogators in torture techniques.”

If at this time the US openly supports, or by omission supports, this modern type of institutional coup, Brazilians and Latin Americans will be ready to condemn the repetition of the past. There is no doubt that this would harm the current efforts by President Obama to change the image of the US towards the region.

We ask for a few minutes of your time, and for your recognition of the severity of the institutional threat we face at the moment.

Sincerely,
Brazilian Expats for Democracy