Brazil: “Judgment Day for the Sex Senator!”

“Straight-razor to the quick: the thread of the anticorruption operations has already [chopped off the head] of [the owner of Gautama] and [the minister of Mines and Energy] and now is nearing the neck of the President of the Senate.” Violent imagery straight from the media playbook of Mexico’s Gente Nueva. The article does not accuse the Senator of any relationship to Gautama, however. It accuses him of accepting money from a big construction firm, Mendes Junior. Also in this issue: “Why Dubai is an island of progress in the Middle East.” But see also UAE: Draft Labor Law Violates International Standards (Human Rights Watch, March 25, 2007). You’ve seen Syriana, right? Like that, or like Jorge 40 helping Chiquita with its collective bargaining strategy. Advertorial, just like the infamous Brazil issue of Paris-Match? Just guessing.

Sou classe média
Papagaio de todo telejornal
Eu acredito
Na imparcialidade da revista semanal
–Max Gonzaga

The BLOG DO ET (iG, Brazil) gists the last-ditch defense of the “sex senator.” Senate president Renan Calheiros (PMDB-Alagoas) will face a floor vote in his impeachment proceedings today in a joint session of the Brazilian congress.

[UPDATE: He was absolved, 40-35, in a closed session.]

The Veja magazine “scoop” that launched the charges was one of the sleaziest examples of banana-republican tabloid journalism I have ever seen. I am not saying the Senator is a paragon of virtue, mind you. I really have no idea — mainly because the reporting by the likes of Veja has been so sleazy, noisy, disinformative and viciously slanted that it is simply impossible to know what is what.

After all this time, all that I can honestly say about the story from what I have read — which has been deeper reading than most people, but not really very deep at all, because frankly, my dears, it is not a story I give a huge damn about — is that David Sasaki-style “Fear and Misinformation Abound.”

And look: I was listening to a guy talking to another guy about the case at the airport last evening, for example, and heard him mixing up the Calheiros case and the Roriz case. He was saying that Calheiros was caught on a wiretap laundering money with a Brasília banker — that was Roriz, allegedly, who has since resigned — and now does not want to resign. “The crooked son of a bitch,” said the guy, who was apparently some kind of local hotel roper in a painfully cheap suit.

And I have often heard well-educated people saying the same sort of thing. It’s incredible.

Apparently this kind of gabbling nonsense is promulgated by the gabbling New Lacerdist press here precisely because it works. “We live,” as Richard “Rashomon” Edelman says, “in an age of continuous partial attention.” Which Richard “Rashomon” Edelman submits to us is a good thing.

So I guess all you can really honestly say at this point is the the war of words and political maneuver between the Senator and the magazine has provided quite the media-driven spectacle ever since:

Lawmakers from the lower house reportedly tussled, Taiwan-legislator style, with security personnel of the Senate today while trying to get inside for the historic vote. Only one Senator has been removed from office in this way in the history of the post-1988 Senate, reports a helpful background from the G1 news portal.

The vote will be conducted by secret ballot — normal procedure for Brazilian legislatures.

That’s right. In Brazil, you cannot know how the person you elect to represent you votes on the issues of the day.

Political reformers are using the opportunity to campaign loudly for an end to this peculiar parliamentary rule. And you can kind of see their point.

Jungmann fights the power. On Jungmann, a cabinet minister under Cardoso, see also

The Senator is charged with having a lobbyist pay personal expenses — palimony to his secret baby mom — for him.

The charges against him seem, if I am sorting the signal from the noise properly, to be based on the alleged inadequacy of his attempts to prove he could have paid those expenses on his own, rather than on an attempt to firmly establish the positive deed: that the lobbyist withdrew the amount of money in question from his firm’s account and handed it to the baby mom, saying, “This is from Renan.”

Which I find kind of astonishing as well, from a due process and burden of proof point of view.

Personally, I find the part of the story dealing with livestock transactions the most interesting aspect of the case.

For its own sake, Donald Segretti-style politics aside, as a case study in the dynamics of the local traffic in the noble boi zebu.

No Texan ever worshipped the iconic longhorn the way Brazilians ranchers revere the humpbacked holy cow that is standard churrasco fare around here.

There is, as I always like to mention, a whole channel devoted to electronic zebu auctions. Fascinating viewing, that. Hypnotic.

Na última cartada antes do início da sessão do Senado que decidirá sobre o seu cargo e seu mandato, o presidente da Casa, Renan Calheiros (PMDB-AL), distribuiu nesta manhã um memorial em sua defesa. O documento preparado por seus advogados e assinado por Renan, não traz novidades além das defesas já feitas por ele no Conselho de Ética e da tribuna do plenário. Não há veemência em rebater as acusações do relatório Casagrande/Serrano. Sua eficácia é duvidosa, pois é provável que a maioria dos senadores sequer leia o documento, em meio ao burburinho desta sessão histórica.

In a final round of letter-writing before the Senate session that will rule on his presidency and his mandate as a Senator, the President of the Senate, sent around a memorandum of his defense. The document, prepared by his lawyers and signed by the Senator, has no new points to make beyond the defenses already presented to the ethics commission and the full Senate. It is not strident in rejecting the charges in the Casagrande-Serrano report. Its effectiveness is doubtful, because most senators probably did not even read the document in the midst of the hubbub surrounding this historic session.

Veja os principais pontos do documento:

Highlights of the document:

I – RELAÇÃO COM CLÁUDIO GONTIJO Calheiros não nega ser amigo pessoal de Cláudio Gontijo, mas afirma que a amizade é anterior à contratação do lobista pela Mendes Júnior. O senador reafirma que Gontijo era apenas o amigo de “estrita confiança” que sabia do relacionamento extraconjugal e cumpria o papel de entregar os valores da pensão alimentícia. E rebate que em função da relação dele com Gontijo a Construtora tenha sido beneficiada por emendas na LDO/2005

Relationship with [Mendes Junior lobbyist] Cláudio Gontijo: The Senator does not deny being a personal friend of Gontijo’s, but says their friendship goes back to before Gontijo’s employment as a lobbyist by Mendes Junior. The Senator reiterates that Gontijo is only a “highly trusted” friend who know of his extramarital relationship and acted as a go-between in handing over the [palimony] payments.

The “journalist” Mônica Veloso, who reportedly recorded her pillow talk with the Senator while she was conceiving his daughter, is scheduled to appear in a cover story in the Grupo Abril’s Playboy Brasil.

“Bares all,” as it were. What could possibly be cheesier?

The anonymously sourced Veja “expose” turned out to have been sourced to her palimony lawyer.

II – SUPOSTA FALTA DE CAIXA PARA PAGAMENTOS À MÔNICA VELOSO O memorial assinado por Renan afirma que “não é correta a afirmação constante no Relatório aprovado pela comissão de Ética de que não tivesse caixa para fazer pagamentos à jornalista Mônica Veloso no ano de 2005 ”. E apresenta aos senadores duas folhas em imagem digitalizada dos livros de contabilidade da empresa Costa Dourada Veículos, que, segundo aponta o texto, teria feito um empréstimo de R$ 99 mil que cobriria os pagamentos feitos à Mônica Veloso.

Alleged lack of cash to pay the [baby mom]: Renan’s memo says “it incorrect to state, as the report approved by the ethics commission repeatedly does, that I did not have enough cash to pay Mônica in 2005.” He presents senators with two pages in digital facsimile from the books of Costa Dourada Vehicles, which, according to the memo, made him a loan of R$99,000 to cover the payments to Mônica.

III – DOS LIVROS CAIXA DA ATIVIDADE RURAL Renan Calheiros reafirma que a contabilidade dos livros caixa apresentados comprovam a regularidade fiscal dos rendimentos obtidos e afirma e a análise de tais documentos devem ser feitas em conjunto com a Declaração de Imposto de Renda. No que diz respeito aos empregados de minha fazenda, [sic] aponta o memorial, até setembro de 2006 estes estavam registrados em nome do Espólio de meu pai. E a partir dessa data alguns foram contratados e outros tiveram seus contratos rescindidos.

Financial records of rural transactions: Calheiros says again that the accounting records he presented show that revenue from [cattle trading] was legitimate, saying those records should be analysed jointly with his income tax return. [“]As to the employees of my ranch,[“] the memo says, [“]these were registered in the name of my father’s estate up until September 2006. At that point, some were hired on and others were let go.”

O documento traz a imagem de uma fazenda afirmando que a imagem divulgada pela mídia e [sic] de uma sede de fazenda pertencente ao Espólio do pai e que sua fazenda sequer possui sede própria.

The document includes an image of a ranch, stating that the image published in the media shows the ranch house of lands belonging to his father’s estate, and that his own ranch does not even have its own house.

IV – DAS GTAS E DAS NOTAS FISCAIS DE PRODUTOR No texto Renan afirma que os valores das Notas Fiscais de Produtor, Recibos (depósitos bancários) e Declaração de Imposto de Renda são convergentes, e a diferença (total do ano de 2005) detectada pelo parecer é de “apenas e tão-somente R$ 0,10 e R$ 0,47.

The GTAs and invoices: Renan says the values reflecting on his cattlegrower’s invoices, bank deposit receipts and income tax returns are compatible with one another, and that the differences detected by the commission’s opinion are “a mere 10 and 47 cents.”

V – DO REBANHO Renan argumenta no memorial da dificuldade em se quantificar seu gado. E a afirma que os documentos de vacinação utilizados como ponto de análise pelos relatores do processo não fornece dados suficientes para a conclusão de que o senador não teria gado compatível com o declarado.

On the herd: Renan argues that it is difficult to count the cattle he owns. He says the vaccination documents used by the prosecutors in his impeachment proceedings do not provide sufficient data to support the conclusion that the Senator does not have as many cattle as he declared.

VI – DO DOC “D” No que diz respeito ao Doc “D” (documentos de transferência de valores entre contas da mesma titularidade) no qual os relatores da Comissão de ética teria afirma que Renan teria “sonegado a informação de uma conta corrente” o memorial afirma que “tais documentos não foram encontrados pelos Relatores por equívoco, estão nos autos e que tais contas está reconhecida nos laudos e inclusive aparece no contracheque do Senado.

On “Document D”: With respect to the documents reflecting transfers from one account to another with the same owners (Document D), regarding which the ethics commission state that Renan “concealed information about a cash account,” the memo says that “these documents were not discovered by the prosecutors by mistake, but were part of the public record, are mentioned in the audit documents, and even appear in a Senate check.”

VII – DA VERBA INDENIZATÓRIA O memorial explica vagamente sobre a utilização formal da verba e se limita a afirmar, em negrito, que não foi utilizada para demonstrar qualquer evolução patrimonial.

On the amount of indemnification: The moment provides a vague explanation about the formal use of the amount, limiting itself to saying, in a footnote, that it was not used to demonstrate the evolution of the Senator’s financial condition.

That is sort of a vague gist of an allegedly vague point. If the point is discussed only briefly, you could quote it verbatim.

VII – DOS SAQUES EM DINHEIRO Reafirma que já comprovou no processo pelos extratos bancários que no ano de 2004 teria sacado em dinheiro o valor somado de R$ 670.021,64. E quem nem todos esses saques foram para o pagamento de pensão.

Two cash withdrawals: He reiterates that he has already proved from bank records that in 2004 he withdrew a total of R$670,021.64, and that none of these withdrawals were used to [pay off his secret, Playboy-centerfold baby mom.]

IX – DA ALEGAÇÃO DE QUE FALTEI [sic] COM A VERDADE Nega ter faltado com a verdade afirmando que não apresentou desde o início o empréstimo da empresa Costa Dourada porque a perícia iria “apenas e tão-somente averiguar a autenticidade dos documentos por mim apresentados”. E aponta ainda que “absolutamente nenhum documento falso foi apresentado em minha defesa”.

On the allegation that I [sic] did not tell the truth …

The gister here is too lazy to be clear about when he is gisting and when he is quoting.

He denies not telling the truth, saying he did not come forward with the Costa Dourada loan at the beginning because the audit was “only going to look at the authenticity of the documents I did present.” He points out as well that “absolutely no false documents were presented in my defense.”

I think that is what the federal police found. They said the documents were legitimate, but that they were not enough, considered in their entirety, to conclusively document that the transactions he said he made actually took place.

Which may be bad enough. Or not. Go figure.

Veja, on the other hand, insinuated otherwise:

These people publish disinformation for a living.

X – DA CONCLUSÃO “Assim, acreditando na isenção de Vossas Excelências para que possam abstrair os fatos dos factóides criados ao longo do processo, na certeza de ilações não possam servir para decretar minha morte política, com a aplicação da sanção de perda de mandato e a conseqüente suspensão de direitos políticos por oito anos, diante de um conjunto probatório de evidente fragilidade e permeado de equívocos, é que espero, com serenidade, optem, Vossas Excelências, pelo voto “NÃO” ao Projeto de Resoluções que instruiu o Parecer do CEDP.”

From the conclusion: “Thus, with faith in the impartiality of my esteemed colleagues, that they might separate out the actual facts from the factoids created throughout these proceeding, and confident that no such are sufficient to decree my political death, canceling my mandate and suspending my political rights for eight years, based on such obviously fragile and error-riddled evidence, I serenely hope that you, my esteemed colleagues, will vote no on the resolution [that I be thoroughly borked.]


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