By Marina Menéndez Quintero
January 25, 2020
Translated and edited by Walter Lippmann for CubaNews.
Chilling tales of lies, slander and unjust prison sentences could come to the fore, totally naked, if nothing blocks the work of the judges who make up an unusual court: the Ethics Tribunal which has set out to investigate – and ventilate! – the most notorious cases of lawfare.
Perhaps because the court is presided over by an Argentine constitutionalist magistrate – the prestigious and experienced Eduardo Barsesat – or because the news has had wide repercussions in his country, the media has pointed out that the entity is a creation of “sectors close to Kirchnerism” .
However, Barsesat explained that the idea had been around for two years and, in fact, it was conceived in Madrid, not in Buenos Aires. It was in the Spanish capital that the foundation of the court was first announced last November, and the city in which its ruling will also be announced exactly one year later, next November.
According to the magistrate’s statement to the alternative media El Destape Radio, this is “a joint initiative of the Lawfare Institute of Sao Paulo, which includes Lula’s defense lawyers, and the Common Action Forum of African countries.
The lawyer – who has participated as a prosecutor and judge, respectively, in two other ethical judicial processes (the one that was developed to establish the responsibilities of the Argentine military dictatorship and the one that analyzed crimes for economic, social and cultural crimes) – is concerned that lawfare “is not foreseen in any international doctrine” and constitutes, he says, “a perverse practice that generates the civil death” of those who are its victims.
“Many believe that the processes that disqualified Lula from being a presidential candidate or that they used here to persecute Cristina (Fernández) or to outlaw (Rafael) Correa, are normal processes; and we want to demonstrate that they are irregular,” he explained to other media.
“It’s a judicial persecution in which nobody is very sure of what their rights are,” he said in one of the many interviews he has given in recent days, while denouncing the digital publication Perfil: “Lawfare, or judicial warfare, which would be its meaning in Spanish, is a practice of persecution and destruction of political opponents or enemies, using judicial processes as a weapon.
In accordance with the announcement, the Ethics Tribunal that has just been set up will issue summonses and collect testimonies and documents, interview detainees and then issue an ethical judgement.
Barsesat is not too concerned that such a ruling will not lead to effective penalties.
In an article close to a declaration of principles about the functioning of the court and signed by the jurist himself in El Destape, Barsesat recognizes that, in the face of what he calls “a new modality of the former doctrine of “national security” – and which operates, fundamentally, by implementing the rotten leg of the administration of justice – it is difficult to expect a trial of lawfare before the same judges who are its executors and ideological supporters.
“Nor are there any jurisdictional bodies, regional or international, that can operate with training and authority to disrupt the lawfare,” he adds.
However, it also takes into account that there is a need to “make people aware of the irregularity and anti-juridicality of this phenomenon, while advancing in “the task of making people aware of this new instrument of social domination, and opening up paths for future challenges before judicial bodies, national, regional and international.
These political crimes will not be the only ones to be tried, as they could be considered.
What Barsesat calls “a new undertaking of that juridical consciousness of humanity that comes from a resolution of the CAF (the Common Action Forum), to constitute the Common Action Tribunal (the name of this very special court)”. It also intends to prosecute the practice that he identifies as whistleblowing: “the persecution as informants, of those who make public data described as secret by the hegemonic powers,” he explains.
And one wonders if it would be possible, then, to also analyze the persecution that keeps the Australian journalist Julian Assange virtually under kidnapping. Unfortunately, many in the world seem to have forgotten the effectiveness of the leaks that published, in black and white, the hairs and signs of the warlike execution of W. Bush. This was thanks to the audacity of his web site Wikileaks. The same could be said of then Sergeant Bradley Manning (Chelsea Manning).
There is reason to wonder whether the penetrated judicial systems that have put this practice into effect will allow the court headed by Barsesat and composed of also experienced jurists from other nations to proceed, when they require files, or the “evidence” that in many cases does not exist?
But the truth is that his appearance could not be more fair and timely.
A look at recent events in Latin America – just to look at this part of the world – and even a glance at the events that are taking place right now, allows us to see how recurrent the use of “the judicial war”, or “the judicialization of politics”, as it is more commonly known, is to stone not only progressive or frankly leftist political leaders. It is also being used to demonize movements and parties, to twist the destinies of some countries and, of course, to criminalize political processes.
The case of Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, who was confined in an improvised prison at the police headquarters in Curitiba for a year and a half after a trial that was rushed to a close when the resources of the defense had not yet been exhausted, and against whom some six legal cases are still open on unproven charges, so that his freedom is still not definitive, is the most notorious.
He was succeeded by his fellow worker and co-religionist of the Workers’ Party, Dilma Rousseff, the first piece of work to be broken in Brazil by means of treason, distortion and lies, in an impeachment that anticipated the political play in gestation.
Also victims of lawfare are former Ecuadorian Vice President Jorge Glas, locked up and then transferred to an inhospitable maximum security prison for acts that were not sufficiently proven and considered corrupt. Also, former President Rafael Correa himself, prevented from returning to Ecuador by the arrest warrants circulated to Interpol against him,. These are also on the basis of unproven accusations that have ranged from an alleged attempt to kidnap a congressman to the presumption that he was organizing a coup d’état. It’s a fantasy!
But the judicial persecution has also been hung on less prominent figures such as former ministers or ex-officials of the Argentine governments of “the Kirchners”. It is still hanging over Vice President Cristina Fernandez, accused of several alleged acts of corruption, and the first voice to denounce lawfare as a way of judicializing politics.
In any case, if anyone doubts the artful and opportunistic way in which this is being employed, they need only look at Bolivia. Evo Morales, who left the country after being threatened by the military to prevent the coup d’état from ending in a massive bloodbath, has now been accused by the coup leaders of “terrorism” and “sedition”.
And less than 24 hours after his name was included on the Movement Toward Socialism (MAS) ballot for the announced presidential elections in May, former minister Luis Arce has just been included among those accused of alleged embezzlement from the Indigenous Fund. Here is another way to prevent the MAS from regaining the presidency!
However, such examples are not the only ones that are outrageous. Glenn Greenwald, the U.S. journalist who runs the website The Intercept in Brazil. He published, along with two other colleagues, the audios that prove how the trial against Lula, in the midst of Operation Lava Jato, was “fabricated”. They followed the instructions of the prosecutor-turned-Justice Minister Sergio Moro, another one being pursued by “justice”, which accuses him of committing computer piracy and cyber-crimes.
Dr. Bersesat is right when he explains that lawfare is based, among other things, on fictional stories. What is not fiction at all is its extermination character, as could only happen to the minds that are credited with its creation in 2001 as part of the U.S. military’s doctrines of domination and unconventional methods.
Lawfare is a form of war consisting of the use of the legal system against an enemy, such as by damaging or delegitimizing them, tying up their time or winning a public relations victory. The term is a portmanteau of the words law and warfare.
By Manuel E. Yepe
Exclusive for the daily POR ESTO! of Merida, Mexico.
Translated and edited by Walter Lippmann.
Just over a month before Brazil’s October 7 presidential elections, the judges of the Supreme Electoral Tribunal rejected, four votes to one, the candidacy of the population’s undisputed favorite in the largest and most populous nation in Latin America.
This occurred despite the fact that a resolution to this effect by the International Human Rights Committee of the United Nations (UN) stipulated that the Brazilian State must allow former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva to exercise his political rights as the presidential candidate of the Workers’ Party and a coalition of movements and parties that are already legally entitled to compete in the upcoming elections.
No one doubts that Lula da Silva would be a broad winner in these elections but it happens that, since April, Lula has been held in a Federal Police cell in the state of Curitiba. He has been sentenced to 12 years in prison in an arbitrary trial, with no sign of legality, on charges of passive corruption and money laundering. No evidence of such charges against the top left-wing political leader, simply because the crimes have never existed.
The latest polls published make it clear that Lula da Silva, who has almost 40% of the voting intentions, would be elected in the first round. But if he fails to do so, he will wipe out all the other contenders in a possible second round of voting.
Former army captain and deputy Jair Bolsonaro, candidate of the Social Liberal Party, which represents the extreme right, is second in the polls, with 19% of the intention to vote.
The candidate considered to be the representative of the (not extreme) right is the one presented by the Brazilian Social Democratic Party (PSDB) with the support of the Brazilian Democratic, Labor, Social Democratic and Solidarity parties. He is the former governor of Sao Paolo Geraldo Alckmin. He is ranked third in the polls with about 5% of the declarations of intent to vote.
Other parties that have announced their own candidates are the Communist Party of Brazil (PCdoB), with Manuela d’Avila as its presidential candidate and the ruling Brazilian Democratic Movement (MDB) of former Finance Minister Henrique Meirelles, both with very low voter intention rates.
Alckmin’s campaign strives to gain followers among the owners of capital with an irrational, homophobic, racist and misogynistic discourse. They have very abundant financial resources, but the public fears that a large part of the right wing will choose to join the right-wing extremist campaign.
There has been massive manipulation by the unelected government of Michael Temer and the U.S. Embassy in Brasilia to prevent the election of Lula as president of the largest nation in South America. This has transformed the Brazilian popular leader, from a central protagonist and determinant of a national electoral process into an emblematic figure of Latin American independence in the face of the imperialist hegemonic power of the United States.
Thus, Brazil will have a presidential election this year that should have been aimed at restoring to the South American giant the precarious normality it had achieved in 1985. After 21 years of a military dictatorship widely supported by the owners of capital and representatives of imperialist interests in Brazil, Brazil’s tenuous normality was broken by the institutional coup that removed Dilma Rousseff in April 2016 and culminated in the arbitrary imprisonment of Lula two years later.
The solution could be in the hands of the magistrates of the Superior Electoral Court or, ultimately, those of the Supreme Court of Justice. However, this would require that the country’s vital decisions be returned to the hands of the Brazilian people.
Unfortunately, in Latin America, the approach of the legal system to politics has given rise to repeated behavior in which judges and prosecutors prevaricate and lend themselves to the persecution of popular leaders. This has been shown in the cases of Brazil, Argentina and Ecuador, where former presidents Lula, Cristina Fernández de Kirchner and Rafael Correa are being harassed and prosecuted for crimes that they did not commit and which obviously cannot be proven.
In the event that the manipulation of the process through violence or corruption is imposed and Lula’s inclusion on the ballot is prevented, it is expected that a sufficient number of voters will choose to do so in favor of Fernando Haddad, former mayor of Sao Paolo and former minister of education during the government of the popular labor leader, who is already registered as an aspirant for the vice presidency with Lula.
In Brazil, the cards are on the table. What their people want is known. What is also known is just how much violence and cruelty imperialism and the local exploiters is capable of to impose their rule.