Tuesday, August 28, 2012

In NY "Times" Interview, Lula Denies Existence of "Mensalão"

In an interview that appeared in the New York "Times" on Saturday, August 25, 2012, ex-President Lula denied the existence of the so-called "mensalão."

He told the "Times" that "I do not believe there was a mensalão," adding that his party had no need to buy votes because it had already formed a majority using political alliances.  The article refers to Lula's meeting with Supreme Court Justice Gilmar Mendes, during which, according to Justice Mendes, Lula attempted to pressure the Justice into delaying the trial over the "mensalão" case.   

While declaring that "politics is my passion," Lula affirmed that he has no intention of running for President in 2014, and that Dilma will be his candidate.  

However, when asked about the election of 2018, he did not rule out a possible candidacy. (The Brazilian Constitution prohibits a President from serving more than two consecutive terms, so Dilma would be unable to run then).

Lula's predecessor, ex-President Fernando Henrique Cardoso, is quoted as describing Lula as "warm — a snake charmer." The two men, who first met in 1973, were political allies during Brazil's military dictatorship, but later ran against each other for the Presidency. Cardoso criticized Lula for having even met with Justice Mendes, but said that he and Lula continue to have periodic phone conversations. 

In other comments, Lula was critical of the way that European leaders have handled the economic crisis, saying that if they had acted sooner, the crisis would not have gotten out of control.   

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