The Lula Institute published a statement late Wednesday announcing a lawsuit made of former Brazilian President Lula da Silva against O Globo newspaper for moral damages.
The article, published by Brazil's leading daily last week, claimed Lula owned a luxury apartment in the Solaris building, in Sao Paulo, property of businessman Alberto Youssef, who is involved in the Petrobras scandal.
“The bad faith of the accused and their unequivocal aim to defame and injure the author (of the lawsuit, Lula) is patent … less than an hour and thirty minutes before the editorial closing time, the accused Germano Oliveira (reporter) sent an email to the Lula Institute requesting information to verify the facts,” explains the legal document.
As the statement published by the Lula Institute explains, the same story had been published last year by the same newspaper. At the time (December 2014), the former president clarified that he had no apartment in the alleged building.
Early on August, when new information linked Jose Dirceu – cabinet chief during Lula's government – with the Petrobras scandal, the newspaper issued an editorial calling for the arrest of the former president.
This is the second time in weeks that the former president has sued a media outlet for publishing false information linking him to the Petrobras scandal.
Late in July, the popular Veja magazine published a front page article claiming Lula and businessmen were linked to the Petrobras scandal and assuring – without providing any evidence – that the former president was largely benefiting from the corruption scheme.
The lawsuit against O Globo comes after the right wing in Brazil made renewed calls for the impeachment of President Dilma Rousseff, despite being unable to find any links between the president and the Petrobras corruption scandal.
As journalist Beto Almeida explained to teleSUR, the media are leading the front against Dilma and the Workers' Party (PT).
“The media attack against Venezuela, Ecuador, Bolivia, is the same as what is occurring now against Dilma Rousseff,” he explained, drawing a parallel between South America's progressive governments.
Furthermore, opposition lawmakers proposed last week that Brazil should abandon the Mercosur bloc of nations, a proposal backed by the Head of the Senate Renan Calheiros.
“Attacking Brazil is attacking a lever that helps the development of Latin America, so that the region has the infrastructure it needs to have its sovereign development … these attacks against the Brazilian government are not a small thing. They are being done to stop the integration of Latin America,” said Almeida.
Historian Marian Aparecida do Aquino from the University of Sao Paulo believes that the Brazilian elite has changed little since the 1964 coup against Joao Goulart.
“When you analyze the positions of the elites in 1964, they were clearly supporting a coup. They wanted to destroy the democratic regime,” explained Aparecida do Aquino in an interview published by Opera Mundi. “Today you have an elite that feels a little resentment (against Dilma and the PT).”
However, for Almeida, the events in Brazil are part of a wider coordinated effort extending beyond just the Brazilian elite.
“This is an international conservative wave ... with clear support from the United States,” said Almeida.
Veja magazine issued a statement announcing it would back the editor of the story ahead of the trial. O Globo has not yet issued a statement responding to the lawsuit.