US admits role in Operation Lava Jato, brags about Lula conviction

December 22, 2017. After US-backed neoliberal Sebastian Piñera wins the Chilean presidential elections following corruption charges against center-left former Chilean president Michelle Bachelet involving Brazilian construction company Odebrecht as part of the Lava Jato investigation, El Clarin reveals that the US State department has publicly admitted it is collaborating with the operation. The admission, something that Brasil Wire have suspected since the disclosure of leaked state department cables which showed US collaboration with Lava Jato judge/prosecutor Sergio Moro since 2009 (following his 2007 participation in their ‘International Visitor Leadership Program’), was made by Acting Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Blanco in a speech at think tank the Atlantic Council in July 2017. The full speech can be watched here and read here.

In his speech, Blanco says, “the cooperation between the [US Justice] Department and Brazil has led to extraordinary results. In just the last year alone, for example, the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and the Brazilian Lava Jato task force have cooperated and coordinated resolutions in four FCPA cases: Embraer, Rolls Royce, Braskem, and Odebrecht. Odebrecht is particularly noteworthy due to its breadth and scope.”

Kenneth Blanco’s July, 2017 Speech at the Atlantic Council, entitled, “Lessons From Brazil: Fighting Corruption Amid Political Turmoil”

Blanco highlights the criminal charges against former President Lula which resulted in a 9.5 year prison sentence, pending appeal, for allegedly receiving illegal reforms on an apartment the prosecutors were unable to prove he ever owned or set foot in, as putting Brazil at the “forefront” of countries fighting corruption. He continues saying, “At the core of the tremendous cooperation between our two countries is a strong relationship built on trust. This trust allows prosecutors and agents to have direct communications regarding evidence. Given the close relationship between the Department and the Brazilian prosecutors, we don’t need to rely solely on formal processes such as mutual legal assistance treaties, which often take significant time and resources to draft, translate, formally transmit, and respond to.”

The Lava Jato investigation has been hailed in the Anglo press as an objective anti-corruption investigation, but to date it has almost exclusively targeted center-left politicians across South America while ignoring much larger bribery and money laundering charges against conservatives, especially those involving the Brazilian PSDB party, which was widely supported by northern journalists in the 2014 Brazilian presidential elections. A December 22, 2017 Folha de São Paulo article shows that investigators have ignored and maintained in secrecy, more than half of the evidence produced implicating the Odebrecht construction company.

July, 2017. Ex-president of Peru, Ollanta Humala is arrested on corruption charges involving Odebrecht construction company as part of the Lava Jato investigation. Current Peruvian president, Pedro Pablo Kuczynski, is facing impeachment charges from the same investigation. Brasil’s elected President Dilma Rousseff was impeached for committing a technically non-impeachable infraction, involving no bribery or personal enrichment, that she was later exonerated from. On the eve of the Argentinian senatorial elections, Christina Kirchner is facing corruption accusations of her own from a conservative judge who was allied with neoliberal former president Carlos Menem.

The “war on corruption” in Latin America has been promoted abroad with slick propaganda such as this video from the David Rockefeller-founded AS/COA organisation which is made up of former US State Department and Intelligence figures,  in collaboration with Transparency International whose largest financial donor is the UK Government.

December 12, 2017, Buenos Aires. Dilma Rousseff and Christina Kirchner meet to issue a joint statement about the use use of the judicial system as a weapon to destroy political parties and leftist politicians, in a process which they call Lawfare. “The objective is the same in Brazil as in Argentina,” they said, “To hide the economic disaster that neoliberal governments are carrying out in the region.”

The United State government is suspect on corruption issues, due to its 70 year history of propping up corrupt right wing regimes in Latin America including those of General Rafael Trujillo in the Dominican Republic, Papa Doc Duvailer in Haiti, the Brazilian Military Dictatorship (1964-1985), General Augusto Pinochet in Chile and, more recently, immediate legitimization and increased funding for the coup government in Honduras (2009-present). The fact that it publicly admits collaboration with the Lava Jato investigation, which is specifically targeting left and center left governments, shows that the real purpose is not fighting corruption but opening up markets and lowering taxes for US corporations operating in the area, paving the way for a new generation of neoliberal leaders to restart negotiations for the Free Trade Agreement of the Americas, which is widely opposed by the majority of the people in Latin America. This admission of guilt by a top US Justice Department official represents yet one more page in a long and ugly history of criminal assaults on democracy and sovereignty in the region.


By Brian Mier

Writer, geographer and former development professional who has lived in Brazil for 26 years. Former directorate member of the Fórum Nacional de Reforma Urbana (National Urban Reform Forum). Has lived in São Luis, Recife, Salvador, Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo. Author of “Os Megaeventos Esportivos na Cidade do Rio de Janeiro e o Direito á Cidade” (CEPR: Porto Alegre. 2016). Editor of "Voices of the Brazilian Left" (Sumare: São Paulo. 2018). Editor of "Year of Lead: Washington, Wall Street and the New Imperialism in Brazil" ((Sumare: São Paulo. 2019) Irregular correspondent for the Chicago radio show This is Hell.