Cuban funds tied to Lula campaign, Brazilian magazine alleges

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Lula and Fidel Castro at Revolution's Palace in Havana. Photo: Antonio Milena/ABr (arquivo).

Brazil — Former advisors to Brazilian Minister of Finance Antonio Palocci have claimed that three million US dollars from Cuba were used in the 2002 political campaign of Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. The accusation was printed by the Brazilian magazine Veja in its issue circulating this week.

According to Veja, Rogério Buratti, Palocci's secretary in the early 1990s during the period when Palocci was mayor, claims that Ralf Barquete (another advisor to Palocci) had asked him to find a way to bring money from Cuba.

Another source, economist Vladmir Poleto who had also worked for Palocci, claimed to have brought the three million from Brasília to Campinas by plane. He stated the money was hidden in whiskey boxes: Johnnie Walker Red Label and Black Label and Havana Club (a Cuban brand of rum). Barquete received the money at the Campinas airport Viracopos. Afterwards he claims the money was transferred by car to São Paulo and delivered to Workers' Party treasurer Delubio Soares.

Workers' Party President Ricardo Berzoini has responded saying that the accusation is false. And Lula's aide Gilberto Carvalho has said the story is "absurd".

According to the blog of Folha de S. Paulo reporter Josias de Souza, Palocci and Lula are worried about the interviews being aired on Brazilian television.

The president of the PPS, federal deputy Roberto Freire (Pernambuco state), has stated that his party will ask the Electoral Justice investigatory agency and the Public Ministry to begin a investigation into the charge. The parties PFL and PSDB are also considering demanding an investigation.