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Cablegate: Santa Catarina Governor Survives Impeachment Scare

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DE RUEHSO #0122/01 0720940
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R 120940Z MAR 08
FM AMCONSUL SAO PAULO
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E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PINR KDEM BR
SUBJECT: SANTA CATARINA GOVERNOR SURVIVES IMPEACHMENT SCARE

REF: SAO PAULO 61

1. (U) Summary: Luiz Henrique da Silveira, Governor of the southern
state of Santa Catarina, has survived an attempt to remove him from
office over allegations of abuse of power. On February 21, the
Superior Electoral Tribunal (TSE) voted for technical reasons to
suspend the legal proceedings against the Governor and retry the
case against him, a process that will take some time. The case grew
out of a rivalry between current Governor Luiz Henrique Brazilian
Democratic Movement Party - PMDB) and former Governor Esperidiao
Amin (Progressivist Party - PP). Like his fellow southern PMDB
Governor Roberto Requiao of Parana (reftel), Silveira has
potentially crossed the line between informing the public of his
government's achievements and promoting his own political and
personal interests. The media are playing an increasingly important
role in highlighting, and by extension helping to combat, potential
abuses of power by those in power. End Summary.

2. (U) In the second round of the 2002 gubernatorial elections in
Santa Catarina, Luiz Henrique da Silveira (PMDB) defeated the
incumbent, Esperidiao Amin (PP) in a hotly contested race, marking
the first time Amin had ever lost an election in the state.
Silveira owes his 2002 victory to Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, who in
the course of his successful presidential bid visited Florianopolis
and threw the support of his Workers' Party (PT) behind Silveira.
Relations later cooled, especially after Luiz Henrique brokered a
governing alliance with the center-left Social Democracy Party of
Brazil (PSDB) and the more conservative Liberal Front Party (PFL -
now Democratic Party, DEM), excluding President Lula's PT.

3. (U) Governor Silveira's first term was characterized by a focus
on cultural activities and a policy of decentralization by creating
regional secretariats. Unlike many state politicians who devote all
their attention to the capital, Silveira gave priority to developing
the interior of the state. Despite a penchant for promoting himself
and his government's achievements, Silveira generally steered clear
of major controversy. He went so far as to step down in April 2006
to devote himself to his re-election campaign, stating that he
wanted to run against his opponent on equal terms and calling the
advantages of incumbency "an unacceptable privilege" and "an
excrescence." The 2006 election again pitted him against former
Governor Amin, whom he again defeated in the second round, by a
margin of 52.7 to 47.3 percent.

4. (U) Many observers thought Silveira's victories in both rounds
of two consecutive elections heralded the end of the Amin "dynasty"
(Esperidiao Amin's wife, Angela, is a Federal Deputy who served two
terms (1997-2004) as Mayor of Florianopolis), but they were
mistaken. The ex-Governor never accepted the election results and
declined to depart the scene. He and his supporters formed a
political organization, "Save Santa Catarina," which demanded the
removal of Governor Silveira for alleged wrongdoing in office. The
group claimed that a government-funded publicity campaign broadcast
on radio and television between 2004 and 2006, "Santa Catarina in
Action," was in fact Silveira campaign propaganda in disguise and
out of season, as well as personal promotion at the public's
expense. In addition, they alleged that a special supplement, "40
Months of Change," published in June 2006 by dozens of newspapers in
the state's interior not long after Silveira resigned to run again,
was also illegal campaign propaganda. Finally, they accused
Silveira's successor, Governor Eduardo Pinho Moreira, of proposing,
during the second round of the election, legislation designed to
disadvantage Amin.

5. (U) The Regional Electoral Tribunal (TRE), in a divided vote,
ruled that Silveira's election was legitimate and certified him the
winner. However, "Save Santa Catarina" filed a separate complaint
with the Superior Electoral Tribunal (TSE). The case generated
enormous interest throughout the state. According to Joao Ramos
Schaefer, a retired state appeals court judge and a partner in one
of Santa Catarina's most prominent law firms, for weeks on end
nobody talked about anything else. After several delays, the TSE
met on February 14 to consider the case. Three of the seven
Ministers (judges) voted to revoke the Governor's credential
("diploma") and remove him from office. However, a fourth asked for

SAO PAULO 00000122 002 OF 002


more time to review the case and consider his vote, leaving the
parties (and the voters) in suspense. The situation was complicated
by uncertainty over next steps in the event the TSE voted to remove
Governor Luiz Henrique and his Lieutenant Governor, Leonel Pavan
(PSDB), who, as part of the Governor's ticket, would also be subject
to removal. The TSE would have the option of either installing the
losing candidates, Esperidiao Amin and his running mate, or calling
a new election. Either course would be politically explosive.

6. (U) On February 21, after hearing heated arguments, the
President of the TSE, Marco Aurelio Mello, broke a 3-3 tie by voting
to suspend the process and re-try the case on the grounds that Lt.
Governor Pavan had not been afforded the opportunity to defend
himself. Accordingly, the case, in Mello's words, returns "to
square one." While there is no prescribed time frame for the
retrial, experts believe it could take up to a year. Each Minister
has the right to take as much time as he needs to decide. Two
Ministers are scheduled to rotate off the TSE, to be replaced by two
new ones who will need time to get up to speed. While the state is
awash with rumors that one or more of the Ministers may have been
co-opted by Silveira supporters, to date nobody has brought forth
any evidence of irregularity. Some observers have speculated that
the TSE's decision could have an impact on pending cases involving
six other Governors elected in 2006 whose mandates have been
challenged over similar alleged offenses.

7. (U) Biographic Note: Luiz Henrique da Silveira, 67, has served
since 2003 as Governor of Santa Catarina, a southern state with a
population of about 6 million and among the highest levels of
economic development and quality of life in Brazil. A native of
Blumenau, he was a lawyer and law professor before entering
politics. Silveira is affiliated with the non-ideological Brazilian
Democratic Movement Party (PMDB), which he served as national
president, 1993-96, and has always enjoyed strong political support
in the interior of the state. He began his political career as a
State Deputy and subsequently was elected five times to the federal
Chamber of Deputies. On the national level, he was Minister of
Science and Technology (1987-1988) during the Sarney administration.
His main electoral base is in Joinville, the economic power and
largest city in Santa Catarina, where he served three terms as
Mayor. End Biographic Note.

8. (U) Comment: Governor Luiz Henrique appears to have run into
the same problem of mixing personal promotion and official
activities that Governor Roberto Requiao (reftel) encountered in
Parana State. While these players are not part of the national
electoral scene and what happens in this imbroglio will have little
impact on the 2010 national elections, it is interesting to note
that the local media, regardless of why they are interested or who
is urging them to become involved, are maintaining a focus on issues
of legality and abuse of official position which can only help in
solidifying Brazil's maturing democracy. If similar cases in other
Brazilian states move forward, Governors elected in 2010 may opt for
even more transparency during their terms. End Comment.

WHITE

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