By Jay Forte, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Four days after the news broke of JBS executive Joesley Batista’s audio recording, Brazil’s president Michel Temer met on Sunday (May 21st) night at the Alvorada Palace with ministers and government leaders in an effort to sure up support and define his allies.
On Wednesday last week (May 17th), reports that President Michel Temer was recorded giving his endorsement to the pay-off of a top politician for his silence shook the political establishment in the South American country.
Yesterday that Deputy Aguinaldo Ribeiro (PP-PB), leader of the government in the chamber, told a state news agency that President Temer asked that the Legislative Power continue working in its “normality”.
According to Ribeiro, the president again was outraged by the accusations and expressed confidence that he will “overcome the moment”. “The biggest response we can make is with the measures that are positive for the country. All the parties at the base were reaffirming support for Temer,” Ribeiro said.
The leader in congress, André Moura (PSC-SE), said the informal Sunday gathering was, “[…] a meeting like the others that have taken place since Wednesday. At the right time, we will convene the basis for a formal meeting,” he said, without informing the date.
Earlier on Saturday (May 20th), the Federal Supreme Tribunal (STF) minister Edson Fachin decided to send the audio allegedly of Joesley Batista and President Michel Temer to the Federal Police (PF) for expert analysis, at the request of the president’s defense team.
In an address to the nation, Temer questioned the legality of the recording and said there are many contradictions in Joesley Batista’s testimony, such as the information that the president would have endorsed the pay-off for the silence of the ex-Deputy Eduardo Cunha, who is imprisoned in Curitiba.
Meanwhile, despite the bad weather in some cities, demonstrators protested against the government and ask for direct elections in several states across the country. Government news reported in Rio de Janeiro, Brasilia and Recife protests had little turnout Sunday morning. In Porto Alegre, the protest was canceled due to heavy rain.
In São Paulo, the AP reported several hundred people huddled under umbrellas and building awnings to avoid the rain as they called for Temer to leave office. Many said they have opposed Temer since he took over from Rousseff because they regard her impeachment as politically motivated and illegitimate.
“It is funny because we have always said that they rob,” Ana Borguin, a 28-year-old subway worker told the news agency. “But in fact now we have a concrete proof and the worst thing is that they do it openly and talks about millions as if they were talking about a grocery shopping.”
Testimony given by JBS President, Joesley Batista, to federal prosecutors, states that Batista met with President Temer in March and that Brazil’s leader suggested that the CEO continue to render a ‘monthly allowance’ to former Chamber of Deputies President, Eduardo Cunha, for his silence.
Batista is said to have recorded the meeting with the President. According to daily O Globo, Batista told Temer that an allowance was paid to Cunha so that he would not enter a plea-bargaining deal with prosecutors, to which the President allegedly responded, “You have to continue this [payment], ok?”