God Bless America

The title of this post is today’s trending topic on Twitter. #GodBlessAmerica. Today America and the world reminisce again the loss of thousands of dear ones.


I’m not going to overanalyse 9/11 and go through it all over again like thousands of bloggers, news agencies and international affairs people have been doing. You can find political and social analysis of 9/11 chewed and spitted all over the web. I don’t have anything of value to add to it. It changes in nothing what happened.


I didn’t lose a dear one on 9/11, but I feel like sharing  my memories of it.  To me 9/11/2001 was the singlemost event of my existence – I’m going 32 this year.  Nothing else that happened during my lifetime that was as memorable – in a bad way – as seeing the WTC collapsing to the ground via live TV broadcast.


And then there’s the classic question “Where were you when…?”



In the morning of Semptember 11th, 2001, I was still a medical student. I was arriving at the Pavilhão Pereira Filho Lungs Hospital to see patients and for a lecture. I entered the hospital. The waiting lounge TV was on, and dozens of people (patients and staff) were gathering around the TV, as if hypnotized. The first plane had already hit the first tower. I thought that was all very funny and strange at the same time, and asked the lady next to me: “What film is that?”, to which she replied “It’s not a film. A plane crashed into the building.” That sounded delirious, surreal, and I was kind of dumbfounded. The woman had barely finished talking when the second plane hit the second tower. Then I said ‘oh my god’ in a low voice and my brain went on in an endless “what the fuck” loop for a pretty long time until it actually got to me that that was no film and something was really happening. Then I went up the stairs for a lecture that took place only in our bodies but not in our minds, because we had our cell phone radios on and even the professor would stop the lecture to ask on updates about “the situation”.  Everyone was worried, because even though the attacks occured in the USA, the motive for the attacks and the attackers were both initially unknown, and everyone was afraid of being blown up as well.  I had to see patients in the hospital wards that day. The hospital wards are filled with televisions – every room, every corridor. Eventually my medical examination and interview would be interrupted by the patient pointing to the TV set and mumbling something. After I was done with my daily activities I went to the med school cafeteria – which was crowded with other fellow students looking at the TV and debating the attacks and American foreign affairs. And that was 9/11 for me.


Aftermath: all the bad talk and international debate about the role of American foreign affairs in the attacks and the whole war against terror thing came only weeks/months later. The shock wave of the implosion of the WTC was stronger than anything and uttered immediate revenge

and so it goes.

It’s Official…

…Cesare Battisti, the convicted italian terrorist and murderer of several people, is now walking freely in the streets of Brazil, thanks to president Lula. Cesare Battisti is the new Ronald Biggs.
Dear Italian citizens: I hereby clarify, on behalf of the majority of Brazilian citizens, that we Brazilians disagree with president Lula’s decision. We are ashamed of his decision, and we think that Battisti belongs in the hands of Italian justice, nowhere else.

Lula, Cesare Battisti and Italy

In the last day of his mandate, president Lula decided against the extradition of Cesare Battisti, an Italian leftist militant accused of murdering at least four people in Italy in the late 70’s. Lula’s decision was based on his belief that Battisti is politically persecuted and had an unfair trial in Italy. Lula’s act caused animosity in the Italian society. The story of Cesare Battisti is long and filled with polemics and diplomatic friction. Until recently France and Italy were at odds because of Battisti too. But that doesn’t remove the responsability of Brazil’s decision. Did president Lula make the right decision? Is Battisti guilty or innocent? Does that matter?

I think this was another blatant diplomatic goof commited by the Brazilian government. Lula’s decision bears an enormous ideological bias: just like Battisti, Lula was in prison for being a leftist militant. That’s what guided his decision, which instead should have been made assuming that one can’t really know the truth about what Battisti did or did not do – and judging that is up to Italy and no one else. If Italy’s justice system is failed, corrupted and sold out to the mafia, and if because of that Battisti had an unffair trial, that’s NOT  Brazil’s business. That said, one would think Brazil has an exemplar judicial system. But that’s not the case. Brazilian justice is so failed itself that it’s not too much different than Italian justice, and it only has itself to blame for this whole imbroglio. The Brazilian Supreme Court took a long time to decide that Battisti should actually be extradited. But along with that ultimate definitive ruling came a mind-boggling reservation: Brazil’s law says that the real actual ultimate definitive irreversible irrevocable decision about an extradition is up to the President. That’s when Lula entered the story.

Things Lula should have considered:

If Battisti is innocent of the murder accusation and gets extradited: we would have one innocent man spending life in jail for crimes he didn’t commit. Even if  innocent from the murder accusations, Battisti would still be a fugitive from prison, since in 1979 he was arrested and sentenced to 12 years in prison for the crime of participating in an armed group, but escaped from prison a few years later, seeking refuge in France. Anyway, in this case, Brazil would have sent Battisti back to serve the 12 years of jail he was initially sentenced to. Fair enough. But Brazil also would have to live with the fact that it sent a man innocent of murder to spend life in jail (a sentence without a doubt longer and harder than the 12 years Battisti initially got for being a leftist activist).

If  Battisti is innocent of murder and doesn’t get extradited: again, even if one owned the absolute truth and *knew* Battisti was innocent of murder, he would still be a fugitive from prison, since in 1979 he was arrested and sentenced to 12 years in prison for the crime of participating in an armed group, but escaped to France. Diplomatic backlash and commercial jeopardy of Italy-Brazil relations is a certainty.

If Battisti is guilty of murder and gets extradited: we would have one convicted man properly behind bars. The family of the victims and the victims would have justice done. Italy-Brazil diplomacy and business would be safe. Brazil would give a step further in showing that it is not the crime abetting nation of the world. Happy ending for all.

If Battisti is guilty of murder and does not get extradited: Brazil would have to live with the fact that it gave freedom to a man who commited multiple homicide, for the despair and frustration of the victims’ families. It would reinforce its reputation for impunity and crime praisal. Diplomatic backlash and commercial jeopardy of Italy-Brazil relations is a certainty.

Considering the above, and that I do agree that Battisti had an unffair murder trial and should be given the right to a new one, here is how I would (try to) do it: I would extradite him, but under an agreement. I would extradite Battisti, but not because of the murder crime. I would extradite him because he is a fugitive of his first sentence, the 12 years for being part of an armed group. But that only under the condition that the Italian government would cancel the first murder trial and call for a new one, according to the european parliament human rights chamber. I doubt Italy would refuse that. Between not having Battisti, and having him arrested at least for the 12 years he firstly got, you think they’d go for nothing? And that way Brazil would be taking its finger out of their cake while still being fair. But I think our overrated leaders are far from having the wisdom of making choices not biased by ideological views.

Lula himself, President Dilma Rousseff and some people in their staff have been arrested and tortured during the Brazilian military regime because they were considered left wing guerrilla. They were later freed as the military came down, but the military who actually killed people were given amnesty. Last year Lula released the latest reform in Brazil’s National Plan for Human Rights, that, amongst other things, determines that the efforts to investigate the crimes commited during the military dictatorship will extend to investigating crimes of *both* sides, that is, crimes commited by the military, and by the left wing activists. The backlash against that clause was huge and people were calling Lula a traitor for making an agreement that possibly punished his own kind and still wouldn’t change what happened to the military. Judging by what he did with Battisti, apparently Lula only cares about protecting the left wing activists of other countries. Brazil’s can go to hell.

…And The First Post of 2011 (or How Brazil Got a Palestinian Embassy)

President Lula’s last official act as the president of Brazil, a few hours before leaving office,  was a closed meeting with Mahmoud Abbas.

The meeting’s reason we learned today, through AlJazeera English :

“Palestine to open embassy in Brazil”

My short comment: I almost passed out of shock when I first read this. My mother and my father almost had a heart attack. 

While I support the Palestinian cause it also concerns me how Lula is jeopardizing more and more Brazil’s diplomatic ties with ther nations. 

I wonder how long will it be until Brazil figures in the blacklist of potential terrorist countries. For one who aims a permanent seat in the UN’s Security Council this was a very, very bad move.

President Lula should have kept in mind that defending Brazil’s interests comes first. Supporting random causes, humanitarian issues and other nations is secondary to our nation’s very own issues. He should have known better.

The Last Post of 2010

  • Projeto Ficha Limpa as been approved and implemented during the latest Brazilian election. It was supposed to keep corrupt politicians from candidacy. Not surprisingly, corrupt politicians found their ways around it via legal loopholes and special court rulings, and notorious corrupt people, like Mr Paulo Maluf,  the ex-mayor of Sao Paulo who’s wanted worldwide by the Interpol, got elected. Paulo Maluf is wanted for international corporate and finacial fraud. The only location in the space-time continuum that Mr Maluf  can occupy without worrying about being arrested is Brazil- where he not only gets away with it, but gets elected for congress. As TV anchor Marcelo Tas said, “If there was a nuclear Armageddon only the roaches and Paulo Maluf would survive.” Also, corruption seems to be a character that runs in the Maluf family, since his son is also wanted by the Interpol for the same reasons. That’s Brazil, the country where bandits take over the power democratically by brainless voters and special court rulings.
  • President elect Dilma Rousseff takes office tomorrow. President Lula already left Palácio do Planalto, Brazil’s presidential office.
  • Before leaving office, President Lula decided against the extradiction of Cesare Battisti, an Italian leftist militant wanted for the murder of at least four people and several other acts deemed terrorism by the Italian government. The story of Battisti is long, polemic and filled with right wing and left wing biases. It’s hard to tell if he’s guilty or just politically persecuted. But that’s not really the matter. Asking ourselves that is asking ourselves the wrong question. Judging Battisti is not our business. That is up for the Italian justice to decide. It’s not up to any other government or people to judge him. By deciding against Battisti’s extradiction President Lula only reinforced Brazil’s reputation for sheltering criminals, corruption and injustice. Acts like that make Brazil look unreliable and compromise eventual diplomatic agreements with other nations. For a person so popular Lula could have finished his mandate better than that.
  • President Lula deffends Julian Assange: “There is no half freedom of speech.”
  • As if re-electing old corrupts was not bad enough, there’s the celebration of ignorance: an illiterate clown named Tiririca managed to get a seat in the Brazilian congress after the supreme court determined that he is “literate enough” as that he was able to “read” 30% of a given text. By law illiterate citizens cannot run for public posts in Brazil. Electing Tiririca shows the world Brazil’s most shameless prominent cultural aspect: Brazilians despise formal education and are proud to be ignorant; brazilians laugh in the face of those who acquire things by study and work and have no respect for law, praising corruption and what they call “o jeitinho Brasileiro” (the “Brazilian way”).
  • Brazil is having the same problem with catastrophic landslides that it had last year. Nothing changed. Brazil infrastructure major fail. 
  • A Happy New Year to everyone!

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