Corrupt Politicians in Brazil Exempt Themselves from Corruption
Congressional Commission exonerates Lula and Dilma in Petrobras corruption case.
oday the mafia that governs Brazil woke up laughing out loud at the people who thought the country still had a future. The mafia cannot stop laughing at the people who thought that the politicians of the Worker’s Party (PT) and the PMDB would do justice in the Petrobras scandal. According to the report of the congressional commission, there is no institutionalized corruption at Petrobras and neither Lula not Dilma had anything to do with the corruption at the State company.
The member of the PT who wrote the report said that Petrobras was merely the victim of a “cartel” of companies and a few corrupt employees.
After the scandal at Petrobras broke on the local media, those of us who are able to see beyond the headlines and political rhetoric asked how much longer would Brazilians tolerate the level of corruption and blatant disregard for morality from their politicians. Today, it seems that Brazil’s tolerance for corruption is stronger than I first thought. In fact, it is not uncommon to hear people explaining that corruption in government is nothing less than a reflection of the Brazilian society itself.
When it seemed unlikely for the corruption to get worse, this morning we learned that both Dilma Rousseff and Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva have been exonerated from all wrongdoing in the Petrobras corruption scandal. The decision should not come as a surprise since the congressional commission was appointed by political figures with the sole intention of saving the members of the highest political echelon in Brazil.
The Parliamentary Committee established in the Lower House of Congress to investigate the scandal of the state oil company Petrobras had its script defined from the beginning to keep 49 Brazilian politicians, being investigated by prosecutors, safe from all accusations.
The committee, a legislative instrument, is controlled precisely by the parties named in the corruption scheme. The commission fulfilled its mission on Monday after publishing its final report where none of the main actors of the debacle; the current president, her predecessor, Lula da Silva, the president of Petrobras Graça Foster and José Sergio Gabrielli, have been implicated. But it gets worse. In addition to not citing Dilma, Lula, Foster or Gabrielli, the commission did not even mention the names of parliamentarians cited by the prosecution who are already under investigation.
“The thesis that corruption was institutionalized in Petrobras is questionable. This hypothesis is unfair when there are thousands of employees,” defended the deputy of the ruling Workers Party Luiz Sergio, author of the report. The committee concludes that Petrobras was the victim of a “cartel” formed by the heads of its main contractors “with the complicity of some company employees”.
Some months ago, a confident Eduardo Cunha, the controversial president of the Lower House and key figure in the political crisis, decided to appear before the Commission for a spontaneous declaration to his peers. In it, he said he did not have bank accounts abroad. A couple of weeks later, the government of Switzerland showed proof that Cunha did have bank accounts in that country and that they contained 5 million euros in them. Cunha lied to the parliamentary commission on national television and he has faced no consequences.
The Brazilian Prosecutor showed several Swiss bank accounts opened by Cunha on behalf of his wife and daughter, which have moved approximately 24 million reais. That money, according to the prosecution, comes from bribes from companies that won lucrative contracts with Petrobras.
It was based on that lie that 50 deputies presented a request to open an investigation against Cunha. Lying in a public statement, according to the rules of the Brazilian legislature, is considered a violation of parliamentary decorum.
Next Thursday the Lower House will vote on the report presented by the commission, but all eyes remain set in Cunha. He most likely knows more than he says he knows about the Petrobras scandal and if pressed just enough for his involvement in the matter, may yield key information to render the commission’s report as a useless political farce.
On Monday, Cunha said that he will not resign and that he still has the power to open the parliamentary impeachment process against Dilma Rousseff. The opposition has not lost hope that he will do so, but it would be naive to hold our breath as we wait for that to happen. Both Cunha and the Rousseff administration are playing the same game: If you take care of me, I’ll take care of you. That is Brazilian business as usual. That is the magic of the jeitinho brasileiro.
Have you ever seen members of the mafia incriminating themselves? Have you ever read the confessions of mafia members accepting the blame for their crimes? How is it that people in Brazil expect the mobsters to surrender for their crimes?