Mensalão + Car Wash = It’s the Party System, Stupid.

It is safe to say that the problem with Brazil’s government is not its choice of coalition partners, but rather the lack of choice. Faced with a governing coalition in disintegration, Rousseff has given larger pieces of the state pie to several of Brazil’s many rent-seeking parties. One of them, the Partido Progresista (PP), has been accused of receiving R$358 million (US$100 million) in illegal party finance, bribes, and kickbacks in association with Petrobras and the Car Wash Scandal. Grim  details about the scandalous exploits of...

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Brazil’s Anti-Corruption Showdown

With impeachment little less than imminent, the question is whether a new government will strengthen or weaken the legislative tool-box of corruption-blasting policies I wrote about yesterday. Given the PMDB’s involvement in corruption allegations and its amorphous policy principles and democratic history, it is not surprising to read that PMDB leaders in Congress are supporting legislative measures to weaken key plea bargaining arrangements. Let’s get this straight – if the Public Prosecutor and Federal Police lose the power to offer...

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Long Last the Legal Legacy of Rousseff

Political scientist Carlos Pereira and I have been patiently waiting for our article on the Mensalão corruption scandal to come out in the Journal of Latin American Studies. I am particularly anxious because we establish the contours of an argument surrounding the accountability and transparency advances made during the Rousseff administration. This argument follows in the footsteps of work detailing Brazil’s incremental accountability gains undertaken by American University Professor Matt Taylor and FGV-CPDOC Professor, Sergio...

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Colluding Against Brazil’s Criminal Justice System? Good Luck.

The Minister of Justice, Eduardo Cardozo, resigned about a month ago, buffeted by pressures to reel-in the Federal Police. No one doubts what these pressures are about – the ferocious prosecution of the Car Wash (Lava Jato) investigation. Now the government is apparently looking to replace the director general of the Federal Police, who is administratively and financially beholden to the Minister of Justice. This ostensible ‘neutering’ of the Ministry of Justice and the Federal Police is a first political stab at bringing the Car Wash...

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The Failure of Counter-Majoritarianism in Brazil’s (Evolving) Legal Order

Law has failed Brazil in a moment of decisiveness. Brazil’s judiciary, like any other, is a counter-majoritarian institution – the last check on the mercurial majorities represented by parliaments and presidents. Yet this basic premise has been lost to frenzied majoritarianism. Yesterday, the prosecuting judge behind the ‘Car Wash’ scandal, Sergio Moro, acted in a decidedly majoritarian and legally irresponsible manner by releasing taped conversations between former and actual Presidents, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva and Dilma...

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Media Against Dilma – Brazilians For Change

Today, several million people are taking to the streets to protest a corrupt political system and a rent-seeking, bloated state. Let’s make this clear; Dilma is a poor political leader and her governments have precipitated nothing short of an economic fallout. But she is not the problem incarnate. My wife (and son) is at the protest in Copacabana Rio de Janeiro not because of ‘Dilma’, nor because of ‘the government’ per se, but because my wife and millions of others are fed up with what they see to be corrupt, wasteful and misguided...

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Four Crises

Brazil is currently experiencing three crises and is in danger of igniting a fourth, a crisis of civic polarization. Much astute writing about these crises has already been penned or spoken by the likes of my friends Matt Taylor, Octavio Amorim Neto, Carlos Pereira, and Globe and Mail correspondent Stephanie Nollen, among others. The first  crisis is the mysterious Zika epidemic upon which copious amounts of ink have been spilled and I plead layman’s ignorance. This tragedy has affected us personally, as we are delaying a second...

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Back, observing.

In 2013-14 the pressure to publish academically at the FGV became significant, as I was facing a ‘third year review’ – of which I still await (respectable) results. As a result of my publishing obligations and a still-in-progress national/international research project, I left off Observing Brazil. The tradeoff between doing academic scholarship and writing about current events is not easily negotiated. But as a result of Brazilian crises that are economic, political, medical, and, increasingly civic, I have decided to...

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