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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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Rousseff

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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Lula & now imprisoned Chief of Staff José Dirceu - Better Days

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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Movements Against Corruption Afoot in Brazil

The performance of Brazil’s Congress, and particularly the governing coalition makes one wonder whether the nation’s deliberative process should be moved somewhere else— far away from the alleged ‘representatives of the people.’ Congress is where the government’s coalition ‘allies’ select their robber baron cabinet ministers, the same ones that have been resigning one after the next in the wake of President Dilma Rousseff’s spring cleaning. Yet despite the rash of corruption scandals over the past months, and one...

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Why Don’t Brazilians React?

The Fateful Question of El País Correspondent Juan Arias Search for the question “por que os brasileiros não reagem?” (Why don’t Brazilians react?) or the phrase, “do Brazilians really not know how to react to hypocrisy and their leaders’ lack of ethics?” (“Será que os brasileiros não sabem reagir à hipocrisia e à falta de ética de muitos dos que os governam?”) and you will find pages upon pages of Brazilian bloggers and media outlets responding to an editorial by Juan Arias, a Brazilian correspondent of El País...

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Reviewing the New Brazilian President’s 1st Semester: Politics

This past Wednesday night Dilma Rousseff threw a cocktail party to celebrate the end of her government’s first semester and the beggining of the National Legislature’s mid July break. According to LatinNews.com, 17 of 38 ministers made an appearance, as did the Presidents of both Chambers of Congress and the Vice President. The event began at 7:30, but by 9pm most invitees had already left. The lukewarm turnout and hasty departures reflect a palpable lack of enthusiasm for Rousseff’s performance after six months in power. To her...

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Why the Media Have Made the Palocci Scandal into a Crisis

Research shows that the news media’s issue-attention cycle tends to be short, averaging about three days for a major story. When it diverges from this norm, you can bet that the event is either truly sensational or else the media has a vested interest in it. In the case of the first major ‘crisis’ to hit the Rousseff Administration, it appears that zealous coverage of a scandal–for more than two weeks–can be explained principally by the former. The Scandal The scandal concerns Antonio Palocci, the President’s Chief of Staff...

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Narrowing or Widening the Fountainhead of Corruption?

One of the oldest tenets of corruption theory is that election campaign contributions constitute the fountainhead of corruption in government. To repay that three million dollar contribution of BankX, elected candidate X proposes a bill to lower taxes on bank profits. Simple stuff. Conventional thinking is that if you eliminate this patron-client relationship by financing campaigns with public taxpayer money, the result will be less corporate influence and corruption in government. But at what cost? Mexico’s system is completely publicly...

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Considering the Diversion of Public Monies in Brazil -A Cool US$35 Billion for Starters

US$35 billion of public monies stolen. A colossal affront to the cities and country they work for? Yes. Preventable? Not yet. The most significant news item on the diversion of public monies I have seen in some time appeared in yesterday’s Globo as the lead opinion piece: “The Indicators Show Billions Stolen.” The article cites grim figures: of 131 municipalities audited by the Comptroller General, 90 percent showed irregularities; and it is estimated that municipal officials and their accomplices steal 30% of federal and...

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Rio’s Unfortunate Police Force

Carolina and I were eating our breakfast at a little joint we favor for mixto quentes com ovo (ham, cheese and egg sandwiches) and açai. Today was a busy Sunday, and late-morning there were quite a few people trying to put in their order for açai and salgados. Up walks a police officer, a short black fellow, buds in front of a few people and shouts at a kid behind the counter to put a few things in a bag. The kid looks at him with a mixture of fear and acquiescence, and does as he’s told. Carol pointed out the scene to me. Afterward...

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