Or: a metastasizing cancer in Brazilian politics
By Mark Linnhoefer
Corruption – the world alone conjures up images of greedy slime balls of politicians receiving fat wads of dirty cash from even slimier businessman and lobbyists in order to bypass the people’s will.
And for the most part, these images are very close to the truth. But in Brazil, corruption hasn’t quite been perceived as such until now it seems. Politicians who have taken huge bribes to vote for or against certain legislation are being described as “governor[s] of the people”, and their corrupt behavior is trivialized with a smirk. One of the ruling parties – the former communist Worker’s Party (PT) – has been involved in so many fucking cases of buying and selling votes that it’s getting ridiculous: Caixa Dois, Mensalão, Republic of Ribeirao Preto, Dossiergate, just to name a few.
In 2002, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva of the Worker’s Party was elected as president on an anti-corruption platform. He did some things pertaining to these high ideals: there were numerous arrests, several investigations, and the “Ficha Limpa” law, passed in 2010, aimed at completely eradicating corruption. Which did not really work, as we can see. His entire presidency has seen multiple scandals, most of which were connected to either himself, his party, or at the very least his congress. And still, his approval rates were through the roof by the end of his term: 87% of the population adored that man! And that is not a sign of stupidity or “lack of political knowledge” as some people suggest, but rather an expression of an entirely different feeling within the voters. The politicians are there to bring as much of their budget back to their people, and naturally those people vote the way they’re told to as a repayment, especially in poorer areas depending on donations. Another reason is obviously the greed of mankind, but that’s another story.
Looking at the former extreme left-wing PT, we quickly see how money can wither the greatest of ideals in a matter of months. In 2005 there was the Mensalao scandal, which involved PT paying members of Congress to vote for laws favored by the so-called left-wing party using funds derived from large, state-owned companies’ (such as oil giant Petrobas’) marketing budgets that were channeled through an advertising firm owned by Marcos Valerio, who is now rotting in a jail cell for over forty years, as he should be. A few more scandals followed, both with and without involvement of PT. Then, in 2011, came along Dilma Rousseff, once again on an anti-corruption platform. She was once chairwoman of the board of directors of Petrobas, hailed the company as a great partner, and promised “to supercharge the economy while avoiding the corruption and mismanagement that have plagued other oil-rich countries in the developing world.” Ha. These words seem downright ironic in retrospect, don’t they? Just four short years have passed, and Rousseff’s administration is already chin-deep in a manure of corruption and bribery. This year has seen the fruits of “Operation Car Wash” in the form of the biggest corruption scandal that the Brazilian public was ever confronted with, albeit there are a few other worthy contenders.
“Operation Car Wash” uncovered kickbacks of large sums paid by Petrobas to multiple politicians, but, oh wonder, neither Dilma Rousseff herself nor her predecessor are on the list of the politicians who allegedly received these bribes, although both are said to be linked to the scandal. This just goes to show that money and power can indeed buy you immunity no matter what laws have been passed.
Once the Petrobas scandal went public, it sparked massive protests with over 500,000 participants demanding Rousseff’s impeachment in 60 cities across the nation. Unfortunately, these protest have a very somber, right-wine tone to them: many protesters are actually pressing for the reinstatement of the nationalistic military dictatorship that ran the country, and terrorized and tortured tons of left-winged dissidents from 1964 until 1985. The people of Brazil are pissed off at their allegedly communist government and claim that at least everyone had work and the economy wasn’t down the toilet when the military regime was still in place. Not all protesters think like that, mind you, but to me this once again looks like one of those things that will be exploited for a whole different purpose than the one it originated from. It seems to me that there really is a change in government needed in Brazil, but I fear that these protests may entice military nutcases or wannabe despots to take advantage of that civil unrest in order to advance their own ends, and that is just fucking annoying. That kind of shit happens all the time, and I’m getting sick and tired of it. Those poor souls demanding the alteration in political structures that they deserve are subversively used to push their country into a right-wing shit hole run by militarized assholes.
History tends to repeat itself. Petrobas was involved in many bribery scandals before, and we all know that an angry mob has once before overthrown a so-called communist leader in Brazil. What we’re seeing is highly reminiscent of these past developments, and I fear that the same story will unravel itself before our eyes. Maybe the US government is once again willing to support the militarists? It wouldn’t be the first time.
Summing up, we can once again see that most politicians, no matter if right- or left-wing, are corrupted maggots seeking only the advancement of their own ends and not those of the people. The corporate influence on politics is an ever-present cancer in world-politics, and corruption is the metastasizing cancer of Brazilian politics that will soon swallow the country whole and spit out a militarized hellhole of a dictatorship if the people do not realize that trading one evil for the other is not a viable solution.