Thursday, June 09, 2005


The scandal in Brazil - a summary

Lula won the elections in 2002, but his Party (PT) got only about 20% of seats in the Parliament; there were other Parties in the coalition which elected Lula (like PL, Party of the vice-President, and PC do B, the Brazilian Comunist Party), but those were small, and could not give majority in Parliament to Lula.
From the start, Lula seeked new Parties to join the government. Except for three Parties (PSDB, PFL and PDT), which remained in the opposition, all other Parties agreed in giving support and having participation in the government.
Two Parties are worthy mentioning: first, PMDB, the largest Brazilian Party. PMDB is very ample, not rightist or leftist; there are defenders of any ideology within the Party. Some defend full support to Lula, some defend immediate rupture. PMDB has, today, two important Ministers in the government: Communications and Social Security. Because PMDB is unpredictable, it was not enough to give majority in Parliament to Lula.

Then, Lula approached PTB. Despite being a Labour Party (founded by ex-President Getulio Vargas), PTB is known as the most fluid Brazilian Party. It was seen giving support to all Presidents, from Collor, then Itamar, then Fernando Henrique, now Lula.
PTB commited to support Lula, but wanted to have participation in the government. PTB was given only one Ministry, the Ministry of Tourism.
Seeing that PTB was fundamental for the Government to have majority in the Parliament, the President of PTB, Roberto Jefferson, demanded to appoint some people to key positions in the federal administration. Today, it is known that PTB appointed his affiliates to take positions in the Postal Service Company, the Electricity Federal Company, the Airports Administration Company, the Reinsurance Company, among others.

The big mess started three weeks ago, when Veja published a report about corruption in the Postal Service. A man was taped accepting bribery to facilitating a bidding. The man clearly mentioned the name of Roberto Jefferson, and said that the money he was receiving would be directed to PTB. According to him, an agreement was going on: PTB would appoint someone to a federal position, and this person would oblige to collect money to give to the Party.
The news set the government on fire. Jefferson denied, but the opposition wanted to create a Probing Comission. The government tried all means to stop the Comission (including, according to the news, using Finance Minister Antonio Palocci to release federal funds to Deputies who gave support to the government).
Over the past two weeks, more and more evidences that PTB setup a corruption scheme within the federal administration gained the headlines. The government could not stop the Probing Comission.

Then, last Monday, Jefferson came up with a bombastic denounce. About the reasons why he spoke, some say that he felt abandoned by the government, others say that he doesn´t want to take all the blame alone.
Jefferson said that the treasurer of the Worker´s Party, Delubio Soares, offered him to pay R$ 30K for each Deputy who voted unconditionally with the Government. Jefferson still said that two other Parties, PP and PL, had already accepted that offer. Worse still, Jefferson said that he had previously communicated the fact to several Ministers and to the President of the Republic, but nothing had happened.

The situation today: a Probing Comission was created to investigate corruption in the Postal Service; government wants to restrict investigations, but opposition wants to investigate corruption in any Ministry, agency or other body of federal administration.
Jefferson said he has many other denounces to present. He says that he has proofs of his charges.
Nobody knows how deep the Probing Comission will go, how many people of government are involved, how much responsibility the President and Ministers may be charged with.

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