Presidents in Prison, Brazil’s Anti-Corruption Campaign May Make it so - Mauricio Savarese, AP -  Tuesday 7/25

Presidents in Prison, Brazil’s Anti
Corruption Campaign May Make it so
Mauricio Savarese, AP
Tuesday 7/25

Murder in the streets, corruption in the business and political suites, and impunity in the criminal justice system.  For decades, that unholy trinity has ruled and ruined Brazil.

But this year, while, unfortunately, homicides continue to be everyday business, especially in Brazil’s poorer and darker-skinned communities, corruption and impunity are among the most withering assault in most Brazilians’ memories.

Virtually an entirely generation of Brazil’s top political and private sector leaders have been successfully prosecuted and sent to prison or are under active investigation.  Behind this uprising of rule of law are a younger generation of prosecutors and judges who are handing out tough but measured sentences to people like the former 2-term President Luis Ignacio “Lula” da Silva, who got 9 and a half years just weeks ago, and former Speaker of the House Eduardo Cunha, who was sentenced to 15 years in prison back in March.

The next big target, the incumbent President Michel Temer.  A prosecutor has a list of corruption cases against Temer, and betting is, a collaborative Congress (amny of whose members are also under investigation) will stop protecting Temer by the 3rd round of attempted prosecutions.

The next guy in line for the Presidency after Temer, Rodrigo Maia also could face corruption charges, and he’s a soft-spoken, back-room kinda guy who couldn’t finish college but got a political career, in part because his father was 3-time Mayor of Rio de Janeiro.

The next Presidential election is scheduled for October 2018, and if “None of the Above” could run, he or she would win in a cakewalk.  People are understandably disgusted with politics, especially when there seems to be no political will to stop the epidemic of street crime, robbery, murder or the clean-up open cisterns and cesspools believed to threaten another outbreak of the Zika virus.

When we last spoke with our guest today, Associated Press correspondent Mauricio Savarese, he had just broken stories about another manifestation of Brazil’s illness.. a series of mass killings that were part of a gang war inside the country’s prisons.  Most Brazilians could name the gangs, most journalists could name the each gang’s leaders, but Mauricio, it’s now half a year since those New Year’s week massacres, has anyone been punished?

The gang wars in prison were just a more intensified version of the murderous mayhem the gangs have created on the streets, in the favelas and other lower-class neighborhoods…has anyone made a dent in this problem?

Meanwhile in the countryside — Forty-nine land activists were slain last year in Brazil, the report said: “Year after year, this is the most dangerous country in terms of numbers.”

What about the new Mayor of Sao Paulo João Doria, or the new mayor of Rio de Janeiro Marcelo Crivella?

Some suggest Doria could be a strong Presidential candidate in 2018?

Lula, Maia and Marina Silva are also names one hears, as well as a supporter of Lula named Ciro Gomes.

The non-governmental Pastoral Land Commission, which tracks land conflicts in Brazil, blamed the high level of violence on agriculture, mining, energy and other companies moving into lands held by traditional and indigenous communities.  The commission itself registered 61 deaths in land conflicts in 2016, the highest figure in 13 years.

Lula…stlll the single most popular man in Brazil (30% in a recent Prez poll)…but maybe not electable in a 2-way final race.  What drew his 9 ½ year sentence?

And Temer, what’s he accused of?

2 bits of evidence suggest Temer is fighting back…a new prosecutor will replace the man pursuing him

Brazil’s Senate on Wednesday voted overwhelmingly to approve President Michel Temer’s pick to head the Prosecutor-General’s Office after she vowed to make fighting organized crime a top priority.  Senators voted 74-1 to promote deputy prosecutor Raquel Dodge, clearing the way for her to replace current top prosecutor Rodrigo Janot in September. And the Federal Police have cut back and now reassigned the special unit investigating Op Car Wash…doesn’t smell right.  Reason to worry?

Brazil’s federal police announced Thursday that they are shutting down the primary task force assigned to a mammoth corruption investigation, drawing criticism from prosecutors who said it would undermine the probe.

Officers from the task force based in the southeastern city of Curitiba will be folded into an already existing division that investigates corruption, federal police announced.

Popular response?  Some worry could lead to a caudillo, like Italy’s Silvio Berlusconi on the right or Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez on the left.

Meanwhile, Temer pursues what he calls labor reforms like a proposed overhaul of the social security system, and deregulating labor negotiations from govt protections.

Spillover – Odebrecht in half a dozen other countries…Peru, 2 ex-Prez facing jail terms…Argentina, Prez Macri and political oppo accuse one another of undermining justice…Colombia, Venezuela, Dom Rep, the scandal creates disaffection from all the “democratic” choices.


Mauricio Savarese is a correspondent for the Associated Press in Brazil, based in Sao Paulo.  His deeply informed reporting on a series of gang wars inside Brazilian prisons in the first week of 2017 set a high standard for his peers in the Brazilian media.


Brazil’s prisons torched by riots, and scarred by new evidence of political rot – 3/9



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