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When will Brazilian politics ever change? (São Paulo)


Will Brazilian politics and related violence ever change? I think not.

Despite the fact that Brazil is one of the ratifying nations of the United Nations Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC) it is highly unlikely that there will ever be any real changes in the political landscape of this country. The sad truth is that the corruption is not only systemic, but historical. Since Brazil’s discovery and colonization the general population has turned a blind eye to the problem. I see no logical reason that anything will change now. Even the recent shuffle in the various government ministries by newly elected President Dilma Rousseff and the Federal Police investigations into gross irregularities in the Ministries of Tourism, Transport and of Agriculture will probably not produce any significant changes. In fact, all of them seem to be purely cosmetic in nature and more an exercise in face-saving than they are intended to be serious measures to root out and punish corruption.

Historical events have fostered within the average Brazilian citizen an attitude of “It’s always been this way… it will always be this way… I am just one small voice… it does no good to complain – so, I guess I will just keep my mouth shut and accept it”. There is no public outcry like there would be in almost any other democratic nation, not here! Brazilians, by nature, are people who are extremely reluctant to complain publicly as a collective. This is a characteristic that has been exterminated in the general population as a direct result of past reprisals against those who have tried to complain in an organized way.

It would be bad enough if the problem of corruption was limited to just the federal level, unfortunately it exists at every level of government and taints everyone from the lowliest city employee to the top federal officials. Moreover, the greatest majority of the corrupt politicians and police either have immunity from prosecution which is entrenched in law or, at the very least, they have the right to a trial in a separate court system (foro privilegiado). Brazilian laws have been crafted with the specific intention of protecting the corrupt, or at least so it would seem. Without the creation of myriad new and rigorous anti-corruption laws and the abolition of this systemic immunity there can be no hope for change on the political horizon.

Not at all surprising that, when someone comes along who really wants to bring about serious change or poses a real threat to the “jeitinho brasileiro” they are assassinated, rendered powerless by some legal maneuver or simply disappear. The recent assassination of Patricia Acioli a hard-line judge in Rio de Janeiro is just the latest example of this brutal reality. Judge Acioli was to preside over around 50 cases involving suspicious deaths at the hands of members of both the Civil and Military Police forces in the region. The mere fact that she was gunned down in a hail of (twenty-one) bullets is a clear demonstration to the rest of society what is the logical end result to anyone seeking real change. The “lead pill” is the most common remedy for the headache caused by do-gooder politicians, judges, union leaders, journalists and environmental activists all across Brazil. The list of names is long, Sister Dorothy Stang (a Catholic nun born in Dayton – OH and assassinated in Anapú, Pará in Feb. Protected content Nelson José da Silva, Eratóstenes de Almeida Gonsalves, João Batista Soares Lage and their driver Aílton Pereira de Oliveira (Ministry of Labor officials ambushed in Unaí, Minas Gerais in Jan. Protected content José Claudio Ribeiro and Maria do Espirito Santo (husband and wife environmental activists murdered in Nova Ipixuna, Pará in May, Protected content Tim Lopes (reporter for Globo TV network murdered in Rio de Janeiro in June, Protected content Antonio Luiz Cesar de Castro and Valdemir Antonio da Silva (mayors of two cities in Mato Groso assassinated within 2 weeks in July, Protected content Braz Paschoalin (mayor of Jandira, São Paulo assassinated Dec. Protected content the list goes on. Worse still, of these mentioned only the killer of Tim Lopes has been brought to justice, the other cases have all but disappeared in the inept judicial process in Brazil.

What can we expect from a society where Federal Deputies can siphon off enough funds from the public coffers to build castles or Mayors to deposit billions of US Dollars in off-shore bank accounts and they not only do they go unpunished, but the public still votes for them in future elections? Signing the UNCAC is nothing less than a cruel joke, a slap in the face to the common citizen. How the United Nations can sit idly by, saying or doing nothing, while corruption runs rampant in one of the signatory countries is beyond me. I guess that the Convention itself is more for appearance sake and the UN is really more concerned about not offending major world economies than eliminating wide-spread corruption.

Yet more prime examples of corruption and Brazil's government tolerating it at all levels. Federal Deputy Jaqueline Roriz was absolved of any wrongdoing and kept her congressional seat in a SECRET vote by her cronies(i.e. partners in c r _ _ _). As if the secret vote in itself wasn't bad enough, Congress went so far as to order all cameras and journalists out of the chamber in order to carry out their dirty work out of the public view. Roriz, caught in the act taking bribes and kickbacks never was in any real danger of losing her seat.... we all know who's guarding the hen house in Brasilia. Just one more reason that I thank God every day that I have no obligation to vote in this country.

The sad part is that I truly believe that the outcome would not have been any different had there been an open "show of hands" vote that was televised nationwide. Politicians in this country demonstrate such overt contempt for their constituants that they would have voted......."Sou contra cassação, e dai?" anyway.

In Campinas, the mayor was thrown out of office for corruption and the vice-mayor took over the helm. The same vice-mayor who is also being investigated by the Federal Police for corruption. Inital news was that he too was prevented from assuming office, however that decision was struck down and guess who is running the show in Campinas now? Gives a whole new meaning to the old saw "better the devil you know..."

Regarding the assassination of Judge Patricia Acioli in Rio de Janeiro, the Conselho Nacional de Justiça (CNJ) has demanded an investigation to determine negligence on the part of the presidents of the Tribunal de Justiça do Rio de Janeiro (TJ-RJ). Judge Acioli's continued written requests for protection were ignored. Head honcho at TJ-RJ, Manoel Alberto, stated publicly that security was removed at the judges own request. When the family's lawyer produced a ream of official memos that Acioli sent to the presidency expressing her grave concern and requesting protection Sr. Alberto is suddenly silent. Investigation or not, guess who will come out of this one "lily white"?