Brazil’s former President, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, has been in the media’s spotlight for quite some time. President for two terms, from January 1, 2001 to 2011, he was once one of Brazil’s most popular presidents. Coming from a humble background, Lula was born into poverty. He trained to be a metal worker outside of São Paulo and became involved in activism through work with the trade union. After being elected leader of the metal workers’ trade union, it was only a short time until he helped to create Brazil’s first major socialist party, the Worker’s Party.
In the latest development in a seemingly endless string of corruption discoveries and charges, Ecuador’s Vice President, Jorge Glas, has been placed by the Supreme Court into pre-trial detention while he is under investigation for his role in the vast Odebrecht scandal.
The President of Brazil, Michel Temer, once again faces the possibility of trial for corruption charges and even possibly impeachment for the second time since he came into office in August of 2016.
Last year as Brazil geared up to hold the Summer 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, a huge corruption scandal hit the country: “Operação Lava Jato”, or “Operation Car Wash”. After much turmoil and international attention, many thought the scandal would subside with the new year. However, this has not been the case. And the scandal is still making headlines over a year since it first began, having become clear that it involves more than just Brazil.
These past couple of months have been tumultuous for the presidential candidates in Brazil. First, there was the sudden death of Eduardo Campos, the presidential candidate representing the Brazilian Socialist Party. This was followed by the meteoric rise of Marina Silva, a socialist candidate from the rural state of Acre, who has proven to be a worthy candidate against the reigning president, Dilma Rousseff.
This October Dilma Rousseff was re-elected as Brazil’s president by the slimmest of margins. With approximately 51.4 percent of the vote she beat competitor Aécio Neves of the Social Democracy party (PSDB) who received about 48.5 percent.1 The election reveals Brazil’s clear divide amongst the population with regard to the direction of the country as evidenced by her victory speech in which she admitted that she wants to be “a much better president than I have been until now.”2
In Brazil, March 15th marks the end of the dictatorial era of Brazil, but this past March 15th marked a different and equally as important date in history; this year millions of protesters took to the streets throughout Brazil to protest the current president, Dilma Rousseff. Dilma, and her Worker’s Party colleagues, have been in the midst of a national scandal since the end of 2014.
Imagine that Shakespeare had written a political drama in which a once-beloved queen’s past indiscretions have come back to haunt her. The queen’s popularity has recently tanked due to months of economic decline in her kingdom as well as a fraud scandal surrounding the powerful families of the region. Although the queen hasn’t been directly tied to that scandal, it was just proven that she’s been cooking the books on government accounts.
Corruption and scandal are not new to Brazil. In fact, the current corruption scandal involving Petrobras, businessmen, and politicians is just the most recent in a country with a long history of corruption. In Brazil, corruption has become normalized. Some of the largest corruption scandals are explored here, namely scandals during the Lula and Collor presidencies.
In the midst of what may be called the biggest corruption scandal in Brazil of all time, how are Brazilian government agencies poised to deal with the outcomes of the Petrobras case and investigate other wrongdoings? Pretty well, as long as they are able to work together and share information.