To listen to a Brazilian one would think that every single member of congress is in the cross hairs of the massive Petrobras corruption probe. Close to it, but even while nearly a third are under some sort of investigation or have been singled out in recent testimonies by jailbird members of the private sector ratting out their former political buddies, most of Brazil’s career politicians profess their innocence. It’s uncanny. Despite the fact that Petrobras was completely ransacked with the help of the political leadership at the time, everyone is as innocent as a heavenly angel.
Brazil’s president Michel Temer? Innocent. He allegedly took money from the corrupt multinational conglomerate Odebrecht to fund his 2014 re-election bid with Dilma Rousseff. Dilma, impeached a year ago, also…innocent. She also supposedly took money from off-the-reservation donors in exchange for lucrative public works contracts involving oil giant Petrobras. Dilma was impeached on charges she broke fiscal responsibility laws. Her predecessor, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva: also innocent. He is being investigated for influence peddling and receiving token bribes from Odebrecht, a company that is actually quite active in Miami commercial real estate. They built a Ritz Carlton in south Florida and the international terminal at Miami International Airport. Their billion dollar CEO, Marcelo Odebrecht, is currently serving a 19 year prison sentence. Like the rest of his compatriots in pinstripes, Odebrecht is singing like a canary to investigators, revealing all the ne’er-do-wells of the Brazilian capital, of which there are many.
In a recent survey of 85 legislators by Brazilian daily Folha de Sao Paulo, everyone is innocent. They’re all being persecuted. They laugh in the fact of danger. Ka ka ka, rs rs rs! in the Brazilian way of textualized laughter. Not a single one of them thinks they will be busted and lose their mandate.
This fearlessness is actually quite impressive. Or a lesson in short-term memory. Their fearless leader in the lower house, Eduardo Cunha, was sacked and sent to prison for his involvement in the Petrobras kickback schemes. He had money in Swiss bank accounts in his family’s name. He denied them. Then the Swiss authorities stepped in and that did him in. It was a moving part that Cunha, once considered the Frank Underwood of Brazil’s House of Cards, did not see coming.
When Folha asked all 84 congressmen (all men) if they would lose their jobs, they all said no.
Folha said that 60 congressmen responded to the question about re-election; only 10 said they would not seek re-election. Of the 48 that responded to whether or not the public prosecutors office, the main body in charge of the Petrobras investigations, was doing a good job, half said no. Of the 38 that responded about an abuse of power by white-collar criminal judge in charge of the Petrobras cases, Sergio Moro, 21 said yes, Moro was abusing his power.