Home Opinion Brazilian Corruption: Can’t see the forest for the trees *

Brazilian Corruption: Can’t see the forest for the trees *


by Fausto Freire

Former President Lula da Silva was sentenced to 9 years and 6 months in prison for the crimes of corruption and money laundering in the case involving the triplex apartment in Guaruja, State of Sao Paulo. The judgment is the first against Lula within the scope of the so-called Operation Car Wash (Lava Jato).

Lula was the first in many aspects. First Brazil’s working-class president, first unionist and first president sentenced for corruption. He remains a popular figure among voters after he left office seven years ago, but also he has the greatest rejection between the presidential candidates.

Lula’s lawyer, Zanin, repeated allegations that there was no evidence that Lula was the owner of the triplex apartment and that the property had never been transferred to him or members of his family.

Indeed, if we consider the data singly, it is impossible understand the intricate Petrobras embezzlement scheme. It are many corporations, many agents, many employees, many  politicians, but none of this would have been possible without a commander-in-chief.

The criminal model developed in Brazil by Lula and the Worker’s Party was exported to all Latin America. Odebrecht, OAS, Queiros Galvao, among others, has cloned the corruption and bribes system and implemented the model in another countries, under the leadership of Lula.

The former union leader won global admiration with utopian discourse about transformative social policies that could helped reduce stinging inequality in Latin America’s biggest country. But was only a smoke screen. The result of the 13-year ruling of the Workers’ Party was 16 million unemployed, inflation, recession and bankrupt public enterprises.

The triplex apartment in Guaruja will only be understood in the bosom of the greatest scheme of corruption ever seen anywhere in the world. It’s the tree that hides the whole forest.

* This expression was already a proverb in John Heywood’s 1546 collection.