Opinion by Michael Royster
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – This past weekend, while 100,000 people were protesting on Copacabana Beach against beleaguered President Temer, the Prez himself, safely ensconced in Brasília after calling out the Army to protect him from protesters there, announced yet another round of ministerial musical chairs.
Since the defenestration of Dilma and her Minister of Justice José Eduardo Cardozo little more than a year ago, there have now been five Ministers of Justice. In March 2017, a recently appointed Minister of Justice was “promoted” to STF, Brazil’s Supreme Court.
His replacement as Minister was a party hack from Brazil’s South whose name in Italian (Serraglio) means a harem. This Minister came under investigation for his role in aiding a prime suspect in the Carne Fraca (“the flesh is weak”) scandal.
Notwithstanding Serraglio’s denials, Temer decided to jettison him, and chose in his place the head of CGU. The CGU is the equivalent to the Comptroller General’s Office in the USA, one of the numerous oversight bodies that have been around Brazil for decades and have watched corruption grow rampant without ever doing anything to prevent or punish it.
The most significant change in CGU occurred in May 2016 when President Temer granted it a far more imposing (and mendacious) name: The Ministry of Transparency, Oversight and Control. Temer hopes the name will convince people that it will, finally, endeavor to ensure transparency in government contracts, which is what it’s supposed to have done all along, but didn’t.
Almost no one believed that the name change would change the culture of inaction, and even fewer people now believe it, since its head will now be Mr. Serraglio, offered this plum benefice after his unceremonious dumping as Minister of Justice.
But enough CGU. The latest musical chair holder as Minister of Justice, Torquato Jardim, has today issued a public statement saying there’s no political crisis in Brazil, there’s only an economic crisis — once the economic crisis is solved, politics as usual will once again take over.
In other words, he apparently believes that if the economy starts to clamber back to safety, Brazilians will simply not care about the ethics and morals of those crooked politicians who feathered their own nests and fiddled while Rome burned. Voters, he believes, will consent happily and quietly to receive whatever scraps fall from the groaning tables of the gluttonous greedy-guts in Cabinet and Congress.
All this is part and parcel of a plan, led by Temer and the “300 scoundrels” in Congress, to subvert and eventually disband the Lava-Jato investigations. The new Minister of Justice will appoint a new head of the Federal Police, on condition he promise not to investigate Temer and his henchmen, thus avoiding embarrassing headlines after surreptitious meetings with expatriate plutocrat meat packers.
This is NOT justice. This is NOT ministry. This is a blatant attempt to turn Car Wash into a Whitewash.