Opinion, by Michael Royster
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – It’s been a bad week for Presidents in Brazil, with almost daily headlines containing denunciations of corrupt behavior.
The best known “President” is former President Lula. This week it was announced that the Public Ministry in Brasília is investigating him for alleged international “influence peddling” which favored Odebrecht, Brazil’s largest construction company.
Another “President” is former President Collor, now a Senator. Bastille Day’s headlines were the apprehension of documents and assets in his current home, the “Casa da Dinda” in Brasília, which was his official residence before he resigned as President while being impeached.
Another President is Eduardo Cunha, currently the President of the Chamber of Deputies, the lower house of Congress. The press have reported that one of the Lava Jato “delatores” (stool pigeons) told the Federal Police, in a sworn deposition, that he had given a US$5 million bribe to Mr. Cunha.
Another President is Renan Calheiros, currently the President of the Senate. He’s under investigation, awaiting his turn as “victim”. Not so long ago he resigned as a senator rather than face impeachment. Therefore, he’s loudly supported his fellow legislators Collor and Cunha, decrying the investigations into corruption as an attempt to interfere with the workings of the Legislative Branch.
Cunha claims the Federal Police have been ordered by President Dilma to investigate him in retaliation for his opposition to her legislative proposals. On Friday evening, Cunha took to the airwaves to denounce his alleged persecutors.
Around Brazil, including the street where the Curmudgeon lives, the immediate noisy reaction was the same as that to speeches by Dilma: a “panelaço” or pot banging. “The hoarse voice of the streets” is once again being heard.
Quite seriously, what all the Presidents mentioned above have in common is an unbridled lust for power. Dilma has abdicated power, and the vacuum has created an institutional crisis, which represents a threat to Brazil’s fledgling democracy.
The Curmudgeon has been treating Brazilian politics as a spectator sport for decades; sadly, it’s now degenerating into something akin to gladiators or human cock fighting, where the aim is to maim.