Opinion, by Michael Royster
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – As if we needed reminding of the venial nature of Brazilian politicians, last week and this have proven beyond any doubt that Brazilian politicians have no sense of shame.
President Temer was formally charged with racketeering and obstruction of justice by the Chief Federal Prosecutor, and the case was remitted by the STF to the Chamber of Deputies for a vote – the Constitution prevents the judicial branch from trying the President without the approval of the legislative branch.
That’s one of many disastrous “parliamentary” provisions embedded in the so-called “presidential” Constitution.
President Temer “exonerated” (meaning “granted paid leave” in Portuguese) two of his cabinet ministers in time for them to return to their legislative seats and take part in the Committee that was preparing a report to the full Chamber on whether or not Temer should be tried.
To no one’s surprise, the Committee, chock-a-block with Temer’s corrupt cronies, voted 39-26 to recommend he not be tried. However, the vote was closer than on the first set of charges against Temer, where it was 42-23, because one party changed its position.
That result sent out warning signals to Temer, so he’s just “exonerated” another eight cabinet ministers, ensuring they will be in the Chamber when it votes next Wednesday. In other words, ten cabinet ministers appointed by and loyal to Temer will be able to vote, as legislators, on whether he can be tried by the STF.
That is shameful.
There’s more bad news. Friday, October 20 was the cutoff date for Deputies to be able to propose “emendas” or riders to the budget bill for 2018. The Constitution allows individual Deputies to determine where billions of reais of taxpayers’ money (1.2 percent of the total budget) will be spent.
That’s yet another disastrous “parliamentary” provision in the so-called “presidential” Constitution.
The “exonerated” Ministers, having exercised their legislative voting rights to save the skin of their boss, and to unjustly enrich their pet projects, will return next Thursday to the cabinet, where they will continue to do the same thing they’ve been doing so far this year — finding ways to frustrate the Brazilian people’s desire to become a serious country.
That is doubly shameful.