Opinion, by Michael Royster
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – On Sunday March 22, 2015, Datafolha published a survey with some astonishing numbers. Taken right after the protests on the Ides of March, the poll found that 84 percent of those interviewed thought Dilma knew about the Petrobras corruption. A year later, a prominent Brazilian Senator has told the Federal Police she did know.
The Curmudgeon believes Dilma when she says (as she often does) she is personally honest; she’s not in it for the money. Unfortunately, that’s essentially the same argument U.S. President Richard Nixon made back in 1973 amidst the Watergate scandal: “I am not a crook.”
It didn’t work for Nixon, who resigned nine months later; it’s not going to work for Dilma, who ought to resign. Both of them knew what was going on and not only did nothing about it, but tried to cover it up.
Nixon knew all about the Watergate affair, but trusted his feisty lieutenants Haldeman and Erlichman to sort things out. Diligent federal prosecutors continued to investigate, notwithstanding pressure from the President, and the perpetrators went to jail.
Dilma was Lula’s Chief of Staff. As Dilma knew well, Lula was the mastermind of the Mensalão scheme, paying Congressmen to vote for Lula’s legislative proposals. After the Mensalão came to light, Lula needed another source of funds to keep greedy congressmen in line. His solution was to raid Petrobras, expanding and multiplying corruption in bids and contracts so as to include PT and its allies as beneficiaries of the graft.
To make sure Petrobras continued to function, he appointed Dilma as Board Chair. In that position, she blithely turned a blind eye to billion dollar cost overruns that are now household words—Pasadena, Abreu e Lima, Comperj, Premium I and II. But, as in Watergate, diligent federal prosecutors continued to investigate, notwithstanding pressure from the President, and perpetrators have gone to jail.
Lula’s chickens all came to roost under Mother Hen Dilma. He’s going to be indicted, she’s going to be implicated and … if she has any common sense, she’ll resign.
The Curmudgeon is saddened by the recent headlines, which show a depth and breadth to Brazilian corruption that was unimaginable a few years ago.