By Lise Alves, Senior Contributing Reporter
SÃO PAULO, BRAZIL – With a little more than a month to go before the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil’s Tourism Minister resigned on Thursday, after being linked to the mega-corruption Lava Jato (Carwash) scandal. Henrique Eduardo Alves was named by former president of Transpetro Sérgio Machado in his plea bargaining agreement with investigators looking into the money laundering and bribery scheme.
In his resignation letter to interim president, Michel Temer, Mr. Alves said although he was certain his name would be cleared from any wrongdoing he was resigning so as not to ‘create any embarrassment or difficulty’ to the government.
The tourism minister is the third Temer cabinet member to resign due to the scandal, since the new government took over a little more than a month ago. Machado told prosecutors that Alves received R$1.55 million in bribes between 2008 and 2014.
The two other cabinet members, Planning and Transparency Ministers, allegedly tried to limit or even halt the Lava Jato investigations.
Alves’ resignation comes at a time when Brazil is struggling to put on the finishing touches on venues to be used in the Olympic competitions and dissipate international fears about contamination by the Zika virus to athletes and those coming to see the Games.
There have been calls for the suspension or transfer of the Games from Rio de Janeiro due to the outbreak of the Zika virus in the Northeastern part of the country at the beginning of the year. The virus has been linked to the birth of microcephaly in babies whose mothers were infected during pregnancy.
Interim President Temer accepted the resignation of his cabinet member hours after holding a press conference to deny allegations, also made by Machado, that he had asked for illicit campaign contributions for an ally. During the conference President Temer said he would fight what he called ‘irresponsible, deceitful and criminal’.