Opinion, by Michael Royster
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – There are serious commentators who worry that PMDB’s maneuvering to impeach Dilma and install Temer as President is in reality designed to put a halt to the Lava Jato (Car Wash) investigations, which have recently uncovered hundreds of corrupt politicians who are NOT members of PT.
Even her most ferocious opponents concede that Dilma has never tried to forestall the investigations. That is a sea change from most prior governmental administrations, so the fear is that a coalition led by Temer and PMDB, once in power, will do its utmost to protect corrupt cronies.
The Curmudgeon does not know whether Temer & Cia. have any such ulterior motives; however, he believes that any attempt to whitewash the car wash will not succeed. His reasons follow.
First, Brazil’s Ministério Público (MP), responsible for the Lava Jato prosecutions, is an independent branch of government, not beholden to the Executive, Legislative or even the Judicial branches. The MP has its own budget and MP prosecutors are known for being hardline, doctrinaire crusaders in their pursuit of justice.
Second, the Federal Police (PF) envy the MP and its independence. Many if not most PF investigators see their rôles as at least as important as those of the MP, and will resist any attempt to thwart or abort their efforts by the President or Minister of Justice, to whom they (in theory) report.
Third, atop the tree of the judicial branches is the STF, Brazil’s Supreme Court, almost all of whose members were appointed by Lula and Dilma and are (at least privately) sympathetic to many of their policies. Office-holding politicians being investigated are subject to the exclusive jurisdiction of the STF.
If Dilma “disembarks” (or is jettisoned) from the Presidency, Temer (formerly a constitutional law professor) knows that STF Justices will redouble their efforts to ensure that the corruption investigations do not focus exclusively on her, Lula and PT.
The Curmudgeon is pleased to announce that today’s column, at least, is not dismal.