Opinion, by Michael Royster
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – In 1970, the U.S. enacted RICO – the Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act. The statute punishes racketeering, where leaders of an organization order others to commit crimes or assist them to do so.
The statute has largely been used against “traditional” mobs such as the Mafia, but has a broader reach — FIFA, the boss of international football (soccer) has been charged.
Brazil, like many other countries, has a similar set of statutes. During the past week, the authorities have used these laws against the most prominent politicians in Brazil.
The Federal Police, once thought to be under the thumb of the Justice Ministry, have, surprisingly, just brought racketeering charges against six key figures in PMDB, the political party leading the government coalition.
These figures include President Temer, several of his prominent cabinet ministers, and even former President Sarney, whose finger seems to have been in every mud pie since he accidentally became President in 1985.
Simultaneously, chief federal prosecutor Rodrigo Janot, in his last few days in office, has brought sweeping racketeering charges against former Presidents Lula and Dilma, and has filed another set of charges against President Temer, this time for obstruction of justice.
Why now? First, because several prominent gang members, specifically Antonio Palucci and Lucio Funaro, have come forward and made plea bargains, thus corroborating the allegations made by other plea bargainers such as Odebrecht and JBS.
Second, because Janot himself has been under attack from the politician gang members, who pose as victims of persecution and accuse him of personal bias. Unfortunately for the gang, the STF has unanimously cleared Janot of such charges.
Third, and perhaps most important, Janot does not trust his successor, Raquel Dodge, to continue his crusade. Among other reasons, she was recently caught sneaking in the back door of the Presidential palace for an off-agenda meeting with Temer.
The big picture has started to emerge. The first racketeers were Lula, aided and abetted by Dilma and a cohort of 300 scoundrels, who sacked and pillaged Petrobras.
The second group of racketeers, which came into prominence after Dilma’s election to a second term, was the PMDB gang, aided and abetted by PP and the several minuscule parties-for-hire that now pollute Congress.
The gangs initially shared one objective—to accumulate power and wealth in their own hands, and those of their cronies. They now share another objective—to torpedo the Lava Jato investigations in order to save their ill-gotten gains.
Politically, this means there will be no meaningful reform, because Congress is controlled by the rascally RICO racketeers, none of whom will permit voters to throw them out of office.
The 2018 elections will occur in little more than a year, and it is devoutly to be hoped that, in the next twelve months, the latest round of RICO charges will prosper, the criminal organizations will be fully exposed and their ringleaders will be rounded up and put in jail where they belong.
If crooked politicians are in jail, they can’t be elected.