Opinion, by Michael Royster
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – The Theorem: Major Mishaps do not preclude the occurrence of Minor Mishaps; rather, the Minor may precede, predict or presuppose the Major Mishap. In 2012 the “Mensalão” scandal, resulting in criminal convictions for prominent politicos, was the Major Mishap for them (but not for the country).
The latest Minor Mishap occurred on January 1, 2013, when José Genuíno, convicted of corruption and racketeering, decided that these convictions were no impediment to his taking office as a Federal Deputy on January 1st and Congress agreed.
In the 2012 elections, Genuíno did not garner enough votes to be elected Federal Deputy, but the “party list” system in Brazil provides for substitutes to take over at any time during the four year term of office if the Deputy takes a leave of absence.
In 2013, Genuíno was first in line to replace a PT Deputy who had just been elected mayor of a São Paulo suburb. So, sworn in as a substitute he was.
He and the entire world know that, when his appeals are exhausted, he will have to leave Congress and go to jail; however, he and the entire world (especially his lawyers) also know that the appeals will take at least six months and perhaps longer.
This delay is a Minor Mishap. How is it that a decision taken by the full STF can be appealed? Briefly put, after the decision is published any convicted defendant can file petitions asking for “clarification”or “reconsideration” of a decision, or even asking the STF, in appellate court mode, to overturn, by reason of error, the original decision that convicted the defendants.
Genuíno himself alleges, as do all the other defendants, that he has been wrongly convicted, and he further claims to be a victim of “modern day torture” i.e. torture by … The Press!
This torture allegedly consists in publishing stories about his guilt and the Mensalão scheme, rather than exalting his heroic resistance to the military dictatorship many years ago. Why is this torture? Because he’s innocent! Q.E.D.
This argument is paranoid, but it’s been successfully made before. Back in 2011, President Lula refused to extradite convicted Red Brigade murderer Cesare Battisti to Italy, allegedly based on the theory that he had a “reasonable fear of being persecuted… .” Persecuted by whom people asked.
The answer was, not by the Italian authorities, but by Italian “political opinion”, meaning … The Press! The real reason, of course, was the firm belief, held by President Lula, Genuíno and most of PT, that Mr. Battisti had been a part of the heroic resistance to the proto-fascist neo-capitalist Italian government, and that he was innocent! Q.E.D.
In an unfortunate 2011 Minor Mishap, a majority of the STF upheld the “persecution” argument and refused to overturn President Lula’s decision not to extradite Mr. Battisti. Perhaps this is why Genuíno still hopes to avoid jail in 2013. In his view, the fact that he’s paranoid will not keep The Press from persecuting him.
But that’s another Theorem, not the Curmudgeon’s.
Michael Royster, aka THE CURMUDGEON first saw Rio forty-plus years ago, fetched up on these shores exactly 35 years ago, still loves it, notwithstanding being a charter member of the most persecuted minority in (North) America today, the WASPs (google it!)(get over it!)