The Brazilian Political Crisis Explained

The largest country of South America, Brazil, has become a victim of continuous corruption and political scandals. The largest economy in Latin America is facing an unsure future, with a large number of leaders being engulfed in corruption allegations, and the last President being impeached.The last decade has truly proved to be quite troublesome for the Brazilian politics. With no prominent, strong leader who enjoys the whole-hearted support of the people, the Brazilian economy seems to be heading for a plunge.

The ongoing political turmoil in Brazil started with the infamous Petrobras scandal. Petrobras is a partly-government owned Brazilian petroleum venture. What happened was that a small group of Petrobras’ top officials conspired with a selected number of other high level officials of some of Brazil’s major companies. They had secretly diverted funds amounting to 3% of Petrobras’ shares, and distributed them among their elite group. Petrobras’ officials allegedly overcharged the company for construction and service work seeking bribes.

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Then comes the case of ex-President Dilma Rouseff. Ms. Dilma Rouseff came to power in 2011, with a leftist government. She seeked to start her rule with a positive note, with promises of peace, non-intervention, and multilateralism. She boldly signed a landmark law which established a commission to look into disappearances and human rights abuses during military control. Her 15-month reign came to an abrupt end after there were calls for her impeachment, despite not being directly involved in any scandalous activities herself, with the only reason being that both Rousseff and her predecessor, ex-President Lula da Silva, served on the Board of Directors for Petrobras when the scandal rose.

Then came President Temer, who, during Rouseff’s reign, served as Vice President. He then served as Acting President during her impeachment trials and became the President after her official impeachment.This allowed the transition of the new centrist-rightist government into the Brazilian government. Michel Temer, initially, didn’t have much support, but the multi-party coalition allowed him to gain power.

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But recently, a recorded phone call between President Temer and head of JBS, the Brazilian meat-packing firm has put uncertainty over his tenure as the head of State for Brazil.

In the phone call, President Temer was heard on giving the green light to give former speaker and Former President of the Chamber of Deputies of Brazil a monthly allowance to keep him quiet. Eduardo Cunha was sentenced to jail for 15 years on charges of corruption and extortion. Funnily, he was the person who lead the impeachment process against Ms. Rousseff. Mr. Batista’s company, JBS admitted to paying bribes to Presidents Temer, Rousseff, and President Lula da Silva, who had all denied receiving them. In exchange for the bribe, Batista and JBS allegedly obtained funding from the state-operated Brazilian Developmental Bank of over $10 billion at below market rates. The Batista brothers and senior directors have escaped without any charges from the police as compensation for submitting the statements.

As of now, President Temer’s future in office hangs in the balance with a seven-member judge panel who will decide whether to keep him as president or to remove him. By this week, we are expected to have their confirmed decision. Michel Temer was already quite unpopular amongst the masses, but after new cases of corruption and allegations are coming up by the day, the continuation of his term is dubious.

Mr. Temer, although was unpopular amongst the people, gained the support of the Brasilia politicians and bureaucracy seeing as his policies were aimed toward improving pension programs and uplifting Brazil’s economy.

This may not be the first time the nation has been struck with a political crisis, but with the current situation of the economy, paired with the anguish its citizens, the future of the largest country in South America is insecure.

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