As a Brazilian, I kind of always feel compelled to give an update about what is happening in my country. I’m sorry if these updates have been constant since I started writing for Rostra, but Brazil keeps giving me things to talk about, and unfortunately, not good ones.
Since there are many similarities between our politics and any TV show that depicts a catastrophic political scenario, such as House of Cards and Designated Survivor, I believe it is only fair that I start this update with a small flashback of what happened last year.
After a major corruption scandal in the national oil company Petrobras, an anti-corruption operation called Wash Off started, which resulted in the arrest of multiple politicians and businessmen. Not satisfied, the congress decided to point out the President, Roussef, for having cooked the country’s books, which ended up with her impeached. Oh, and this impeachment was articulated by no one different than the vice president itself. Told you it was worse than a TV series, didn’t I? But wait, it gets worse.
The operation Wash Off is still in course. In fact, two weeks ago, a major breakthrough in the case occured, as one of the politicians snitched on the other ones, and not few, but precisely 42 politicians were cited in his deposition. Rumour says even the President, now Michel Temer, was quoted.
But of course, as in any TV Show, when the good guys seem to get close to winning, there is a major plot twist.
Judge Teori Kavaski was responsible for the deposition of all politicians arrested during operation Wash Off. He also had the names of all politicians cited during the depositions, and secretly worked on all of them with his team. On the week after the alleged citation of President Temer, Kavaski died in a plane accident. And now guess who delegates the case to a new judge? The president himself.
I could say that I’m surprised, but unfortunately, I am not. Brazil has suffered from an intrinsic corruption for ages, and this is only the result of all of it. As we, Brazilians, keep blaming politicians for all of it, we forget that we are the ones to blame. Corruption is something generated by a country’s cultural and moral values and there was even one Brazilian sociologist who talked about this problem a few years ago, and called it ‘jeitinho brasileiro’.
Segio Buarque depicted this problem in his book The Cordial Man. In it he explains how Brazilians are used to solving problems taking the easy way, even when it is illegal. In anthropological terms, the ‘jeitinho’ can be seen as the emotional character of any Brazilian. Buarque says that Brazilians have a historical propensity towards informal relationships, because Brazilian institutions were always conceived in a coercive and unilateral way, without any dialogue between governors and the people.
Rio de Janeiro is a good example of what was described by Buarque. After all the constructions for the Olympics, such as new metro stations, reconstructions of roads, cycle ways, and so on, the state is unable to pay whoever is working for it. Public employees are not receiving their wages, and the state-owned university is even thinking about closing its doors due to lack of funding. This is all due to a huge network created during the previous governor’s, Sergio Cabral, mandate, involving his family and businessman. He made use of his position to enrich himself, his family and his friends. Thankfully he was arrested last week, because it was ‘discovered’ that he received a commission when a certain engineering company was chosen to be responsible for a construction project during the Olympics.
It may seem like Brazil is a melting pot, but as I write this article from Rio, I can tell things pretty much look the same. And I don’t know if that makes me calmer of even more scared. Brazilians are also known for neglecting problems, and pretending everything is fine, which at this point of time does not seem to be a good option. In order for anything to change slightly, a political reform needs to be done, changing everything, from bottom to top in the way we see politics.
I wish my conclusion would give a smart solution to all these problems, or even a hint of what we can do to fix all this mess that was created by ourselves. But at this point in time, the only thing I can do is hope. Hope that Brazilians will realize that corruption is not their problem, but that it is ours.