Noose Tightens Around Brazil’s Political Leadership

Kenneth Rapoza, Forbes, 09/09/2016

Following last week’s detaining of ex-president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva and Tuesday’s 19-year jail sentence for one of the country’s biggest executives, Marcelo Odebrecht, the Petrobras investigation is starting to bear fruit. And it is a rotten harvest for sure. With Lula’s deposition still not answering a number of questions about personal assets, believed to be ill-gotten, President Dilma Rousseff has offered Lula a cabinet post in order to protect him with political impunity. So far, he is rejected the offer. To accept it would be an admission of guilt.

The multi-billion dollar money laundering and political bribe scandals involving Petrobras goes back years. But not since 2014 has it begun taking a true toll on the ruling Workers’ Party (PT), all of its political allies, and all of Petrobras’ key partners — including construction conglomerate Odebrecht. A tag-team effort led by the Federal Police and Curitiba-based judge Sergio Moro have become nothing short of Brazil’s own Justice League. And now the federales have the PT’s wagon’s surrounded.  Lula’s testimony didn’t make him come off as an innocent man, despite the heavy-handedness in which the ex-president was brought in for questioning.

Brazil’s politics have been consumed by Petrobras. Dilma is essentially a lame duck.  Her vice president has denounced, Michel Temer, has denounced her. Temer’s own party, the PMDB, is loaded with villains. Eduardo Cunha, the party’s head of the lower house of congress, is being investigated for a Swiss bank account he swore he never had. If the Supreme Court removes him from power, the bitter congressman said he will take down half of congress with him.

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