Carnival of Corruption May Leave Back Door Open for the Return of Rousseff

June 12, 2016

Brazil's chief prosecutor recently asked the Supreme Court to issue arrest warrants for four key politicians in the PMDB party.

The list includes two senators, a former leader of the lower house, and former president Jose Sarney.

We are seeing "a carnivalization of politics...in Brazil, where it should be quite funny if it were not cruel and so disgraceful for the Brazilian democracy, in particular for the popular classes, and the current conditions of the neoconservative government," said Prof. Boaventura de Sousa Santos.

"They were trying to fix a different version so that they would escape all the charges of corruption that are underway, under investigation. And therefore, their preventive detention is justified because they are interfering with the investigation that is going on," said Santos.

Recently released tapes showed members of the PMDB party sought the removal of Dilma Rouseff in order to derail corruption investigations.

Brazil's chief prosecutor recently asked the Supreme Court to issue arrest warrants for four key politicians in the PMDB party.

The list includes two senators, a former leader of the lower house, and former president Jose Sarney.

We are seeing "a carnivalization of politics...in Brazil, where it should be quite funny if it were not cruel and so disgraceful for the Brazilian democracy, in particular for the popular classes, and the current conditions of the neoconservative government," said Prof. Boaventura de Sousa Santos.

"They were trying to fix a different version so that they would escape all the charges of corruption that are underway, under investigation. And therefore, their preventive detention is justified because they are interfering with the investigation that is going on," said Santos.

Recently released tapes showed members of the PMDB party sought the removal of Dilma Rouseff in order to derail corruption investigations.



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Story Transcript

SHARMINI PERIES, TRNN: It’s the Real News Network. I’m Sharmini Peries coming to you from Baltimore.

Brazil’s chief prosecutor recently requested that arrest warrants be issued against four key politicians of Brazil’s PMDB party. The PMDB party is a party that recently came to power when Vice President Michel Temer took over as interim president when Workers’ Party president Dilma Rousseff was temporarily removed from office. Brazil’s supreme court must now decide whether these four top politicians, two senators, a former leader of the lower house, and former president Jose Sarney should be arrested. This is only the latest twist in Brazil’s ongoing political saga, which keeps getting more and more complicated.

With us to discuss this is Professor Boaventura de Sousa Santos. He’s a professor of sociology at Coimbra University in Portugal, and a distinguished legal scholar at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. His most recent book is If God Were a Human Rights Activist. He’s joining us from Coimbra, Portugal. Thank you so much for joining us today.

BOAVENTURA DE SOUSA SANTOS: You’re welcome, [Sharmini]. It’s a pleasure.

PERIES: So, Boaventura, given the chief prosecutor’s effort to arrest key politicians of the governing party, PMDB party now, what do you think President, or former president, Dilma Rousseff’s chances are of surviving this impeachment process?

SANTOS: Well, I mean, it’s really a kind of a carnivalization of politics that we are, a carnival of corruption, that we are witnessing in Brazil, where it should be quite funny if it were not cruel and so disgraceful for the Brazilian democracy, in particular for the popular classes, and the current conditions of the neoconservative government. And it is really unimaginable what is going on. [Inaud.] to the first two ministers of the President Michel Temer, Romero Juca, planning minister, had to be removed because of corruption charges. Then the minister of transparency. That is to say, the minister that would fight against corruption was also fired because of corruption charges.

Now we have, there’s three warrants, arrests for preventive detention, against the president of the Senate, Renan Calheiros, against the former president Jose Sarney, who was president from 1986-1990, and Romero Juca, who was the minister of planning under Temer, and also Eduardo Cunha, on a separate charge, on a separate investigation. Eduardo Cunha was removed from the leader of the House of Representatives.

Well, it is really quite unprecedented. In the case of a president of Brazil, or a former president, it had never occurred in Brazil that some kind of preventive detention be asked for from him. And in this case, in fact, Sarney is older than 85. He cannot be subjected to prevented detention, and he’ll be house arrest, if at all.

But what is remarkable in this is that this information was leaked to the press. I mean, we don’t know the details of the request by the attorney general, the chief prosecutor, because what we have is leaks to the press by Globo, by [inaud.] the newspapers, now. And we don’t know the details. We know that the request was addressed to the minister of the Supreme Court that is in charge of the [car wash] operation. So the idea is that the three first people, Renan Calheiros, Jose Sarney, Romero Juca, have been, through wiretapping, they have found they were fixing, trying to fix, a new version of the corruption case which is operation, car wash operation. They were trying to fix a different version so that they would escape all the charges of corruption that are underway, under investigation. And therefore, their preventive detention is justified because they are interfering with the investigation that is going on.

So I think that’s the reason. In the case of Eduardo Cunha, who was removed from the House, as you remember, is a separate charge. Is also a corruption case, and is also charged of interfering with the investigation, but in his case it’s the offshore corruption and non-declared income to, you know, that are in the Swiss banks and all these offshore things that was also known previously. So they are a separate charge. But in any case, they are very serious charges.

And now we have a very complicated situation, because the request was addressed to the minister of the Supreme Court that was in charge of the car wash operation. As it should be the case, because he’s the one in charge of that. The request is addressed to Renan Calheiros, the president of the Senate. The order of preventive detention cannot be an order by one single judge, minister of the Supreme Court. It has to be the plenary of the Supreme Court, because the other is the president of another, you know, organ of the state, which is the Senate. So it has to be a plenary of the Supreme Court to order his preventive detention.

In the past, another, well, you know that the case, all these cases started with a senator, [name inaud.] that was in fact put in prison, preventive detention, and the Senate ratified the detention. So in this case, if Renan Calheiros, the order comes from the Supreme Court for preventive detention, the Senate has to ratify, has to ratify the order, and if it ratifies the order then Renan Calheiros of course is removed, suspended, and will be put in preventive detention. Their seats will be taken by the, the ones that will replace them in the system, the [inaud.] they are called in Portuguese. The surrogate people who are in second place to replace them if they are, if something happens to them.

So there is no idea that will be any change in the voting, in the impeachment case, because all these people belong to the PMDB party, which is, you know, again, as we have been saying, it looks like in all this sea of corruption President Dilma is the one who stands out as the honest one, and now it is clear that the idea that everything was focused on [inaud.] was, in fact, to have President Dilma removed.

PERIES: And reinforced by the tapes that was released, that there was really a plot going on against Dilma Rousseff, and they wanted her out of the way in order that these proceedings against them and corruption charges, and allegations, and arrests, would not actually occur.

Professor Boaventura de Sousa Santos, thank you so much for joining us today, and we hope to have you back, because I think this issue isn’t going away any time soon.

SANTOS: Thank you.

PERIES: And thank you for joining us on the Real News Network.

End

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