A terrible tragedy for Brazil–a plane crash that killed almost all aboard a charter carrying a soccer team and the journalists covering their biggest match ever–has turned into a golden opportunity for their Corrupt and Corrupter politicians. The first article below (h/t GNDR) says it all…massive tragedy exploited by Brazil’s grotesquely corrupt political class.
Boy did they get lucky: just as dozens or more corrupt politicians were about to face the music, perhaps lose everything from political office to ill-gotten gains to liberty itself as criminal investigations led to jail time, a tragedy that literally stopped down the country (the hometown of the soccer team who died in the crash declared 30 days of mourning, basically canceling Christmas itself) turned all eyes away as legislators passed a criminally self-serving law in the dead of night.
RIO DE JANEIRO — Brazil was still mourning the victims of one of its most agonizing sports tragedies, the crash of a plane carrying the Chapecoense soccer team. But the country’s scandal-plagued Congress had its own priorities: gutting what was supposed to be a pioneering anticorruption bill.
Shortly after President Michel Temer declared three days of official mourning for the victims of the crash, Brazilian legislators held a marathon session that went into early Wednesday. The result: legislation that could significantly erode the authority of prosecutors and judges who are investigating politicians in corruption cases.
“It was disrespectful to have voted on this on a day of mourning,” said Andrew Moreira do Nascimento, 28, the co-owner of a restaurant in São Paulo. “The focus was completely off them because of Chapecoense, and they took advantage. We’re represented by people whose own interests are their main concern.”
Many members of Brazil’s lower house are facing graft cases of their own. By watering down the anticorruption bill, they not only stirred the anger of their constituents but also set up a clash with the judiciary, heightening tensions among branches of the federal government.
“This move is an attack on Brazilian democracy,” said Roberto Veloso, the president of Brazil’s Association of Federal Judges. “They had to do it at night, as Brazilians were sleeping after a day of mourning. By weakening the judiciary, legislators are strengthening those who profit from corruption in this country.”
The vote reflects how Brazil’s political class is growing increasingly fearful as huge graft inquiries advance, including the investigation into a sweeping bribery scheme at the national oil company, Petrobras. Just last week, legislators tried to rewrite the same bill to grant amnesty to themselves and others ensnared in corruption cases involving political campaigns, provoking a widespread outcry.
Brazil Lawmakers Push Ahead With Law to Hobble Graft Probe
Provisions added in dark of night lay out punishments for too-aggressive judges and prosecutors
BRASÍLIA—Brazilian lawmakers advanced legislation that would hamper the ability of prosecutors and judges to go after crooked politicians, potentially setting back the country’s fight against widespread corruption.
In a vote in the wee hours of Wednesday morning, deputies in the nation’s lower house approved a measure that allows defendants to sue judicial authorities who abuse their powers. Prosecutors and judges could be fined and sentenced to prison for alleged offenses including damaging the “honor, dignity and decorum” of their offices.
The move is widely seen as retaliation against Operation Car Wash, the blockbuster graft probe targeting dozens of elected officials, including at least 50 sitting lawmakers.
Lest you think that democracy is in the crosshairs only in the US and Brazil, today’s paper also had this little tidbit about Italy:
Italian voters will decide Sunday on a constitutional change that would effectively strip the Senate of most of its powers. It is a gamble by Prime Minister Matteo Renzi—for Italy and abroad—and a centerpiece of his efforts to more quickly revamp Italy’s sickly economy.