May 25, 2013
Cachoeira scandal rocks Brazil
A case of sleaze tainting opposition rather than gov’t
They cook the books everywhere might be the conclusion reached by Argentine politicians, leaders and officials. That is, if they stopped for a moment to analyze the corruption scandal lashing much of the political establishment in neighbouring Brazil. Those aforementioned Argentine politicians, leaders and officials might even comment (in the event of any accusations of conspiracy and sleaze reaching them) that the saying “misery loves company” might not be quite right. There might be scandal, conspiracy and sleaze in Brazil but it does not mean that the books are cooked the same on this side of the border.
If, moreover, the crème de la crème politique of Argentina (both past and present) were to notice that this Brazilian muddle has as its main scapegoat a bicheiro gamester known as Cachoeira, who had peddled influences among the parties forming the coalition base of the Dilma Rousseff administration and also among the now weakened opposition and that this bicheiro could not resist the temptation to bring grist to the mill of his closest business associate, the Delta building company, (which in the last decade traced a rainbow of state contracts), surely our crème de la crème would have a sense of déjà vu.
But if, to drive the point home, that Argentine intelligentsia were to see lying in wait for that corruption scandal the Estadao multimedia grouping, which yesterday sued Rio de Janeiro state governor Sergio Cabral for having repeatedly accepted trips of every kind to Europe as treats of the “corrupt” Delta, surely it would pinch itself and wake up to that nightmare with a whiff of “Clarín lies.” Incredibly enough, Estadao and its sidekick in corruption charges — the ultra-conservative magazine Veja — were accused by pro-government media and blogs of working for vested interests. They even compared Roberto Civitá — the CEO of Abril, which edits Veja — with Rupert Murdoch, prompting Rio’s O Globo to come out in defence of the freedom of expression. A war within the media: sounds like home.
As for Sergio Cabral of the PMDB (the centrist party allied to Dilma Rousseff’s Workers Party, to which Vice-President Michel Temer also belongs), he had succumbed to luxurious invitations in exchange for Delta Construcciones obtaining juicy infrastructure contrasts for the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Olympics in Rio.
As far as “misery loves company” goes for Cabral, he is not the only governor spattered since nine Brazilian states are among the beneficiaries of Delta contracts worth over 808 million reais only in 2011, the first year of the Dilma Rousseff administration.
Yet it now seems that Governor Cabral is not going to be one of the victims toppled by the middleman activities (and confessions) of Carlos Augusto Ramos (the real name of Carlinhos Cachoeria). In exchange, the bicheiro has already booked an appearance in the dock for Senator Demóstenes Torres (Goias state), who was expelled on April 2 from his party DEM (centre-right Democrats, allied to the main opposition party PSDB). Demóstenes — Cachoeria’s main parliamentary link at both national and state level — is to be joined by the governors of Goias and Brasilia Federal District (DF). Strangely enough, the governor of the mid-West state of Goias, Marconi Perillo, belongs to the opposition PSDB (the same party as Fernando Henrique Cardoso and José Serra) while Brasilia DF’s José Roberto Arruda, who had already been arrested in February (when he resigned) belonged to DEM.
Meanwhile in the Brazilian Congress a bicameral CPI (parliamentary investigative commission) is following the Cachoeria case. A Brasilia source told the Herald that the bicheiro has his back well covered. He needs it — amid the whirlpool of accusations and charges alleged election campaign contributions to Dilma with gambling funds have come to light. But the same sources assure that Cachoeria’s main guardian angel guaranteeing him a plenary indulgence is his defence lawyer Márcio Thomaz Bastos.
Márcio is no stranger to either the legal system or to politics — he was nothing less than Lula’s justice minister between 2003 and 2007. He has had to deal with some big cases such as the mensalao charges toppling then Cabinet chief José “Zé” Dirceu. Curiously enough it was the bicheiro Cachoeria who testified in the mensalao case.
Can the Cachoeira case rock Dilma’s government? In Brasilia they swear not. “Something always sticks” but, they say, no cause for panic. “Brazil knows no other form of reshuffling politics than through accusations, scandals and endless investigations: that is how we reset things straight.” Perhaps it should be the other way round — more company than misery. (When talking of Brazilian politics, of course).