BRASILIA.- The need to “clean up Brazil” was one of the main points raised in a Lower House session which saw corruption charges against President Michel Temer dismissed.
This mission which, given the results of the August 2 vote and composition of Brazil’s Lower House, currently seems almost impossible to achieve, according to various local politicians and analysts.
By shelving the charges “they (Lower House deputies) are formalizing corruption in Brazil,” warned Brazilian Labor Party (PTB) legislator Silvio Costa, hours before a plenary session majority dismissed a motion to try the leader before the Federal Supreme Court.
Attorney General Rodrigo Janot, brought charges of passive corruption against Michel Temer after an infamous recording made last March of an incriminating conversation between the owner of JBS meatpacking company, Joesley Batista and the President at his official residence, Jaburu Palace, came to light.
In the recording Temer can apparently be heard endorsing the payment of hush-money to former Speaker of the House, Eduardo Cunha - currently serving a 15 year sentence for corruption, money laundering, and tax evasion.
Also implicated is Temer’s former special aide and Federal Deputy Rodrigo Rocha, who allegedly acted as an intermediary to resolve a problem for JBS, which would see Temer receive a weekly “bonus” of half a million reais over 25 years.
Rocha was filmed by the Federal Police receiving and quickly leaving with a briefcase full of money - presumably the first payment by JBS.
However, none of the aforementioned factors, or the fact that 93% of the population believes Temer should be brought before the Supreme Court, was enough to convince the majority of legislators to continue the process, get to the bottom of events, and try to begin to “clean up Brazil.”
According to analysts the decision by Parliamentarians comes as no surprise.
Political analyst Francisco das Chagas Leite Filho warned that nothing would come of the charges even before they were submitted for review and later dismissed by the Constitutional and Justice Commission.
Michel Temer needs the support of 172 of the 513 members of the Lower House, and if 214 are involved in acts of corruption, do you think they are going to put their own heads of the chopping block? noted Leite Filho, who went on to stress that “unless there is a hecatomb and political shake up before the final decision regarding the case is made…nothing will happen.”
A game of appearances is underway to try to create the impression that the Lower House will deliver Temer’s head on a plate, but nothing is more false, more unrealistic, according to Leite Filho.
According to information published on the Congreso em Foco webpage, legal action is being taken against at least 47 deputies who participated in the vote to save Temer, six of whom are facing prison sentences.
The most notorious case is that of Celso Jacob, serving six years and two months in the capital’s Papuda prison, but who received clearance from a judge to attend the Lower House session before returning to his cell at 6.30pm local time.
According to the site, at least 238 congress members are currently facing charges by the Supreme Federal Court, 190 of whom are deputies who participated in the August 2 vote.
What is more, there have been numerous reports of maneuvers undertaken by the Planalto Presidential Palace to protect its main occupant, which according to media estimates published could cost the Brazilian taxpayer between 13.2 and 17 billion reais (4.2 to 5.4 billion dollars).
At the same time, parliamentary amendments and other “favors” were being granted shortly before the vote to forces such as the powerful “Ruralist” Party, which received an almost 10 billion reais (3.1 billion USD) bailout by Temer using social security funds, which allows the group to pay off their debt over 15 years, with fines and interest rates cut by 25 and 100%, respectively.
All this, to save one of the most corrupt politicians in Brazil and a man who temporarily removed 10 cabinet ministers and three State Secretaries from their positions so that they could return to Congress and vote to protect him, in what legislator Pedro Uczai described as one more blow for the country.