Brazil: A Political System Firmly Rooted in Corruptocracy

Updated on November 6, 2017
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Frederico Rochaferreira is a member of the Oxford Philosophical Society - author of "The Strange Art of Thinking"

Dilma Roussef, Michel Temer, Lula
Dilma Roussef, Michel Temer, Lula | Source

The Brazilian political system not only encourages corruption, but depends on it for its functioning

In Brazil, the most awaited news for the start of the second semester was the vote in the House of Representatives of the report accusing interim president Michel Temer of corruption. The negotiations society witnessed between the administration and congress to prevent Michel Temer from being investigated by the Federal Supreme Court were worthy of the discredited reputation enjoyed by the Brazilian political class. But we can hardly say the day on which the house barred the corruption charge against President Temer should be seen as a day of shame, as the owner of JBS and author of the recording that gave rise to the charge, Joesley Batista, suggested1.

If we go back to March 2016, we can see the other side of the same coin. On that occasion, the senators Ricardo Ferraço (PSDB-ES), José Medeiros (PSD-MT) and Carla Zambelli, representing the National Alliance of Democratic Movements, submitted a complaint to the Attorney General's Office against President Dilma Rousseff and her Chief of Staff, Jaques Wagner, for the possible act of administrative impropriety in the bargaining of the government with Congress to obtain votes against her impeachment2.

In that same month (March), the Dilma administration released around R$ 70 million in amendments to block the votes in favor of her impeachment3, and it embarked in wheeling and dealing to redistribute cabinet positions at a cost of approximately R$38 billion4.

Joesley Batista himself, who used a wire to record the current interim president Michel Temer, said that representative João Carlos Bacelar asked for R$ 150 million to buy 30 votes against the impeachment of Dilma Roussef. The owner of JBS said that he authorized the purchase of 5 votes at the time for R$ 3 million5.

If we go back to the Fernando Henrique Cardoso administration (1995 - 2003), we see the same practice of buying votes in the House of Representatives.

The former representative Pedro Corrêa (PP-PE), sentenced to 20 years by judge Sergio Moro, confessed in his plea deal that he had been involved in illicit acts since his debut as a parliamentarian in 1978, and that the episode of the re-election of President Fernando Henrique Cardoso (PSDB/1994-2002) in 1997 was "one of the most spurious moments" he ever witnessed. Corrêa says a dispute over the bribes broke out for the purchase of votes in favor of the reelection of president Fernando Henrique Cardoso and in favor of the now federal representative Paulo Maluf (PP-SP), who disputed the presidency at the time6. Former senator Pedro Simon (PMDB) claimed more than 150 parliamentarians sold their vote when talking about this episode. Pedro Corrêa's statement is backed by 40 years of intimacy with power. The former representative is a veteran of Brazilian politics who has supported administrations from the military dictatorship to the Sarney government, during the redemocratization, passing through Fernando Henrique Cardoso and Lula, He is like a monument to corruption7.

In the Brazilian congress, therefore, we have established the trade of buying and selling votes, an old and accepted custom produced by a political system firmly rooted in corruptocracy, manifesting itself through the crimes of active and passive corruption. Now, with the rejection of the charge against interim president Michel Temer9, which took place on August 02, 2017, the House of Representatives also commits (morally) the crime of obstruction of justice10, since it is preventing the Federal Supreme Court from investigating the president of the republic for the crime of corruption.

This entire corruption scheme, which we Brazilians know so well, can be summed up in the words of professor Barry Smith from the University of Pittsburgh, (USA): "The Brazilian political system not only encourages corruption, but depends on it for its functioning"11.


1. O Globo, 03/08/2017 -

2. Estadão. 31/03/2016 -,senadores-pedem-perda-de-funcao-publica-de-dilma,10000024088

3. G1, 01/04/2016 -

4. Estadão, 10/04/2016 -,contra-impeachment--dilma-negocia-cargos-com-poder-sobre-r-38-bilhoes,10000025744

5. G1, 19/05/2017 -

6. Estadão, 0/06/2016 -

7. DCM, 01/06/2016 -

8. Estadão, 03/01/2016 (,grupo-doador-de-campanha-de-temer-recebe-beneficio-de-aliado-em-porto,10000006082 -

Congresso em Foco, 10/08/2017

9. G1, 02/08/2017 -

10. Lei 12.850, Art. 2º, § 1o -

11. BBC Brasil, 28 maio 2016 -


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