Seeds: Brazil’s history of corruption began with the Portuguese invasion and colonization in 1500. The Portuguese intentionally didn’t allow the people to have a representative government, leading to a serious mistrust among the people, especially since many circumvented or bribed Portuguese officials in order to get what they wanted. Later, in 1808, due to fears of Napoleon, the Portuguese government emigrated from Portugal and established themselves in Brazil. The Portuguese wished to continue their decadent lifestyle in Brazil, so they exchanged government titles for money with Brazilian businessmen. This started a cycle of shady deals being made between private business and the government. When Brazil became independent in 1822, these dealings were so commonplace that the corruption went nearly unquestioned.
Core: This corruption was, and is, not only seen in political officials, but also policemen, who often accept bribes. Corruption is so prevalent, that politicians have used it as their catchphrase (Paulo Maluf, who is a member of the Brazilian parliament, is knows as “corrupto, mas faz” which translates to, corrupt, but hands on. He remains popular, even though Interpol has a warrant for his arrest and has embezzled hundreds of millions of euros). One reason many corrupt officials cannot be tried and convicted is because the Brazilian Constitution does not allow the extradition of its criminals, which means they cannot be tried overseas. Also, the government controls the Brazilian courts, so the politicians rarely get tried, and almost never convicted. On top of this, the 106 members of the President’s cabinet and the 594 members of Congress in Brazil cannot be tried in anything other than Brazil’s Supreme Federal Tribunal, which means the trials will drag on for years, sending very few people to prison.
Skin: Brazil’s rampant corruption has been a topic of discussion in the news lately because 50,000 turned up in Sao Paulo alone (there were more in other cities) to protest the current president Michel Temer. Police used stun grenades, water cannons, and tear gas against the protestors.
Leaves: It is unclear what the government will do, if anything, to address the former president’s corruption and the ongoing corruption in the government. The massive protests are certainly garnering international attention, but there is only so much the international community can do while still respecting Brazil’s sovereignty.
Food For Thought: What do you think about the political corruption in brazil? What do you think the international community should do about it? Do you think there is political corruption in the United States?