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Foreign Correspondent

Being the Ongoing Tales, Triumphs, Struggles (mostly struggles) and Occasional Adventures of Freelance Foreign Correspondent Shawn Gerald Blore, based in Rio de Janeiro

Monday, October 02, 2006

Brazilian Election - Thieves Return to Office


I wrote the screed below about the WSJ editorial as an email to a friend a few days before Brazil's election. Last night the results of Brazil's first round of polling came in. Slippery leftist Lula finished with 48.61% of the vote, just shy of the 50% margin of victory. He will now be forced into a run-off with the second ranked candidate Geraldo Alckmin (41.64%) at the end of October. Lula's fall from some 55% of the vote a week ago has been quite dramatic. Some attribute it to his blowing off a national televised debate. Some say it's a result of a Watergate like scandal that's broken in the past week, in which Lula's close aides were arrested with US$700,000 in unsourced money, trying to buy a dossier containing sleaze and scandal to be used on the opposition candidates. The voters, it is alleged, are punishing Lula for the stench of ongoing corruption.

It would be a truly healthy thing if this were true, but somehow I doubt it. In other returns from last night, Paulo Maluf - the former mayor of Sao Paulo mentioned in the post below, who stole some US$400 million while in office - got re-elected to the federal congress. He got more votes than any other candidate in the country.

The ex-governor of Para state, who stole some US$700 million, also got re-elected to congress last night. As did 7 of the 12 congressmen accused of receiving money in the Mensalão vote buying scandal.

Also returning to office – my personal favourite result – is Fernando Collor de Mello, the ex-Brazilian president impeached and driven from office in 1992 for corruption. The good people of his home state of Alagoas have elected him to the senate.

Brazilian voters don’t punish corruption because after 500 years they have come to expect it as the norm. Even Lula’s PT party, which promised for 25 years to put an end to corruption if they ever achieved power, has proven unable to keep their hands off state funds. So why fight it? Instead, look to elect a corrupt politician who will steer some of the grease your way. Rouba mas faz. Pra mim.

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