Brazil is no stranger to volatility and upset. Even so, the events of the past two weeks — from the imprisonment of a billionaire banker, to the president’s possible impeachment — are breathtaking. Nor is Brazil’s agony likely to end soon. The country is suffering a recession so deep it could well tip into depression. Yet the latest stage of Brazil’s crisis may hold positive lessons for the world. That is because at its heart lies an exemplary probe into one of the great scourges of our time: corruption.
First, though, the bad news. Brazilian politicians and businesses are frozen in the headlights of an unprecedented corruption scandal at Petrobras, the state energy company. This has crippled investment and halted in Congress the passage of measures needed to face the economic crisis; the economy is now shrinking at an 8 per cent rate. Adding to the chaos, Dilma Rousseff, the president, may be impeached. She faces charges of fiddling the public accounts. Yet the reason why the proceedings have been launched now flow back to rival politicians seeking to save their skins amid the corruption scandal. They have turned Brasília into a tropical version ofThe Hunger Games.
The key figure here is Eduardo Cunha, head of the lower house. Like the president, he is fighting for political survival. Mr Cunha has been accused of hiding millions of dollars of kickbacks in Swiss bank accounts. A skilful operator, he had hoped the governing Workers party would protect him. When it did not, he pulled the trigger on the impeachment process, justifying it as a “technical” matter. The opposition, scenting blood, joined in. Although Ms Rousseff may well summon enough political support to stop the process, everything is now in flux. Such has been the disruptive power of the corruption probe.
The original article can be found at ft.com