Politicker: Brazilian rule ignores state poverty

Dilma Rousseff, the suspended president of Brazil, has called for early elections in order to provide stability in the politically riotous nation. Rousseff’s outspoken desire for an immediate change comes amid a suspension brought on by accusations of corruption, embezzlement and cronyism in the fallout of an economic downturn that the Brazilian government handled poorly.

The issues stretch back to Rousseff’s predecessor, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva and the Petrobras scandal that has led to turmoil in the backdrop of one of Brazil’s largest economic downturns in recent memory.

Petrobras is a Brazilian petroleum company. Sixty-four percent of it is owned by the Brazilian government, with the remaining third split among various shareholders. In 2014, investigators launched a probe, called Operation Car Wash, in order to examine questionable financial dealings surrounding Petrobras.

They found that from 2003 until 2010, politicians had been accepting kickbacks in return for granting Petrobras lucrative government contracts. The reaction to the results of the investigation were, ultimately, game-changing. A former Brazilian president has been charged with corruption and da Silva’s then-Chief of Staff has been arrested. These are not the only actors in the scandal, as over half of Brazil’s legislators have come under scrutiny.

Rousseff herself was on the board of directors of Petrobras while the bribes were handed out. She and da Silva have both denied any wrongdoing, accusing the media and political opponents of using the scandal as electoral weaponry.

Accusations, revelations and further bureaucratic blunders have made the political situation in Brazil all the more unusual. Sometimes it seems like the United States has a rival for administrative absurdity.

In the wake of these scandals, the 2016 Olympics may act as one of the best recent examples of people’s issue with their government taking physical form. By all accounts, building and maintaining the infrastructure for the games was a ridiculous expenditure for the Brazilian government. Smack dab in the middle of a recession, arenas were hurriedly built.

Subcontractors put underpaid workers in disgusting living conditions, all for an international sporting event that is still expected to provide little economic benefit for the economically suffering country. It almost seems appropriate that the venues were built in the shadow of the favelas, the slums that overlook Rio de Janeiro.

One can only wonder how a country seen internationally as a slow-growing power, the eighth largest economy in the world, could have experienced such a sudden and rippling contraction. Political instability is not exactly great for a burgeoning economy, but it was instability waiting to happen.

Economic inequality has a way of manifesting into the public purview very suddenly and Brazil had the perfect storm of bad spending, political corruption and loss of public trust to throw it into what can only be described as a mess.

The levels of deception that government officials have undertaken in order to cover up their greed is shameful. What was pathetic, however, was that these attempts at deception were so blatant.

Kleptocratic cabinet-shuffling conducted by Rousseff did not go unnoticed by the Brazilian public, nor did the blatant attempts at power grabs when Rousseff called for early elections, likely in the hope that she would get off unpunished from an upcoming impeachment trial.

It is almost ironic that members of da Silva’s own Workers’ Party, one built on the ideals of social democracy, were the ones taking away the very money they claimed to be returning to the people of their nation.

There are some beams of light behind the clouds, though. Perhaps if Rousseff is ousted from power, the government can reorganize itself in a more efficient and far less corrupt body.

The economy is expected to make a comeback, but it will be an extremely slow and lengthy recovery, even with industrial output remaining at steady levels in the country.

Efforts to handle the poverty and crime in the favelas that do not include hard-line policing, such as education, are slowly becoming more common.

The situation remains an extremely unpredictable one, though it would be brutally pessimistic to simply put one’s hands in the air and say Brazil is doomed. It would be as foolish, however, to ignore the factors that have brought Brazil so low.

OpinionsOpinionsComment