Last week, Brazil Talk participated in an event with Brazil’s Minister of Social Development and Fight Against Hunger, Tereza Campello, at Columbia University. Mrs. Campello is responsible for the leading widely recognized programs such as Fome Zero and Bolsa Família, two of the most important social policies adopted by Brazil in the last decades. Minister Campello discussed the social impacts of these policies in the last ten years. Prof. Albert Fishlow, Prof. Sidney Nakahodo (both members of Brazil Talk’s Advisory Board) and Prof. André Lara Rezende (former president of the Brazilian Development Bank – BNDES) were also present at the event.
The disclosure last year of what was apparently just a bad business done by Petrobras – the Brazilian semi-public oil company – evolved and became one of the biggest corruption scandal to hit the country after the reinstatement of democracy in 1988. The Brazilian Supreme Court has authorized the investigation of more than 40 politicians, including the speakers of the Chamber and the Senate and a former President. They are all suspects of integrating a large kickback scheme. Parliament is also promising to carry out their own investigation too, politically unbiased and dispassionate according to them. The hearings have already started.
The subject requires a lot of explaining indeed. Apart from Petrobras’ own executives, the corruption ring also included big companies from Brazil, Europe and Asia. The scheme, based on the payment of bribes in exchange for contracts, is supposed to have managed over $ 2,5 billion. Where was the Board of Directors? And the Fiscal Board? What about the Risk Management Committee? There is also the Advisory Committee. Everyone failed to spot the wrongdoings that took place over, at least, one decade.
On the morning of April 22nd 2014 the body of 26-year-old Douglas Pereira, the talented dancer of a popular television show, was found on the yard of a kindergarten in Rio de Janeiro’s Pavão-Pavãozinho slum. Locals and his family refused to believe the initial police statement according to which the injuries were compatible with a death caused by fall. Instead they took to the streets. Images of burning car tires and testimonies of gunfire between the police and the community spread like wildfire in international media. Another man lost his life during the disarray. The kick-off of the FIFA Word Cup was less than seven weeks away and the eyes of the world were fixed on Brazil.
The following day the uncomfortable truth behind Douglas’ death was announced. His slender body had been penetrated by a lethal bullet, which was later matched to a police firearm.
Nearly a year has passed since Douglas was murdered. Despite delays in the investigations his mother Maria de Fátima hopes the officer who triggered the killer weapon will be brought to justice. There is, however, a hint of despair in her voice on the other end of the phone line.
“The police was created to arrest, not to kill“, Maria de Fátima says and compares the Brazilian police to a combat force. “But the system is very corrupt and I just wonder how they will ever manage to pull these bad officers off the streets”, she adds and wishes that God will deliver justice in case the Brazilian judicial system fails to do so.
In the most curious Brazilian election of the last two decades, President Dilma Rousseff will faceoff with the Social Democrat candidate, Senator Aécio Neves, and not Marina Silva, as predicted by many political commentators.