Brazilian Bribesville

Corruption scandals break out in Latin America’s second-largest economic power.

Corruption scandals break out in Latin America’s second-largest economic power. Tropical hurricanes rarely affect the southern part of the Atlantic. But when they do, the results are tragic. Indeed, a truly devastating ‘hurricane’ has hit Brazil (200 million inhabitants, the seventh-largest economy in the world by GDP). An economic, financial, political and judicial cyclone is violently shaking this enormous country and ravaging important sections of its ruling class. “The situation in Brazil is extremely dire, S&P rated our sovereign debt as junk”, said Ricardo, an engineer from San Paolo who lives in Italy and prefers to remain anonymous. “But then again, I am a ‘toucan’ (a supporter of the opposition party, PSDB, Ed.) and was never fond of Lula’s system”.

The first signs of an impending catastrophe came in June 2013 when massive public protests took place. At that time, the people who took to the streets were mainly low-income citizens demonstrating against an increase in public transport fares as well as the money wasted on infrastructure for the World Cup and Olympic Games. Protests continued in 2014 but were toned down; in that same year, while the economy was stagnating, the Brazilian Federal Police launched an investigation (dubbed Lava Jato, or “carwash”) into a huge corruption and bribery scheme involving the top executives of the oil giant Petrobras, large construction firms, and several politicians. 

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