Delta, corruption and leadership in Rio de Janeiro

Impact: Light creeps into the darkest corners

Para A construtora Delta, a corrupção e a liderança no Rio de Janeiro, clique aqui

Pavão-Pavaõzinho favela

As a Joint Congressional Inquiry Committee began work today on the activities of numbers boss Carlos Augusto Ramos (aka Carlinhos Cachoeira) and his connection to payoffs to politicians and public servants involved in construction contracts, some Brazilians are already smelling the delightful aroma of pizza. There’s a saying in portuguese for what happens to any Brazilian investigation: vai acabar em pizza, it all ends in pizza.

In Rio de Janeiro, the most immediate impact of the scandal was this week’s departure of the Pernambucan construction company, Delta, from the Maracanã stadium site, leaving Odebrecht and Andrade Gutierrez to finish the stadium remodeling. Halfway complete, the stadium should be ready for the World Cup in 2014.

Marked presence in Rio

According to O Globo newspaper, Delta has contracts with the city of Rio for four large projects (the Transcarioca articulated bus corridor, Madureira Park and road work in the West Zone, urbanization work for the Morar Carioca project, and solid waste treatment at the Gericinó sanitary landfill) totaling almost US$ 300 million equivalent. The state of Rio de Janeiro is still coming up with the total value of its contracts with the company, which in addition to its role with Maracanã is also responsible for repair work in the mountains of the state affected by heavy rain last year; and 20 kilometers of the Arco Metropolitanto, a new beltway.

With Petrobras, held by private shareholders together with the federal government, Delta reportedly has four contracts totaling US$ 526 million equivalent. Two are for construction of the Comperj petrochemicals complex in Rio state, which is behind schedule and has had labor difficulties; and one is in regard to work at the Reduc refinery in Duque de Caxias, part of greater Rio. O Globo didn’t say what the fourth contract is for.

With the help of the numbers boss Cachoeira, Delta is said to have also built a national network of public servants and politicians, bribed in exchange for public works contracts.

The Committee’s doings may affect politics here, since Delta has a massive presence in Rio. According to O Globo newspaper, there are more than US$ 500 million equivalent in contracts with the city, and about the same amount in total state contracts since 2007.

Fernando Cavendish, who today left the company’s presidency due to the accusations, is a friend of Governor Sérgio Cabral. Cabral’s trip to the state of Bahia last June for Cavendish’s birthday celebration revealed the relationship when a helicopter crashed, killing seven of the group of friends.

As a consequence of the tragedy, last November Cabral created a code of conduct for relations between state officials and the private sector. In March, he named the members of two committees meant to keep tabs on such connections. There’s been no news of any committee activity since then.

It’s hard to say what impact the congressional committee will have. This one is different from previous ones in that the it’s starting work after the federal Attorney General’s office and the Federal Police have completed their investigations, and have already designated the accused and their alleged wrongdoing. It may thus be less of an investigative exercise and more about exposure.

This is why some Brasília natives joke that there’ll be Kool-Aid instead of pizza, dubbing the Committee the Jim Jones Committee.

As Rio changes, a kind of hybrid transition modus operandi is coming into being. Procedures, behaviors and and attitudes belonging to the traditional politics of favor-exchanges and buddies occur alongside procedures, behaviors and attitudes that are more democratic and modern.

Everyone is watching everyone

A key factor in the transition is leadership.

The degree to which leaders serve as models of ethical behavior for agents all the way down the social pyramid, spreading from politicians’ palaces to the shacks of the most simple citizens, will determine just how easy and fast the transition will be.

Mayor Eduardo Paes is up for reelection this October, and governor Sérgio Cabral is moving towards the end of his second term inDecember 2014.

Who knows just how much model behavior the two will provide, as the Committee debates and the transition unfolds. These are times of smartphones with video, still cameras, and apps for audio taping. They are times, more than ever, when the world is watching Brazil.

One of the most insistent questions posed by an ESPN team here this week to report on the preparations for the World Cup is “Can President Dilma really do anything about corruption?”

ESPN awaits an answer from Brasília to its request for an interview with the president, but only time will tell how much pizza will be on order.

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About Rio real

American journalist, writer, editor who's lived in Rio de Janeiro almost 20 years.
This entry was posted in Brasil, Brazil, Transformation of Rio de Janeiro / Transformação do Rio de Janeiro and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Delta, corruption and leadership in Rio de Janeiro

  1. Pingback: Outgoing Rio Public Safety Czar: Good Guy or Sucker? - Today Brazil

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