Two former governors arrested and sent to Bangu prison in less than two days. Anthony Garotinho and Sérgio Cabral. So many questions:
- How long will they be staying? Will they get away with their crimes, as many Cariocas suspect will be the result, in the final analysis?
- Who else will be going to jail? A GloboNews reporter yesterday quoted a source close to the plea bargainers as saying that Sérgio Cabral’s arrest is “just the beginning”, that other governors and former governors are also in trouble.
- What other funds have been thrown around here? The R$ 200 million cited so far seems, to this blogger, to be a relatively small amount. It looks like corporate tax breaks were part of a kickback scheme, too. What wasn’t?
- Given the 5% kickback scheme on state-contracted construction since the late 2000s, how likely is it that city-contracted construction was crime-free? In other words, will Eduardo Paes, on his way out of office and into a Columbia University classroom next semester, be detained too at some point? Cariocas joked yesterday about giving him a scare by pressing his doorbell today at 6 a.m., as the Federal Police are wont to do.
- How on earth will the state of Rio now gather itself together and organize its failing finances, with Governor Pezão — perhaps about to go to jail — losing the little support he had for proposed budget cuts? Jorge Picciani, who heads up the state legislature and helped keep it under the Governor’s thumb, is also named in Lava Jato plea bargaining.
- How will the peace be kept in Rio, with police wages at risk?
- What key politicians, if any, will be acceptable to Brazilian voters for the 2018 presidential race?
The arrests provide, as this excellent analysis by Rogério Jordão points out, a glaring connection between corruption and the state’s financial crisis (of course, the fallen price of oil also has something to do with it). We’re likely as a result, to see more civil unrest, particularly invasions of government buildings.
Garotinho’s stopover at a public hospital and his efforts to avoid jail (he’s now at a penitentiary hospital) have met with Cariocas’ derision, laughter and laudable attempts at a humanitarian view of his would-be plight.
O Globo had been preparing a series of articles on the 2006-2014 Cabral administration. With his arrest, the paper quickly presented valuable in-depth coverage.
One question that does have the start of an answer is what went wrong in the Brazilian political environment, to allow such corruption. The state legislature and state accounting court seem to have played along with the executive branch’s fun and games. The media, the fourth power, as far back as 2010 reported on much of the story now put together by the Federal Police. But the reporting gained no traction until now.
Tough to know exactly why this is, but it might have something to do with the tight alliance among municipal, state and federal politicians and the media that was so determined to turn Rio around, starting in 2008. The difference between a tight alliance and promiscuity is but a blurred line. And during the Cabral era, promiscuity seems to have been given very little thought, at least by some.
Rio’s bonanza (and its long history of clientelism and corruption) fed carelessness for the stewardship of democracy overall and, more specifically, public policy. The stalled and abandoned Complexo do Alemão cable car system, which the state built for R$210 million in federal funding (and which probably involved kickbacks), without asking residents if they wanted it, is a perfect symbol of what went wrong.
It’s horrible to wonder if anything at all was built in the last decade with Rio’s citizens as a priority — rather than politicians and construction companies.
Here’s a useful analysis — with a warning and some advice, by O Globo columnist, Miriam Leitão.