The recent news that earthquakes may be caused by a large number of seemingly unconnected faults, is a wonderful metaphor for Brazilian politics right now.
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Today’s arrest of five Rio de Janeiro state accounting court councillors, together with the forced deposition of state assembly president Jorge Picciani, is part of a larger rupture that leaves practically bankrupt Rio without leadership or direction.
Governor Luiz Fernando “Pezão” de Souza has kept a low profile, appearing only to propose surreal plans, given the situation, such as extending the metro from Barra to Recreio.
Making predictions is dangerous at the national level but there is a possibility that the Dilma/Temer electoral slate will be judged next week to have been elected on the basis of criminal acts — removing Temer from office. At very least one can say that personal and institutional survival in Brasília will trump any thought of helping Rio state to achieve solvency.
According to the O Globo newspaper, “The plea bargain of former accounting court president Jonas Lopes de Carvalho Filho led to the arrest of the five councillors for their parts in at least two bribery schemes regarding wrongful acts committed by construction and bus companies that operate in the state. Targets of preventive arrest include councillors Aloysio Neves (current president); Domingos Brazão, José Gomes Graciosa, Marco Antônio Alencar and José Maurício Nolasco.”
Today’s sweep left out one remaining councillor, Marianna Montebello. According to old press reports, Montebello, daughter of municipal accounting court president Thiers Montebello and wife of electoral court judge Flávio Willeman (who judges politicians), is said to have been elected to her post with Picciani’s support.
Nolasco was president of the much-criticized water and sewage company CEDAE in the 1990s, when state company privatizations were being carried out by the brother of one of the councillors arrested today — Marco Antônio Alencar– Marco Aurélio de Alencar, when he was state Finance Secretary at the time that Marcello Alencar, their father, was governor.
Tectonic plates are shifting and faults, large and small, appear. While the Rio state and federal governments shake, it’s more than ever up to civil society and public institutions working in the areas of monitoring, information, citizenship and justice to pick up the pieces — so we can all move forward.