“The folklore of corruption is good business … for the corrupt” — Elio Gaspari
The Folha de S.Paulo: Um jornal a serviço do Brasil, reports:
O ex-ministro e deputado cassado José Dirceu (PT) recebeu ao menos R$ 620 mil do principal grupo empresarial que será beneficiado caso a Telebrás seja reativada, como promete o governo.
Former cabinet minister and impeached federal legislator José Dirceu (PT) received at least R$620,000 from a business group that would be the biggest winder if Telebrás is reactivated, as the government promises.
This is utter bullshit. The government has yet to announce what exactly it might do with Telebrás. The real question is whether it will compete in the market as a last-mile broadband provider or as a simple dedicated backbone landlord.
O dinheiro foi pago entre 2007 e 2009 pelo empresário Nelson dos Santos, dono da Star Overseas, companhia sediada nas Ilhas Virgens Britânicas.
The money was paid out between 2007 and 2009 by businessman Nelson dos Santos, owner of Star Overseas, incorporated in the British Virgin Islands.
English-language Google has never heard of Star Overseas Ventures. It has heard of a Chinese film company, Star Ventures Ltd., however, and notes, from an Indian newspaper, that a local movie idol has become a “star overseas.”
Stories that have broken in the Folha over the last week or so form an enthymeme whose implications are not that subtle:
- PT will allow Dirceu to play a role in Dilma campaign
- Telebrás stock has risen 35,000% since 2003 (by Marcio Aith, ex-executive editor of Veja)
- Dirceu received money from a Telebrás investor
- DEMs propose congressional probe of Dirceu lobbying
Rule of thumb, based on past observations of tropical Lusophone manufactured scandals: when temporally spaced “revelations,” often published by different vehicles, can be reduced to a coherent logical and rhetorical scheme, you could have a fabricated scandal on your hands.
Example: The top headlines in the Estado, Folha, and O Globo the other day all used the term “radical” to describe the program of government announced by the party of the situation for their continuity candidate — who belonged to a guerrilla group during the dictatorship.
This may not prove any conspiracy theories, but it does constitute a statistical cluster.
(Veja magazine would then call the candidate’s acceptance speech “radical” in tone, completing the inventory of the usual suspects.)
In order to underscore the (enthy)meme aimed at here — the classic Brazilian “thief calling a thief a thief” gambit — the front page of the Folha superimposes a photo of Mayor Kassab (DEM) with the top headline on Dirceu (above, from the Web version).
Preliminary output of the bullshit detector: News stories with ledes couched in the subjunctive and future conditional — “would be .. if …” tend to be, although they are not necessarily, bullshit.
Meanwhile, the DEM attempts to recover its time-worn schtick as the party of finger-wagging political morality, to counteract the two scandals currently involving the party — the jailing of the federal district governor and the revocation of mandate suffered by the São Paulo mayor:
O líder do DEM na Câmara, deputado Paulo Bornhausen (SC), vai sugerir a criação de CPI (Comissão Parlamentar de Inquérito) para investigar denúncia de que o ex-ministro José Dirceu recebeu pelo menos R$ 620 mil do principal grupo empresarial privado que será beneficiado caso a Telebrás seja reativada, como promete o governo.
The leader of the DEM in the lower hosue of congress, Paulo Bornhause (DEM-SC), will propose setting up a congressional probe into charges that former cabinet minister Dirceu was paid at least R$620,000 from the main business group that will benefit if Telebras is reactivated, as the government promises.
Bornhausen (DEM) is the son of Senator Jorge Kondor Bornhausen (DEM), who directed the 2006 Alckmin (PSDB) presidential campaign.
During which he attributed the attacks by drug gangs on the military police of São Paulo that year to a plot involving Cuba, the Colombian FARC, and the party of the situation to murder police in order to undermine Alckmin.
That was some stupid-ass gibbering shit. And they have repeated it since!
Bornhausen pére had Dirceu’s job during the Collor administration (which ended in impeachment). Previously he served as a “bionic” Senator — appointed by the generalíssimos to counteract the “erroneous” results of an abortive return to direct elections.
Theo only footnote in his Wkipedia bio — which omits to mention the family banking business — is to a Veja magazine interview with the man from 2006.
A denúncia, revelada hoje pela Folha, afirma que o dinheiro foi pago entre 2007 e 2009 por Nelson dos Santos, dono da Star Overseas Ventures –companhia sediada nas Ilhas Virgens Britânicas, paraíso fiscal no Caribe.
The charge, revealed today by the Folha, is that the money was paid between 2007 and 2009 by Nelson dos Santos, owner of Star Overseas Ventures — a company incorporated in the British Virgin Islands, a Caribbean fiscal paradise.
“São os interesses do José Dirceu que, desde que foi cassado e denunciado por formação de quadrilha, só faz lobby em negócios escusos“, disse Bornhausen. Na opinião do líder, a Câmara deve investigar a reativação da Telebrás uma vez que a operação pode trazer danos aos contribuintes.
“Dirceu’s only interest, ever since he was expelled and indicted for criminal conspiracy, has been in lobbying for sleazy deals,” said Bornhausen. In the leader’s opinion, the lower house ought to investigate the reactivation of Telebras insofar as the transaction might harm taxpayers.
The whole idea is plagiarized from Minority Report.
Precog must punish Dirceu for future crimes as he pushes this deal through!
The Rashomon Effect, Redux
I have been trying to work up some news thoughts recently on my theory of the Rashomon Effect, and so it is interesting to note how well this concept fits this theory according to which “the thief has no moral standing to accuse the thief of thievery.”
This is precisely the argument used by the man who steals the ruby from the child in Kurosawa’s film, remember?
Through some good investigative reasoning, he is able to prove that the woodcutter stole the dagger.
The DEM are the former, the PT the latter, in this spur-of-the-moment hypothesis.
The Facts and Acts of the Man Who Got the Axe
Zé Dirceu, the man and the myth.
It can be hard to separate the two.
And this is partly Direceu’s own fault.
Dirceu — as a kid, he participated in the kidnapping of the U.S. ambassador and was sent to Cuba for guerrilla training — was indeed expelled by the ethics committee of the lower house, and awaits a trial in the Supreme Court on the four criminal counts — a very modest number of pretty modest alleged crimes, in the scale of things — that made the cut in the federal indictment relating to the ”big monthly allowance” (mensalão) scandal.
Originally scheduled for 2010 — the controversial events occurred in 2004 — the trial is now said to have been pushed back until after the national elections.
The same machine that fed this alleged federal scheme of 2003-2005, favoring the PT, also fed a state scheme favoring the PSDB 1998-2002, and was really one and the same machine. Same laundering of money through the very same cast of characters from the public relations industry.
(I tend to think that if you really wanted to get to the bottom of all this crazy shit, you would create a truly nonpartisan CPI of Money Laundering in the PR Industry and stop relying on their self-regulatory body to actually regulate them.)
Dirceu, the former Minister of the Casa Civil — a kind of coordinating secretary for other cabinet departments and the legislative contingent, and thus sometimes likened to a prime minister to the president-sovereign — openly discusses his consulting work, but will not name certain clients, citing confidentiality clauses.
This unfortunately opens up a vast universe of paranoid possibilities, which the native media has overpopulated indiscriminately over the years with theories both reasonably plausible and utterly psychotic.
There is a line of speculation, for example, linking the takeover of Brasil Telecom by the state-owned pension funds and Telecom Italia — it was actually Citibank’s withdrawal of support for the management of the Opportunity Group that tipped the balance — to alleged lobbying by Dirceu in favor of the subsequent merger of BrT with Oi.
That merger certainly benefited the Jereissati political and business clan, the new controlling shareholders of “BrOI.”
The government defended its support for the merger by citing the desirability of creating a native telecom with the muscle to compete internationally with the global Schwarzeneggers like Telecom Italia, Telefónica (Spain), Portugal Telecom, and so on, just as the development bank, BNDES, has openly supported this sort of “nationalist internationalization” in other strategic sectors of the economy.
The idea being (a) to have it be your companies sending profits back to the motherland from distant corners of the earth rather than (b) watching the other guy sending his profits back home from your distant corner of the earth.
This justification is not absurd on the face of it. What about Lusophone Africa, for example? Will the Brazilian get cut out of the market by the Portuguese or will they fight for their slice?
Likewise, no one has objected too strongly to the nationalist internationalization of JBS Friboi, which bought the emblematic, historic American meatpacker Swift & Co. last year. Where’s the beef? In Brazil!
(Nostalgic memories of Vin Scully radio spots for Farmer John sausages between innings of Dodger games.)
(A notable gambit in opposition to the Brazilian invasion was the claim by Irish cattlemen that meat from the boi zebu (bos taurus indicus) was not the same as meat from those gringo kinds of cow (bos taurus taurus) and therefore could not be marketed as “beef.”
Virulent subspecies-based animal xenophobia!
My own taste tests have not been able to detect the difference, but then I am just some guy.)
But even habitual defenders of the government objected loudly to the BrOI deal, because it implied a settlement of lawsuits with the Opportunity Group of Daniel Dantas, which on top of getting let off the hook by Citibank received a billion of something or other ($? R$?) for two regional cellular companies it owned in the Northern and Amazon regions.
If I remember right, CADE, the Brazilian FTC, has yet to issue an antitrust ruling.
Speculation is it will impose competition-preserving conditions before issuing its nihil obstat. Or maybe it already has. I forget.
Dirceu has also been identified as a consultant to Mexican media mogul Carlos Slim — owner of Telmex, the worst, most expensive fixed-line service in the world, along with 17% of the New York Times! — who also partners with Globo to offer the NET triple play service (cable TV, broadband, VoIP).
Dirceu, as I understand it, neither confirms nor denies.
But the press — the Globo group, especially — does not tend to find that to be a pact with the devil at the crossroads at midnight.
On the other hand, wild accusations are circulated about the Internet portal iG — owned by BrOI and a competitor with Globo, Terra, and UOL for the Internet news market — and its editorial integrity, supposedly compromised by ties to the pension funds and to the “political persecutors” of Daniel Dantas, a former financial advisor to the DEM-PFL and a convicted briber of federal policemen.
In a word: a complicated situation, but I think that if you keep your eye on the two political clans involved — the Jereissatis (Tasso is a former senator for the PSDB) and the Bornhausens (Jorge, a Santa Catarina banker-lawyer, is a former senator for the DEM) — you could start to understand the dynamics of the situation in terms of the deteriorating PSDB-DEM political alliance.
To be answered in the fullness of time, therefore:
- Ze Dirceu: a Brazilian Jack Abramoff?
- Ze Dirceu: Technically innocent but bad PR for the PT?
- The PSDB-DEM alliance: headed for the dust heap of history?
- Orchestrated, ersatz moral-political outrage : Does anyone buy this nonsense anymore?
- Not too likely
- Solid evidence to the contrary
As to the “corruption scandals of equal weight” hypothesis, I always think back to that nice histogram produced by Congress em Foco (the Braziian The Hill) which showed the number of corruption charges faced by congressmembers, broken down by party.
Even with the mensalão indictments, the PT has very few and the DEM and PMDB have very, very many. The PSDB has not so many, but still maybe too much
In terms of charges per congressmenber, the DEM pulls away from the pack like Lance Armstrong on chemotherapy drugs.
I need to find that chart, it’s somewhere on the 250GB brick I am currently running Debian Lenny/Squeeze/Sid from a partition of.
Filed under: Advertising, Brazil, Business, Convergence, Infotainment, Media, Money Laundering, Organized Crime, Public Relations & Advertising, Public-Private Partnerships, Publishing, Regulation, Telcommunications