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Demóstenes Torres | Numbers Are Up?


Senator Torres, of the DEM, or Democrats, is heard on 300 wiretaps conversing with a numbers racketeer and political power broker in his home state of Goiás, which surrounds the federal district of Brasilia.

The former governor of the federal district, also a DEMocrat, José Roberto Arruda, fell suddenly from grace for similar reasons.

I confess that I dislike the DEM, despite my general rule about opining on political matters — I do pay tax here, however.

No, it is more the distasteful sensation of hearing the discourse of my hometown neocons being machine-translated into Portuguese and blasted at full volume, night and day. What, I moved to another hemisphere for this? The  party is known for its McCarthyite rhetoric and gestures of extreme moral indignation, but leads the current governing party, the PT, by a margin of 6 to 1 in politicians relieved of office over corruption charges — and 12 to 1 when the PSDB-DEM slate in the last elections is factored in.

If hometown papers like the New York Times really wanted to present a picture of a deep-rooted and colorful cultural tradition here in Brazil, they would take this case on as an opportunity to explain Carlismo — the political machine of Bahia, run with an iron grip by Antônio Carlos Magalhães. This was a man of legendary brutality and stupidity who is nevertheless treated with a note of adulation in Larry Rohter’s obituary — sickening as it was.

And now, at any rate, another one bites the dust, in a story broken by Leandro Fortes of Carta Capital magazine which has managed to bubble up despite the general silence of the MSM on the topic.

Senator Torres is the focus of a political crisis brought about by the federal police operation dubbed Monte Carlo, which last month dismantled a scheme of corruption and money-laundering in the underworld of illicit slot machines.

The alleged kingpin of the scheme, Carlinhos “Waterfall,” is a personal friend of Torres and exchanged 300 telephone calls with him on a line tapped by the police.

Torres was said to have been of assistance to Mr. “Waterfall” in a bid to legalize illegal bingo pools and slot machines. The law was passed, but later, in 2007, was struck down by the Supreme Court, which recognized federal jurisdiction. These are the sort of Federal Societeers we see here in Sambodia, where sociopathy is sometimes confused with «freedom-loving».

The Senator admits to receiving a secure telephone, a stove and a refrigerator from “Charley Waterfall” as wedding gifts. The investigation shows that he also asked “Charlie” for BRL 3,000 to pay for an air taxi service.

Since Senators enjoy a right to “privileged forum” — they can only be investigated with the consent of the Supreme Court — all the case files having to do with Torres and other politicians were sent to the federal prosecutor general, Roberto Gurgel.

Gurgel may ask the Supreme Court for authorization to open an investigation specifically targeting the Senator. There is no deadline for doing so.

If the investigation is approved, the case will automatically be forwarded to one of the 11 justices, including Gilmar Mendes, should he not recuse himself.

The Senator’s defenders deny any and all irregularities, saying that they will move to reject the evidence, on the theory that Torres should never have been monitored without judicial oversight by the Supremes.

Mendes might be asked to recuse himself because his stepdaughter is a legislative aid to Torres.

Experts say the case could be framed in terms of the anti-nepotism law because the Supreme Court has banned the nomination of relatives to jobs in the same branch of government.

The Nassif Dossier

Meanwhile, journalist Luis Nassif has created a stir with allegations of illicit behavior by the editor in chief of Veja magazine, one of Brazil’s three leading national newsweeklies.

There is no holding back now: Operation Monte Carlos, an investigation into the activities of numbers racketeer Charlie Waterfall, has arrived at Veja magazine.

Nassif is known for a series of reports on anti-ethical and corrupt practices at Veja, some of which have been translated here.

Even before the «big monthly allowance» scandal, Veja correspondent Policarpo Júnior was acting in cahoots with Charlie Waterfall, referred to in the pages of Veja as a «gaming entrepreneur; illegal hidden camera videos were used against federal lawmakers from Rio de Janeiro and 200 phone calls were exchanged between Policarpo and Charlie.

At the time, the legality of a ban on gambling was subject to a constitutional challenge. In the final instance, the federal government’s ban on gambling was upheld.

Calls for the legalization of gambling is another area in which Brazilian neocon-equivalents resemble their American brethren.

The partnership between Policarpo Junior, Veja’s Brasília bureau chief, and racketeer Carlinhos Cachoeira goes much further back in time than the  200 telephone calls captured by the Fedral Police between 2008 and 2010. In the report headlined «Dirty Tricks on All Sides», published in March 2004, Edition 1,878, had the effect of creating a political climate that made it difficult to arrest Charlie W, as Rio’s 58 state lawmakers had demanded. The Rio state assembly had approved the final report of a parliamentary commission of inqury into Loterrj, the state lottery, but Veja’s story, based on conversations taped by CW’s accomplices between themselves and Andre Luiz, a federal deputy.

Veja’s story claims that CW was only subject to arrest because he was a victim of extortion, refusing to pay BRL4 million to hush the state commission — that was a victim, not a defendant, in other words.

The illegal wiretaps demonstrate decisively the criminal conspiracy between Veja and the numbers racketeer, CW.

After forming his association with CW,  Policarpo rose to Veja’s Brasília bureau chief, and more recently became a senior editor, nominated by publisher Eurípedes Alcântara. …

In the tapped phone calls, Policarpo informs Charlie Waterfall about articles published. The two men exchange information and praise one another.

The Senator’s blog: «I supported the Parliamentary Commission on corruption.»