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Siemens | “Press Opens Eye”

Source: Observatório da Imprensa | Radio commentary

By: Luciano Martins Costa


Date: 07/30/13

Translation: C. Brayton

See also

The traditional Brazilian media, or part of it, at least,  surprised the attentive reader on July 30 when it began to pay some attention to the payment of bribes to influence competitive bidding on public transportation systems in São Paulo and Brasília. The newspapers have begun, discreetly, here and there, to touch upon issues peripheral to the main allegation, although they still avoid pointing directly to the evidence of an official scheme involving senior officials.

In its “Metrópole” section — buried deep in the paper, a long way from the political news section, which treats scandals much more thoroughly, the Estado de S.Paulo reports that the state prosecutor will ask German and Swiss judges for copies of documents obtained from executives of Siemens, which confesses to the payment of bribes to “public agents” of the S. Paulo government. Phrased with the delicacy of a papal homily, the paper describes “indicators of alleged payment of bribes,” adding that “prosecutors also suspect money laundering.” …

The existence of a Swiss bank account and testimony from Siemens execs describing bribes paid to directors of the CMTP and Metrô has been established by prosecutrs. What is needed now is to find the connection between these deposits and the continuity of the criminal scheme, which allegedly began during the Covas years  (1995-2001) and evolved during the governorships of Geraldo Alckmin (2001-2006) and José Serra (2007-2010).

During the election year 2006, I think it was, Serra was the target of a media campaign accusing him of involvement in a similar scheme having to do with the delivery of ambulances to rural townships.

The “evidence” against him was that he had been photographed, as Secretary of Health, at some ribbon-cutting ceremony, — looking weary, a a Gulfstream-trotting minister should — with a mastermind of the scheme.

The scandalization of the episode had some interesting sidebars — a surreal scene in which activists were arrested trying to buy the “dossier” — but was essentially bogus at birth, and possibly an example of political “friendly fire.”

Along with the signs that state prosecutors are taking the case seriously, the investigation is also being looked into by the federal prosecutor.

There is much more here than simply signs of a formation of a cartel, as the papers cautiously describe it. There are traces of a criminal scheme that endured for nearly 20 years during governorships of the PSDGB, a fact that renders irrelevant the declaration of the sitting governor, Geraldo Alckmin, to the Estado, that he is “the  person most interested in shining light on the case and reimbursing the public coffers.”

If over the course of two decades successive PSDB governors have not been capable of even suspecting the misconduct in question, they were either accomplices in the scheme or they were negligent. There is no term in the journalistic lexicon to disguise this fact.

Human Development

Another topic that may surprise the reader of the Tuesday papers is the coverage of IDHM — the Municipal Index of Human Development a study based on the Atlas of Human Development created by the UN in Brazil in 2013. The study shows that in the past twenty years, the quality of life in Brazilian townships has improved 47.5% on average, improving from “very low” to “high.”

In 1991, the Brazilian cities with populations living in poverty was 85.8% of the total. In 2010, this percentage had fallen to 0.6% of the municipalities. …

The greatest lack continues to be the quality of education, which is considered the principal hindrance to the improvement of other indicators, such as income, health and infant mortality in places where poverty persists. Even so, the study shows an increase of  128% in the Human Development Education Index in Brazilian cities … Thus, despite these advances, there is no doubt that this is the Achilles’ heel of contemporary Brazil.

Newspapers should treat these indicators with an approach they generally avoid when analyzing the economic scenario, for example.

Social indicators only make sense in the long run, when policy hits and misses can be observed. What was novel about Tuesday’s edition was that some columnists, who guarantee their space in the opinion making class denying the value of social policies resulting in income transfer, found themselves obliged to admit that something truly original is happening in the area of social inclusion.

It is interesting to see that the generation most benefited by the phenomenon is the same generation promoting massive protests that paralyze Brazilian cities.  It is necessary to realize that these protestors are ignorant about the Brazil that existed when they were born, or, if they are aware of it, are calling for more …