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Brazilian Congress | Wash Hands Before Returning to Work

The Manguinhos Refinery Scheme

The Manguinhos Refinery Scheme

Item: Brazil’s Lower House Elects Speaker With History of Opposition to Administration

The W$J captures the political pragmatics neatly, but fails to capture the moral and cultural dimension of the vote.

It fails to note, for example, the alleged ties of the victorious candidate with allegedly unsavory dealings in the past.

Brazil passed a “clean slate” — ficha limpa — law in 2010 under which, among other things, candidates with criminal records can be prevented from taking or holding office. The response by named lawmakers varies — some step down immediately — but many are able to maintain their seats in the very long interim before their cases are decided (the case of a PSDB money laundering scheme has quietly languished now for ten years) .

Mr. Cunha and his rise are regarded by some less as a political victory than as an slap in the face to progressive tendencies in the Congress by the “conservative modernization” faction, supported in part by the “agrarian benches” — the latifúndio.

Political reform, including campaign finance laws, are also on the docket, reportedly on a fast track, for this quarter in the Congresso Nacional.

Again, the W$J captures the political pragmatics very neatly, but fails to capture the moral and cultural dimension of the vote.

It fails to note, for example, the alleged ties of the victorious candidate with Colombian drug kingpin Juan Carlos Ramírez Abadía, captured by São Paulo police who could no longer sustain their scheme of extorting him in order to leave him alone.

“If you want to wipe out drugs,” Abadia reportedly said at the time, “just put everyone in DENARC” — the narcotics division — in jail.

As I said, then, political reform, including campaign finance laws forbidding corporate donations — another among many good Brazilian ideas — are on the docket for this quarter in the Congresso Nacional.

According to the W$J:

BRASÍLIA—Brazil’s newly elected Congress was sworn in Sunday and gave a black eye to President Dilma Rousseff, electing a lawmaker largely seen as opposed to her administration for a key position in the legislative body.É conhecida sua posição em relação ao Marco Civil da Internet 7 8 , na qual ele defende a autonomia das empresas de telecomunicações no controle de fluxo dos usuários, acabando com a neutralidade da rede.9 41

Federal Deputy Eduardo Cunha, from the Brazilian Democratic Movement Party, or PMDB, was elected with 267 votes as the president (“speaker”) of the 513-member Chamber of Deputies for the next two years. He beat Arlindo Chinaglia, from Ms. RWSJousseff’s Workers’ Party, or PT.

Political observers [who?] say Mr.Cunha is likely to make it harder for Ms. Rousseff to push her new agenda of economic belt-tightening through Congress.

The position also holds sway over congressional probes likely to be created to investigate an embezzlement scandal stemming from Operation Car Wash and involving Brazil’s state-controlled energy company Petróleo Brasileiro S.A., or Petrobras. The case threatens to engulf Ms. Rousseff’s Workers’ Party, the PT.

The case, known as Operation Car Wash — after a money laundering front discovered during the investigtion — threatens to engulf the opposition parties as well.Ficha Suja

In the media, the relevant cases are simply set aside or minimized unless they reflect badly on the PT.

Mr. Cunha’s victory “makes it harder [for the government] to adopt certain measures. The cost of negotiation gets higher,” said political scientist Paulo Carlos Calmon, from the University of Brasília.

The speaker can dictate how fast bills get voted on, and determine how much space opposition lawmakers will have at commissions specially created to make investigations.

All that said, the government still holds a large majority in both houses, and Mr. Cunha’s PMDB is the party of Brazilian Vice President Michel Temer and a top ally of the PT.

II. Clean Slate, Blank Slate

Source: GGN

We live in chaotic times. One of the characteristics of the present day is the implosion of power, in politics as in the media, the major corporations and the trade unions.

The Internet has produced a thorough fragmentation of traditional forms of social order. But before this new order can emerge, it leaves behind it an institutithe following informationonalized chaos, the most representative of which is the election of Eduardo Cunha to preside over the lower house, with total support from the major news media.

To guarantee Cunha’s election, the major dailies and the TV and radio broadcasters failed to inform their audiences of the following information.

Making their way through the Supreme Court, there are at least 22 proceedings involving Eduardo Cunha as a named party, both as plaintiff and defendant.

Among these cases are three inquiries (Nos. 2123, 2984 e 3056) into potential crimes committed by Cunha when he was CEO of CEHAB-RJ — the Housing Corporation of Rio de Janeiro — in 1999 and 2000.

Cunha formed a partnership with federal legislator Francisco Silva (PRN) of the evangelical benches, in the Rádio Melodia radio station.

Politicians cannot own media companies. But they do. Cunha programmed Radio Melodia with content favorable to his political ally, Governor Garotinho of Rio.

The two were jointly accused of playing a part in the scandal of the forged invoices used to avoid the ICMS taxes on behalf of the Manguinhos refinery.

Case No. 2984 is looking into the use of forged documents that were inserted into a proceeding of the State Accounting Tribunal of Rio de Janeiro, in order to quash an investigation of Cunha. The former assistant prosecutor Elio Gitelman Fischberg, who took part in this fabrication, lost his post and was sentenced to four years in prison

The first investigation of Cunha took place in the context of the operations against P.C. Farias.* Cunha was the right-hand man of Farias in Telerj.

In 2000, a year after taking his seat as a state legislator in Rio de Janeiro, Cunha’s name arose in connection with tax irregularities.The federal tax authority detected a discrepancy between movements in Cunha’s accounts and his income tax statements.

Cunha was accused of ties to the black market currency trader Lúcio Funaro, investigated by the CPI of the Postal Service. According to a report in Época magazine, Funaro paid Cunha’s rent on a luxurious flat in Brasília.

In the same year, during which he served as vice-president of a parliamentary inquiry (CPI) into civil aviation, Cunha was accused by state deputy Cidinha Campos (PDT-RJ) of involvement with the Colombian drug trafficker Juan Carlos Ramírez Abadía. In a speech to the state assembly of Rio de Janeiro, he accused Cunha of selling a house in Angra dos Reis for US$ 800,000 and then, in short order, buying it back from Abadia for US$ 700 mil — a US$ 100,000 windfall.

Em 2011, Cunha was the target of an investigation by the federal Comptroller-General (CGU) which indicated that Furnas, a state-owned electricity company, covered up losses caused by the participation of Companhia Energética Serra da Carioca II (a company with ties to Cunha) in the partnership set up to build the Serra do Facão hydroelectric plant in Goiás. At the time, Furnas was controlled by various persons with ties to Cunha. The losses to Furnas were more than R$ 100 million.

The clean slate does not apply, as none of these cases have yet produced a criminal conviction in the special forum for congress members in the Supreme Court. In the mean time, Cunha will guide the vote on a significant — radical, even — political reform bill, as the Estadão reports today

Political Reform

Despite signs of reconciliation between the presidency and the president of the lower house of Congress, Eduardo Cunha (PMDB-RJ), the Workers Party (PT) quarreled with the PMDB on the very first day of floor votes.

Legislators from the PT and small left-wing parties said [on January 3] thatCunha wants to fast-track the political reform bill in order to avoid a prohibition on private donations to election campaigns, a constant demand of the PT [over the years].Cunha managed to pass a motion to remove the measure from the table, and a special commission on the topic will be formed in the coming days, the final step before coming to a floor vote.

According to the PT, PSOL and PC do B, Cunha and the other major parties want to inscribe in the Constitution a provision that corporations can donate to candidates.

The objective of this measure, it is said, is to avoid having the Supreme Court declare such funding unconstitutional.

In April, the court formed a majority in favor of prohibition — 6-5 — but the process was interrupted by a request for further study by justice Gilmar Mendes. This procedure has no time limit, and so lends itself well to delaying tactics.

Net Neutrality

Cunha is an anti-abortion evangelical.

Cunha is also known for his position on the Internet Civil Code: he defends the autonomy of telecoms companies in the control of their flow of users, doing away with net neutrality.