Labor Relations | Chico The Vigilante

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Source: CUT | Central Única dos Trabalhadores

Maintenance unions CNTV, Sindesv and Sindvig met this morning with the federal minister of labor, Manoel Dias, to debate and suggest measures that would regulate the hiring of watchmen during the FIFA Cup in Brazil. Estimates are that 50 thousands jobs will be created in this area during the Cup. Continue reading

Alstom Case | Information “Round-Filed” For Years

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Source: Jornal do Brasil

Federal lawmakers file suit against former attorney-general Rodrigo de Grandis. The parliamentarians demand an explanation for the postponement of a request for assistance from Swiss prosecutors.

The explanation given so far: The documents were filed in the wrong envelope and then lost and forgotten. I kid you not.

Workers Party legislators are due to file suit with the National Council of the Public Ministry (CNMP) this Friday against prosecutor Rodrigo De Grandis on the suspicion that he delayed acting on a request from Swiss authorities regarding the possible involvement of ranking Toucans — Social Democrats — in an international crime scheme. The collaborative effect was intended to examine the formation of a cartel involving Siemens and Alstom in contracts with the commuter railway, the Companhia Paulista de Trens Metropolitanos (CPTM).

The petition comes with the signature of the leader of the PT benches in the lower house, José Guimarães (CE), as well as deputies Ricardo Berzoini (SP) and Edson Santos (RJ). In the document, they ask for a true explanation of the violations of legal principles that a preliminary probe has already revealed. The document requests that if the charges are true, then de Grandis should be held responsible for a crime of omission in the investigation of the the CPTM cartel.

The PT deputies want more information on the fact that de Grandis [literally] buried the case. Deputy Renato Simões (PT-SP) says de Grandis failed to live up to his duties as a prosecutor, disrupting an investigation and refusing to collaborate with the Swiss, an action that needs a better explanation.

This weekend, information published in the press indicates that Rodrigo de Grandis ["round-filed"] the case starting in 2010 — and not just this case. He dragged his feet in eight more cases despite repeated requests for cooperation from the Swiss. The Swiss agency MOP discovered financial transactions by the consultantsArthur Teixeira, Sérgio Teixeira and José Amaro Pinto Ramos, all three suspected of brokering bribes, as well as the  ex-director of the CPTM, João Roberto Zaniboni, suspected of having gotten away with R$ 18.4 million from Alstom.

Folha de S. Paulo and its publisher Otavio Frias were uncharacteristically harsh in a case in which it, too, might be said to have swept a few facts under the rug:

A harsh editorial in the Frias family newspaper, calls the excuse that the file requesting the assistance of Swiss prosecutors looking into a case that involves bribery and the social democratic party.

“No investigation work has been done, then. And the reason given for this act of omission defies the credibility of even the most naive of us. They say they the request from the Swiss was misfiled. Or so says the prosecutor responsible for the case in Brazil, Rodrigo de Grandis,” the editorial says. “Let us not just leave it at that so that the Toucan train can roll on to its all too familiar destination: impunity.”

The Minister of Justice, Cardozo, says de Grandis failed to take action as ordered on several occasions.

Uma nota oficial do Ministério da Justiça, divulgada na noite de ontem, joga por terra a alegação do procurador Rodrigo de Grandis e do Ministério Público de que também teria havido falhas do governo federal na cooperação com autoridades suíças em relação ao caso Alstom, empresa que distribuiu propinas a personagens ligados ao PSDB para obter contratos milionários nos setores de transporte e energia em São Paulo. A equipe de José Eduardo Cardozo esclareceu ainda que o procurador Rodrigo de Grandis foi alertado em diversas oportunidades para tomar providências. Leia abaixo:

Brasília, 1º/11/2013 – Em relação à nota da Procuradoria-Geral da República, o Ministério da Justiça esclarece que não houve qualquer falha na tramitação dos pedidos de cooperação oriundos da Suíça referentes ao denominado Caso Alstom.

Os mencionados pedidos de cooperação foram encaminhados, desde março de 2010, à então Assessoria de Cooperação Internacional da Procuradoria Geral da República (atual Secretaria de Cooperação Internacional). Ressalta-se que este procedimento ocorre com todo e qualquer pedido recebido de países estrangeiros pelo Departamento de Recuperação de Ativos e Cooperação Jurídica (DRCI) e são direcionados à Procuradoria Geral da República para cumprimento.

Os únicos ofícios que foram encaminhados somente ao Procurador da República, Rodrigo de Grandis, foram seis reiterações dos pedidos iniciais, como forma de cobrar o andamento do pedido, procedimento adotado pelo Departamento.

Considerando este cenário, não procede a informação de que haveria tido falha no envio do pedido.

Jose Dirceu accused de Grandis of politicizing the case

News of an internal investigation of de Grandis is in th papers today: the Folha, the Estadão and Valor. “Rodrigo de Grandis did not comply with requests from Swiss authorities,” reads a subhed in the Folha. “Internal affairs wants to know why Rodrigo de Grandis did not comply with the request for assistance from the Swiss in the Alstom case, read a headline in the Estadão.

No episódio comprova-se mais uma vez a seletividade do Ministério Público nas investigações. E da cobertura da imprensa, que habitualmente dá pouquíssimo espaço ao caso – e nenhum, quando envolve o procurador De Grandis. Já a palavra dele próprio, entrevista, etc… – nada. Habitualmente exibido e falador quando é para atacar a honra alheia, ele agora se esconde da mídia.

Tampouco sua “distração” em relação ao pedido da Suíça, à investigação, motiva menções nos jornais a nomes de políticos e governadores tucanos em cujas administrações se formou o conluio em torno do cartel. Já quando os casos envolvem o PT o nome do partido e de seus integrantes vai para as manchetes, títulos, legendas, chamadas, textos – vai em tudo.

GGN | The Saga of Eike Batista

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Source: GGN.

It is official: OGX, the oil and gas division of the Eike Batista “X” group — EBX — has filed for bankruptcy.

In the aftermath, and in the background of the “rise and fall” narratives that proliferate  –  as Luis Nassif points out, is a metanarrative, a narration of the narrators as they narrate.

Today’s “Valor” has an article comparing the fall of industrialist Eike Batista with the flattering remarks about him by president Dilma Rousseff.

There are two moments in Eike’s life. At the pinnacle of his success, he was the foremost symbol of Brazlian entrepreneurship. After the fall from grace, he is treated as the bastard child of state capitalism. At the pinnacle, the object of the most perverse sort of cult of personality. After the fall, it is “Take the kid. He’s yours.”

The hypocrisy of the shapers of public image is just that. With success comes flattery and the hope of future partnerships. With failure, a merciless beating.

At the pinnacle, Eike was saluted by  Veja as an exemplary entrepreneur. Época magazine gave him an award. When the ship capsized, the same Época supplied a cover story saying that Eike was   a symbol of the failure of state capitalism, while  Jorge Paulo Lehmann symbolized the success of the market.  Lehmann had better not slip up, or else he will find himself subject to the same hypocrisy.

Continue reading

AES Eletropaulo and AES Tietê | Two of a Pair

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What a coincidence: Here I am reading an article on the business practices of AES Eletropaulo and boom! another transformer explosion like the one that ravaged the motherboard of my other machine — the one that runs on Linux.

Windows users, I cannot understand how you can bear it.

Source:  Brasil de Fato.

One of the practices engaged in by most electrical energy distributors in Brazil to increase profits is for different companies to negotiate buy-sell contracts among themselves.

This is the case with contract signed between distributor AES Eletropaulo and generator AES Tietê, both controled by the American AES Corporation. These are the so-called “billion-dollar’ contracts which, shamefully, have been autorized by ANEEL, the federal energy regulator. Continue reading

Wild Danger and the Rio Rackets

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A vintage roleta, used in the “animal game”

Source: Jornal O Globo.

Military police arrested in operation aimed at taking down a “nickel-hunter” gambling machine organization

RIO – A lieutenant-colonel of the Rio state military police (PM), along with other PMs, former PMs and prison guards are the targets of Operation Wild Danger, rolled out this Wednesday morning by GAECO — the  anti-organized crime division of the state judicial police — the state prosecutor and the military police.

As of 9:00 a.m. four PMs, four ex-PMs, two prison guards and six other subjects had been located. The 16 prisoners are accused of taking part in a security scheme for gambling racketeer Fernando Iggnácio. The investigation will execute 26 arrest warrants and 76 search warrants in an attempt to bring down a criminal conspiracy involved in the exploitation of “nickel-hunter” electronic slot machines.

See also

  • Eleven police are dismissed for involved with jogo do bicho (black-market lottery racket )
  • Convicted racketeers corrupted public agents and financed political campaigns.
  • Court orders the arrest of racketeers convicted in Operation Hurricane

The operation involves the participation of some 400 men from the MP and the PM, with the support of some 100 vehicles and two helicopters.

Four cars from the PM’s Shock Battalion were parked in from front of Iggnácio’s building, on Mendes de Moraes Avenue, right across from São Conrado beach, in the Southern Zone of Rio. A helicopter overflew the scene. Using pliers, pick-axes and sledgehammers, five PMs entered the deluxe building.

Among those arrested was a trooper from BOPE, the special ops battalion, another from BMPVE, another from the 18th Battalion and another from the 39th Military Police Battalion. An unknown quantity of products used by the gang was apprehended. The arrests and the material seized are being taken to PM headquarters in downtown Rio.

The men are being charged with formation of an armed faction and passive and active corruption. The defendants according to  accusations, were active in Bangu, Realengo, Marechal Hermes and Campo Grande, as well as other neighborhoods in the Western Zone of Rio. The accusation is that the gang used the premises of a company called Ivegê, located in Bangu  and belonging Iggnácio, as its  HQ.

In an interview with Radio CBN, prosecutor Décio Alonso, who is leading the investigation, said that the PMs, ex-PMs prison guards are the armed wing of a criminal organization headed by Iggnácio.

The name is new to me. I try to keep up with back stories of this kind. 

They provided security services to the company and its owner, whom Décio describes as  “the capo of the bicho (animals)  game”.

Illiterate bettors are able to choose pictures of animals in order to register their bet. 

- -They are considered the armed element of this criminal association. They were assigned to sensitive locations, such as warehouses the fortress in Bangu and provided security to the scheme’s collections operation,” the prosecutor said.

According to Décio, in cases of unpaid debts — if the person did not pay the agreed-on price for use of the machines — the policemen would apply coercion. The debtors were tied up and delivered to one of the enforcers:

– The debt was then renegotiated. Promissory notes were issued.

According to the prosecutor, the gang has no ties to the drug traffice or to militias.

Yes, although the “nickel-hunter” machine does form part of the militia business plan in general. 

Décio also stressed that the PM was taken part in the investigation of its own people.

– The PMs  are cutting into their own flesh, he said.

Beltrame on Police Corruption

In an interview from February, state public safety secretary José Beltrame comments on state judicial police officers caught doing business with the bicho

RIO – A detective and seven inspectors of the state legislative police (PC) involved in the gambling rackets were fired today by state public safety secretary  José Mariano Beltrame, as Ancelmo Gois of Globo had predicted on Sundary.

Another two inspectors will lose their pensions. They were arrested in 2007, during the federal police Operation Hurricane. Police agent  José Januário de Freitas, detective Rogério Delgado Carneiro and inspectors Marcos Antonio dos Santos Bretas, Cláudio Augusto Reis de Almeida, Miguel Laino, Luiz Henrique Rosetti Loureiro, Armando Jorge Varella de Almeida, Juarez Giffoni Higino and Alexandre Candido Pereira de Almeida will be dismissed from their posts.

Inspectors Paulo Roberto de Carvalho Moreira da Silva and Maurício Alves de Araújo will lose their pension. 

 The operation against top leadership of the gambling rackets seized computers and documents from LIESA, the League of Independent Samba Schoosl 

Bicho banker met with police at his home

Convicted racketeers corrupted public agents and financed political campaigns. 

At the time, PF agents found packets of cash supposedly used by Aniz Abraaão David, aka o Anísio, patron of the Beija-Flor samba society; Aílton Guimarães Jorge, aka Capitão Guimarães, and Antônio Petrus Kalil, the Big Turk to bribe policemen. 

O Globo – A expulsão resulta de um inquérito administrativo? De quanto tempo?

Beltrame – O inquérito foi aberto em 2007, logo após a Operação Furacão, da Polícia Federal. É um procedimento administrativo que tem regras, prazos, recursos e ao fim é julgado pela Corregedoria Geral Unificada. Demora porque a lei é assim, dá amplo poderes de defesa aos acusados. Mas o importante é concluir os procedimentos com lisura para que não sejam questionados, para que o Estado não seja obrigado a readmiti-los

O senhor acredita que essas expulsões possam inibir o envolvimento de policiais com o bicho?

Beltrame – Acho que, como exemplo, ajuda a mostrar que não estamos parados, que os processos não ficam mais na gaveta, como era a prática das corregedorias. Ou seja, se for provado o envolvimento, o policial já sabe que perderá a carteira de trabalho.
Recentemente, a Polícia Civil apreendeu documentos na Liesa que indicariam o envolvimento de oficiais com a segurança da liga. Como o senhor avalia esse fato? Serão expulsos também?

Beltrame – Como disse anteriormente, se for provado o envolvimento, vai responder a processo e pode ser expulso. Esta é a regra do jogo. Aliás, sempre foi, a diferença agora é que os processos não ficam presos em burocracia. Desde que chegamos aqui em 2007, a ordem é tocar. Creio que, pelo número expressivo de policiais expulsos ao longo destes últimos seis anos, a mensagem está mais do que clara. Não vamos fazer concessões com qualquer tipo de corrupção ou desvio de conduta.

Trensalão | Furthering the Plot

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IstoÉ magazine overreaches a bit in selecting a Watergate-themed headline for this week’s issue — All the Toucan Bribery Scheme’s Men. Even so, it continues to lead the way in breaking new aspects of the São Paulo cartel case. I translate because mostly because I found myself with time on my hands.

Source: IstoÉ | Viomundo .

Last week, the investigation by the antitrust authority CADE demonstrated that the formation of cartels in the commuter railway sector is a national phenomenon. This enormous swindle, investigators concluded, was repeated in various regions and was systematically manifest in São Paulo, with bid-rigging, price-fixing and subcontracting of auction losers.

The frauds, spanning the 20 years of the PSDB government of São Paulo, exhibit some peculiarities that differentiate them from  other schemes investigated by CADE, however.  The São Paulo scheme stands out for its pioneering nature (the scheme began operating in 1998, in the middle of the Covas administration), its duration, its dimensions and the sums involved — nearly half a billion reais drained away during the reign of the Toucans

More importantly, however, the S. Paulo Metrô scandal has detected the participation of public agents linked to the PSDB. In exchange for guarantees that enabled the swindle to continue and the profits of the cartel to increase.  Significant figures of the PSDB took bribes and greased the wheels of a bribery scheme that diverted public funds into poltical campaigns.

The magazine offers no conclusive details on who received what, if anything. Continue reading

Metrogate | “Marked Cards,” Says Folha

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Source: Folha de S.Paulo

An exchange of e-mails among Siemens executives indicate that companies had prior access to the plans of the CPTM for four auctions held by the state government in 2004 — during the second term of Geraldo Alckmin (PSDB) as governor.

A document in the possession of federal antitrust authorities to which the Folha had access show that even before the publication of the conditions for the auction, the companies were already discussing how to divide up the  Boa Viagem program, launched by Alckmin and designed to refurbish, renovate and modernize the trains.

On November 24, and titled “Acquisition Planned by CPTM in Brazil,” an e-mail sent by a Siemens exec detailed how the company wish to divide up the contracts among the major suppliers. The first public announcement of the auctions were not made until two days later.

“The various reforms should go to various suppliers. The main goal of the  CPTM is to assign the complete package to four major suppliers  (Alstom, Siemens, Bombardier and T’Trans). In our case, we can count on  Iesa and  MGE as subcontractors”, the e-mail, signed by executive Marcos Missawa, said.

[Link] The other side: State denies ever discussing project with contractors

Continue reading

PL39/13 | A Chip Off the FCPA

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No problem does more to alienate citizens from their political leaders and institutions,and to undermine political stability and economic development, than endemic corruption among the government, politica l party leaders, judges, and bureaucrats. — USAID Anti-Corruption Strategy

Source Valor Econômico | Portal ClippingMP.

Brazilian attorneys Leonardo Guimarães and Flávia Godinho compare recent anti-corruption legislation in Brazil with congeners in the U.S. and Britain.

Corruption indiscriminately affects citizens, public institutions and private organizations. Brazil as a whole is damaged when  corruption distorts the mechanism of the free markets — undermining fair competition, inspiring uncertainty among business owners, and driving away investors. For this reason,  combating corruption has been the subject of diverse international conventions, such as the Interamerican Anti-Corruption Convention organized by the OAS and signed in 1996; the OCDE Anti-Bribery Convention, from 1997; and the UN Anti-Corruption Convention, approved in 2005.

In response to the various international obligations it assumed, Brazil has passed laws designed to combat corruption, such as the Law of Administrative Impropriety and the “Clean Slate” Law.

Brazilian law still suffers from lacunae in its treatment of active corruption by a corporate entity, the only punishment for which is a restriction on the right to enter into contracts with the government.

Existing  mechanisms must be improved if the new law is not to be just another case of legislative inflation.

In the context of adapting our law according to international standards, we now have before us the PLA, the Anti-Corruption Bill (PL 39/13), which will regulate the civil and administrative responsibility of corporate entities for acts injurious to the public administration, both here and abroad. The law was approved in July 2007.

From the point of view of comparative jurisprudence,  PL 39/13 closely resembles the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA), an innovative piece of legislation from the U.S.,in force since 1977, which prohibits the bribing of foreign public officials by U.S. corporations. It bears some  resemblance as well with the  Bribery Act, passed in 2011, a British anti-corruption law.

FCPA: Notable Cases

Although you read that the FCPA is too little used, there are at least two very interesting cases of its application: the Wal-Mart Mexico debacle and the record-setting settlement with SIemens.

An April 2012 article in The New York Times reported that a former executive of Walmart de Mexico alleged in September 2005 that Walmart de Mexico had paid bribes to officials throughout Mexico in order to obtain construction permits, that Walmart investigators found credible evidence that Mexican and American laws had been broken, and that Walmart executives in the United States “hushed up” the allegations. According to an article in Bloomberg, Wal-Mart’s “probe of possible bribery in Mexico may prompt executive departures and steep U.S. government fines if it reveals senior managers knew about the payments and didn’t take strong enough action, corporate governance experts said.”[6] Eduardo Bohorquez, the director of Transparencia Mexicana, a “watchdog” group in Mexico, urged the Mexican government to investigate the allegations.[7] Wal-Mart and the US Chamber of Commerce had participated in a campaign to amend FCPA; according to proponents, the changes would clarify the law, while according to opponents, the changes would weaken the law.

Siemens, in the Brazilian public eye at the moment, figures in this story, too.

In 2008, Siemens AG paid a $450 million fine for violating the FCPA. This is one of the largest penalties ever collected by the DOJ for an FCPA case

The lede:

In a December 15, 2008 press release, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) revealed the details of a $450 million criminal fine payment made by Siemens AG, a German company, and three of its subsidiaries. The four pleaded guilty of violations related to the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FPCA). The three subsidiaries, Siemens S.A. – Argentina; Siemens Bangladesh Limited; and Siemens S.A. – Venezuela pleaded to one-count informations involving conspiracy to violate the anti-bribery and books and records provisions of the FCPA.

Taking One for the Team

Clarifying the line between “physical” and “legal” entities — my physical being and my purely notional translation business, say — is an important objective.

As in the examples just cited, the provisions of  PL 39/13 target the financier of the illegal act and not the receiver of the bribe. This is a completely novel approach with respect to the Brazilian legal system.

Within the spectrum of harmful acts that deserve to be repressed we find the defrauding of contract auctions and administrative contracts, as well as promising, offering or delivering, even if indirectly, an undue advantage to a public official or a third party related to that official.

In addition, it is forbidden to use an intermediary to hide or simulate the real interests or the identity of the beneficiaries of the act in question, or to hamper the work of agencies, institutions or public servants or intervene in their activity.

Administrative sanctions  – including the payment of a fine between 0.1% and 20% of gross income for the previous quarter — are applied independently of whether or not the guilt of a corporate entity is proven.

I read that paragraph carefully, and that is what it says. I suppose it means that if I cheat at poker in my official capacity as VP of Poker, my cheating reflects on my employer, since it was done in his name, even though without his knowledge.

There is a Brazilian legal concept called the domínio do fato that works in a similar manner. It came up frequently during the recent “payola” trial in the Supreme Court, where Zé Dirceu, for example, was not proven to have actively participated in the scheme but who was held responsible for reasons of domínio do fato.

Civil sanctions depend on proof of guilt or guilty intent, excepting the loss of assets and sums of money obtained by means of the infraction. It should be emphasized that the fate of the corporate entity does not let the physical person responsible off the hook — this person may be tried separately and/or simultaneously.

Also worth mentioning is the rule that provides benefits in the application of sentences for companies that adopt corruption prevention practices, such as “internal mechanisms and procedures to preserve integrity, audit carefully, and provide whistleblower incentives, as well as instilling effective ethical codes for the organization as a whole”.

This rule, one of the most beneficial provisions of the bill, stimulates the implementation or updating of “compliance” programs  – the Anglo-Saxon term means to act according to a rule. Compliance programs guarantee the adoption of conduct that conforms with the rules and polices, both internal and external, of the company, as well as fostering a transparent ethical atmosphere conductive to corporate best practices.

This is a major advance in our legislation, which will now take into account the procedures and internal policies of companies as a way of reducing punishments, as has become commonplace in countries like the U.S. and Great Britain.

Observe as well that where there is no regulatory framework to define the pillars of a compliance program, The American guide, A Resource Guide to the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (PDF), can be useful. It identifies the “hallmarks” of what are considered to be essential factors in a successful compliance effort.

A integridade e os princípios éticos devem estar presentes em todas as ações realizadas pela empresa, incluindo seu relacionamento com o setor público. A possibilidade de uma mudança de cultura a respeito do relacionamento entre o poder público e o particular, com a incorporação de um compromisso das empresas contra a corrupção, é, certamente, uma boa inovação trazida pelo projeto.

Embora o projeto de lei, de forma geral, represente um avanço no combate à corrupção, principalmente no que se refere ao incentivo da criação de mecanismos internos de controle nas empresas, deve-se ter em mente as vulnerabilidades processuais e investigativas do nosso sistema, cujas leis anticorrupção anteriores não conduziram aos avanços esperados. A melhor resposta que se possa dar à corrupção, antes da criação de mais um aparato formal, é o aprimoramento e a efetivação dos mecanismos já existentes, para que as novas leis não se transformem em mera inflação legislativa, sem qualquer efetividade.

Celso Schröder on Veja: Bordering on the Criminal

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Source: Viomundo | Sul21

Date: May 28, 2012

Subject: Interview with PENAJ president — reelected in 2013 –Celso Schröder

Background: Evidence that Veja magazine allowed a criminal suspect to use its cover story to attack its accusers, in exchange for political favors

Head: FENAJ Will Not Protect Criminal Journalists

Translation: C. Brayton

A CPI conducted by the National Congress that seeks to investigate the influence of numbers racketeer Carlinhos Cachoeira among public officials has awakened a debate as unexpected as it is necessary: The relation of media with the halls of power,  political  as well as  economic.

The Polícia Federal has identified nearly 200 phone calls between the director of the Veja agency in Brasilia, Policarpo Júnior, and the scheme mounted by the racketeer [Charlie Waterfall]. The publication of these wiretap transcripts show that Cachoeira [Waterfall] often had a determinative say what was covered by the Abril weekly, which allowed itself to be caught up in Cachoeira’s political intrigues with Senator Demóstenes Torres (ex-DEM).

Given these facts, some lawmakers have demanded that Policarpo be summoned to testify in the CPI, even though commission member Odair Cunha (PT-MG) had already rejected a demand for information on the incident.

In the view of Celso Schröder, president of National Federation of Journalists (Fenaj),  the magazine ought to explain what guided its coverage in this episode. “Veja must explain itself to the Brazilian reader. It has to explain how it exercises the role of journalism, given the shallowness of this coverage, its lack of commitment to and irresponsibility regarding the long-standing ethical and technical principles of the profession,” Schroder said.

In this interview with Sul21, Schröder assesses the conduct of the magazine in this and other episodes and defends the development of a regulatory framework for communications.

Sul21 – What can the CPI of do Cachoeira tell us about the Brazilian media?

Celso Schröder – The CPI is showing us that the media is an institution just like any other and must submit itself to public principles to the extent that its raw material — information — is public in nature.  The less public this institution is, the more beholden it becomes to the private interests of its leadership, the  less committed it is to the nature of good journalilsm.  Like any institution, the media is not beyond good and evil, or the precepts of the democratic rule of law and the public interest.  From a politial perspective, a Veja has confused the public with the private. From the journalistic point of view, it has committed an unforgiveable sin: It has established a promiscuous relationship between reporter and source.

It is not just the reporter, but the organization as  a whole and its leadership, who have opted to behave in a technically dubious and ethical unacceptable way.  Every journalist learns during the first week of classes that the source is a part of the story only to the extent that it is treated as a source. The source has his or her own interests, and rather than let these contaminate the information being supplied, the journalist should act as a critical filter. The source, at the same time, provides the reporting with credibility and contributes to the plurality of the story. If it is not filtered, however, it may also contaminate the content.

Sul21 – At what point did Policarpo Júnior and Cachoeira violate the boundaries between reporter and source?

Schroder – Policarpo did not treat Cachoeira as a source. The problem is when a journalist or news organization assigns someone the role of a single, exclusive source, negotiating directly with that source the content and dimensions of the article and, in the case of Veja, committing the magazine to an act driven by partisan politics [and organized crime.]

This is a sin that Veja has been committing for a long time now. The Brazilian opposition  is very fragile. Lacking a strong opposition, the press assumes this role, but in the process completely distorts its mission.  The press is not obliged to assume this role. Society does not view [the world] through partisan lenses, as Veja seems to believe.

But Veja has recently produced some of the most shameful moments in Brazilian journalism.  When an attempt was  made to sneak into the hotel room of former minister José Dirceu (PT) by a Veja reporter, I wrote an article saying that if Watergate was the high point of world journalism, Veja”s behavior was the exact opposite — an anti-Watergate.

Little did I know that we would soon see something even worse. This was not the individual act of a reporter who lacked critical judgment. It was the premeditated and systematic act of a news organization whose chief dispatched his reporter to perform an immoral act that comes dangerously close to being criminal.

Sul21 – Can the same be said of the episode involving Policarpo Júnior and Cachoeira?

Schröder – At the  moment, that story is still coming together. This is a magazine that risks losing the raw material of its existence: its credibility.  It strikes me as suicidal,  especially from the point of a view of a company in the news business — unless Veja is counting on other means of financing, or has already received subsidies from a mechanism not involving credibility and public relations.  We lack concrete facts about its financial condition, but all signs are that at this moment Veja is financially changing  course.  The moral compromise and unscrupulous alignment of the magazine with a particular worldview makes one think of Veja as a publication with its hand out in exchange for services rendered to the political establishment that finances it.

Sul21 – But the magazine has had periods of greater commitment to proper journalism. What changed?

Schroder – Veja has long given signs that it does not care about its journalistic reputation. Veja was fundamental to the redemocratization of Brazil. It was an example to emulate for journalists of various generations and was led by men like Mino Carta. After a certain time, however, the magazine began aligning itself with a particular social group. Obviously, the editors of the magazine have their own opinions and play a conservative role in society.  There was nothing wrong with that so long as it expressed its editorial policy clearly.  Now, it limits its informative journalism to a space of discussion with counterpoints.

I am wracking my brains to translate this last sentence. Perhaps the yellow pages interview provides an example: the interviews often come off as scripted and softballed …

Elementary rules of journalism have been abandoned by this magazine, which was once so important to the transition to democracy and the development of journalism. It has degenerated into a negative example whose failings need to be confronted.

Sul21 – How do you view the possibility of summoning Policarpo Júnior to testify before the CPI?

Schroder – I have seen proposals in that vein from some politicians, such as Senator Ana Amélia Lemos (PP-RS), who says investigating the role played by Policarpo in this incident represents an attack on the press. But journalists are not above the law and cannot be held to be above and beyond republican values.  If he is summoned by the CPI, he has the right not to attend. If he attends, he has the right to claim reporter-source confidentiality.  But the summons in iitself represents no threat.

Veja owes Brazil an explanation. It must explain how it goes about doing journalistic work based on these mere ideological inclinations, this lack of commitment  and irresponsibility with regard to longstanding technical and ethical rules of journalism.   It is essential that we ask these questions. Journalists and academics have an obligation to question these practices.

Sul21 – In this light, would  it not seem valid to summon the president of Abril, Roberto Civita?

Schroder – That seems to me to be a loss of focus … In the CPI, Veja is [only] one of the topics to be covered. The main problem is the corruption that ties Cachoeira to the Brazilian parliament. A statement by Civita would generate a debate that would shift the focus of the CPI awat from its essential tasks.  There is no doubt that Veja praticed poor journalism and should be made to explain itself. The CPI has wiretaps of magazine employees talking with the numbers racketeer.  So let them be summoned. But bringing the chief of Veja’s Brasilia branch in to answer questions is no trivial matter.

Sul21 – Criticisms of Veja tend to be answered with arguments that praise its own, supposedly investigative, journalism while firing back with various charges of corruption [against critics]. The Policarpo-Cachoeira tapes, however, reveal the workings of the machinery behind some of these [character assassination ] attacks.

Schroder – There is a certain sensation in the air that we are living through the most corrupt period in our history.  This is far from being true. Consider our history and see whether or not we have functioning democratic institutions.  The press plays a democratic role by providing oversight of corruption scandals. The problem is that in certain sectors, where these charges are formulated, an absolute value is attributed to the concept of corruption.  In the Veja case, the worst of all was that magazine itself was directly involved.  This was not just bad journalism.  There were dangerous signs of self-enrichment – which need not necessarily be financial in nature. It may come in the form of an exchange of favors, in which Veja furnished Cachoeira, not with a journalistic report, but rather the script of a political campaign.

[It acts as  though] it were the political party that its opposition cannot be. If the press engages in such practices, it returns to standards not seen since the XVIII Century. If this is so, let the magazine change its name and openly assume its political alignment and partisan coverage. These days, as it presents itself as a space for the sharing information, Veja should reflect on the complexity and diversity of the Brazilian public sector and civil society. If it refuses, it is undermining journalism and bordering on a illegality which will have to be investigated.  Fenaj will not protect criminal journalists.

Sul21  – The revelation of this modus operandi practiced at Veja is generating an almost unprecedented debate: More and more, the  media is debating the media. Carta Capital magazine has dedicate several front pages on the topic and Record has broadcast a report. This is common in other countries, but to date has not caught on in Brazil.

Schroder – In the 1980s, when Fenaj proposed a programmatic support for the democratization of communication, we began with the awareness that the democratization of Brazil had yet to catch up with the media.  The Brazilian media system, unlike other institutions, had not undergone democratization.  We have five articles in the Constitution on this topic that have never been implemented. For 30 years we have mounted various initiatives to attempt to structure this debate. The basic logic of regulation exists in every nation in the world.

In Brazil, however, we face resistance from a powerful media that succeeded in electing the first two post-democratization presidents.  Sarney and Collor are among the politicians who owe the Globo network so very much.  Globo allies, advocates and concessionaires have been elected to our congress, such as Antonio Carlos Magalhães, who doubled as Minister of Communications. The media is not just concentrated, in the sense of suffering from monopolies. It is completely bereft of public control.  It is completely convinced that freedom of expression is a right exclusive to media owners. If the Constitution says that freedom of expression belongs to the people, the role of the media is to ensure this right.

Sul21 – How mch progress have you made in this direction since then?

Schroder – We had spent 30 years debating this theme by the time Confecom (National Conference on Communication, December 2009) took place.  Fenaj has successfully implanted the idea that the debate needs to be a public one. The media refuses to report on the debate, however, calling it an attempt to impose censorship.  At first, Confecom had the support of the media companies. I went with representatives of RBS and Globo to speak with federal ministers Helio Costa (Communications),  Tarso Genro (Justice) and Luiz Dulci (presidencial secretary-general) with our proposal for the event.

The companies believed at the time that telephony was threatening their business models.  During Confecom, however, Globo and its many allies attempted once again to sabotage the debate.  Conservatism is in the DNA of Globo. Globo is accustomed to believe that there should be no rules regulating its business. It is accustomed to autocratically  imposing its views and is therefore existentially opposed to any regulation.

At that moment, when Globo walked out on Confecom, it was clear that it is impossible to count on these media owners to support any attempt to construct a public, humanistic, national  communications policy, guided by cultural, democratic and educational principles. All that interests them is the rapid growth of revenues.

Sul21 – The editorial in O Globo defending Veja: is this a sign of collusion among traditional media owners?

Schroder – The principle uniting the two publications is the same adopted by SIP — the Interamerican Press Association: “The best media law is no media law at all.”

Media companies aligned with the idea that they cannot be held legally accountable  do so to protect themselves. Dressed up in the mantle of a freedom of expression convenient to their interests and businesses, they band together to shut the public out.

But journalism is the fruit of a professional activity, not of a business. Journalism is not ad sales. Essentially, journalism is the work of journalists. For this reason, it is the journalist’s obligation to speak out every time the profession is marred by misconduct, as occurred with Veja. It should also be the obligation of media companies, to the extent that they themselves are not involved in this type of conduct.  When the media owner or his agent becomes the accomplice of their source and covers up these practices, they align themselves with criminality.  These companies compete for market share, but mutually protect  “what is considered essential” in their attempt to refute the idea that their work is subject to the public interest, like any other.

Globo | Suicide Bomber?

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Source: Brasilianas.Org.

By: Amaury Ribeiro Jr. and Rodrigo Lopes | Hoje em Dia

Translation: C. Brayton

Cases against Globo may resurface in the Congress

Facing death threats, a retired accountant promises to deliver to the Congress, in the next several days, the more than 10,000 original volumes of civil and criminal cases against the Globo network, which has been charged with tax evasion, money laundering and crimes against the financial system.

The documents disappeared from the offices of the tax authority on the eve of the second round in the 2006 national elections.

In response to the charges, Globo issued a press release with a detailed time line of the case from its point of view, professing ignorance: I translate, below. Continue reading

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