The Olympics start next Friday. We trust that everything goes well, although there are many reasons to worry, from crime to infrastructure to even terrorism. Let’s hope that the accomplishments of the athletes, and nothing else, is the big story from Rio.
On the political front, Brazilians are watching one amazing telenovela. The latest is about Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, the former president of Brazil who is now a target of the investigation over bribery at Petrobras, the oil monopoly.
This is from The New York Times:
Lawyers for Mr. da Silva said in a statement that he was innocent of the obstruction charges, saying that he had “never interfered” in the Petrobras investigation.
The charges stem from testimony by Delcídio do Amaral, a former senator in the Workers’ Party who was arrested in November after he was heard in a secret recording describing an elaborate plan for Nestor Cerveró, a former Petrobras executive ensnared in the scandal, to flee Brazil on a private plane.
We will follow the events and see where the trial goes. In the short run, there are a couple of problems:
1) Lula, as he is known by supporters, was planning to run for president in 2018. Obviously, his plans will have to wait for the determination of this trial.
2) Brazil’s political system has been exposed as one gigantic case of crony capitalism.
3) All of this political bickering is making Brazilians even more cynical about their politicians. After all, it wasn’t long ago that Lula was the darling of most citizens, in part because of the economic boom that coincided with his two terms. Like President Clinton, President Lula had some rather amazing good timing when it came to economic growth.
Lula’s out of luck. He now faces real charges of corruption, as well as a public furious with the economic slowdown.