THE LESSONS OF THE “MENSALÃO” TRIAL IN BRAZIL
Fernando Alcoforado *
The outcome of the trial which condemned all those involved in the "mensalão" process
of political corruption whose sentence will start today (15/11/2013) based on the
decision of the Supreme Court is a historic decision for Brazil because denuded the ills
of Brazilian politics in the contemporary era while also allowing the Brazilian people
realize that it is imperative to make not only a profound political reform , but the reform
of the State and Public Administration in Brazil so there is no repetition of facts such as
those unfortunate object of this process. Role in this historic decision of the Supreme
Court was met by its chairman and rapporteur of the "mensalão", Minister Joaquim
Barbosa. The Brazilian nation owes much to Joaquim Barbosa for the outcome of the
process of “mensalão”.
To lay bare the ills of Brazilian politics, the process of "mensalão" made it clear that
there was a scheme to buy political support of parliamentarians by the federal
government. The Supreme Court decision that puts the chain leading figures of the PTWorkers Party and allied parties, group that a decade governs Brazil, shows that the
holders of political power in Brazil does not deserve the trust of the nation. The PT,
which the government is putting in place economic policies diametrically opposed to
what stood before assuming power in 2002, ceased to be a party also advocate for ethics
in politics to have several of its leaders convicted of corrupt practices and training gang.
In other words, the PT betrayed the historic compromise he had taken in the past.
Another lesson to be extracted from the process of "mensalão" is the fact that, when
deciding whether to arrest José Dirceu, José Genoíno, Marcos Valerio and Delúbio
Soares, among others, the Supreme Court shows that , in Brazil, there isn´t no more
certainty of impunity.
When analyzing the case of the "mensalão" still on trial in the Supreme Court with the
so-called embargoes infringing, most people attribute this fact to misconduct policy
ethically that result from human greed for money and power that if they are properly
punished those responsible, that shall not be repeated. However, the punishment of the
responsibles by "mensalão" crime by the Supreme Court is not sufficient to prevent
recurrence. New " mensalões " may occur in the future in a less ostentatious as occurred
in 2003 and no whistleblowers as Roberto Jefferson because the main cause of the
"mensalão" refers to the need of holding the Executive to constitute the necessary
majority in Parliament in order to get governance, ie avoiding the paralysis of
government action if the central government does not get a parliamentary majority
seeking the approval of projects of interest. As long as the current Constitution, there is
great possibility of new "mensalões".
Importantly, the imperative of the parliamentary majority in Brazil resulted largely from
the Constitution instituted in 1988 because his whole conception was based on the
parliamentary model in which power is exercised jointly by the Executive and by
Congress. The political system in Brazil is a mixed presidential and parliamentary, in
which the president needs a parliamentary majority to govern. The ""mensalão"
appeared before the Lula government's need to obtain a parliamentary majority seeking
the approval of projects of government interest in Congress.
In politically advanced countries, the Executive obtains a majority in parliament
through agreements ideologically grounded. In Brazil, the case of "mensalão" shows
that Lula tried to form a parliamentary majority seeking approval for their projects in
Congress to buy votes for parliamentary parties linked to physiological as the PMDB,
PL, PTB, etc. using fraudulently, public resources, in the same way also conducted an
outright purchase of votes of the "bottom" in the social scale with the
institutionalization of the “Bolsa Família” program to reach the electoral support of the
poor in Brazil, under the pretext to develop social programs to support the poor.
Both actions, parliamentary and social make up part of the strategy of maintaining the
power of the PT in Brazil. In the context of this strategy were implemented over two
actions: one, to provide facilities "to the top" in the social scale, especially in the
financial system that has achieved the highest profits in the history of Brazil, and
another, paralysis of social movements in their claims against the government and the
ruling classes with the offer of benefits offered by the Lula government to union leaders
parties and ideological support that control the unions. The ruling classes have nothing
to complain of the Lula government nor the union movement stagnated in the past 10
years. Only recently, during the government Dilma Rousseff is that the movements
demanding left the lethargy in which they were in default of their leaders.
Not only the "mensalão" is the result of a poorly made constitution as 1988. There are
other anomalies as that determines the choice of the members of the Judiciary is made
by the President, many of which are chosen without the necessary legal knowledge as is
the case of Ricardo Lewandowsky and Dias Toffoli who are on the Supreme Court
thanks to their past links with the former president Lula. Although most members of the
Supreme Court have been appointed by former President Lula, most of them are having
behavior authentic magistrate, except for the two mentioned above who have tried at all
costs to avoid the condemnation of the mentors of "mensalão".
All these facts show that Machiavelli was right when he said in 1513 that the most
ambition of politician is the conquest, maintaining and expanding power. This is the
case of Lula and the PT. To achieve and maintain this power no matter the means. The
political world in Brazil is being ruled by acts, adjustments and unorthodox
arrangements, that has its own rules, not following the logic of Ethics governing the
moral conduct of people in general as well epitomizes the "mensalão". In general, the
ethical politician is in the midst of people ambitious, corrupt, violent and insolent. If he
does not behave "realistically", loses its power.
Representative democracy in Brazil shows clear signs of exhaustion not only by
corruption scandals in the powers of the Republic, but especially to discourage popular
participation, reducing political activity to electoral processes that recur periodically in
which the people elect their representatives in which, with few exceptions, after the
elections come to defend the interests of economic groups in opposition to the interests
of those who elected them. In practice, everything works as if the people offered every
leader of every parliamentary and executive power a blank check to do what they want
after they occupy their elected positions.
The facts of the reality show that is the need to put a stop to the escalation of corruption
in Brazil with the mobilization of civil society with a view to convening a Constituent
Assembly in order to conduct a thorough Reform Political, and Reform of the State and
Public Management in Brazil. The Constituent Assembly wouldn´t be composed of the
current members of Congress. Its members would be elected by the people with the sole
mission to accelerate reform in the Constitution now being implemented in Brazil in the
1-year horizon. Without reform of the Constitution in the terms proposed above, Brazil
will continue to be the stage of the ethical and political debacle which led to the
Alcoforado, Fernando, engineer and doctor of Territorial Planning and Regional Development from the
University of Barcelona, a university professor and consultant in strategic planning, business planning,
regional planning and planning of energy systems, is the author of Globalização (Editora Nobel, São
Paulo, 1997), De Collor a FHC- O Brasil e a Nova (Des)ordem Mundial (Editora Nobel, São Paulo,
1998), Um Projeto para o Brasil (Editora Nobel, São Paulo, 2000), Os condicionantes do
desenvolvimento do Estado da Bahia (Tese de doutorado. Universidade de Barcelona,
http://www.tesisenred.net/handle/10803/1944, 2003), Globalização e Desenvolvimento (Editora Nobel,
São Paulo, 2006), Bahia- Desenvolvimento do Século XVI ao Século XX e Objetivos Estratégicos na Era
Contemporânea (EGBA, Salvador, 2008), The Necessary Conditions of the Economic and Social
Development-The Case of the State of Bahia (VDM Verlag Dr. Muller Aktiengesellschaft & Co. KG,
Saarbrücken, Germany, 2010), Aquecimento Global e Catástrofe Planetária (P&A Gráfica e Editora,
Salvador, 2010), Amazônia Sustentável- Para o progresso do Brasil e combate ao aquecimento global
(Viena- Editora e Gráfica, Santa Cruz do Rio Pardo, São Paulo, 2011) and Os Fatores Condicionantes do
Desenvolvimento Econômico e Social (Editora CRV, Curitiba, 2012), among others.