By: Danielle Sheahan, Features Writer
Here in the United States, politics can get heated rather quickly and sometimes we forget that other countries have their own problems too. In Brazil, they have been struggling with political corruption and a high rate of organized crime for decades. They have been struggling with these issues for years, but ending them is a challenge as everything tends to piggyback off everything else. The political corruption enables organized crime and in turn, organized crime can create and influence a more corrupt government.
In 2014, what is now known as Operation Car Wash, Carwash Scandal, or just Car Wash, had started and was a common public topic. Originally, Operation Car Wash was solely a money-laundering investigation done by the Federal Police of Brazil, involving a state controlled oil company, Petrobras, and some construction firms. Little did the Federal Police of Brazil or Sérgio Moro, the Judge who ordered the investigation on March 17, 2014, know is that Operation Car Wash would still be going on today, but involving so much more drama.
Dilma Rousseff, a part of the Workers’ Party, was the 36th President of Brazil from January 2011 until she was impeached in August of 2016. She was the first female President of Brazil and had relatively high approval ratings until 2013 when violent public street protests started to pop up in Brazilian cities. These protests were a domino effect after the first public street protest that happened in São Paulo in June 2013. The protests were caused mostly by a middle class concerned about political corruption. While these protests started in 2013, It was noted by Diego Iraheta of the Huffington Post, that the largest anti-government demonstration in Brazil was on Sunday, March 13, 2016.
“Approximately 3.5 million people, according to police, took part in protests across more than 200 Brazilian cities.”
– Diego Iraheta, Huffington Post
It was obvious to the average Brazilian that something was off about their government, and they took advantage of their ability to protest to try to change their corrupt government. Rousseff was impeached in August of 2016 by Congress and was succeeded by her Vice President Michel Temer. Unfortunately, he did not bring any permanent changes to the corruption in the executive cabinet. Earlier this year, Operation Car Wash expanded to investigate more politicians for money laundering, accepting bribes, and much more. The Brazilian Supreme Court Justice, Teori Zavaski, had his hands full with the responsibility of overseeing Operation Car Wash because one third of Michel Temer’s cabinet is under investigation. It has not been an easy ride for Brazil because there seems to be an endless amount of loopholes for Brazilian politicians.
“Temer and members of his cabinet are exempt from questioning by federal judges.”
– Ciara Long, CBC News
Raising even more suspicion, Supreme Court Justice Teori Zavascki, died in an airplane crash on January 19, 2017, along with four other passengers.
All this information is just the tip of the iceberg, and if you believe that this does not affect you as a citizen of the United States, you are mistaken. Brazil has the sixth largest economy in the world, the eighth largest U.S. trading partner, and is the one of the largest democracies in the Western Hemisphere. If anything drastic happens to their country, it is bound to affect jobs, market prices of goods, or even the U.S. military. It should be important to S&T students to keep up to date with world politics because you never know what current events might affect you and how. Please ponder this information and think in terms of the relationship between you and the world around you.