CORRUPTION IN BRAZIL: BUSINESS AS USUAL?!?
By: Michaell Lange,
London, 26/09/16 –
Just days before national local elections in Brazil, the political scenery couldn’t be more busyness as usual. Across Brazil countless candidates are either involved or being investigated for corruption and money laundering accusations. If the buying and selling of votes were a legal trade in Brazil, the stock exchange would break all records this week. From today, a frenzy will take over the streets in a last attempt to win voters that can decide the election results. It means that some people working informally for the candidates, will be going around with a lot of cash in their pockets as well as promises in order to guarantee every possible vote for their candidates. The campaign financiers, mostly bankers and big corporations connected to local governments, will spend whatever it takes to elect their candidates. The days before the elections are crucial. These are when money talks louder and people can change sides depending on the offers in hand. The price of each vote also rises following the market Law of supply and demand. Prices can vary depending on the size of the family and the number of voters in each family. Also, the social status, as well as the willingness to publicly show their support to their candidates, will dictate prices and benefits in exchange of their votes. For full support, the voters will have to use stickers on the windows of their cars and houses to clearly show a done deal, like a stamp to identify a product. These deals are usually negotiated with the father or the oldest family members in private meetings.
Anything becomes a commodity for exchange. Car fuel, bricks, water tanks, jobs, tyres, roof tiles, medical treatments, penalty charge cancelations, driving license, dentures etc. Everything are used to buyout votes. Every person over 16 years old is fair game.
In the past year or so, Brazilians were made to believe, with the help of the media, that the so called Mensalão and Petrolão, were the biggest corruption scandals in the history of Brazil. In fact, no scandal of corruption is bigger than the Brazilian election campaigns. However, it’s in no ones interest to have this one exposed. In no other period of the year, corruption activities are more intense than those during the election campaigns. It’s like a gigantic street market where vote is the only thing for sale. All sectors of society are involved in this game of corruption, including the private and governmental sectors. Big and small corporations, especially those with overpriced projects from the government, awarded by bribing officials, pay fat donations towards candidates which in return will award more contracts for the same companies on an endless cycle of corruption that uses public money to elect a group of carefully pre-selected candidates. It’s like play on black and red at roulette using someone else’s money. You just can’t lose it. The money “donated” by big business will then be used by candidates to pay for more overpriced leaflets, flags and all kind of campaign paraphernalia including votes. Any car without a candidate sticker will be targeted. Some people wait until the last minute to sell their votes for the biggest price possible. Every election the trustworthy of the Brazilian electronic ballot box is put in check for being unsecured and easy to be hacked. It’s seems convenient to blame the computer, but the real hacking actually happens before the election day, and it’s not done by the machine but by corrupted people willing to sell their votes.
In this extremely corrupted society, it’s very important to have friends at any level of the government. It facilitates things and make your life easier. The biggest your friendship and your loyalty to the candidates, the bigger your chances to be well rewarded. It can go from a job as a driver all the way to a cabinet position with your own staff and your own budget. It’s a corrupted rule that is followed from the bottom all the way to the federal government. It’s like an accepted Law from the black market of vote. Without being part of this corrupted game it’s almost impossible to be elected for any Brazilian public office. But there is hope!
Despite the appalling situation, there are honest candidates out there. They are few and far apart, but they are not difficult to spot. I personally know a couple of them and would certainly vote for them if I could. The reason I know they are genuine candidates is because I saw they grow up to become role models in their communities long before they even think to become politicians. They have promoted social projects for children’s development and to help the environment without ask nothing in return. They live a simple life and they can recognise the needs and issues within their communities. Moreover, they are natural altruists, promoting the good and well-being of the people around them voluntarily. The problem is; they might lost the elections by refusing to play the game, the dirty game of corrupt politics. Some of these role models even refuse to put their names forward fearing they might be seen like any other corrupted politician. Although I don’t blame them for refusing to be candidates, I certainly think our democracy lose out without these people being part of their local governments. These are the real candidates and it’s vital that the electorate can identify them and vote for them in the next local elections, which will be held in just a few days.
For all the Brazilian people who watched the despicable display of shameless politicians at the theatre of shame for the past year or so, these local elections are the biggest opportunity to say enough is enough! It’s vital that the Brazilian electorate send the right message to those politicians who think they are untouchable. It’s time to elect a new generation of people that have already done more for their communities than these professional politicians which only go out to meet the people during the electoral campaigns.
The fight against corruption starts at home. Brazilians must reject these century old corrupted system that has dictated the election results for so long. A vote isn’t a product for sale. It’s a social weapon of selfdefense and must be used wisely. A vote is a button to eject corrupted politicians out of the office and straight into prison. This culture of selling and buying votes must stop! It’s not only illegal and a crime, it’s a declaration of corruption made by both parts at the moment these deals are done. Any candidate offering to buy vote should be reported to the High Electoral Tribunal, (TSE).
In just a few days, Brazilians will have a huge opportunity to prove that all the protests were not in vain. Reject the “business as usual politics” will send the right message to Congress that Brazilians will no longer tolerate this kind of behaviour. If they fail, it will give the go ahead to corrupted politicians to continue their money laundering business as usual culture. The Brazilian people must say enough is enough. It will be their choices and it will be a choice for their future. It just cannot carry on like this!
Brazilian local elections will be held in October 2, 2016 in every city to elect Mayor and Aldermen.