GIS Dossier: Brazil’s crisis

Protesters holding placards against officials implicated in Brazil’s corruption scandal
Sao Paulo, Aug. 2, 2017: Brazilians demonstrate as members of congress debate whether to press corruption charges against Michel Temer (source: dpa)
  • Brazil’s corruption crisis can be traced back to Latin America’s tradition of tolerance for graft
  • The administrations of former Presidents Dilma Rousseff and Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva were part of the problem
  • As the Brazilian economy contracted, the public’s anger at the elites’ flagrant graft reached boiling point
  • The country’s new leader scored initial successes as a reformer, but he is also seen as a tainted figure

In a dramatic marathon session on August 2, 2017, Brazil’s National Congress voted against putting President Michel Temer, who had ascended to the office only one year earlier, on trial for corruption. The lawmakers spared Brazil yet another cycle of impeachment of a tainted, deeply unpopular leader.

Most members of congress had apparently decided that four years into Brazil’s unprecedented crisis, the country could ill afford more political upheaval. Its economy, in particular, required reform and the uncharismatic Mr. Temer had proven surprisingly effective in instituting change. As shouting matches broke out on the floor of congress’ lower house, however, other lawmakers were tossing fake bills in the air, bitterly denouncing what they described as a culture of deep-seated, brazen corruption in Brazilian politics.

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