The Dilma Rousseff impeachment controversy continues to rock Brazil as the newly installed President Michel Temer moves forward with what is viewed to be a Right-wing, economically liberal agenda that goes against the democratic outcome of the 2014 Election. Clearly, corruption from the Rousseff administration cannot be tolerated. Using corruption as an excuse to seize control of government in order to pursue policies, which favor the affluent and align with the expectations of Wall Street, is a form of corruption that has longed undermined Brazil’s economy and civil society while it is certain to invite even greater destabilizing civil unrest.
Corruption is a form of abuse by government. Consequently, it can be discussed and addressed by tackling all forms of abuse committed by government. The difficulty in dealing with abuse is that abusers tend to learn how to avoid punitive measures designed to discourage them from engaging in abusive behaviors. Politicians tend to be fairly well-liked by their peers, which is often the reason they are elected, and this favoritism shields them from outside criticism. With a solid base of support, politicians are able to abuse their positions to pursue their own interests often at the expense of the People, because their abuse does not threaten their power.
In other words, corruption occurs when public officials are confident they can get away with it. By empowering law enforcement to investigate and prosecute public officials, scrutiny compels abusive leaders to avoid being caught. When corrupt leaders believe they will be caught and “punished,” such measures prevent corruption and government abuse. Sadly, clever abusers know how to protect themselves. One, they try to make their corruption lawful. Two, they insulate themselves from the consequences of their corruption by establishing plausible deniability by deriving benefits from affiliates. Three, they corrupt anti-corruption measures.
In the case of Brazil, the Rousseff camp proclaims her innocence while denouncing her accusers. More likely than not, Rousseff is a victim of corrupt public officials who are abusing anti-corruption laws to seize power. Just as it is common in the US and Europe for public officials to crackdown on corruption of political rivals and not their own affiliates, however, it would appear those on the side of Rousseff expected investigators to favor the ruling party. It would also appear that the affiliates of Rousseff were to be sacrificed after the Petrobras scandal broke, yet Rousseff and her predecessor Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva were expected to remain unscathed.
Michel Temer’s forced political agenda will simply foster crippling public outrage while ensuring his successor will be elected to reverse his public policy changes. The simple truth is that Brazil cannot properly function with Left-wing or Right-wing corruption. Just as Brazil’s economy will continue to be hindered by inefficient government spending and public policies that foster social welfare over constructive economic policies, corruption will undercut the stability Brazil needs to thrive. Finally, civil unrest against both the Rousseff and Temer camps is what Brazil needs to force the transparency and accountability that discourages corruption.
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