Every political junkie on the planet has to be glued to the ongoing Brazilian House of Cards, consistently offering an unparalleled feast of cheap thrills.
The latest cliffhanger was the leak of a conversation between one of the key operators involved in the oil giant Petrobras corruption scandal and a senator and short-lived Minister of Planning in the usurper interim government currently replacing President Dilma Rousseff while she is undergoing an impeachment trial by the Senate.
Call the leak a short autopsy of what from the beginning should have been defined as golpeachment; a mix of coup (“golpe”, in Portuguese) and impeachment, which took place in a one/two sequential vote in the Brazilian Congress and Senate, as a notorious congregation of crooks investigated for myriad offenses and crimes seized power in Brasilia in a full-fledged Buffon’s Opera. I call their scam Provisional Banana Scoundrel Republic (PBSR).
Meet the interim Walking Dead
The leak/autopsy duly unveiled how the PBSR cancer progressed. One of the key plotters outlines the coup; stresses how it should protect Brazilian plutocracy/kleptocracy from unintended consequences of the ongoing, two-year-old Car Wash corruption investigation; and how the Left – from President Rousseff to Lula and the Workers’ Party – should be criminalized for good.
The rest would be history, including the demolition of recently acquired social and workers’ rights via the imposition of a neoliberal restoration; total reversion in foreign policy, with geopolitical and geoeconomic relations back to a colonized mindset; and the reestablishment of a conservative, neoliberal, rentier hegemonic class lording over a socially-oriented, democratic society.
That fits in with the current Brazilian Congress and Senate dominated by “BBB” interests. “BBB” stands for Beef (the powerful agribusiness lobby); Bullet (the weapons and private security complex); and Bible (evangelical fanatics), all supported by corporate media. Many of these unsavory characters are connected and/or represent the toxic Brazilian rural aristocracy – which are in fact heirs to nobility titles handed over to slave owners.
It was going all so swell after only a few days – even with the former head of the lower house, notorious crook Eduardo Cunha, temporarily sidelined; Cunha – the ringleader of a campaign financing scam inside Congress – de facto had become the Prime Minister of the puppet former Vice-President and current, interim President Michel Temer.
Temer The Usurper – who might actually become Temer the Brief – has been under siege since he took power. His unpopularity index is reaching reverse Kim Jong-Un levels, standing at almost 99%. The overwhelming majority of Brazilians want him impeached. He’s mentioned in several corruption scandals while serially nominating ministers mired in corruption scandals themselves.
The problem is the PBSR cabal simply can’t afford to let him go – and let power slip away. The Dialogue of the Crooks leak conclusively proved that the Car Wash investigation was instrumentalized to criminalize the Workers’ Party and bring down Rousseff while the golpeachment scam advanced in parallel, making sure certain key political forces would not be caught in the Car Wash web.
The Dialogue of the Crooks took place over two months ago — and at least three weeks before the golpeachment farce reached its apex in a ghastly voting session in the lower house. Which lead us to a key question; why the attorney general and the provincial judge in charge of the Car Wash investigation did not previously reveal its contents, and why did they not take immediate action? If the Dialogue of the Crooks was revealed already in March, golpeachment could not possibly have taken place.
The fact that there was no leak two months ago raises all serious eyebrows. The senator featured in the Dialogue of the Crooks is a notorious node in a historical corruption link inside oil giant Petrobras since the Cardoso administrations in the 1990s. He happened to have been ensconced in the political leadership of all Brazilian administrations for the past 22 years. This means he was always the go-to Crook-in-Chief for his political party, the PMDB.
Yet nothing gets as serious as the admission that the hidden agenda of golpeachment has always been to ditch all corruption probes as part of a broader agreement involving selected Supreme Court judges. If this was not the Brazilian House of Cards, the whole golpeachment scam should have been declared null and void by now. Yet, as I have been stressing from the get-go, this is a sophisticated, Hybrid War-style, judicial-political-financial-media coup. And it will be very hard to unravel it.
The logic of perpetual scandal
So future historians already have their story line – furnished by the Dialogue of the Crooks; the 2016 golpeachment was a scam concocted by a bunch of political scoundrels willing to do anything to stay out of jail.
Temer the Brief, a lowly puppet, is now under siege. His two manipulators – the former leader of the lower house and his short-lived Minister of Planning – are now forced to be in the shade. Practically, that means approving deeply unpopular economic policies in Congress will be much harder.
Temer The Brief’s is a certified illegitimate reign. Not even privileged actors – the Goddess of the Market, assorted businessmen, even some mainstream media sectors – are buying the farce. Meanwhile, the Brazilian street won’t be quiet; that’s Rousseff’s and the Workers’ Party’s strategy (although that 's not enough).
So what next? The only way Rousseff would be reinstated is if she and the party could concoct a credible narrative of the priorities for the country up to the 2018 presidential elections. That implies a lot of back room political negotiation – and Rousseff is really lousy at it.
What has been aptly described as a presidential condominium — the new normal in Brazil – envelops conflicting agendas with no consensus in sight. So one should expect the nation to be mired, for a long time, in the logic of perpetual scandal.
The key variable from now on is how the PBSR gang will maneuver – possibly illegally — to cling to power. The Public Ministry and the Federal police are totally politicized. Increasingly there are no mediation powers. The PBSR gang will take no prisoners. The Public Ministry will go after Lula while the attorney general will try to block any chance of Rousseff being reinstated.
Meanwhile, the social democrats turned neoliberal enforcers – key associates of the PBSR — will keep advancing their own agenda; hardcore privatizations; handing over the exploration of the pre-salt oil deposits to US Big Oil; and dutifully prostrating as Washington vassals. One just needs to examine the extreme interest by the US Department of Justice on all things related to the Car Wash investigation to infer how Washington is deeply involved in smashing leading Brazilian corporations.
And what about the BRICS?
Brazil is now globally isolated. Vulture fund-friendly Argentina President Mauricio Macri has been the only leader to recognize the illegal PBSR government. The PBSR worships Macri as if he was Beyonce; they absolutely love his role of Slasher of a socially inclusive cycle of governments in Argentina.
Washington has not had the balls to do it directly – relying on minions such as the State Department spokesman and the interim ambassador to the OAS. But the message is unmistakable; golpeachment is legal, and Washington trusts Brazilian “democratic institutions”. Compare it to the Russian Foreign Ministry, which alerted to “foreign interference” in Brazilian affairs.
The new Brazilian Foreign Minister – a sore loser (twice) in presidential elections won by the Workers’ Party – took no time to launch his glorious Vassal of Washington/US Big Capital policy. He already issued a veiled “threat” to Cuba, Venezuela, Nicaragua, Bolivia, Ecuador and El Salvador. Mercosur will be sidelined to the benefit of the Pacific Alliance – where Mexico, Peru and Colombia are under Washington’s wings. Unasur will be ditched.
And then there’s the stale ice cream in the scoundrel’s tart; the “B” in BRICS is now dormant. This means the role of Brazil in the BRICS bank will be seriously compromised. Granted, the BRICS were never a homogenous group and have been riddled with conflicting interests. For instance, India’s nuclear-sharing agreement with the US effectively ties it up with Washington. The next BRICS summit is in India, in October. Brazil risks the ignominy of being represented by the PBSR gang.
Meanwhile, make no mistake; as much as the Car Wash investigation was revealed to be a totally politicized drive – where fighting corruption was just a convenient cover – the PBSR gang and their allies will do everything to get rid of the 2018 direct presidential elections.
So here’s the sorry Brazilian road map up to 2018; total political, economic, social and juridical chaos.