Jose Dirceu guilty in Brazil corruption trial

Lula’s former chief of staff and all-round superlative backroom operator Jose Dirceu has been found guilty of corruption for his involvement in the mensalão scandal. This matters because even though Dirceu fell from grace and saw his own presidential ambitions dashed when the scheme for buying legislative support for the Lula agenda was uncovered, Dirceu remained one of the most important movers and shakers not only in Brazil, but also in Latin America. Depending on the prison sentence length — if one is imposed and appeals don’t negate the whole trial process — it could more or less permanently push Dirceu from the scene. An interesting historical question will be the extent to which this causes people to reexamine Lula’s relationship to corruption during his presidency. At the moment he has a Reaganesque teflon shield that prevents the asking of awkward questions despite some questionable associations for the ex-president. While it is unlikely that anyone will suggest Lula lined his own pockets, people may start to ask how much he knew about what was going on, and if he didn’t, why not.

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Filed under Brazil, Corruption, News brief

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