Corruption in Brazil
President Rousseff Strikes Back?

Brazilian police raided the home and office of lower house President Eduardo Cunha and other elected officials this morning, looking for evidence of corruption. Bloomberg:

The police searches came only hours before the lower house ethics committee voted to push ahead with a probe against Cunha on allegations he lied to Congress. Cunha has denied any wrongdoing and his press office declined to comment when called and e-mailed by Bloomberg.

The latest events may renew pressure for Cunha, Rousseff’s principal detractor, to step down. The presence of police in the residence of the lower house chief is an embarrassment for the country and his permanence in office an offense to the Nation, the Party of Socialism and Freedom said in a statement.

That corruption is widespread in Brazil is no secret, so it’s possible that Cunha isn’t a law-abiding man. But it’s difficult to ignore the whiff of politics here: Cunha started the impeachment proceedings against President Dilma Rousseff. Dilma is a notoriously ruthless politician, and however legitimate the investigation of Cunha and his allies could be, it may be meant to undermine the impeachment efforts. “Today’s development could be seen as an attempt to cower and contain [Cunha’s party] the PMDB, which holds the balance in the impeachment process,” analyst David Fleischer told Bloomberg.

In the end, whether Cunha or Dilma is more corrupt doesn’t much matter. The longer this fight goes on, the longer it will be until Brazil can pass necessary reforms and strengthen its crumbling economy.

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