Lula da Silva and Jose Mujica: Two Corrupt Peas in a Socialist Pod
Brazil's Silva once considered himself untouchable, and schemed with other leftist leaders to control the region; now Latin American leftists are discovering that they can not escape the long arm of the law.
For a long time the former president of Brazil, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, seemed untouchable. While his closest collaborators were dropping like flies in corruption scandals, he remained unscathed. He even blatantly declared that he “knew nothing of the corruption around him,” despite being its biggest beneficiary.
At that time the Brazilians nicknamed him “Teflon” because no allegations against him, however well-founded, ever stuck. Between 2010 and 2012, the Federal Supreme Court twice unanimously rejected his inclusion in an investigation that involved a colossal scheme of corruption at the heart of his administration.
The situation took a turn for the worse when the Brazilian citizens demanded that justice run its course. One can’t forget the multitudinous demonstrations on the streets of Sao Paulo and Brazil, where Lula dolls appear, dressed in a prison uniform.
Lula reacted by proclaiming that he would “return to the front line of national politics” and that he would run for president in the next national elections. It was transparent: “You can only kill the bird if it stays still. If it keeps flying, it is more difficult. That’s why I flew again.”
Then his fellow citizens, some in derision and some in seriousness, circulated the following joke: “How is a chicken thief different from a corrupt politician or ruler?”
Answer: “When the chicken thief is taken prisoner, he declares that it was to feed his children who were hungry, while the politician appeals to partisanship, summons his militants, and declares himself the victim of political persecution.”
The drivers of double speak
Danilo Arbilla notes that this solution is only valid “when it comes to progressive politicians, and if the chicken thief is also, then it is a social problem generated by neoliberalism.” It is the escape route for the corrupt leftists and their accomplices, who distort the truth by portraying a judicial investigation of cases of corruption as a political maneuver, driven by Yankee imperialism.
The agents of Big Brother resort to double speak: “It is not that judges and prosecutors are looking for those who stole public resources to put them in jail; rather what they are looking for is to jail a political leader and eventual presidential candidate.”
It is not that justice is finally working as it should, but it is evidence of “political persecution” involving a “global strategy of attacks on the popular and progressive camp that aims to build a better future for all.” The promoters of the double speak draw from their rhetorical wells to prevent “that this form of institutional violence will put at risk the future of peace and democracy.”
They cite the figures that fit their discourse and conveniently hide those that contradict it. For example, before Lula was prevented from participating in the recent elections, they shouted that according to the polls he was the favorite. But they were silent when polls indicated that 87% of Brazilians wanted the future president “to be an honest man”, that 80% thought that Lula “knew everything” (about corruption in his administration), and that more than half thought he should not be a candidate.
One does not know if this tactic of discrediting justice and distorting things is merely due only to a “comradeship” among ex-leaders with a certainty ideological affinity. There is a lot of nervousness as leftist movements continue to lose power, and the potential for exposing scandals even greater than Odebrecht continues to increase. For example in Venezuela …
The warning for Pepe Mujica
What is happening with Lula, Cristina Kirchner, and Rafael Correa, should be a warning regarding the new state of regional public opinion and of the positive effect that prosecutors and judges are having.
But it would seem that to the Uruguayan president Pepe Mujica, arrogance is blinding him. It would seem that like Lula in the past, he considers himself “untouchable.” When it would be wise to be prudent, he is protecting his friends prosecuted for corruption.
In addition, Mujica’s ethic, his conception of the morally correct, is very questionable. In his speech, one glimpses the guerrilla who deemed the assaults committed by the Tupamaros to be “expropriations.”
At a national level, he has just garnered under his wing former Vice President Raúl Sendic, his “chicken.” He had to resign following a forceful ruling by the Political Conduct Court of his own party, the governing Frente Amplio (FA). The opinion indicated that the “general picture presented by the cited acts of Sendic leaves no doubt of an unacceptable fashion of proceeding in the use of public funds.” In addition, he was tried by the Justice Department for embezzlement and abuse of power. Other judicial investigations are still open.
However, Sendic aspires to be a senator in the next national elections. His party remains divided on his candidacy; some believe that it is inappropriate.
So Mujica participated in a Sendic campaign rally, being the main speaker. It was a powerful message of support for the ruling party and for anyone who wants to question their “chicken.”
There he also spoke about the Argentine situation. He shamelessly expressed that “I do not know how much basis there really is to accusations of corruption: I do not know, I can not say. What I have perfectly clear is that all that, if it were true, pales in comparison to the loss of value for the Argentine workers in the wake of this monetary crisis.”
He defend Lula by expressing that he is a subject of “political persecution.” But in the book “A black sheep takes power”, he narrates that Lula confessed that he had to involves himself with “many immoral things and blackmail” during his years as president of Brazil, since “that was the only way to govern.” Mujica added, that “the payoff is as old as time itself. Sometimes, that is the price you must pay to get great things done.”
Two peas in a pod
Lula and Mujica, while they governed, used the same strategy: the poor received economic relief via the distribution of public resources, but their governments did not create the conditions for them to get out of poverty.
The consequence of this “social” policy and the mismanagement of public resources – including corruption – was the economic crisis inherited by their successors and paid for by the taxpayers.
Merval Pereira points out that the Brazilian justice system took almost 10 years to achieve the necessary political conditions to be able to prosecute Lula. Now it is known that the Mensalão and Petrobras episodes are part of the same corruption scheme, whose main objective was the perpetuation of PT in power. There are even suspicions that they could have committed crimes before they came to power.
In Uruguay, the justice system still does not dare to investigate in depth the denunciations on possible shady businesses that, under the umbrella of Hugo Chávez and Mujica, members of the MPP were involved, which later contributed to finance their past electoral campaign. Likewise, there are complaints from ex-tupamaros, arguing that before winning election to Congress, they were financed by means of criminal activity.
Perhaps, their motivation is hoping to cement the project of the Forum of San Pablo in our continent.
Mujica says that during a “night of drinks”, Lula recommended that after leaving the presidency he assume the role of leader in Latin America. “He does not want to take the reigns of the region because he is Brazilian. Brazil will always be accused of being an imperialist. That’s why he asked me. Nobody is going to distrust a Uruguayan, not yet at least.”
Mujica believes, like Lula at the time, that his charisma is an effective shield that protects him. However, it would not be surprising if, at any moment, the tsunami reaches him too…