Brazil car wash update, aka bye-bye, Lula
We've posted about corruption in Brazil for some time. They call it "Operation Car Wash" down in Brazil.
To say the least, a very big vehicle got washed a couple of days ago. Former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva was found guilty of corruption:
The case against Mr. da Silva, who raised Brazil's profile on the world stage as president from 2003 to 2010, stemmed from charges that he and his wife illegally received about $1.1 million in improvements and expenses from a construction company for a beachfront apartment.
In exchange, prosecutors said, the company was able to obtain lucrative contracts from Petrobras, the state-controlled oil giant.
His conviction tarnishes the legacy of one of Brazil's most commanding political figures, a charismatic leader who grew up poor, challenged the military dictatorship and nurtured global ambitions for his nation, helping to land the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Olympics.
"This goes far beyond himself and his political career, which is seriously damaged. It's Brazil's reputation," said Christopher Sabatini, executive director of Global Americans, a research group in New York. "He was a brand. Brand Brazil."
This is a huge victory for democracy and the rule of law in Brazil.
As my Brazilian friend told me on the phone, let's keep car-washing, because there are lots of dirty vehicles in our political class.
A few years ago, Lula was the face of Brazil. He took the country to new heights of popularity among investors. He was the man from the left who could get along with investors as well as labor leaders.
In the end, Lula was probably too good to be true. Or better put, he fell to the same crony capitalist system that made him wealthy and powerful.
To be fair, Lula is still challenging the conviction, but it looks as though his future is over.
Frankly, a Brazil without Lula, or the crony capitalism he stood for, is a good thing.
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