Traveling to Venezuela from Chile means that, sometimes, I had to fly via Sao Paulo. Of all the possible routes, this was one that I have never particularly enjoyed.
It wasn’t the legendary chaos of Guarulhos Airport. Nor did it have anything to do with TAM, a fine airline. The reason for my dislike was that, until recently, the Sao Paulo-Caracas flight was always full of icky characters: chavista middlemen decked in their red shirts, accompanied by Brazilian con artists looking to make a buck.
The flight reeked with the stench of kickbacks.
And that is at the heart of the impeachment proceedings threatening to bring down the Workers’ Party. The whole system of patronage and intense corruption that built their electoral victories has damaged the entire continent. Finally, it seems, there will be some accountability.
Much in the international press like to point out that Dilma Rousseff has not personally benefitted from the graft. That might be true. It also misses the point entirely.
The unfolding scheme that involved Petrobras, Odebrecht, the Workers’ Party, and the PMDB was one where the awarding of government contracts was the excuse to illegally fund the ruling clique. It was a scheme that was exported, and happily replicated in countries such as ours.
Now, I understand that some of our readers have their hearts left of center. I understand that somebody like Lula arouses sympathies in all of us: the poor, uneducated kid who pulled himself up from the bootstraps, became a union leader, was elected President, won the World Cup, won the Olympics, and changed his nation.
But there is this other Lula, the one that meddled in other countries’ affairs. The one that said that Hugo Chávez was the best President Venezuela had in the last hundred years. The one that pushed for his beloved Odebrecht to win billions of dollars in untendered contracts. The one who imposed Brazilian strategists to get chavistas elected time and again. The one … who left us with this little video.
Petrobras was the piggy bank through which this pyramid got built, and during all that time, Rousseff was the chairwoman of the company. How could she not know that her company was funding the PT? How could she look away while billions of dollars in kickbacks were circulating all over the continent?
She didn’t. She had to have known all along, and if she did not, she was criminally negligent. While this may not be a legal reality, it is a political one, and that is why she must be impeached.
So whenever you find yourself doubting about the fairness of Rousseff’s impeachment, think of the Metro lines in Caracas that have not been built. Think of the millions upon millions of dollars in Brazil-related money lining the pockets of chavista bureaucrats.
Me? I think of the laughing executives flying first class in those TAM flights from Sao Paulo to Caracas. Rousseff and Lula imposed those guys on us, and now the chickens are coming home to roost. Good riddance.Caracas Chronicles is 100% reader-supported. Support independent Venezuelan journalism by making a donation.