The nice thing about writing this one for WaPo is that, for once, I was able to break free from the tyranny of “allegedly.” Journos will know what I mean: way too often, you’re stuck with that ugly qualifier. You may know in your heart of hearts that the basterd you’re writing about is a total steaming pile of guilt, but until a court of law has says so, the lawyers will force you into conjugating the story in a key of “allegedly”, just to cover their back.
With Odebrecht, it doesn’t go like that: they admit it. They admit it all. In lurid detail. Their seventy-seven top executives signed their seventy-seven names to to a multibillion-dollar deal that spares no detail about the industrial-scale corruption machine they ran. They own it all!
So for once you can set aside the ‘allegedly’s and just say it: Odebrecht bribed Venezuelan officials to the tune of $98 million. That’s a fact. And nobody in Venezuela is getting in trouble for it.
As a Venezuelan, though, I almost envy the Brazilians. At least they’re expressing a suitable sense of indignation over the whole mess. My home country received the second-largest quantity of bribes paid out by Odebrecht: nearly $100 million to obtain contracts for projects that were mostly never finished. While the revelations have continued rocking the Brazilian political establishment to its core, sending top politicians to jail and ending a slew of high-flying careers, in Venezuela there’s been nary a response.
Our job is to kick and scream against the normalization of this shit until kingdom come. It’s not normal, and the moment you roll your eyes and say “tell me something I don’t know”, the bad guys win.