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Lula caught with his pants down

Last week, it was German chancellor Gerhard Schröder’s entanglement in the saucy scandals at Volkswagen.
This week, we turn our attention to Brazil, where corruption allegations threaten to engulf president Luiz Inacio
Lula da Silva. His
Workers Party (PT) is accused of paying bribes to
congressmen from other parties to keep them on side. Things really heated up
last month when Roberto Jefferson, who runs the smallish Brazilian Labour Party (PTB), began
“spilling
the beans” on a supposed 30,000 reais monthly “allowance” that he claims the PT has been doling out to secure votes, says The Economist. Corruption has long been par
for the course in Brazil politics, says Americo Martins
for BBC’s
Brazilian Service, but Brazilians believed that Lula would be different
when they voted for him in 2002. Their faith now seems misplaced.
Having
portrayed itself for so long as “owning a
monopoly on virtue in political life,” the PT’s fall from grace “has
been
spectacular,” says The Economist. And bizarre. Since stories of corruption started emerging in May,
four of the PT’s top members have resigned – although the allegations
haven’t yet been proved. The latest to go, PT national president José
Genoino, quit after his brother’s aide was discovered at São
Paulo’s domestic airport with US$100,000 stuffed down his
underpants.

For now, Lula remains
popular, and would be easily re-elected,
political scientist Ricardo Guedes tells the BBC. But there are
suggestions he won’t even stand for another term, says Andrew Buncombe
in The Independent (subscription). For Brazil’s left,
which had such high hopes for the Lula years, “the scandal is little short of
a catastrophe.”
Jane Nethercote
………………………………………………

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Peter Fray

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