Friday, October 7, 2011

Brazil's Anti-Corruption Struggle

 Brazil won the right to host the 2014 FIFA World Cup tournament on 30 October 2007 as the only country that was left to enter a bid. On October 2, 2009 Rio de Janeiro was officially announced to host the Olympic Games 2016. These two upcoming world events put great pressure on the country not only to make it a success, but Rio has to put its very best foot forward, because it will be in the World's spotlight.
It means that among many other things all the favelas need to be cleansed or controlled and street violence needs to decrease seriously. For both issues you need the Police force to cooperate. Significant sectors of the Brazilian Police were actively involved in extortion and organized crime, which has increased dramatically over the last decade of the last century. At the time it would appear that overall the Brazilian police had become less efficient, more corrupt, more abusive and less controllable even than in the period of military rule (1964-1984). Since the beginning of the 21st century things did improve a little, however corruption is still widespread within the Police. Besides the Police, politicians are equally highly corrupt in Brazil. Almost every politician is for sale.

The difficulties of combating corruption in Brazil are compounded by the country’s high degree of decentralization, which provides local authorities (27 states and 5,651 municipalities) wide discretionary powers (You'll find the same phenomena in China). Therefore the recent implementation by the Federal government of anti-corruption initiatives is not very effective yet. Also corruption is often closely related to defined levels of development. Brazil became G20-member in 1999. So the great economic development of recent years in Brazil might help to eliminate corruption to some extent. Eliminating/combating successfully corruption takes at least several decades and is very difficult, while not combating it for even a few years can take you all the way back to square one.

Brazil - Corruption Perception Index and Rank 2001-2010 (TI)
If we look at the chart that is included here, we'll see Transparency International's Corruption Perception Index showing Brazil's ranking and score over the last decade regarding corruption in the public sector (not the private sector). We can see a small peek in 2008 and since 2008 corruption is slightly decreasing in Brazil. I would like to emphasize that corruption is very difficult to measure in a reliable way, because most of it remains below the surface. That's why Transparency International is only able to measure "perception". If we look at the table, we can see that Brazil is ranking 4th, which is not too bad. Remarkable is that this table shows that Chile is less corrupt than the U.S..

2010 Corruption Perception Index ranking
for South And Central America (TI)

It might be nice to illustrate here the kind of problems Dilma Rousseff is experiencing to combat corruption. Dilma Rousseff is Brazil's president since January 1st, 2011. She forced five ministers of her cabinet to step down, four because of corruption (cabinet chief Antonio Palocci; Transport minister Alfredo Nascimento; Agriculture minister Wagner Rossi and Tourism minister Pedro Novais). Roussef's cabinet is a coalition of 7 parties of which Roussef's Partido dos Trabalhadores is the largest. The other 6 coalition parties objected to Rousseff's strong anti-corruption policy, because they were all afraid to loose their "perquisites". So Rousseff had to promise not to fire anymore ministers to calm down the coalition partners.
Another illustrating story is about the favelas (populated by 2 million citizens) in Rio de Janeiro. A special program called "programa de pacificação" was introduced in 2009 to combat drug trade and violence in the favelas. 3,000 special police officers were stationed in the favelas in new police-outposts and received special training to make them "immune" for corruption. They also received a special bonus of 2,000 reaal monthly. Despite their special training and bonus, these police officers turned out to be equally corrupt as their colleagues. Heavily armed elite troops and fresh police recruits were sent in to combat the corrupt "immune" police officers. Never the less corruption still exists in the favelas. Most favelas are located downtown, closeby the richer neighborhoods. Police officers in the favelas are still being bribed by gang members to let them continue their criminal activities in these richer neighborhoods. However gang violence that takes place in the favelas has decreased considerably, thanks to 24x7 Police presence.
One more set back was the recent arrest of Police commander Cláudio Luiz Silva, suspected of the murder on 41 year old judge Patricia Acioli on August 12th this year. The judge was known to combat corrupt Policemen. Prior before her death she issued arrest warrants for Silva's men. Silva is accused of multiple murders and corruption. 

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