LatinNews Daily - 10 December 2021

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BRAZIL: Bolsonaro makes contradictory claims on corruption

On 9 December, Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro said that his government is free from corruption, a claim made many times before although it contradicts both facts and comments made by the president himself a few days earlier. 


Bolsonaro’s anti-corruption discourse formed an important part of his election campaign in 2018 and helped attract voters disillusioned with traditional parties tarnished by corruption scandals. However, his words have often rung hollow: many of his family members and close allies are under investigation for corruption; he has joined forces with a political party led by a politician convicted for graft; and his government has been hit by suspicions of corruption, notably regarding the procurement of coronavirus (Covid-19) vaccines. With anti-corruption judge (and, still for some, hero) Sergio Moro expected to challenge Bolsonaro’s re-election bid next year, the president will struggle to reclaim the anti-corruption narrative that served him so well in the last election.

  • Bolsonaro spoke at an event held yesterday to present the government’s ‘Anti-Corruption Plan’, which has been developed by an inter-ministerial committee and aims to improve efforts at preventing, detecting, and punishing corruption. The comptroller-general’s office (CGU) said 153 actions will be taken by 2025 to this end, of which 60 will be completed this year. A number of bills were presented during the event, including one regulating lobbies and another promoting more transparency in the agendas of public officials. 
  • Saying that corruption scandals used to emerge every week in previous governments, Bolsonaro praised his cabinet. “We don’t have a single case of corruption in the high circles of government”, he said. Yet on 6 December, in response to a question from a supporter, Bolsonaro had said “I won’t say that there is no corruption in my government. Often we don’t know what is happening”.  
  • In a pre-recorded message shown yesterday, Mathias Cormann, the secretary-general of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), which Brazil wants to join, stressed that corruption prevents “the full exercise of public functions” and “weakens the values of democracy”

Looking Ahead: Bolsonaro, who faces criticism for eroding democracy as well as for his disputable record fighting corruption, is expected to evoke his government’s anti-corruption plan during his participation today at the Summit for Democracy, organised by US President Joe Biden.

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