Why Is Political Impunity So Frequent in Brazil?

Simon Romero has an excellent piece up about the widening corruption scandal in Brazil. The whole thing is worth reading for a better understanding of the context and possible direction of the scandal and the investigations into corruption. For those wondering about how and why a culture of impunity has reigned with regards to corrupt politicians, this passage is particularly eloquent for its simplicity and directness:

about 40 percent of the 594 members of Congress are facing charges of one type or another in connection with a long list of scandals, according to Congresso em Foco, a watchdog group. However, few lawmakers ever go to jail because they can be tried only by the Supreme Court, meaning years of delays and effectively enabling many of them to avoid convictions.

Brazil’s judicial system is notoriously slow at all levels, from the Supreme Court to the criminal court system. This slowness allows those in positions of power and/or with access to money, be they politicians or police, to outlast the charges and effectively retain their positions for the long haul.  And when the Supreme Court investigates 500 congressional members in 27 years, and sentences only 16, well, institutional rot and elite privilege only become further entrenched.

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About Colin M. Snider

I have a Ph.D. in history, specializing in Latin American History and Comparative Indigenous History. My dissertation focused on Brazil. Beyond Latin America generally, I'm particularly interested in class identities, military politics, human rights, labor, education, music, and nation. I can be found on Twitter at @ColinMSnider.
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