Brazilian politicians articulate agreement to escape Lava Jato operation

From left to right: Eunício Oliveira, Michel Temer, Gilmar Mendes and Rodrigo Maia. Photo: Agência Brasil

One of the largest anti-corruption operations in world history, comparable to the Italian “Clean Hands”, reached a new chapter on Tuesday (14). As a result of Operation Lava Jato, Brazilian prosecutor Rodrigo Janot finally handed the dreaded Janot 2.0 list to the Federal Supreme Court, which includes 83 new requests for investigations of politicians.

The list spared no parties and includes five current cabinet ministers — Chancellor Aloysio Nunes among them — the presidents of the Chamber of Deputies and of the Senate and former presidents Lula and Dilma Rousseff (in these cases, as the two do not serve mandates at present, the requests will be referred to lower courts). Dilma Rousseff’s main opponent in the last 2014 presidential election, Aécio Neves, is also on the list of suspects.

The negotiations are intense among local politicians aiming to reach an agreement that saves of at least part of them. Among the issues at stake are the decriminalization of the so-called “cash 2,” the way Brazilians have dubbed campaign donations not officially accounted.

Behind the scenes, part of the politicians, among them Aécio Neves, try to put the thesis that it is necessary to separate who used the “cash 2” for personal enrichment of those who used just to play the election campaign. Another possible step that is gaining momentum is a reform of the electoral process that would become effective in the next election in 2018.

After the release of Janot’s list, the presidents of the Republic, Michel Temer, of the Senate, Eunício Oliveira, of the Chamber, Rodrigo Maia, and of the Electoral Justice, Gilmar Mendes, met this morning (15). At the time, they reached a rare consensus on the need to adopt the vote in closed list. In this model, the voter would no longer vote for each candidate, as it currently does, but in a party that could choose a restricted list of candidates.

Local journalists warn that if they get out of the role, the new system will give great power to the big parties, as well as facilitate the re-election of politicians who are already in office and, consequently, their permanence in a privileged forum after 2018.