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Brazzil - Politics - March 2004

Narcotraffic Deals the Cards in Brazil

Waldogate, the scandal that is rocking the Lula administration in
Brazil, has been under the control of organized crime since the
beginning: the video tape was released when it became convenient
to release it and its developments will only be known when
that Mafia decides that's time to throw mud on the fan again.

Alberto Dines

The political environment is boiling, but the police case is rigorously at ground zero. The investigations around the video tape released by weekly newsmagazine Época containing the conversation between Waldomiro Diniz, advisor to the President, with bookmaker Carlinhos Cachoeira have been stalled for several weeks.

No big news is expected from the testimonies scheduled for the Federal Police because the indicted will choose to express themselves in court instead.

The blame for the paralysis cannot be attributed to the government; as far as the government is concerned, the quicker the dénouement, the less damage it will cause. The government is to blame, yes, but for something else: for looking in the wrong direction, for messing up in its assessments and for tripping over its own corrective measures.

The parties showing no interest in producing "new facts" are the same parties who ignited the scandal—the great delinquents.

"Waldogate" has been under the control of organized crime since the very beginning: the video tape was released when it became convenient to release it and its developments will only be known when the network in which Waldomiro Diniz got tangled up decides that now it is convenient to throw mud on the fan again.

This is a scandal operated by remote control and this is the reason why it is naïve to believe that it involves only two characters and an isolated couple of corruption episodes. Both the authorities and the press made a big mistake when they decided to link "Waldogate" to the political sphere, the fall of a superminister and/or the bingo issue.

Inside Out

Organized crime is not a figure of speech. It is in fact very organized: it has resources and connections and it operates within a network—a wide system of interconnected vessels linking what is licit and what is illicit and uniting political delinquency and common delinquency.

Narcotraffic today deals in narcotics, but it also deals in arms, people, fortunes, ideas and influence. Narcotraffic manipulates parties and destroys governments. Apparently this is not a concern for the government or for the press.

This is evidenced by the fact that the bomb exploded, but nobody shows any interest in finding out who detonated it. The press will start moving when somebody throws the next projectile—a phone tapping transcript, an audio or video tape, or a dossier. And the government will start moving when it finally understands that the problem is not in its operating sphere; actually, it's in the opposite sphere.

All the attention concentrated on Chief of Staff, José Dirceu, is wrong, diversionist and sensationalist. The right (or left) arm of President Lula can even be punished for having relapsed and for not paying attention to his personal and political relationships. But Dirceu is not the problem.

When they recorded the conversation between the advisor and the bookmaker, the delinquents in question were not interested in destabilizing the Lula administration or burning down one of its support pillars. What they wanted was to force any government elected in 2002 to bend to their impositions. They were placing a bet and they played their game hiding in a corner.

It's ironical that it all occurred the week of the Academy awards. The core of the biggest political crisis of recent years is contained in a low quality video tape with bad focus and a damaged soundtrack, which nevertheless caused a devastating effect.

In Hollywood, the prizes went to professionals who are recognized and renowned in the industry. Here, the prize will be given to whoever unveils the professional crooks who financed, produced, filmed and distributed the first apparition of big time delinquency in our country.

This time, in these Oscars turned inside out, the press doesn't show its cards. It receives them.

Alberto Dines, the author, is a journalist, founder and researcher at LABJOR—Laboratório de Estudos Avançados em Jornalismo (Laboratory for Advanced Studies in Journalism) at UNICAMP (University of Campinas) and editor of the Observatório da Imprensa. He also writes a column on cultural issues for the Rio daily Jornal do Brasil. You can reach him by email at obsimp@ig.com.br
This article was originally published in Observatório da Imprensa — www.observatoriodaimprensa.com.br
Translated by Arlindo Silva.

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