Brazil Celebrates Anti-Corruption Day with New Bill, Batons and Tear Gas

Brasilia students protest Another major politician has been accused of being involved in a corruption scheme in BrasÀ­lia, Brazil's Capital. José Roberto Arruda, Governor of Distrito Federal (Federal District), has been the target of an investigation christened Caixa de Pandora (Pandora Box).

Late November 27th, Federal Police agents apprehended 700,000 Brazilian reais (US$ 395,500) at the governor's official residence, which they believe to be part of a huge and millionaire scam.

In an attempt to reduce his own sentence, Durval Barbosa, former sheriff and governor's secretary, already charged with a series of crimes, denounced to Public Defense and Federal Police the involvement of Governor Arruda in corruption scams and money misappropriation during the 2006 PMDB's (Brazilian Democratic Movement Party) electoral campaign for

Barbosa told authorities that Arruda was able to raise approximately 56 million reais (US$ 31 million) between 2004 and 2006. The money apparently would have originated from contracts involving Codeplan (Companhia de Desenvolvimento do Planalto Central ”“ Central Highlands Development Company) and private companies.

During one of the encounters with Arruda, Durval Barbosa claims to have discussed the destination of 400,000 reais obtained from entrepreneurs that were to be distributed to members of the allied base in the government, assemblymen, secretaries, aides.

The case has been dubbed the Mensalão of Brasilia. Mensalão is a neologism and a variation of the term Big Monthly Pay. According to Barbosa, an additional 200,000 reais (US$ 112,000) were to be put aside for future expenses.

Per reputable weekly news Veja magazine, Durval has also claimed that private companies in charge of providing services to the government had also contributed to a illicit fund which was based on a percentage already included in each invoice billed in state government contracts. The amount would be roughly close to 400,000 reais (US$ 225,000 ) monthly.

The scandal has made headlines in Brazil following the presentation of a video recorded by former assistant Durval and shown on a major TV station network, where an entrepreneur and newspaper owner Alcyr Duarte Collaço Filho appears receiving 30,000 reais (US$ 16,000) and hiding the money in his underwear.

The video can be seen at Folha on On-Line website link:

http://www1.folha.uol.com.br/folha/videocasts/ult10038u659802.shtml

Brazil has just celebrated the National Day against Corruption, this Wednesday, December 9, and a group of 1500 students used the date to protest and demand that governor Arruda be impeached.

The police were called and the students were attacked. Mounted police used truncheons and tear gas in order to disperse the crowd. 10 people were arrested and later released. Images of the protest and police can be seen at:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rVO5aefopAg

According to Cezar Britto, OAB's (Brazilian Bar Association), the images where important figures appear receiving supposedly illegal money are enough reason to call for the governor's impeachment. "This is a devastating image, a strong evidence for an impeachment," he stated.

In an attempt to curb corruption, Brazilian president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva has sent Congress a bill that would treat corruption as a heinous, whether it is active or passive. Said the president "Maybe it will not prevent it, but at least we are beginning to demonstrate to society, that there is not such a thing as impunity."

More images on the Brasilia Mensalão scandal can be seen at:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YjBPFYelAbY

Edison Bernardo DeSouza is a journalist, having graduated in Social Communication Studies at Pontifical Catholic University in São Paulo, Brazil . He lived in the US and Canada for close to 12 years and participated in volunteering activities in social works agencies. DeSouza currently lives in São Paulo where he teaches English as a Second Language for both private English Language Institute and Private High-School. He is currently participating as an actor in two English Musicals in Sao Paulo – Brazil and is pursuing further advancements in his career. He is particularly interested in economics, history, politics and human rights articles.

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