In a smaller scale repetition of Watergate, a Brazilian scandal involving Lula’s handpicked presidential candidate Dilma Rousseff is shaking Brazilian politics following statements from a former high ranking intelligence police officer who claims he was contracted by members of the incumbent presidential candidate team to spy on her main opponent, former governor of São Paulo, José Serra.
“I was asked to spy on (leading opposition candidate) José Serra and was to be paid two million reais for the job,” said the retired police officer Onézimo das Graças Souza whose expertise is in bugging phones and conversations.
“That is correct, they asked me to spy because they wanted to know everything they could about Serra,” said the ‘spy’ in an interview with daily Folha de S. Paulo.
The Workers Party presidential candidate Dilma Rousseff has not said a word about the incident but last weekend the head of her press relations department resigned to his job following on Souza first public statements.
Souza said that Rousseff campaign advisors contacted him and offered to pay the equivalent of US$ 1.1 million to find out “everything possible about candidate Serra”.
Rousseff and Serra are involved in one of the tightest electoral campaign clashes, both of them with 37% of vote intention. The presidential election is scheduled for next October 3.
Former São Paulo governor José Serra who is running as candidate of the Brazilian Social Democracy party, PSDB, has openly accused Ms Rousseff of being responsible for the plot and demanded a public explanation about the whole incident.
This is an old tactic of the Workers Party, “dirty tricks” of which they are very fond claimed Serra in interviews with São Paulo newspapers. The news of the ‘spying plot’ was headlines in most of Brazil’s media.
According to Souza he was invited to a meeting at Rousseff’s headquarters to talk about the proposal.
The former police intelligence officer is known for belonging to the so-called “information community” of Brasília, a group of experts which specializes in bugging phones, offices and spy on public figures.
In 1972 the breaking in to the Watergate flats in Washington led to the chance discovery of a network of spying and other illegal activities which in August 1974 forced the resignation or former president Richard Nixon.