Brazil Congress: The Same Old Story, Corruption, Embezzlement, Impunity

Edmar MoreiraAnother case of political corruption has made headlines in Brazil and once again it involves the Brazilian Congress. Congressman Edmar Moreira from Minas Gerais state, in the Southeast, recently accused of tax evasion for not declaring his US$ 12.5 million Castelo de Fadas (Fairy Castle) located in Minas, has been acquitted from an impending 4-month suspension.

The punishment had been proposed by a  special report submitted to the Congress’s Council of Ethics by deputy and special rapporteur Hugo Leal from the Rio de Janeiro Socialist Christian Party – PSC.

Deputy Nazareno Fonteles (Workers Party, São Paulo), original rapporteur of the proposal, called for an immediate removal of deputy Moreira from office, as he believes such accusations against a federal representative are extremely serious.

Besides the tax scandal, Edmar Moreira is also being accused of embezzlement, as it is believed he made use of public funds for personal reasons such as paying security services for private business he owns.

Following the final readings, the Council of Ethics was still not convinced that there was enough evidence that could justify Moreira’s removal from office. By 3 votes against and 2 abstentions, the council decided on Moreira’s acquittal. Deputy Hugo Leal lamented such decision:

“Although we cannot affirm without any room for error, that Edmar Moreira made use of public funds inappropriately, it is clear that he infringed the law by misusing his indemnity funds, as he himself confessed,” declared Hugo Leal.

For Leal the lack of legal mechanisms is the main reason preventing the Council of Ethics of the Congress from acting and punishing accordingly.

The indemnity fund, a benefit provided to Brazilian Congressman, is a a monthly allowance designated to cover expenses such as renting, office costs, transportation, etc.

Each congressman is entitled to up to US$ 6,000 dollars monthly. If suspended, Moreira would be unable to preside any congress meetings, or pass any congress bills. His allowance would still continue though.

Despite the favorable decision, Leonardo Moreira, Deputy Moreira’s son and also Minas Gerais State Representative insulted Federal Congressman Nazareno Fonteles – original rapporteur of the council, by calling him “veado” (literally deer in Portuguese, but a Brazilian derogatory term to refer to homosexuals).

Fonteles still defends Edmar Moreira’s dismissal and punishment against the deputy’s son for lack of parliamentary decorum.

“I have nothing against those who follow this behavior standard (homosexuality), but the reason, he (Leonardo) insulted me this way was simply to attack me morally,” said Nazareno.

State Representative Leonardo Moreira has denied such slur and blamed on the acoustics of the room.

Images of the castle can be seen at: http://www.sneri.blog.br/wp-content/castelo-edmarmoreira.jpg

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 10 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 has already participated as an actor in three English plays in 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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