Brazil’s Final Congressional Report Reaffirms Vote-Buying Scheme’s Existence

The final report of the Brazilian Joint Parliamentary Investigatory Commission (CPMI) on the Post Office was approved, Wednesday, April 5, by 17 of the 31 members of the commission.

Prior to the vote, deputy Osmar Serraglio (PMDB party, Paraná state), rapporteur of the commission and author of the report, commented that he had not altered any of the "structural" aspects of the report, such as references to the existence of the monthly payoff scheme known as the "mensalão."

The only changes introduced into the text he presented last week, he said, were technical in nature and didn’t compromise the content.

On Tuesday, April 4, the ruling Workers Party (PT) presented a parallel report in which they rejected the existence of a "mensalão" to buy votes in the Chamber of Deputies.

According to the PT, what there was was a "caixa 2," a repository of unreported campaign funds. Since there was an agreement between the government and opposition not to vote the PT report if the Serraglio report was approved, the PT report did not come up for a vote.

The PT had also proposed removing the names of ex-ministers José Dirceu and Luiz Gushiken, as well as that of José Genoí­no, ex-president of the party, from the list of names submitted by Serraglio with a request that they be indicted by the Public Defense Ministry.

Serraglio, moreover, asked the Public Defense Ministry to investigate 20 federal deputies and ex-deputies for involvement in electoral and tax crimes.

The PT bloc in the Senate is still considering an appeal to the governing body of the Senate to force a vote on the amendments and changes in the report.

According to the government’s leader in the Senate, Aloizio Mercadante (PT, São Paulo), the president of the CPMI, Delcí­dio Amaral (PT, Mato Grosso do Sul), disrespected legislative by-laws when he terminated the work of the commission without a vote on the amendments. As soon as Serraglio’s report was approved, Amaral wound up the commission, which was installed nine months ago.

In May, 2005, the press aired footage in which the former director of the Post Office’s Department of Material Contracts and Administration, Maurí­cio Marinho, is shown receiving US$ 1,410 (3 thousand reais) in a presumed bribe from businessmen and making reference to a supposed illegal collection scheme in government-run enterprises to benefit the PTB, presided at the time by deputy Roberto Jefferson (RJ). This was the incident that led to the creation of the CPMI on the Post Office.

At the time Jefferson, who was later deprived of his seat by his legislative peers, not only confessed that his party had received funds but also denounced the existence of a monthly payment scheme in which legislators from other parties that were part of the Administration’s coalition base received money to vote in favor of projects in which the Administration had an interest.

This "mensalão," ( big monthly allowance) a term coined by Jefferson, was collected and distributed by publicity agencies belonging to the advertising executive, Marcos Valério, in a sophisticated operation – which came to be called the "Valerioduto" [Valério pipeline] – that included accounts in foreign tax havens. These accounts have been under the scrutiny of another parliamentary investigatory commission.

Serraglio’s report, which was approved yesterday, cross-checks the data from the two commissions’ investigations.

IMF Sees No Changes

The director of the Western Hemisphere department at the International Monetary Fund, Anoop Singh, says that with Guido Mantega now heading the Brazilian Ministry of Finance, there will be no change in the relationship between the IMF and Brazil.

"The economy is vigorous, the indicators are strong and everything points to further GDP growth and lower levels of inflation," he declared.

Singh was in Brazil for the annual meeting of the Interamerican Development Bank, which took place in Belo Horizonte. Singh made a "courtesy visit" to the new minister, Mantega, and discussed the next IMF meeting which takes place later this month in Washington.

Agência Brasil

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