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Bank Robbers, Treasury Robbers. Brazil Has No Honest Robbers Anymore.

Clothes left behind by gang who robbed Brazil's Central BankNature follows its course. Whoever tries to thwart it can be deceived by the appearance of success for some time. But soon logic and common sense prevail. There is not a citizen, in the whole of Brazil, who has not felt some inner satisfaction in view of the biggest orthodox robbery ever carried out in the history of the Brazilian Republic.

Bandits rented houses, created fictitious companies, dug 80 meters of subterranean tunnel, reached the Central Bank basement, in Fortaleza, capital city of the state of Ceará,  and got out with more than US$ 66 million. All of this, without firing a shot, without any act of violence and without scaring a single citizen.

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The same thing did Marcos Valério, Delúbio Soares, Sílvio Pereira and their mentors, starting with the former Chief of Staff, José Dirceu. They were perfect in the operation of building a scheme for suctioning public resources to benefit the PT (Workers Party) coffers and periphery.

All hell broke loose, while they managed the plunder, taking from the national treasure resources superior to those seized by their companions from Ceará’s capital, to irrigate the structures of  the government, of the party and of their great mentors.

The problem with both gangs was their failure to reach their goals. In the first case, to reinforce for twenty or thirty years the PT’s power structure. In the second, to guarantee an easy life to those who dedicated themselves to dig tunnels.

They failed, both the burglars who invaded the Central Bank safe in Fortaleza and the robbers responsible for the mensalões (monthly allowance paid congressmen for their votes), the irregular loans to the PT, the commissions paid to those who changed parties to support the government and the presidency of the Republic’s top executives.

Crime doesn’t pay. The thieves from Ceará are being identified because they decided to spend part of the money stolen soon after the robbery. And the thieves of the public treasury, were caught because they imagined Brazil was a country filled with dunces. Jail for all!


Thursday night, Presidents Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva and Hugo Chávez had dinner.  No problem there. Presidents, among other things, were made to have dinner together. What’s troublesome in this story has nothing to do with what they talked about or what they agreed upon.  What’s troublesome is that Lula did not tell the Foreign Relations Ministry that Chávez would come to Brasília. Everything was arranged secretly.

Few chancellors have had such an effective performance as Celso Amorim, the Brazilian Foreign Miniser. He behaves as one of the President’s most competent aides. The accomplishments that the President achieved overseas are the result of his and his team’s work.

What explanations will the Minister be able to give, today, when asked about his boss’ meeting with the Venezuelan President? That Chávez came to Brazil to discuss the transfer of socccer player Robinho to Venezuela?

In a serious country, Celso Amorim would have already resigned. It is as if the president of a soccer club had hired a great player without consulting the team’s coach, just announcing that he would stary playing thod coming Sunday…

Saving Own Neck

Adman Duda Mendonça revealed courage in attending the Congress’s Post Office Parliamentary Inquiry. The rest was a disaster. As many others before him he lied in denying that the contracts obtained by his agencies had nothing to do with services rendered to the President and had not paid for Lula’s or the PT’s campaign.

Duda confessed that he paid even for suits for the then candidate. He tried to show that he barely knew Marcos Valério, when in reality he received good part of his debits in  the São Paulo branch of Banco Rural, direct from that thief. All of them lie, trying to save their necks.

Without Agreement

Alberto Goldman, leader of the PSDB in the House, was strolling by the Congress’s green salon when representative Paulo Pimenta, from the PT, then vice-president of the Mensalão’s CPI, was giving an interview.

Pimenta left the microphones and the spotlights, and went to talk to Goldman trying to reach an agreement with him. Goldman did not accept. He had already requested that Pimenta be ousted from Congress for lack of decorum.

The PT member had released a list of those who presumably received money from Valério in Fernando Henrique Cardoso’s campaign to the re-election. That list, however, was apocryphal and had been considered even by the president of the CPI, Amir Lando, as not deserving of any credibility.

Goldman rejected the agreement and told Pimenta to do whatever he wished and that the PSDB would react accordingly.

Every day the situation becomes more chaotic, especially because the Pimenta initiative was taken on instructions of José Dirceu who is interested in involving tucanos (toucan, PSDB members) and liberals in the 1998 corruption case.

Carlos Chagas writes for the Rio’s daily Tribuna da Imprensa and is a representative of the Brazilian Press Association, in Brasília. He welcomes your comments at carloschagas@hotmail.com.


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