STF’s confrontation with pocketnarism emptied Lava Jato, says political scientist – 11/8/2021 – Power

The shock of the STF (Supreme Federal Court) with pocketbookism in recent years was one of the factors that led to the emptying of Operation Lava Jato, says political scientist Luciano Da Ros.

Professor of political science at UFSC (Federal University of Santa Catarina), he researches the Brazilian judiciary and the responses to corruption in the country.

For Da Ros, the Supreme could not fight two simultaneous wars and had to prioritize, to the detriment of the “anti-corruption crusade”, an “existential battle” against the attacks of President Jair Bolsonaro and his allies.

The car wash’s downfall had two more chapters last week, with the announcement of the affiliation of former judge Sergio Moro to the Podemos party, with an eye on the presidential succession, and with the departure from the Public Ministry of prosecutor Deltan Dallagnol, who may also be launch candidate.

The researcher says that, despite believing that the two were not “electorally motivated” since the beginning of the investigation, their role in politics should further compromise what is left of the Lava Jato in the courts now.

The professor wrote, in partnership with the American Matthew Taylor, a book called “Brazilian Politics on Trial: Corruption and Reform Under Democracy”, which will be released in February.

At UFRGS (Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul), he coordinated a nucleus dedicated to the study of corruption.

Mr. said at the height of Lava Jato that there had been continuous improvement in the country since 1988 in responses to corruption. Now, with the operation in decline, what will your balance be?

The balance, at this moment, unfortunately appears to be negative. Part of the reason for this is that maybe Lava Jato has moved too fast, too ambitious, too short a time, implementing [ferramentas de] newly enacted laws.

This generated a broad, cross-party reaction from the political system, not only against Lava Jato, but against most of the conditions that allowed it to happen.

Perhaps he was able to show the extent of corruption, punish one or another political authority, one or another businessman, to see, in a matter of little time, much of his work revised, annulled, by decisions of other courts.

We are in a worse situation in 2021 than we were in 2014 in fighting corruption in Brazil.

Because of the bonds created?

It took two years of free passage from the political system to Lava Jato, with virtually no interference. It produced an effort to fight corruption, with a series of vicissitudes, which generated a perception by the political elite that there was an existential threat.

This deepens from the moment Moro goes into the ministry [em 2018]. The judge in the case, who got things moving, supports the allegations of partiality.

Brazil had been gradually improving in judicial responses, in the control system as a whole: Courts of Auditors, Controllership.

In 2014, it tried to move away from an incremental approach and entered what the literature calls the anti-corruption “big bang”, which is the attempt to purge the political system in a short period of time.

In few places, the Judiciary takes the lead in fighting corruption. The most famous case is Operation Clean Hands in Italy [nos anos 1990].

Institutions engage in an aggressive strategy, through techniques that are perceived as abusive. And it is these allegations of abuse, of bias, that generate a counteroffensive, with a balance of destruction not only of these institutions, but of a broader institutional framework.

If Moro becomes president, in the rare event that this happens, he will take a country much worse than when he was a judge in Curitiba. Much less able to face corruption than there was.

Much of the work of truly dedicated leadership will be simply to restore its former status.

How are the PF and the Attorney General’s Office in this movement, with the alignment with the Executive?

The PGR also aligned itself with most of the Congress figures. The Saturday of Augusto Aras [em agosto] was covered in praise from senators because he helped put the lid on the car wash coffin.

The political system even demolished the conditions that originated the Lava Jato. Even if the government changes, comes the Moro, undoes it, the legislative framework no longer exists.

What role can the nearest Lava Jato wing play in the Supreme Court? Are you able to revert, with a new minister?

The Supreme is in no condition. It cannot wage war on two fronts simultaneously. From 2012 onwards, the Supreme adopted from decision to decision [uma postura] deeply unsympathetic to the political elite.

There was the judgment of the monthly allowance, it wound up the Lava Jato, etc. That ended, even more in a current scenario in which the President of the Republic is one of the main enemies of the court.

All of Bolsonaro’s bellicose rhetoric put the Supreme on the defensive. And the Supreme reacted accordingly, being equally aggressive. There is a self-initiated inquiry [o das fake news, aberto sem pedido do Ministério Público em 2019]. He had people arrested and everything.

This is the existential battle of the Supreme. Because he is involved in this battle, he is unable to maintain support for the “anti-corruption crusade”, which started there in 2010. On the contrary: he needs to gain support from the political elite even so that he can defend himself against Bolsonaro.

What the Supreme receives from Congress’ carte blanche to defend itself from Bolsonaro, it gives in terms of emptying the Lava Jato, anti-corruption operations, and the broader combat system.

There’s the whole case of Lula, declaration of Moro as partial judge — it’s the [decisões] more visible.

Roughly speaking, to fight the extreme right, it will have to accept the center.

Pocketnarism joined with laundering until Moro left the government in 2020. Supporters of one mingled with supporters of the other at one point. Mr. do you see a definitive break between them?

It was a marriage of convenience. At some point, everyone had common enemies. A large part of the impeachment strategy was to use Dilma Rousseff as a “piranha ox”, in the expression of the philosopher Marcos Nobre.

Each one thought they would have control of the situation later. Pedestrianism and laundering are divorced even before the election. Bolsonarism and laundering marry Moro going into the ministry.

If you were to ask what the Justice “superministry” was under the management of the former Lava Jato judge, you will have difficulty remembering.

The crime package backfired. It showed Moro’s fragility outside his metiê, the judicial one. He never had any political experience.

With the political actions of Moro and Deltan, what was left of Lava Jato dozens of sentences issued, cases not yet judged in the Supreme is it not tainted, to the point where more decisions are reversed?

In fact, there is still a lot of Lava Jato in the courts. The prognosis is no longer good, and the mere candidacy is perhaps even worse. The final proof, if any was lacking, that these people were politically motivated from the start. Which, in my opinion, is not true.

They weren’t electorally interested from the start. They became—according to the size of the monster they were facing.

If they are elected, there will be even greater potential to partisan cases that might not even be partisan like that.

This will also not affect other investigations, besides the Lava Jato, with the allegation of politicization?

Surely. But these operations are about to die. With all the legislative and jurisprudential changes in recent years, the scenario is not only negative for the viability of these operations, but, above all, it is uncertain.

A lot of jurisprudence has changed. One of the main incentives for Lava Jato to work so fiercely and to have award-winning collaboration agreements was the fact that there was second instance prison. The Supreme also ended this in 2019.

The main investigations into corruption at this time no longer operate in the Lava Jato mode.

We are, in a way, seeing a return to the CPI as an instance of moralization and a “renewed role” of the press. This tells us about the inability of Organs once powerful bodies of the criminal justice system. It’s proof that the organs have been weakened.

In Congress, they formed what they call a “washing bench” of people close to the operation. Will this discussion be more present in the Legislative?

The fact that there is a bench is not stopping the huge reaction from taking place. It’s a small bench, unable to block.

In the approval of changes to the Administrative Impropriety Law in the Chamber, only three parties voted against. The votes in favor were over 400.

Mr. he said that one of Lava Jato’s mistakes was its excessive ambition and speed. What could they have done to prevent this outcome?

It’s an impossible question. There’s no way to know.

The task force takes on a messianic speech. They spoke of “ending corruption”, which is symptomatic of a certain naivete. Corruption exists in any country in the world. It is not going to “end”, but rather to reduce it, to make it eventual, not systematic.

They made a bill, they had an ambition that wasn’t limited to the work of a prosecutor. Twitter account with 1 million followers: like it or not, these actors behaved like politicians.

What is expected of judicial bodies is discretion, sobriety, a certain parsimony.

Lava Jato signed more than 200 collaboration agreements, with enormous testimonies, a continent of information. Agreements were signed practically at the speed of one a week for four years. It was obvious that, at some point, these agreements would no longer be so complete, true.

There was no resolution in the Federal Public Ministry regarding the use of collaboration agreements. The pace was too fast. It was a house of cards of agreement.

Wasn’t this the intention of the operation to go further and further?

Overcoming stages to get to what matters, as if the path didn’t matter, is an assumption that I don’t know if it’s up to a civil servant to make. Whether it would be up to a judge or a prosecutor to choose those priorities.

What is expected of a prosecutor is, given the evidence in the case, to present the indictment. Not that it is progressing at an exponential pace – which had, it must be said, fertile ground in the press, for a good period of time.

The assumption that seemed to be in Moro and Dallagnol’s minds is that at the top of the system [de crimes] there was the “political system”. And maybe it wasn’t.

As big as the problem of the impunity of politicians is the impunity of businessmen.

If we debug the politicians, [imaginar que] companies —which have been corrupting for 80 years— will automatically stop, it’s an incongruous, incoherent thing.

In most countries, fighting corruption is not histrionic, it is not a great moment of atonement, cleansing and eradication.

These are long-term incremental, non-criminal, non-civil, non-judicial processes. They are a mix of administrative processes —improvements in public contracting rules— with the campaign financing system, production of party identities.

The judiciary, by its very nature, has to stay in the background. Bringing the Judiciary to the forefront of confrontation will deform the confrontation and the institution itself.

The guys thought they were going to clean up the country… Well, now, after a lot of suffering, maybe they’ve realized that the solution is political. The solution is not judicial.

But now Ines is dead. I should have thought about it before.

Luciano Da Ros, 38

He is a professor at the Department of Sociology and Political Science at the Federal University of Santa Catarina. He holds a doctorate in political science from the University of Illinois (USA) and a master’s degree from the Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul.


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