Sunday, April 15, 2018
Since 2014, when the story of a massive corruption scandal known as Operation Car Wash broke, it has been common to hear the most illustrious personalities in Brazil asking: "Where will this end?" But underneath that question lies their true preoccupation: "Will they catch me?" Last week, the ensuing investigation culminated with the jailing of ex-President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, who left office in 2011 with 80 percent approval ratings and is still considered Brazil's greatest political leader. This marks the first time a court has condemned a Brazilian head of state for corruption. Operation Car Wash has also led to the incarceration of some of the country's corporate giants, who were masterminds of a corrupt machine dating back to the 19th century. Brazil's culture of political and business corruption may have been wounded, but we cannot assume that it has been destroyed.
Before turning himself in, Lula gave a speech in which he described himself as a victim of injustice after having worked to improve the lives of the poor. During his administration, quality of life did indeed improve for the poorest Brazilians in social and economic terms. Nevertheless, the court condemned Lula to 12 years in prison after he was found guilty of receiving a $600,000 apartment from a contractor.
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