As news of massive corruption investigations in Brazil continues to emerge, Americas Quarterly Editor in Chief Brian Winter argues that these scandals will not end until Brazil’s leaders make anti-corruption reforms a real priority.
In the May/June issue of Foreign Affairs, Winter explains how Brazil’s political system creates strong incentives for corruption. He writes that “only by renouncing their special privileges and committing to genuine reform will Brazil’s politicians be able to ward off disaster and regain the public’s trust.”
He argues that current President Michel Temer or his successor need to adopt a strategy of radical transparency.
Winter observes, “Brazilian democracy is now at its most vulnerable point since the return of civilian rule three decades ago, and it risks lapsing into long-term dysfunction. . . . The struggles of [former President Dilma] Rousseff and Temer, like those of their predecessors, illustrate why it’s time for Brazil to take a radically new approach to preventing corruption.”
Winter calls for the next government to name a cabinet that is completely untouched by the scandals of recent years and reflects the country’s diverse demographics. He advocates abolishing Brazil’s so-called privileged standing, a law under which only the Supreme Court can judge senior government officials, including the president, cabinet ministers, and members of Congress, for alleged crimes. Brazil’s next president could complement this change, he writes, by steering greater resources toward bodies that investigate and prosecute graft and fraud.
Winter concludes, “Brazil’s leaders have an extraordinary opportunity. There is more support now for sweeping political change than at any point in a generation.”
The pre-released essay is now available at ForeignAffairs.com. The entire issue, examining policy in the new Trump administration, posts online April 18.