Brazil is a crony state. The economy is defined and has long been defined by cronyism, legal graft, and not so legal graft. Now the crony galinhas are coming home to roost at the highest levels.
What was already an unimaginably bad situation took a decisive turn for the worst this week in Brazil when embattled President Dilma Rousseff, fearing that her mentor Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva was about to be arrested on corruption charges, appointed the former President to a ministerial position.
The opposition was already at their wit’s end with Rousseff, whose opponents say doctored the fiscal books in 2014 and who has presided over a catastrophic decline in the country’s economy. Thus far, Rousseff has managed to dodge an impeachment bid spearheaded by House Speaker Eduardo Cunha but after Senator Delcídio do Amaral gave damaging testimony in a plea deal and after Lula was detained earlier this month, it became clear that sooner or later, the two-year-old car wash probe would eventually dead end at the presidential palace doors.
Rather than risk that, Rousseff decided instead to effectively eliminate the possibility that Lula would ever be prosecuted by giving him a position in her cabinet. That affords him special privileges under the law and makes it all but impossible for anyone to prosecute him except for the high court.