Saturday, October 13, 2012

A Good, Brief Summary of the "Mensalão" Scandal

The good people at Street Smart Brazil shared this link from the Economist on their Facebook page a few days ago. If you haven't "liked" their FB page yet, do it now, and also check out their excellent website.  

The article contains an excellent summary of the "mensalão" scandal, and the importance of the unexpectedly strong verdicts that the court has already issued.  The way this scandal is being treated could mark a significant shift in the attitude that Brazilian politicians have toward corruption, because so many of them are already facing real consequences for their crimes.  

This is an important story that has been under-reported in the American media, but unfortunately, our press and even our government seem to persist in having an archaic and paternalistic attitude towards Latin American countries. As if they were little children, Latin Americans only get our attention when we think that they are misbehaving. Think about it: Latin America makes the news when we're threatened by a leader like Hugo Chávez, who is too far left for our own tastes; or when Mexican drug violence spreads across the border; or if something bad happens to Americans who are traveling in Latin America. 

When President Obama failed to meet with the Israeli Prime Minister a few weeks ago in New York, it turned into a major talking point in the Republican campaign.  When he didn't meet with Dilma Rousseff, the leader of the sixth largest economy in the world, with whom the US is currently sparring over tariffs, it doesn't even make the radar. 

Don't even get me started on our educational system's focus on European history and culture at the expense of Latin America. I'll save that for a separate post!

Update: Here's another article about the "mensalão," this time from the Financial Times, in which the author explores the implications of the verdicts as seen by financial analysts. Interesting perspective.  

Source: Street Smart Brazil; The Economist

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