June 17, 2005
The Latest from Brazil
Ok, I guess I better blog about this, since it has been going on for a few weeks now. It would appear that one of President Lula's chief cabinet ministers, one José Dirceu, has been caught in a corruption scandal. The chatter on the internet indicates that Brazilians are getting very tired of governmental corruption. This could have serious consequences for Lula's administration--which took office with a promise to end corruption.
The full AP article is included below, or you can just click here.
ABC News: Brazil's Cabinet Chief of Staff Resigns
By ERALDO PERES Associated Press Writer
The Associated PressThe Associated Press
BRASILIA, Brazil Jun 16, 2005 A top Cabinet official resigned Thursday over accusations he knew of a vote-buying scheme in Congress, becoming the highest-ranking official hit by a scandal that has shaken President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva's administration.
Chief of Staff Jose Dirceu was accused by congressman Roberto Jefferson of involvement in a plan to pay legislators a monthly bribe to support the Silva's Workers Party.
Dirceu, a close ally and friend of the president, denied the accusations in a nationally televised statement. But he said was stepping down and Silva "accepted my request to leave the government."
The scandal erupted last week when Jefferson charged that the Workers Party paid monthly "allowances" to congressmen to keep the fragile governing coalition intact. The leftist party does not have a majority in Congress and relies on support from other parties to pass legislation.
Silva has responded to the allegations by promising to "leave no stone unturned" to resolve the issue. But the fallout has handed him, Brazil's first leftist president, his worst political crisis since he took office in 2003.
Dirceu is the most prominent official hit by the scandal. The job of chief of staff is a Cabinet-level post and he was considered on of Silva's most influential ministers.
Dirceu strongly denied he was involved, and Jefferson admitted he had no proof. But the accusations sent shock waves through Brazilian financial markets with stocks plunging before rebounding.
Dirceu said he would work in Congress to disprove "the baseless accusations against me, my party and my government."
"I don't consider myself out of the government," he said. "I will mobilize the PT against those who want to destabilize President Lula."
Posted by Andrew on June 17, 2005 2:10 PM.