A high-ranking Brazilian minister has stepped down after audio emerged of him plotting with others to bring down President Dilma Rousseff's administration.
The Guardian reports that Romero Jucá, planning minister, will “go on leave” after a recording of a telephone conversation was released in which he said Rousseff needed to be removed to quash a vast corruption investigation which enmeshed him and many other members of the Brazilian political elite.
More from The Guardian report:
But the dubious motives and machiavellian nature of the plot to remove Rousseff are apparent in the transcript of a phone conversation between Jucá – a powerful ally of Temer’s in the Brazilian Democratic Movement party (PMDB) – and Sérgio Machado, a former senator who until recently was the president of another state oil company, Transpetro.After discussing how they are both targeted by Lava Jato prosecutors, Jucá says the way out is political: “We have to stop this shit,” he says of the investigation. “We have to change the government to be able to stop this bleeding.”
Machado concurs: “The easiest solution would be to put in Michel [Temer].”
Temer is, of course, the man who stepped in as "interim President" and replaced most of the cabinet members after Rousseff was impeached.
I'm not convinced that the reference to "stop the bleeding" was as much about the fear of being found out for corruption as it was the desire to stop the flow of dollars from Petrobras to social programs in Brazil.
Between about 2004 and 2014, Brazil's state-run energy firm Petrobras — the nation's largest company and one of the largest corporations in the world — engaged in one of the most astonishing corruption schemes ever to be uncovered. That Petrobras employees and their co-conspirators thought they could get away with it speaks to just how bad corruption in Brazil had become, and how high up it went.
Nobody knows who exactly came up with the plot. But it was developed during the commodities boom of the 2000s, when oil prices were high, and involved three main groups of players: leaders at Petrobras, top executives at Brazil's major construction companies, and Brazilian politicians.
It worked in four steps:
This should be front-page news everywhere. Ever since the so-called "impeachment" of Dilma Rousseff, I've mused that she is likely right about it being a coup. After all, it's long been known that the world's oil barons want no part of continuing the nationalized status of Petrobras, and of course, it's Petrobras who ultimately participated in her demise.