Sergio Moro's conduct

Image: Cyrus Saurius


The conduct of the former judge and his partners was a decisive factor in the worsening of endemic corruption in Brazil and made the fight against it immensely more difficult.

It is surprising in the international media that pre-candidate Sergio Moro is transforming his entry into electoral politics into a manifesto in defense of the fight against corruption. It is all too obvious that his purpose is to try to wash away his infamous legacy in this matter. The failure of the fight against corruption in Brazil did not start with Moro, but deepened in such a way with the conduct of this magistrate and his acolytes in Curitiba that any attempt to overcome it must necessarily mean a rupture with everything that was and meant Lava Jato. At first sight, only out of blindness or pathetic ignorance can one imagine that Moro wants to focus his political credit on his disastrous and nefarious conduct.

Since corruption is endemic in societies governed by radical neoliberalism, as is the case in Brazil at the moment, the fight against corruption must be an important flag of any candidate who intends to propose an alternative, even a moderate one, to the prevailing neoliberalism. But for such a proposal to have the slightest credibility, it is essential that it means a complete break with the Lava Jato performance and a radical critique of its protagonists. In fact, I have argued that their place at the present time, and after everything that has been known and proven, should not be in politics, but in the criminal justice system. This would be the only way to re-establish the credibility of the Brazilian judicial system and an important contribution to stop the authoritarian slide of democracy to which the proselytes of Curitiba contributed so decisively.

Why then all the pre-candidate Moro's eagerness to defend the indefensible so recklessly? There are several possible reasons and perhaps only the set of them explains such dislate. The first and most obvious is that Moro, in rebuilding his legacy politically, wants him to become part of the cast of Brazilian politics and, if so, he ceases to be the perversion to be avoided and becomes the model to follow. This will also be the best way to eliminate from the collective memory the disciplinary and criminal offenses that may have been committed by him and his accomplices. The second reason is that Moro, as a political figure, is a creation of US interventionism in the continent and in the world. It has, therefore, no other political content than that of the “fight against corruption”. Without this struggle, he is an empty political being. With her, he is a political being useful to American interests.

The third and perhaps most profound reason (which he is not even aware of, given that he does not seem to be given to reflection exercises) resides in the fact that, in defending his conduct, Moro affirms a certain policy of corruption that can only prosper if corruption in the policy continue. The specific politicization of the fight against corruption that he carried out resulted in the deepening of corruption in politics, as revealed by recent data from the CPI, reaching, in fact, sectors (armed forces) that until now claimed to be immune to corruption. The subliminal message of his political program is, therefore, that, with him, corruption in politics will be able to continue without great alarm, since the fight against it will be designed to fail in its objectives.

In view of this and thinking that the new Brazilian political cycle wants to effectively combat corruption, I outline below some lessons from the comparative experience, which fortunately is diverse. Just to give a few examples, the failures of China, Russia, Brazil or Indonesia can be contrasted with the successes of Singapore, Denmark and Finland. The first lesson is that the fight against corruption cannot be political, in the sense that it has to be impartial and non-selective, and cannot in any way be used as a weapon against political opponents. The second is that it must be based on strong political will and an active consensus of citizens. Only then will it be possible to channel sufficient funds to fight effectively. An effective fight, which is not based on the easy victimization of supposedly corrupt people and on the senseless protagonism of their persecutors, is a very expensive and very demanding fight (in terms of personnel and resources). The third lesson is that you must address the causes and not the symptoms of corruption. The causes vary from country to country but, in general, the following factors tend to be present: a political system that is insufficiently participatory and transparent to make the corrupting temptation unattractive; if the lack of participation and transparency is joined by decentralization, the invitation to corruption becomes undeniable; an inefficient criminal system that turns the calculation of the offender into an exercise of pragmatic rationality: the reward for the corrupt act is much greater than the risk of being punished for it; low salaries of civil servants, especially if combined with the excessive bureaucratization of the State's administrative action; a biased international cooperation that selects political and economic targets and makes corruptors invisible, without which there is no corruption. The “international cooperation” that Moro talks about is the economic war conducted by the USA, through the Department of Justice and the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, against foreign companies that compete with US companies. The large French company in the energy sector Alstom did not resist the attack and the final purchase by GE North American better than the companies targeted by Lava Jato in Brazil will be able to resist. And the procession still goes to the churchyard.

This partial enumeration of the causes shows that the conduct of Sergio Moro and his partners was a decisive factor in the worsening of endemic corruption in Brazil and made the fight against it immensely more difficult. Does the pre-candidate genuinely think that Brazilians won't realize this?

*Boaventura de Sousa Santos is full professor at the Faculty of Economics at the University of Coimbra. Author, among other books, of The end of the cognitive empire (Authentic).


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