Lava Jato – the task force in its labyrinth

Image: ColeraAlegria


The entire plot of Lava Jato was a fictional reductionism of reality, where the facts were decontextualized and presented in a Manichean perspective, as a struggle between good and evil.

For seven years, Brazil and the world witnessed a media spectacle worthy of Hollywood films with an easy script, in which good guys and heroes, defenders of ethics and public morality, fought against corrupt villains. A representation of real life. A criminal investigation operation called Lava Jato created a fictional narrative, reproduced in the press, establishing an unconventional war strategy against determined enemies, using the apparatus of the justice system.

In this indirect model war, to freely use the term adopted by Andrew Korybko in the book “Hybrid Wars – from color revolutions to coups”, its actors had the support of various social segments and the business media, partners in the dissemination of the message and fundamental in building popularity, which made any attempt to contain illegalities and abuses in the operation substantially difficult, no matter how evident the evidence and the most intense the denunciations.

The entire plot of Lava Jato was a fictional reductionism of reality, where the facts were decontextualized and presented in a Manichean perspective, as a struggle between good and evil. In the real world, which took place in the underworld, respect for legality and the guarantees of the accused was a joke, ethics was not even close as a parameter of conduct to be adopted.

The psychological factor in the popularity of the members of the Lava Jato task force and the judge who led it was society's feeling of impunity for powerful people. The audience success that was presented with the arrest warrants, coercive conductions and search and seizure, with live calls in television newspapers, the creation of expectations with the lists “revealed” by whistleblowers, treating the criminal process as a true spectacle, fueled and cultivated popular support for Lava Jato, which would only be shaken by the portal's revelations The Intercept Brazil and partners, starting in June 2019, with conversations between prosecutors and between them and Judge Sérgio Moro on a cell phone application.

The subjective and objective political-legal conditions brought about by these disclosures enabled a change of perspective on the facts.

The suspicion of Moro declared by the Federal Supreme Court (STF) already in 2021, also in an intense internal legal dispute, was the legal and political response to the relentless persecution that the judge operated on ex-president Lula, the chosen villain for the “Show” and who were denied the most basic rights of defense.

Even though it was formally ended in February 2021, and in subsequent months in other states, the Lava Jato operation, its actors and consequences continue to be news and motivating debates in the country.

The judgment of a Disciplinary Administrative Proceeding – PAD, handed down on October 18th by the National Council of the Public Prosecutor’s Office – CNMP, which determined the dismissal of former Lava Jato member Diogo Castor de Mattos, is yet another step on the road to rationalization of the facts that occurred and treated as part of the entertainment, without limits to the exercise of power. In this case, the placement of a billboard at the entrance to the city of Curitiba with a photo and self-compliments to the Federal Attorneys.

The dismissal, it should be clarified, will only be valid after a decision by the Federal Court. In order for the removal without pay to take effect, the filing of the action is necessary.

In parallel, the revelation that Deltan Dallagnol and Athayde Ribeiro Costa falsified the award-winning delation of Pedro Barusco, a former Petrobras executive, with the aim of harming the PT; the opening of a Disciplinary Administrative Proceeding at the CNMP on October 19 against 11 former members of Lava Jato in Rio de Janeiro for leaking information; and the vote on PEC 5 in the National Congress, which changes the composition and competence of the CNMP, form the whole of a current debate forged around the character called Lava Jato operation. Like Garcia Marquez's general, the operation suffers from respiratory crises and a body that decreases in size as the days go by, no longer loved by everyone, as in former times.

Investigating and prosecuting everything that happened in the country's recent past using the apparatus of the justice system, recovering its truth and bringing to light its events, with the responsibility of the actors, are fundamental steps towards recovering the credibility of the Public Ministry and the Judiciary power and strengthening of democracy. At the same time, we must seek new conformations and formulas for the effective functioning of institutions, with controls that have social participation.

*Tânia Maria Saraiva de Oliveira She is a lawyer and historian. Member of the Executive Coordination of the Brazilian Association of Jurists for Democracy – ABJD.

Originally published on the portal Brazil of Fact.


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