The Phileas Club 117 – Special: WTH is happening in Brazil?


On this episode we talk about:

  • The situation in Brazil: what led to, and what’s happening with the election of Jair Bolsonaro

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  1. Giorlando Madureira de Lima says:

    Let me start saying that I really respect the effort Guilherme made for trying to explain our crazy political situation, and that there is a lot of value in hearing his point of view of the situation. Thank you, Guilherme!
    I just wanted to correct some of the facts that he got wrong, because they can make very hard to understand the situation Brazil is going through. Specially to understand the coup narrative that the left pushed in the last two years.
    First, and this is very important, hating the Workers Party (Partido dos Trabalhadores) never became a consensus in Brazil. To the point that in every poll that included Lula, he was the frontrunner in the presidential race , AFTER he was in jail.
    Second, Dilma Rousseuff was never implicated or had any kind involvement with the “car-wash” investigation. Her impeachment happened with the accusation of failure to comply with the government budget. Specifically, that the country during her government took loans from the public banks without Senate authorization. But, in a very “que se vayan todos” feeling, many Brazilians think that her impeachment had something to do with corruption.
    These two things together, explain the coup interpretation of the situation. Without car-wash and Lula going to jail, it was almost sure that the Workers Party would continue in power. Or at least, that the change of power would not be that big (there were many center-left and center-right candidates). Add the fact that the noncompliance with the budget is very common in day-to-day government business in Brazil, and it’s pretty persuasive the argument that both the impeachment and the speed of car-wash in arresting Lula (most of the other accused are still free) are a plan to take the power in Brazil.
    It’s interesting to note that in January this year, Bolsonaro changed parties, he left PP (progressive party) to PSL (social liberal party), PP is the party with most people accused in car-wash.

    • Thanks for the additional details and corrections Giorlando. One question though: who pushed the car wash investigation? Was it the PSL/people affiliated with Bolsonaro, by pressuring the judiciary? It seems to me it would be hard to do if Rousseff in power…

      • Giorlando Madureira de Lima says:

        That’s the thing, many believe that Dilma was impeached not because she had some thing to do with the corruption (as I said the formal accusation against her was about budget compliance), but because she wasn’t doing enough to stop the investigation. There is even a infamous tape of two corrupt politicians talking to each other in 2016, in which they say that “Dilma needs to go to stop the bleeding”, that they needed to “make a big national agreement with Temer (the VP), the supreme court, everyone, to stop the investigation where it is now”.
        Car-wash is marred by strange juridical decisions and those decisions explain how it got so big and so political. It started as an investigation about money laundering in a gas station, in 2008. The main culprit at the start was Alberto Youssef, a money trafficker, it’s hard to get the meaning of that crime in Europe, just remember that there is a black market for anything very expensive, and dollars and euros are very expensive in Brazil. He would evade taxes and such to politicians, and while investigating it was discovered that he had deals with a former petrobras director.
        When they arrested the former director, Paulo Roberto Costa, he made a plea bargain, to reduce his sentence in exchange of information about other, sometimes unrelated crimes. It was a new thing for Brazilian investigations to accept such clearly biased accusations as real accusation and as valid in court, but that is how car-wash jumped from arrest to arrest, moving from one plea bargain to the other, until they get to people like Lula.
        That create the very divisive situation as many believe that many of those arrests are done without any hard evidence, just accusations from other people who would probably denounce their own mothers if that would keep them out of a Brazilian jail. Up to this day, you will hear people from the Workers party claiming that Lula was arrested without evidence.
        To add insult to injury, the judge responsible for judging and condemning people in the car wash investigation, including Lula, just accepted the position of Ministry of Justice in the future Jair Bolsonaro government.
        So, after this I can try to answer you question: who pushed Lava-jato? The police force, inspired by the Mani Puliti investigation in Italy (they said so themselves). The discussion is why the police force, in Brazil not the most efficient thing (only 5% of our murder investigations get to the end), was so efficient and used so many plea bargains with little other corroboration?
        I can think of three different answers you can get for this question: the first one, probably the most common, is that the judge Sergio Moro and the other officers involved in Lavajato are heroes.
        The second, most common with people that don’t hate the workers party (they got 29.28% of votes in the first round), is that it is a coup, or as they say, a juridical coup moved by the elites that can’t stand all the progress achieved in the last years.
        The third, is that Dilma Rousseff created the conditions, willingly or not, to allow the police to move and investigate in ways that they couldn’t before, for example she diminished the oversight that the police has and she was the one that allowed plea bargains to be used in investigations. And that someway created a chain effect that returned to hit her back.

        It is fair to notice that carwash was not the first corruption scandal of Workers party time in power, but it was the first one that hit them during an economic hard time. And that might be the invisible hand pushing the investigation forward: the wish for economic improvement being mistaken as wish for ethical improvement.

        Article about the infamous Jucá tape from 2016, for your google translate pleasure:

      • Well thanks again for the additional detail and context. Between the conversation with Gui and this I think I’m understanding things a lot better now.

  2. Hello Patrick,

    I’m a long time “RDV tech” listener (& patron ;)) and I wanted to listen English speaking shows to improve my English comprehension for professional purposes. Because you’ve already mentioned The Phileas Club in your French shows, I wanted to know what it really is.

    First of all : Ha ha ha so weird to hear you host a show in English after almost a decade to hear your voice in French.
    But the main part : What a wonderful show ! I just listened the Switzerland and the Brazil episodes and it’s really a good concept and (as usual with your work) well executed.

    Sorry for the poor English, this comment is also part of my “training” for my next job :p


    • Your English is great man! And super glad you’re enjoying the show. It’s definitely a departure from what I usually do, but I think it’s an interesting one indeed… And thanks for the support too, of course! 🙂

  3. I immediatly closed the audio file when I heard him saying Bolsonaro “wants to kill every homosexual and black person.”

    • I don’t think that sentence is a fair representation of the rest of the show. I’d encourage you to listen a bit more if you can.

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