Foreign Policy Blogs

Voce Abusou: Corruption as a Permanent Impairment to Society

Lula may face over 10 years in prison, or become re-elected as President

A well known song from Antonio Carlos e Jocafi could easily run though someone’s mind when reading about corruption in their native Brazil. Voce abusou, or You abuse me is how many citizens feel when members from political parties or elite members of a society take advantage of the public purse. It is not only a financial drain on society, but in order to ensure success of the few over the many the political system must be corrupted along with agencies, branches of government and even the judiciary. While politics permeates all institutions in society, even judicial ones at times, the complete corruption of a system always leads to the people being ignored and abused. Challenging the powers that be often results in extreme actions like humiliating and destroying opponents via ad hominem campaigning, and in some cases even going to the extremes of prison or death.

When a small group of people, be it political agents or an entire party, focuses more on their own ability to win a seat in their government’s capital than the people themselves, the system changes and rots from above. Corrupting the elite leads to an understanding from others in the institutions that success comes in the shadows, and at a certain point achievements become a standardization of abusive policies against the general public and individuals. For a small group to do literally anything to have access to the public purse is always to the detriment of others in society. Besides the open fight for free and fair elections, a barrier to corruption systemically is the judiciary.

Corruption can take place in many forms. Even in a country like Canada, a top aid to a former Premier of the largest Province of Ontario was recently convicted for knowingly hiding actions and erasing public documents relating to over one billion dollars being wasted out of the public purse. This was done so that his party could win a few seats in a past election. The loss of that amount of money from the public without anything to show for it damages the society on many levels. Any future efforts to improve a community are halted with that amount of money lost for the sake of a few greedy people. They effectively destroyed the opportunity for two new major hospitals from possibly being built in their community, possible social housing, welfare, employment insurance coverage and reduced power costs for the most vulnerable in their society, for the sake of a few politicians and their jobs. When funds are stolen or squandered, taxes rise to cover corruption, and those who contribute to society are punished and castigated for continuing to build their own fair societies. In Brazil, these types of issues are amplified many times over, and their judiciary has taken on the task to crush corrupt practices, even if it could be politically impossible to succeed.

The conviction of former popular President Lula da Silva to twelve years in prison for corrupt actions he took during his time in office in the 2000s may show Brazil and the world that corruption must be ended without fail. Whether or not he will serve any part of his sentence remains to be seen. The application of guilt in a fair trial might do more to halt a possible return to politics for Lula than serve justice through his sentence, as the difficulty in reversing corruption once it is institutionalized is almost impossible. With so many political agents in Brazil facing corruption charges, the politics of those in power will flood the judicial process with everything they can to muddy the process, and will likely hinder fairness in that process. A victory for justice in a corrupt system is really any victory that can be claimed, and in societies that are not yet wholly corrupted, a strong a forceful application of justice should be applied not only as the resulting judgment, but as deterrent against abusing the rest of us that just wish to put in a fair days work for our daily bread.

 

Author

Richard Basas
Richard Basas

Richard Basas, a Canadian Masters Level Law student educated in Spain, England, and Canada (U of London MA 2003 LL.M., 2007), has worked researching for CSIS and as a Reporter for the Latin America Advisor. He went on to study his MA in Latin American Political Economy in London with the University of London and LSE. Subsequently, Rich followed his career into Law focusing mostly on International Commerce and EU-Americas issues. He has worked for many commercial and legal organisations as well as within the Refugee Protection Community in Toronto, Canada, representing detained non-status indivduals residing in Canada. Rich will go on to study his PhD in International Law.

Areas of Focus:
Law; Economics and Commerce; Americas; Europe; Refugees; Immigration

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