A political corruption trial in Brazil that has riveted locals could end up enhancing, not battering, the country’s global image. The judiciary’s handling of the scandal known as the “mensalao” (or big monthly pay-out) has been admirable, and the Supreme Court has been independent enough to convict some of the country’s most powerful former politicians and operatives from the Workers Party.
Former president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva’s chief of staff received a 10-year jail term for his role in a vote-buying scheme in the Congress that dates back to 2003-2004, and another man, the former president of the Workers Party, which is still in power, was sentenced to six years and 11 months in prison. Others face charges of corruption, conspiracy, embezzlement and misuse of public funds.
This judicial autonomy is a break from the past, and a sign of Brazil’s democratic maturation. Former president Fernando Collor was impeached for corruption while in office, but went on to become a senator. Today, a law prevents convicted criminals from running for public office.
The case will help Brazil’s aspirations to be a regional and global power, especially when one considers the ongoing challenges to good governance in neighboring Argentina.
This respect for the rule of law is a welcome sign that points to larger changes within Brazilian society and political culture.
The Globe and Mail, Toronto
Gaza needs a durable peace deal
An end to hostilities over Gaza would clearly be in the interests of everyone, especially the hapless civilians caught in the crossfire on both sides of the border as Israel seeks to staunch the intolerable wave of rocket attacks launched by Hamas and its Islamic Jihad, Salafist and al-Qa’ida-affiliated allies. But after the events of the past week there is a need to ensure that if a genuine cessation in the conflict is achieved it is based on a durable agreement that will give peace more than just a passing chance.
The lessons of the last Gaza war, fought over 22 days between December 2008 and January 2009 amid even greater controversy, must not be forgotten. Then, responding to international pressure, Israel unilaterally withdrew, claiming to have achieved its objectives, while Hamas announced its own ceasefire. The terrorists’ pledge endured only a few days. After that, they were back in business with their cross-border rocket, mortar and missile assaults on Israeli civilian centers.
The current conflict is an inevitable consequence of that failure to secure an enduring ceasefire.
With that mindset among Hamas’s backers, it’s hard to be optimistic about the prospects for a sustainable truce. That is why Israel must pin Hamas down to an enforceable deal — a genuine, durable peace grounded in reality, not the fantasy world of Hamas and its apologists.