Published On: October 17, 2013

Will Brazil’s Transparency Law Work?

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 By B. Michael Rubin

The recently approved Transparency Law in Brazil has exposed that one third of the 594 Brazilian federal lawmakers have pending cases in criminal and civil courts. Most of the criminal cases against the Senators and Deputies in Brasília involve corruption charges.

The Transparency Law was approved following the presentation of over one million signatures from the Brazilian people. The purpose of the bill is to expose members of Congress with criminal charges to the public. The law is seen as a filter of allegedly corrupt candidates with the hopes of discouraging them from seeking re-election.

With the law, the more than 135 million people who make up the Brazilian voters have a transparent map of the current Congress, with a list of the Deputies and Senators who have been charged either by criminal or civil courts.

The so-called ‘clean record map’ proves that criticism of political corruption in Brazil is justified. “They confirm a very negative evaluation of the current members of Congress” said Claudio Weber Abramo, head of the Brazil branch of the NGO, Transparency International. What Mr. Abramo and many other Brazilians hope is that making this list of politicians available to the voters will have an impact in the elections next year.

Claudio Weber Abramo, Transparency International

The 2014 elections will be the first in Brazil in which voters will have such information available to them. It will be a test to measure the degree of responsibility of the people to voice their rejection against the acts of corruption committed by elected federal officials. “From now on, no voter will be able to claim ignorance when voting for a corrupt politician,” Abramo noted.

In public opinion polls in Brazil on the performance and approval of the country’s main institutions, Congress is always at the bottom of the list. 

The list reveals that 190 of the 594 Brazilian federal lawmakers have at some time been charged in criminal or civil cases. The list of crimes includes manslaughter, degrading practices, abuse of power, administrative illegalities, public funding abuse, and illicit enrichment. There is a total of fourteen different crimes on the list.

Furthermore, no party is absent from the list. PMDB, the largest political party presently in Congress with 101 members, has 36 politicians that have been charged. The ruling PT party of Dilma with 100 lawmakers has 28. PSDB, the main opposition force with 60 members, has 22 with pending charges. PR with 43 members has 14 charges, and PSB of 29 members has 12 charged.

Natan Donadon

This list includes fourteen active Congressmen whose court cases are finished. They have all been given jail sentences. However, thirteen of them had their sentences changed to fines with community service. One Congressman, Natan Donadon, is currently serving his jail sentence but is still an active member of Congress and receiving his salary. Mr. Donadon is the first serving congressman to be jailed in Brazil since military rule came to an end in the 1980s.

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  1. Nicholas says:

    The good news is, Brazilian people are still fighting.

    It’s an initiative from #changebrazil. Take a look at it when you can.

  2. Michael Rubin says:

    Thanks for that link, Nicholas.

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