Just rewards of Brazil’s anti-corruption triumphs

Article originally appeared in The Christian Science MonitorFEBRUARY 7, 2017 —Virtue is supposed to be its own reward. Yet for Brazilians, the reward may be more tangible.

Since 2013, millions of people in the world’s fifth most populous country have protested for honest government. Their call was met by an impressive prosecution of corrupt officials and their resulting removal. That in turn has led to recent reforms, such as a new president, a cap on government spending, and big changes at Petrobras, the state-run oil company that was the source of a giant kick-back scheme.

The reward? Latin America’s largest economy, which has been stuck in a deep recession for two years, is showing signs of growth, including a surprising rise in consumer confidence. “Brazilians have had enough of the corruption that is ravaging their country,” said Mercedes de Freitas of Transparency International, a global nonprofit group, at a recent ceremony honoring Brazil’s prosecutors.

Dozens of politicians and businesspeople have been convicted of graft with many more expected to be charged this year. The extent of corruption shocked even the prosecutors. “We were surprised, because one thing is to know that … corruption is rooted, widespread and systematic in Brazil, and another thing is to look at the monster in the eyes,” federal prosecutor Deltan Dallagnol told AFP. …

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