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Coordinated actions by the Polícia Federal, the Controller General’s Office and other agencies for investigation and control are sending the corrupt to prison and recovering stolen public funds
With Lula and Dilma, the fight against corruption became, for the first time in history, a permanent activity of the State. Previously, newspaper headlines reporting scandals were rare, because the illegal activities were almost always swept under the carpet or hidden away in a file drawer. And the public almost never knew. But beginning with Lula's arrival to the presidency in 2003, the prevention and fight against corruption became a priority, by means of coordinated activities among various agencies of the federal government, carried out with transparency and with the encouragement and participation of civil society.
Effective measures began to be taken and have not stopped yet. Some of these are:
• The creation of the Federal Comptroller General (CGU);
• The strengthening, modernization and independence of the Polícia Federal;
• The autonomy of the Federal Public prosecutor, chosen from the ranks, by direct vote, becoming no longer a personal decision of the President of the Republic;
• The creation of the Transparency website;
• The Access to Information Law;
• The increase in the activities of the Attorney General's Office (AGU) in processing illegal activities and the recovery of stolen funds;
• The creation of the “Super Tax Office” to better combat fraud and income tax evasion;
• The firm activities of the Financial Activities Control Committee (COAF), and monitoring atypical banking activity that could indicate money laundering or corruption of the public agencies;
• The restructuring of the Economic Defense (Consumer Protection) Agency (CADE) and strengthening its activities against cartels;
• The enactment of laws that punish that punish corrupt corporations.
The results were not long in coming, written in large headlines. Investigations, arrests, conspiracies and cartels, high-level public servants punished, millions and millions of reais recovered and returned to the public coffers. Concrete activities fighting corruption became public, sharing space with the accusations that were often precipitous and wrong - because the press is subject to error and often condemns people before all the facts are known, with people that are later shown to be innocent - as a recent case has shown.
The important thing is that there is freedom of the press, more so than has often been the case in Brazil. And for the first time in history, Brazil has institutions built on a solid foundation, with the independence to be able to act in defense of the State and Society with express orders not to file investigations away in a drawer or sweep scandals under the carpet.
“Today, with all of these accusations of corruption, the general public does not perceive that the large number of investigations that are taking place but because the police have resumed their role and investigation. Because neither the President, nor the Minister of Justice, nor the Director of the Polícia Federal prohibited these things from being investigated correctly. What we tried to avoid, in fact, was a big fireworks display. Because, many times, the investigation had barely begun and the individual was already convicted in the press. In truth, a good job is one where you work and then you present the results, whether a proof of guilt or innocence, but individual that is under investigation knows that the investigation is being conducted as impartially as possible.”
On this first of May, Labor Day - the day that honors people that live honestly from the sweat of their labor, I want to assure and restate my commitment and the commitment of my government to combat corruption implacably and unceasingly. New cases have been uncovered through the work of the Polícia Federal and the Federal Comptroller General, agencies of the federal government. I know that the exposure of these facts causes indignation and revulsion for everyone whether in civil society, or the government, but this will not keep us from investigating more, making more accusations and revealing everything to the public, and fighting to see that the guilty are punished rigorously. What embarrassed the country is not the investigation and the revelations. What caused us to be embarrassed was the failure to fight corruption and to sweep everything under the carpet. Brazil has already been through this in the past and Brazilians will no longer accept the hypocrisy, cowardice or living with the situation side-by-side.
João de Oliveira, civil servant, on the Access to Information law:
“This transparency has been needed for the country for a long time. To have this process, the service available to the people–I think this is sensational”.
Pablo Cesário, executive-manager of the National Confederation of Industries, on the Law to Combat Corruption:
“Areas or regions, or companies that are known to be corrupt drive away investors, and the economy as a whole suffers because of this. Either because the FICA is more expensive or because there are fewer public services or because there is less investment”.
Jaqueline Teófilo, social worker in Londrina (PR), on the CGU course to teach the public how to monitor the use of public monies:
“I didn’t know what I could do and what I could not do. Although we all know that it is important to keep track, know exactly how to do that more difficult. This course could help improve our understanding about fiscal monitoring and how to do it."
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