Mensalao – a product of Loose Coupling?

Mensalao- the term became a familiar one in Brazilian politics after the 2005 scandal when a congressman told the newspaper about a scheme of monthly payments to congressmen of two political parties in the amount of fifteen thousand dollars, to vote in favor of what the “Workers Party” brought to the floor.

After reading about Enron and how their upper management manipulated every investment to self-benefit them, and how they were using these non-existing companies to turn liability in equity, I remembered this scandal that was the subject of many economic newspapers. Congressmen were using money coming from ‘ghost’ companies, or companies that they owned to buy votes and manipulate decisions made at the Congress level.

The Brazilian Congress can be an example of loose coupling and that is why this happened since there’s very little accountability for the amount of hours they put in, whom they hire (there’s a lot of brothers, sisters, cousins working for each other), or how many new ‘projects’ are brought up for vote. Unfortunately, for many being in a public office in Brazil means a way to get rich fast.

The worst part of all this, is that it was the President’s party that organized and executed the mensalao. The President, Lula, said on many occasions that he had no idea what was happening, even though one of his close advisors was the ‘master-mind’ behind it all. Reading, the Enron case and comparing it with the politics in Brazil makes me kind of sad because of the corruption that goes on.

There was a CPI that a committee put in place to investigate this fraud, but after many months of declarations and proofs they came with the verdict that there was not enough evidence that the mensalao was occurring. Even, after bank statements were brought up as evidence, they were somehow justified.

Just to keep you up to date, the President, in his innocence, and to make this scandal go away a little faster, implemented the “Bolsa Familia” – a program in which families that are making below poverty level will receive government assistance as long as hey keep their kids in school and immunized. This program was so successful, that despite all the scandals, President Lula was re-elected and will serve as the Brazilian president until 2011.

Loose coupling can work for many companies, but in the Enron case and with the Brazilian government it just conveys opportunities for corruption.

For the non-portuguese speakers… 🙂 – the video is a mokery of a popular song in Brazil, the song in the video says “hey, you can you give me some money?- Even, if you don’t give me, it’s okay because since I am a congressmen I will double my salary on my own, and you will still pay for it.”

Here are some more sites where you can find info:

4 Responses

  1. Can you translate or explain the video for us?

  2. Can you expand on what you mean by loose coupling here?

  3. This is awesome, I mean the part that President Lula played. It seems that many developing nations have a problem with nepotism. Many families are seen as “political” families and that takes a lot away from the spirit of democracy.

    Thanks for the informative post – my knowledge is limited when it comes to South American nations, so this was quite educational as well…

  4. When I said loose coupling, I meant in the way that politics work- Brazil is a Republic and for it to be a Reuplic it needs diferent political parties, however those parties use the opportunity of being a part of the governmet to ‘steal’ money from the country. The biggest problem is that the entire environment is so corrupt that it became a vicious cicle. Without political parties there’s no Republic…

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