President Lula reacted immediately to an allegation of fraud
Stabroek News
February 15, 2004

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Dear Editor,

Reuters carried an item on Friday last about Brazilian President Lula firing an aide for alleged corruption. There were several startling elements about this particular case, which may be instructive at the local level.

The fired aide, with the eye-popping name of Waldomiro Diniz, was the deputy secretary of parliamentary affairs at the presidential palace. He would be considered an insider. The corrupt acts occurred in 2002 -ancient history. These acts centered around the collecting of campaign funds in return for political favours. This is a time honoured tradition and practice in most places, but more rampant close to home. Then, perhaps the two more surprising aspects of this story. First, the allegations were posted on a Website (for the inquisitive, it was the Epoca Magazine site) only a few short hours before. Second, the federal authorities will launch an immediate probe into the allegations against Diniz. Another compelling part of this report was that the fired aide had close links to Jose Dirceu, the president's influential Chief Of Staff.

To recap: 1) mere allegations, 2) allegations posted on a website, 3) allegations that are only hours old, 4) allegations about acts from almost two years ago, 5) allegations that do not rise to the level of a capital offence, but indeed a breach of the public trust, and 6) links to a member of the presidential inner circle.

As the investigations proceed, Diniz may be cleared of any wrong-doing. It could be that he annoyed some powerful people, or he is being made a scapegoat, or he is just plain unlucky. It may very well be that he is guilty as alleged, may face further sanctions, and the Lula Administration is serious about stamping out corruption. Time will tell.

While I am uncomfortable with the "guilty until proven innocent" approach, it is certainly preferable to total inaction. In Guyana, if the President, his administration, and the party are serious about grappling with the excesses of public officials, then here is an example to follow in some modified format. The only problem is that that would leave very few behind to sign any documents about anything -including who are lying, and who are not.

Yours faithfully,

GHK Lall