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Allegations of Corruption, Nepotism and Lies Escalate in Presidential Debate Following First-Round Vote

10/15/2014 - 11h10

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FROM SÃO PAULO
FROM BRASILIA

Last Tuesday night (14), during the first presidential debate following the first-round vote, Aécio Neves (PSDB) and Dilma Rousseff (PT) traded heavy accusations of corruption and nepotism.

Both accused the other of acting in own interest.

In the event promoted by TV Bandeirantes - the first of the four debates planned for the runoff -, Neves and Rousseff repeatedly charged each other of being frivolous and leading a campaign of lies.

"Your campaign is full of lies. It cannot be a free for all. Raise the level of this debate", said Neves at a certain point.

It shows the tense atmosphere of this year's presidential election. According to a Datafolha poll published on Friday (10), Neves had 51% of the voters and Rousseff 49%.

In the second block of the debate, Neves brought up the allegations of corruption, calling the scandal at the state-run oil company Petrobras "absolutely unbelievable".

Revealed during the "Lava Jato" police operation, the scandal at Petrobras grew after last week's disclosure of testimonies of former director Paulo Roberto Costa and the currency dealer Alberto Youssef.

According to both, the resources skimmed from state-owned company benefited PT, PMDB and PP. Rousseff fired back, saying that her indignation is the same as all Brazilians.

She highlighted wrongdoing events accredited to PSDB. The cartel accusation against Siemens and the metro development in Sao Paulo and the vote buying that allowed former president Fernando Henrique Cardoso (1995-1998) to be re-elected.

"Where are all the involved in the vote-buying? They are free. [...]I do not want that, candidate. I want all these guilty man in jail".

"You are trying to compare very distinct things. What happens at Petrobras is something extremely serious", said Neves.

Rousseff kept shooting back, reminding her rival favoured a relative in an airport project while he was governor in Minas Gerais (2003-2010). In addition, she accused Neves of nepotism.

"I want to say nepotism is a crime. You had a sister, three uncles and three cousins in your Government."

Neves showed indignation. "I'm going to respond looking into your eyes. You're being irresponsible, candidate, irresponsible!" The Federal Prosecutor's Office vouched for the regularity of this work", he said.

However, only part of the case involving the airport was dismissed by the General Prosecutor of the Republic Rodrigo Janot. The magistrate ordered the Public Prosecutor of Minas Gerais to judge whether there is administrative misconduct.

Regarding his sister Andréa Neves, one of his closest assistants, he showed to be outraged. "You now have the obligation to tell where my sister works. Your campaign is a lie. The Lady lies to Brazilians to stay in Government. [...] The lady has left the Government in a sea of mud."

"Regarding this discussion, you are being frivolous, sir", said Rousseff. In her response to the allegations of corruption, she mentioned some of the scandals involving PSDB, such as the "Pasta Rosa", from 1995.

On the occasion, a list of alleged irregular donations made to political allies of the Government of Fernando Henrique Cardoso was found during the intervention in the extinct Banco Econômico.

Names like Antonio Carlos Magalhães, José Sarney, Renan Calheiros, among others, were on the list.

The heated atmosphere could be felt throughout the entire debate. Born in Minas Gerais, Rousseff said she did not leave her State for "leisure", referring to the high number of trips Neves has made to Rio during his campaign. Rousseff also accused Neves of "fibbing" about Bolsa Família.

Neves only quoted Marina Silva (PSB), who declared to support him, in his final considerations. Despite the tough clash, they shook hands at the end.

Translated by JULIANA CALDERARI

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