Brazil’s President Plan to Privatize Major Bank Draws Noisy Opposition

    Caixa's branch at rua das Flores, in Curitiba, Paraná state

    The president of the Workers Party of Brazil denounced the government’s attempt to privatize one of the largest banks in the country, Caixa Econômica Federal.

    In what would be a first step toward ultimately selling the bank to private interests, the government of Michel Temer seeks to change the status of the bank through an internal decision that would make its privatization legal, according to Senator Gleisi Hoffmann from the Worker’s Party, or PT.

    The workers of Caixa have also announced they will mobilize if the government doesn’t assure the bank will remain 100 percent public.

    “Caixa has been one of the most important assets for the people, for being the main supporter of social policies of the Brazilian government,” Fabiana Uehara from the Financial Workers Union said.

    “It has helped mainly the poorest have access to credit, housing, education, health, and social security,” she added.

    Hoffman gave a press conference with the president of the Caixa Workers Union Jair Pedro Ferreira and the former president of the institution Pedro Eugênio.

    “This is a setback for Brazil, that we sell a bank like Caixa, which is the operator of many social programs and also in the area of infrastructure credit,” Hoffman said. “We are very concerned with this possibility.”

    Hoffman said the Senate had previously approved a law to protect Caixa from the privatization process.

    “We want to call for a mobilization with our senators and lawmakers in support of Caixa”

    Temer has said 57 public companies and airport terminals will be privatized, with the objective of reducing the country’s fiscal deficit which amounts to nearly US$ 500 billion.

    Congress Has Last Word

    More than 100 politicians are currently being investigated in what is the largest corruption scheme in Brazil’s history.

    Brazil’s Supreme Court has ruled that Congress will have the final decision in removing lawmakers from their posts, a move that shields legislators from prosecution for corruption.

    The majority of the judges decided in a narrow 6-5 vote to avoid confrontation with lawmakers in the middle of the country’s largest corruption scandal involving hundreds of politicians, including President Michel Temer and several of his top ministers.

    This decision will allow the Senate to vote on whether to revoke the suspension ruled by the court against Senator Aécio Neves, who is being investigated in seven corruption cases.

    Meanwhile, the Lower House will vote this month to bury the charges against Temer in a corruption case involving the largest meatpacking company in Brazil, JBS, thus avoiding a trial by the Supreme Court.

    More than a hundred politicians are currently being investigated in a graft probe in which dozens of companies are accused of paying bribes to win government contracts and seeking leverage in new laws and reforms inside Congress.

    The presidents of the Senate and the Lower House are also under investigation.

    More than 230 people inside Congress are being investigated for several allegations and could face trial since the Supreme Court is the only body that can try lawmakers.

    The confrontation between both branches began last year after the Supreme Court ordered the former speaker of the Lower House, Eduardo Cunha, to be removed. He was later arrested for corruption and sentenced to more than 15 years in prison.

    The Supreme Court had previously ruled that no one could be charged based solely on testimony by someone under a plea bargain if no additional evidence is presented.

    The main accusations against politicians in Brazil come from plea deals by officials from companies such as Petrobras and Odebrecht to reduce their sentences.

    teleSUR

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