Wednesday, August 18, 2004

Smoke and mirrors

What are we to make of the Government’s decision to upgrade the status of the embattled Central Bank president, Henrique Meirelles, from a civil servant to a minister? He’s currently under investigation for moving his finances around and avoiding paying tax. As you might imagine, the opposition is making a meal of it, desperate to gain some political capital in election year.

Hence the decree yesterday which means Meirelles will no longer be investigated as an ordinary person, but answerable only to the Supreme Court, a privilege ministers are afforded. I suppose from one perspective it removes the sting from the political consequences of this case. But on the other it looks like favours for the boys.

What an ideal time for Lula to sign this decree though. Tonight the Brazilian football team is playing a friendly in war-torn Haiti, as a publicity stunt for Brazil’s UN mission there and bid for a UN Security Council seat. What better way to bury a story then to do it on the eve of the government’s attempt to raise the country’s international standing?

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