What exactly was the "mensalao" scandal?
It was an alleged scheme that embezzled public funds to buy political support for the then Lula government and to pay off debts from election campaigns. The central accusation was that politicians from coalition parties were given large payments each month to support the minority government led by the Workers' Party. The scandal nearly caused the Lula administration to collapse. How did the affair come to light?
The scandal broke in 2005 when a congressman publicly accused the PT of paying the equivalent of $10,000 (£6,400) a month to political allies dating back to 2003. The allegaion led to the downfall of several members of Congress and senior members of the government. Jose Dirceu, who was Lula's chief of staff, was accused of being the mastermind behind the scheme. He resigned and a few months later was also impeached by Congress. What happened at the trial?
On 2 August, 38 people went on trial in one of the biggest cases to be heard in Brazil since the end of the military dictatorship in 1985. (One case was subsequently referred back to a lower court.) It took a year to prepare the case and another until the judges agreed to hear it. Statements were taken from more than 600 witnesses. Twenty-five out of 37 defendants were convicted, among them Mr Dirceu. He was sentenced to 10 years and 10 months in jail.
In August, after the hearing started, pollsters found that though four-fifths believed the accusations, only a tenth thought any of those on trial would end up in jail. Judging by their insouciance, the defendants thought the same. 8月，听证会召开之后，民意调查者发现，尽管4/5的人相信指控是真的，但只有1/10的人认为他们中会有人锒铛入狱。他们都满不在乎，由此可见，被告人也是一样。
In Brazil you don’t see effective punishment—for example, imprisonment of people who have greater economic power. 在巴西，你看不出有效的惩罚，例如，监禁的人谁拥有更大的经济力量
It could also reaffirm the idea that even minor reforms toward accountability are done mostly for show. 它也重申，即使是轻微的改革走向问责大多都是作秀的想法。
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