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Historic corruption trial begins in Brazil

Some 38 people are accused of buying political favors under former President Lula - whose future career could hinge on the trial.

• A version of this post ran on the author's blog, bloggingsbyboz.com. The views expressed are the author's own.

Brazil's Supreme Court will begin hearings on one of the biggest criminal trials in the country's recent history. Various money-laundering and corruption charges have been brought against 38 defendants who are accused of using government money to buy political favors. The scandal is called "mensalão" or "big monthly payment" because the governing Workers' Party (PT) was paying monthly bribes to get their agenda passed in the Congress. BBC has a useful Q&A.
 
The trial is unlikely to affect Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff, who is quite popular right now and not linked at all to the corruption scandals. Indirectly, however, the distraction of this trial may slow her efforts to pass other items on her agenda.

Former President Lula da Silva may be hit harder. Though he was never directly tied to this scandal, the corruption did happen on his watch with some of his closest advisers. Lula was a Teflon president, with corruption scandals never sticking to him. However, now out of power, he may find it more difficult to avoid being hit by to some of the problems that occurred. The potential for his running for president in the future may hinge on the information released at this trial.

James Bosworth is a freelance writer and consultant based in Managua, Nicaragua, who runs Bloggings by Boz.

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