From municipal elections to the mensalão, from dams to deforestation, for the slowing economy and the booming middle class, 2012 was big for Brazil. The year began with devastating building collapses in Rio de Janeiro, and ended with a farewell to world-renowned architect Oscar Niemeyer.
In between, Brazil saw Rio+20, gay marriage in São Paulo, a battle over oil royalties and one enormous corruption trial. Murders were up in São Paulo, deforestation was down in the Amazon, and President Dilma Rousseff was declared the world’s third most powerful woman.
Here are five of the year’s biggest political stories:
Federal Police said Friday they had arrested six people in Brasília and São Paulo for alleged involvement in a corruption ring, in yet another case to veer uncomfortably close to former President Lula. In total, eighteen people – including Lula’s former assistant – are under investigation for influence peddling, bribery, conspiracy and forgery in connection with the scheme, which allegedly saw government approvals given to businesses in return for bribes.
BRASÍLIA, BRAZIL – The mensalão case, dubbed the “trial of the century,” moves into its most politically significant phase this week with the Supreme Court examining the allegations of vote buying by the Partido dos Trabalhadores (Workers’ Party, PT). Now Marcos Valério has claimed in an incendiary interview with Veja magazine that the scheme reached into the highest levels of the government.
There is one story dominating the Brazilian headlines: The mensalão, a huge corruption case that could taint the legacy of former President Lula and the reputation of his Partido dos Trabalhadores (Workers’ Party—PT) to which his successor Dilma Rousseff belongs.