(Photo: Eraldo Peres – AP)
Brazil’s political and economic crisis has taken a new turn for the worse with the arrest of the ruling party’s star electoral strategist and presidential confidant Joao Santana, raising the possibility of an impeachment against President Dilma Rousseff or early elections.
If there were questions over whether Rousseff would be touched by the so-called Lava Jato (Car Wash) corruption scandal over the state-run Petrobras oil company’s massive unreported funds to her 2010 and 2014 presidential campaigns, as well as to former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva’s 2006 campaign, they are dwindling fast. Santana was one of Rousseff’s closest political advisers, if not the closest one.
He surrendered to authorities Tuesday on his return from the Dominican Republic, where he was an adviser for President Danilo Medina’s re-election campaign. Santana has also been a key campaign strategist for the late Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez, and Venezuela’s President Nicolás Maduro.
Brazilian prosecutors are charging Santana and his wife with having received $7.5 million in funds from the giant Odebrecht construction firm, allegedly coming from Petrobras, for his services as Rousseff’s top campaign strategist in the 2014 elections. The funds were deposited in a Swiss bank account, prosecutors said.
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