This text on the Car Wash leaks was re-published, with authorization, from the Harvard’s Global Anti-corruption Blog (GAB).
As most GAB readers are likely aware, one of the biggest stories in the anti-corruption world in the last couple of months has involved the disclosure of private text messages by Brazilian officials involved in the so-called Operation Car Wash. The investigation, which has been in progress for five years, is one of the largest anti-corruption operations ever, not just in Brazil but worldwide. The operation has secured the convictions of scores of high-level Brazilian political and business leaders once thought to be untouchable, including former President Lula of the Workers’ Party.
Lula’s conviction rendered him ineligible to run in the 2018 presidential election—which he likely would have won—and this factor, many believe, helped far-right candidate Jair Bolsonaro win the presidency. The prosecution of Lula, and a number of other Workers’ Party figures, triggered accusations, mainly from supporters of the party and others on the political left, that the Car Wash Operation was a politically motivated conspiracy against Lula and the Workers’ Party. That view had not been taken very seriously by Brazilian or international experts outside of a relatively small circle of left-wing activists, though when Judge Moro, who had presided over most of the Car Wash cases, including Lula’s, accepted a position in Bolsonaro’s cabinet, it certainly fed into that narrative.