Explaining Brazil #143: The legacy of Operation Car Wash

The Supreme Court ruled that former Operation Car Wash judge Sérgio Moro was biased in his prosecution of former President Lula

The same courts who validated the unorthodox methods used by Operation Car Wash are now calling foul play. After quashing the convictions of former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva — which were trialed at the wrong venue — the Supreme Court declared former Federal Judge Sérgio Moro biased in his prosecution of Lula.

In practical terms, the decision nullifies every decision taken by Mr. Moro in the scope of the investigation into the former president. Lula stands accused of accepting a beachfront triplex apartment in exchange for mediating hefty contracts with state-owned companies.

With all evidence being removed from the case, prosecutors will have to build a new case against Lula from the ground up. It is safe to say that even with an effort to speed things up, it would take years to get to court. As things stand, it seems safe to say that Operation Car Wash has lost its big white whale. And that Lula will be eligible for office in 2022, setting up a major showdown against President Jair Bolsonaro.

The repercussions of these moves on Brazil’s judicial system and politics are immense, and we decided to cover them in two episodes.

  • Part 1: A tarnished legacy, in which we talk about what Brazilians hoped Operation Car Wash would be — and what it really was.
  • Party 2: A clash of titans, in which we discuss the Lula v. Jair Bolsonaro electoral faceoff, which seems inevitable.

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On this episode:

  • Alex Hochuli is a São Paulo-based political analyst and host of the Aufhebunga Bunga podcast, which discusses contemporary politics.

Background reading:

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