After a year of Brazilian politics looking like a plotline from House of cards, the man many compare to the series’ main character Frank Underwood has finally met his political end.
The man cited as the architect for the legal process that removed former president Dilma Rousseff from office, Eduardo Cunha lost his position in congress and was stripped of official power after five hours of deliberation in Brazil’s Lower House in light of being accused of multiple counts of corruption and money laundering.
Congress appears to have been left with no other option but to revoke the politician’s position, along with the political and legal rights associated with it for a ten years, effectively sentencing the 57-year old to “political death”.
His defeat was anything but subtle: 450 of his peers voted him out. Only 10 legislators dared cast a vote in an attempt to save him. Only two congressman felt compelled enough to speak in his favor. That result would have been unthinkable a couple of months ago, but legislators once partial to Cunha seemed to have caved under building public pressure to hold him accountable for his alleged crimes.
“He is a psychopath and a mobster”, said congresswoman Clarissa Garotinho, once a Cunha ally. Legislators took the opportunity to hang Cunha out to dry via live streaming video of the Lower House session on Facebook. A move many see as a blatant ploy to win back voters by meeting their demand for blood and accountability after a year of scandal and corruption.
“He is a liar. He says he made a fortune by exporting canned food to Zaire but there is not a single photo of those exports to prove it. Eduardo Cunha is a great liar. He manipulates, he intimidates and he had a lot of allies here. A lot of people protected him”, leftist congressman Ivan Valente asserted.
This is not just another chapter in Brazil’s turbulent history. The events we witnessed, the rise and fall of what some call “the last king of Brazil”, a man who rose to power by allegedly blackmailing an entire congress and was so powerful that he managed to orchestrate the ousting of a democratically elected president, voted for by over 54 million Brazilians, is a turning point.
With many saying he got what he deserved by exiting history through the proverbial back door, Cunha is making plans for his future. He claims that he will write a book telling what he knows. That should make a lot of powerful people lose sleep. If he decides to talk, an entire political empire could fall.
Cunha has lost his privileged jurisdiction, which in addition to being a blow to his ego opens him to legal hearings he otherwise would have been immune from having to undergo. Those who oppose him are celebrating his removal as the first step in the process that could send him to jail.
If that is the case, let’s hope federal prisons provide pens and paper so he can write the exposé keeping the political elite in Brazil awake at night.