Eduardo Cunha: Between a Rock and a Hard Place

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By Eric Nepomuceno / Source: Pagina12 / The Dawn News / June 14, 2016.

The suspended Chief of Deputies is accused of lying about his secret accounts in Swiss banks. The General National Prosecutor called for Cunha’s imprisonment. Under this pressure Cunha threatened to implicate 150 Deputies, a Minister and a Senator: all of them have a close relation with Michel Temer.

Eduardo Cunha is accused of having lied to the Commissioner about his secret accounts in Switzerland, which had been generously favored by dirty money.

He has spent so much time trying to interfere in his colleagues’ work —who are trying to remove him from office— that the Federal Supreme Court decided to remove him from his seat and his position as Head of the Chamber of Deputies, for an indefinite period of time. Rodrigo Janot, attorney General of the Nation, called for his imprisonment. At the same time, Judge Sergio Moro, accepted a complaint on Cunha’s wife, Claudia Cruz, because she had used a credit card that belonged to a non-declared bank account from Switzerland. Last Monday, the Prosecutor asked for the suspension of Cunha’s political rights, for a 20 year period. They have also demanded that both Cunha and his wife pay back the public administration the 6 millions of dollars which had been transferred from the Petrobras corruption scandal.

As pressure increases, Cunha turns to what he knows best: threats. First, he reminded Temer that without his support, no project could be approved in the Chamber. To confirm his power is still in force, Cunha created an organization with members of dark and little-known Parties, but which allowed him to control the Chamber. In fact, this is how he managed to get Temer his current position as President of Brazil. He is a Deputy that is being investigated in 4 different corruption cases and one complaint for attempted murder.

Finally, he also reinforced his position: he won’t resign the Presidency of the Chamber of Deputies, as the spokesmen of Temer’s government asked. Eduardo Cunha was straightforward. He told the messengers to tell the President that if his colleagues attack him, or if the Federal Supreme Court removes him, he won’t go down on his own. He will take with him, at least, 150 Deputies, a Minister and a Senator: all of them have a close relation with Michel Temer.

He stated that the imprisonment orders for José Sarney, Romero Jucá and Renan Calheiros won’t be carried out. He said he knows he is the main target, and that, if the interim government does not save him, he will be ruthless.

Last week, a new complaint against him came up: he had opened a new account in Uruguay, in which he received 20 million dollars that came from the Petrobras corruption scheme. At this point, both Temer’s closest colleagues and Cunha’s allies consider this situation to be “irreversible”. If he is removed from his position he would probably not be able to avoid the Federal Supreme Court.

Temer and his Ministers have publicly affirmed they won’t help him, but privately, they are trying to look for a solution —any solution— as they are assessing the consequences of an eventual disaster that can be caused if Cunha decides to carry out his threats.

Cunha’s reputation and his mechanisms for forging alliances are well known: he has been able to handle all the corruption schemes in every Brazilian Party and, specially, in the PMDB. His documents are weapons of mass destruction.

Moreover, the government’s alliance with Cunha weakens more and more the reputation of Temer and his cabinet. But, as the government can’t get rid of Cunha and it needs his support in the Chamber, the damage can only grow.

The great unknown in Brasilia is how long will Cunha, the human bomb, will hold out before detonating his arsenal and how far will his destructive power go.

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