Brazil’s Mensalao trial started on Thursday this week.
Thirty-eight defendants — mainly politicians and associates — are accused of participating in the biggest money-for-vote scandal in the country’s history.
Prosecutors said since coming to power in 2003, the Workers’ Party has used “mensalao” (big monthly stipends) to divert money from state advertising budgets and pensions to pay off legislators from allied parties, in return for their support.
The trial is a threat to Dilma Roussef, above, Brazil’s first female president.
She’s best known for pushing through a series of hydroelectric dam projects in the Amazon River Basin. They’ve drawn protests from local residents, including indigenous tribes, and from international environmental groups.
Last month, Brazil’s legislature delayed a vote on a critical reform bill that would criminalize bribery by corporations.
Maria Dolores Hernandez J. is a researcher for ethiXbase.